Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday Best

'Twas a tasty Sunday with a laborious - though totally worth it - lunch offset by a fast, easy, and equally delicious dinner. 

I frequent the smittenkitchen site, which I'm kind of embarrassed to share since it makes this blog look so very amateur. On it, I came across a recipe for Apple and Cheddar Scones, which screamed from the screen for me to try them, like, immediately.  I thought pumpkin soup would be a nice flavor companion, not to mention a festive Autumnal partner, for the scones.  So thus, this cozy Sunday lunch was born.  

Pumpkin Soup

This recipe came from a soup cookbook my Great Aunt Marilyn gave me years ago (contributing editor Debra Mayhew).  It is straightforward, while remaining interesting - and of course, yummy.  I sort of dreaded the process of breaking down the pumpkins and the mess that would result.  But in the end, I actually found it kind of therapeutic.  I followed the recipe's suggestion to pre-roast the pumpkin for added flavor.  I just tossed the cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted for about 10-15 minutes at 375 (the temp required for the scones).  In addition, I made the following minor changes:  1) replaced vegetable stock with chicken stock, because, well, I forgot (twice) to pick it up at store; 2)  used dried tarragon instead of fresh, as I didn't realize my plant outside had already given up its fight against the frost; and 3) reduced the quantity of milk from 2 1/2 cups to about 1 1/2, so to lessen dilution of the texture and flavor of the pumpkin.   I'm providing the recipe below as I prepared it.  I added roasted pumpkin seeds leftover from our carving adventure the weekend before as a "why not?" garnish that I think led Ryan to a momentary eye roll.  Hey, it looked pretty.

 In lieu of a food processor, I used my immersion blender, an adored past Christmas gift from my in-laws. This tool conveniently saves time and minimizes clean-up, and I also think it's fun to use.  Okay, I'll stop rambling now and give you the recipe:

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add 1 large sliced onion and cook for 10 minutes over medium low heat, stirring frequently.  Add 6 cups pumpkin that have been cut into large chunks (and roasted if desired), along with 3 cups sliced potatoes and stir well.  Cover and sweat over low heat for 10 minutes until the veggies are almost tender, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking.  Stir in 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, a pinch of nutmeg and 1/2 tsp dried tarragon, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the veggies are completely tender.  Allow the soup to cool slightly.  Use a food processor or immersion blender and process until smooth.  Pour back into pot and add 1 1/2 cups milk.  Heat slowly and taste - adding 1-2 tsp of fresh lemon juice and extra seasoning as necessary.

Apple and Cheddar Scones

Drum roll....  The only modification I made was to use half and half instead of heavy cream, as I keep it around to dress my coffee anyway.  Even with this decadence-reducing substitution, they were insanely, ridiculously good.  Her entry describes them as addictive, and this is entirely accurate.  Consider yourself warned.

Grilled Sea Scallops with Green Onion Relish and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Whoever decided to marry scallops with bacon deserves a big, fat round of applause.  And leave it to Bobby Flay to heap on even more perfection in the form of, you guessed it, vinegar.       Unfortunately, this recipe is not available online, so I'll have to send you to his Grill It cookbook in order to avoid being busted by the copyright police.  As we've made nearly 20 recipes out of this book (all of which have been truly delicious), I can say that it is a totally worthwhile investment!   

In an effort to not sign off on a completely useless note, let's talk scallops for a sec.  Being able to achieve that beautiful color without overcooking the scallops is something that takes some practice; well, at least it did for me.  My first scallops were rubbery and heinous.  The key, regardless of whether you cook on a grill or stove, is a screaming hot surface, which sears quickly without cooking the inside to oblivion.  

PS.... The side dish is simply zucchini sliced on the diagonal, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grilled alongside the scallops.  Easy and delicious.


Christy said...

OK, my friend, you are going to have a restaurant someday! Can I come live at your house? I would LOVE to eat all your wonderful creations! I can't wait to bake those scones. And, I may sound cooking-illiterate, but could you explain the diagonal cut? :)

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