Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mandarin Seared Scallops with Soba Noodles

Serves 2

I found some scallops hiding in the back of my freezer, so I Macgyvered up this meal. Macgyver Meal = a meal created with the stuff you find in your kitchen (according to HK).

5 satsuma mandarins, 3 juiced, 2 peeled and broken into sections
6 scallops
2 cloves garlic, minced
1T grated ginger
2T soy sauce
1 jalapeno, minced
3 scallions, sliced
1t brown sugar
zest from 1/2 mandarin
3T sesame oil
1/2 package of buckwheat soba noodles (my package was 12.8oz) - Jenna good idea to get these!
6 oz baby spinach
1/4 c fresh mint, chopped

Ingredients I wish I had when I made this
1 c broccoli florets
1 c pea pods

(1) Combine juice of 3 mandarins, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, mandarin zest, 2 scallions, 1/2 of the jalapeno (or to taste). Let scallops marinate in mixture for 3-5 minutes. You will notice that I broke my scallops up into pieces. Well, I found my scallops in questionable condition at the back of the freezer. Breaking them up allowed for more searing. If my scallops were nice and new, I may not have cut them.
(2) Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. If you're keeping your scallops whole, sear each side for about 3 minutes. The scallop is done when it you see golden brown caramelization (spell check doesn't think that is a word, but I think it should be) of the marinade on each side of the scallop. If you have smaller pieces, sear each side for about 2 minutes. Remove scallops and set aside.

3) Cook soba noodles according to package directions.
4) Add marinade to the pan the scallops were in and turn the heat to low. The marinade will reduce to a syrupy sauce. My attempt to photograph this sauce resulted in a picture that resembled tar. Want to see? Oh, no. Blogger won't let me upload any more photos. Oh well. Probably for the best.
5) Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the last tablespoon of oil on medium heat and cook the spinach until just wilted. If you have broccoli or peapods or whatever other vegetable, steam them/grill them/cook them to your liking. No need to add too much seasoning because the sauce is quite flavorful.
6) When the sauce is the consistency of maple syrup (the fake kind), its done.
7) Pour the sauce over the noodles and mix in the spinach/vegetables, jalapeno, green onion and mandarin wedges. Add the sauce slowly and taste it as you go along. The sauce is super sweet and rich, so too much would be overwhelming. Add the scallops (or eat them along side the noodles). Top with fresh mint. Bon apetit!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Penne Pasta with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

About a decade ago, my parents took a trip to New York, New York! They dined at an Italian restaurant, the name of which neither one of them remembers. My mom created the following family favorite based on the memory of a dish she had at that restaurant.

1 lb penne pasta
1/4 c olive oil
6 cloves of garlic (I use 8 bc I'm an addict)
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste - I use 1T bc I like me some spice)
1/2 c kalamata olives, pitted and minced (the unpitted ones are tastier)
1 28oz can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
1 c fresh chopped basil
8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped

Heat the oil in a pan on low heat. When it is hot (the oil will be more liquidy and move around very easily), add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Let them mingle for about five minutes. This flavors the oil, a significant ingredient in this delicious pasta.

Add the olives to the party. Let everyone dance for a few minutes. Be sure to stir a bit to shake up the dance floor.

This is a great time to get that water boiling (don't forget to salt!).

Back to the sauce. Add the tomatoes. Increase the heat to medium-low. Add the salt. The salt helps to breakdown the tomatoes into sauce. Add the parsley. If the sauce sticks to the bottom when you stir, lower the heat. If the sauce isn't bubbling increase the heat. Liquid will evaporate to the point that there may be bare spots of your pan showing. Don't fret! There will be plenty of sauce . . .

The pasta should be done at about the same time as the sauce. Add some of the reserved water to the sauce slowly so that it liquifies again. I usually and up adding just over a 1/4 cup of sauce.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Add the basil and stir together. Top with fresh mozzarella. Note, if you mix the mozzarella in with everything in a big bowl, it will get all melty. This might be your goal. However, I have noticed that although melty is deliciously gooey, the melty pieces tend to band together and form one big mass. So, unless the pasta cools significantly, I recommend just adding some to the individual bowls.