Thursday, December 31, 2009

Foodie Friday: Bandwidth's Seared Scallops

Happy New Year, Foodies!
I made chocolate espresso shortbread from a Martha Stewart recipe, and it was a tee-total disaster--I'm sure it was me, not La Martha.
But Bandwidth rescued Foodie Friday.

Bandwidth's Seared Scallops
Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in *hot* non-stick pan (we used a Le Crueset pan, sprayed with Pam, but any heavy pan will do)and sear on both sides, approximately 3 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
If a milky liquid appears, drain pan and pat the scallops again with the paper towel. This will help give the scallops that lovely crust. As Chef Trey says (my older son--thank you, sweetie!), "You can't sear anything in liquid."
Remove from pan and plate the scallops on a bed of jasmine rice and roasted asparagus. Garnish with red bell peppers and parsley.

That's it!

If you are sharing your New Year's menu on Foodie Friday, enter your blog information below:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Table for Two on New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve 2009

Layers, layers, layers.

A red toile bedspread makes a colorful tablecloth, and it tells a story of French milkmaids, chateaus, and courting couples.

My mother brought a ton of ivy, and I wound it though organdy napkin sheaths, dishes, crystal, old silver, and a glass candle stick. For the centerpiece, I used a clock.
Our menu will appear on Foodie Friday--well, unless I burn something.
Here lately, I've even been burning toast. The kitchen gods are not pleased. But Mr. Linky will be here Thursday evening if you want to share your menu.

I bought the pink champagne glasses a long time ago. The white dinner plates are Wedgwood, mixed with retro china from the 1950s.

Tablescaping Notes:

Mixed china

organdy napkin sheaths -- Horchow

red checkered napkins by DII

Please stop by to visit with our sweet hostess of Tablescape Thursday, Susan, and to enjoy beautiful tablescapes from across blogland.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Quick & Comforting Supper (with an Edible Igloo for dessert)

At twilight I found myself wandering around Publix with an empty shopping cart. Everyone around me seemed to have a purpose. They didn't stare gloomily into the bakery case or pick through the deli chickens. I had a shopping list, too, which makes this story even weirder, but I flat didn't want to buy the things on my list.
Emotionally speaking, I could pick between the Sads and Wildness, so I picked Wildness. I bought puff pastry, marinated chick peas, romaine, brie.
I made supper while I talked to Dr. Gollum about his day. I wrapped the brie in two sheets of puff pastry (thawed, rolled/flattened, egg washed) and popped it into a 400degree oven.

While the brie baked (20 minutes), I gathered a few leftovers, including bacon, tomatoes, thyme, chives, and cornbread, then I made a salad.

I wish I'd toasted (or grilled) the cornbread because it didn't stand up to the pomegranate vinaigrette, but it was still soothing and tasty--a comfort salad for people who haven't put away the Christmas stuff and for people who are lonesome for family members who've gone back home.
Sugar is a quick fix for holiday angst, too.

After supper, we ate the rest of the Christmas igloo cake,except for the fondant polar bear. He went into the deep freeze, where he will live happily ever after--well, at least for another year.

Winter Menu:

Brie en croute

Bacon-cornbread-chick pea salad with pomegranate vinaigrette

Fondant igloo cake

Pino noir

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dealing With Leftovers: Turkey Pot Pie

The French know what to do with leftovers--add cream sauce and wrap in puff pastry.
Me, I've been known to leave side dishes in the fridge until they resemble Chia pets. It's the truth. I have the best of intentions but then I get busy writing and before I can say Jack Frost, my ice box has become a bio-hazard.
But this Christmas, Bandwidth and I decided to take leftovers and turn them into a savory pie.

Smoked Turkey Pot Pie
chopped, pre-cooked turkey
green peas, pre-cooked
glazed carrots, pre-cooked 
sauteed mushrooms
finely chopped onions and celery (sautee)

flour, butter, chicken stock (quantities depend on how much turkey and leftover veggies you have, and the size of your casserole--start with 2 T of butter and flour. "Eyeball" the stock--it's hard to mess this up! I don't measure; I add a few tablespoons at a time until the sauce is the way I like it).

1 chicken bouillon cube
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 package puff pastry, thawed
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, gray French sea salt
Saute onions and celery; add mushrooms. Set aside. In a separate saute pan, melt butter (I used 1/2 stick) and a glob (I used 2 T.) of all purpose flour. Blend well.
Slowly add chicken stock and bouillon to pan. Whisk. Aim for the consistency of a store-bought pot pie--not too thick, not runny.
Sprinkle flour over puff pastry sheets (there are only 2 sheets in a package) and roll out (again, choose your own thickness). Place 1 sheet into the bottom of a baking dish. Trim the edges of puff pastry and set aside. (You can roll these out and cut them with a cookie cutter for a cute "topper" on the crust.)
Add turkey/leftover vegetable mixture to the baking dish-put on the bottom layer of the puff pastry. Pour cream sauce over the leftovers and stir. Add a bit more sauce, if you like (depending on the consistency you want). Stir.
Top the veggie/turkey mixture with the second puff pastry sheet. Trim the edges, crimp (or fold), and score with a knife.
Garnish with leftover pastry.
Preheat oven, 400 degrees.
Beat one egg and brush it over the crust.
Place pie in oven and bake 25 minutes or until puffy and brown.
Top with gray French sea salt (we found it at Publix in the spice aisle).
It sounds complicated (and it was for me), but the preparations are so soothing, you will find yourself in a relaxed, Zen-like state.
I thought the cream sauce was the most challenging part; Bandwidth said the pastry was by far the hardest.
The taste is down-home and heart warming; it's true comfort food, the perfect one-pot meal on a cold winter night--and, it's a form of house cleaning.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Foodie Friday: Christmas Day 2009

Merry Christmas, Foodies!
Bandwidth and I made Christmas Eve gumbo. . .
A family tradition. He opened the oysters--first time ever--and made a roux. Also on the menu:
Smoked turkey
Rum Cake and Mascarpone
Tomorrow, the epic cooking begins.

If you are linking to Foodie Friday this week, Mr. Linky awaits.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Please Do Not Eat the Cake

The faux cake in my mind's eye never materialized, but I ended up with a workable prototype: a faux cake with gussied up chocolate covered cherries.
First, I drizzled icing over cherries from the Dollar Store. Next, I put together two Styrofoam blocks.

Many wild hairs later, I iced the "cake" and adorned it with the cherries, white mums, candles, and greenery.
I guess we all need to play, right?
For a small gathering, this would work because you could warn people to stick to the cherries. At a large gathering, you'd have to do a Paul Revere.

(There! I hope I made you laugh, or at least smile. Because even though this started out to be a serious fake centerpiece, it turned into a laughfest for Bandwith and Dr. Gollum, with me out laughing them both. A good time was had by All. Totally.)

Lots of possibilities here for other holidays and tablescapes! :-)

I'm joining Susan at for Tablescape Thursday this eve of Christmas Eve. See y'all there.

P.S. Foodie Friday will be up tomorrow at 8 pm central.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Make Your Own Christmas Crackers

Just ask my friend Kathy at about the British and Christmas "crackers." These little foil-wrapped wonders are a tradition in the UK. When Kathy was in London last spring, she sent me Easter "crackers," which I love dearly.
I've just about let the holidays slip up on me this year (but I have been writing, right?), so I decided to attempt homemade "crackers."
I saved paper towel rolls, bought wrapping paper, glue, ribbon, and candy. I even found lumps of coal, but they're candy.
Here's a tutorial:

Basically, cut the paper to fit the roll and leave a few inches on both sides. Tie one end, fill with trinkets and candy, and tie.

That's it!

Here's a peek at the edible centerpiece (more tomorrow):

Bandwidth Bakes. I Decorate.

Bandwidth and I are baking cakes for gifts. He did the normal thing--cook.

You can just imagine what I did.

I'm trying to talk Bandy into starting a food blog. He's not thrilled with the idea. However, I haven't given up.

Hope everyone isn't too frazzled!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Met Monday: Breakfast Room Spruce Up

I love Metamorphosis Monday. All my food and design projects are in the "oh, it's a mess" stage. So I thought I'd show an oldie: the breakfast room's before/after.
Here's before.

After: I moved the draperies from the library and added panels.

Before, the room felt a little cold with all of the tone on tone. With the fabric scraps, I had pillows made.

I've read that neutrals are supposed to be better with tablescaping, but I have never given a flip if my dishes matched my draperies. Or even if the dishes match EACH OTHER. Life isn't matchy matchy is my motto, and it's my mom's motto, too :-)The day that dishes start having rules, I'm outta here, baby. It's back to paper plates.

Please visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday to see inspirational before and afters. See you there.