Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve PLUS My first Homemade Tamales; Recipe for Mom (Please Read Mom); My Crochet Project and Holiday Whine

How do so many talented people find the time to do a blog layout and write almost each day??? By the time I am ready to blog ~ well, I am also ready for bed. Be forewarned! This is a blog entry from hell . . . absolutely PACKED with only a few things I have been dying to write about. Is that dying or dieing? I am seriously not trying to hurry here because this entry means a lot to me.

First, the doily pictured below was just finished this morning. On a sour note, the doily is a Christmas present. I know, I know, the guilt is killing me! My husband's Mom is so sweet and here I am trying to figure out how to explain the late present without sounding like I am whining or didn't think Kay was as important to me as the rest of the family. Just the opposite! The lady amazes me and once you meet her, she just sneaks right into your heart. Very Sweet!The doily has not been blocked and set yet. Whether this is the correct way of saying the doily needs to be finished or not ~ well, this is my first time ever trying. If anyone has pointers . . .PLEASE feel free to tell me.

MOM: When you read this, I just wanted to add (in my chuckling, OMG! way) how I can not believe I am posting a recipe requiring opening cans to make a recipe IN THE SAME POST AS MAKING AUTHENTIC TAMALES! The whole thing feels so sacrilegious. OIU~!

The potato soup recipe you have been asking for and I have been saying: "Oh, just go to my Group Recipes site or just go to my blog and type in potato soup in the search bar"; well guess what??! I have never posted the recipe anywhere. I am sooooo sorry! Blah, blah, blah, and yep, I goofed. I do not even have a recipe written up. As the soup was being created the night before last, a tablet and pencil was also being put into use, trying to right down ingredient amounts. Not as easy as it sounds and you will be opening cans. Go Figure! I took pictures. If the recipe does not make as much sense . . . you get to follow the pictures. I couldn't get this thing to do a verbal recording; call with questions =). I think my recipe unfolding turned out MARVELOUS though.

POTATO SOUP by your wonderful daughter:

Start with 1 pound of bacon ( I like the thick cut bacon) and just use your kitchen shears to cut into 1/2" or so pieces
2 1/2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup sour cream
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
Ground Pepper - -I do not think you need salt because of the bacon.
Hold on to your toes here!: 4 to 6 cups of Half-n-Half AND Whole Milk (combined). Told you. This is what makes the soup delish!
***Using 2% milk is delish too and the soup will not get so thick. If you have enough to reheat for leftovers, you will NEED to add milk because the soup gets "dump the bowl upside down and the soup will not fall out" THICK.

Using kitchen shears, cut up the bacon over pot and cook on medium heat. You want bacon grease to form under the bacon because the grease is what your cubed potatoes steam in.
Next, cube up your potatoes and toss them in as you go with the frying bacon.

Picture happy again but I didn't want to waste a good picture. Pain in the butt to do while you are cooking - -uhm, taking pics that is.
Stir the bacon and cubed potatoes, set the lid on the pot and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. I just poke with a fork to tell when they are done ~ then the hard part =):
I accidentally loaded an extra picture here too, so here you go.

Okay, the hard part is open your can containing Cream of Chicken soup, drain your can of whole kernel corn, and measure out your 1 cup of sour cream. Now add all 3 to your cooked bacon and potatoes. Sprinkle pepper over all, add your light cream, milk, or 2 % ~ what ever combination you choose, stir, taste for need of further seasoning, heat through and SERVE~!

One less thing to do today ~ I better call you. You might not read this for days.

Since the previous stove gave up baking, there has since been a replacement and what a learning experience. Instead of temperatures madly fluctuating all over the place, leaving everything either severely over baked or underbaked; we now have a consistent overbake going on. The oven is convection and both the oven and burners get so much hotter with consistent heat then anything I have been used to before. I am seriously thinking about taking up TV dinners.
The oven has more racks then you can shake a stick at! I still have to read and figure out what the little racks just setting on the full sized racks get used for.
The picture may be too dark, but no more elements showing. Just a fan in the back with an upper and lower light in the oven.
The lights showing on the console are just a partial of what is available. Button pushers could become seriously addicted to this thing.
I wanted to show you my new chef's knife. Just LOVE IT! Beautiful! Gorgeous!
Sharp and are the grain lines not to die for? I Know, but Gorgeous!
The knife has been calling to me from cutlery stores everywhere. I wonder what Julia Child would say about it? Probably: Gorgeous!
Alright, this blog is taking forever and I still want to show off our first try at authentic tamales.
Oh, Mom, you will have to wait until my next post (I will actually post right away this time) for the braised cukes (cucumbers). Oh so good! YUM!
For the pork filling:
2 to 3 Tbs. lard or vegetable oil
3- to 3½-lb. boneless pork shoulder or Boston butt, cut into 3-inch chunks and trimmed
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
4 dried bay leaves, toasted
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, or mild oregano, or 1 Tbs. dried Mexican oregano
2 to 3 whole cloves1 to 2 guajillo, New Mexico, ancho, chipotle, or other dried red chiles, toasted, stemmed, and seeded
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. whole allspice berries

For the chile sauce:
2 Tbs. lard or vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
2 medium heads garlic, peeled (about 35 cloves)
6 ancho chiles, toasted, stemmed, seeded, soaked in very hot water for 15 minutes, and drained
3 guajillo chiles, toasted, stemmed, seeded, soaked in very hot water for 15 minutes, and drained
2 cups canned, puréed fire-roasted or regular tomatoes
2 cups (approximately) reserved pork cooking broth or lower-salt chicken broth
1 Tbs. tamale-grind masa harina
1 Tbs. brown sugar or honey; more as needed
1 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, toasted (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Kosher salt
One 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick
For the masa:
3-1/2 cups tamale-grind masa harina
12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) lard, unsalted butter, vegetable shortening, or a combination, softened
Kosher salt
2 to 2-1/2 cups reserved pork cooking broth
40 dried corn husks
Make the pork filling
Heat the lard or oil in a heavy-duty 8-quart pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the pork until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer each batch to a bowl after browning.
Return all of the pork to the pot and add the remaining pork filling ingredients and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the meat is fall-apart tender, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Remove the meat from the pot, cool briefly, and shred it using 2 forks. Strain the broth, discarding the solids, and let cool briefly. Skim off the excess fat and reserve the broth. (The recipe may be made to this point up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate the meat and broth separately.)
Make the chile sauce
Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the lard or oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion and garlic to a blender.
Add the soaked chiles, tomatoes, and a little of the broth to the blender and purée until smooth.
Heat the remaining 1/2 Tbs. lard or oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat, add the masa harina, and cook for about 1 minute. Add the chile-tomato mixture and cook, stirring regularly, until it has darkened in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar or honey, cumin, oregano (if using), allspice, cloves, 2-1/2 tsp. salt, and enough pork broth to thin the purée to a sauce consistency. Add the cinnamon stick, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the color deepens slightly, the consistency is smooth, and a light sheen develops on the surface of the sauce, an additional 15 to 20 minutes, adding more broth as needed. Season to taste with salt and sugar. (The sauce may be made up to 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.)
Make the masa
In a large bowl, mix the masa harina with 2-1/4 cups hot (140°F to 160°F) water. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), whip the lard, butter, or shortening on medium-high speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp. salt and continue beating while adding the masa in golf-ball-size pieces, waiting a few seconds between each addition. When about half of the masa is mixed in, start alternating the masa with the pork broth until all of the masa is used, along with about 2 cups of the broth. Add 1/4 cup of the chile sauce and whip until light and fluffy, adding more broth if the mixture seems too dry.
To test if the masa is ready, take a small piece (about 1/2 tsp.) and drop it in a cup of cold water. It should easily float. If not, simply whip the masa for a few more minutes and test again. Often, adding a bit more of the pork broth or cool water during this second mixing will help; don’t add too much liquid, however, or you’ll end up with overly soft masa and shapeless tamales.
Assemble the tamales
Soak the corn husks in very hot water for 30 to 45 minutes, or overnight in cool water with a plate or bowl set on top of the husks to keep them submerged. You’ll have enough husks to make the tamales, plus extra to line the steamer and make up for any broken husks.
In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups of the chile sauce with the shredded meat and season to taste with salt.
Wipe a soaked husk dry and put it smooth side up on a work surface. If necessary, trim the bottom with scissors so the husk can lie mostly flat. Put about 1/3 cup masa in the center of the widest portion of the husk. With a spoon or spatula, spread it evenly over one-half to two-thirds of the husk leaving a 1/2-inch border at each edge.
Put 2 to 3 Tbs. of the pork filling in the center of the masa about ½ inch from the wide end.
Fold the corn husk in half lengthwise so the edges meet. Fold the seam back so it’s in the center of the tamale. Fold the tail of the wrapper to cover the seam (at least half the length of the tamale). Flip seam side down onto a tray or rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
The tamales can be steamed as they are, or tied to make them more secure or to dress them up. To make ties, rip long, thin strips off one or two corn husks. Then place a strip of corn husk under the tamale, wrap it around the middle (making sure that you have some of the tail underneath) and tie securely.
Steam the tamales
Fill a deep 8-quart pot with a pasta insert with enough water to reach just below the insert. Without the insert in place, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Have ready a kettle or pot of almost boiling water to add if the water gets low. Arrange the tamales upright (open end up) in the insert, leaving room for the steam to circulate. Fit the insert into the pot over the boiling water. Use he extra husks to cover the tamales (this helps concentrate the heat). Cover the pot with a lid. Steam for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the water just boiling. Check the water level frequently and add more as needed to keep the pot from going dry.
To test for doneness, quickly remove a tamale and replace the lid on the pot to continue the cooking. Put the tamale on the counter for a few minutes and then carefully unwrap it. If ready, the masa should be set and will pull away from the wrapper easily.
Let the tamales rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to allow the masa to firm up. For softer tamales, let them rest in the pot with the heat off and the lid and extra leaves removed. For firmer tamales, let them rest out of the pot, covered with a cloth.
Serve the tamales in their wrappers with extra sauce passed on the side, and have diners unwrap them just before eating. Once unwrapped, they cool quickly.

The tamales can be broken down into steps over a 2 to 3 day period. I absolutely love the flavor of every part making up the whole tamale. Note: I did use lard and had such a guilty conscience for doing it. I think this is only the second time in my life to use lard. The first was frying chicken to see if there was a flavor difference.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dreamy Holiday Banana Cream Pie

Banana cream pie immediately conjures images of a creamy vanilla bean custard packed full of deep banana flavor, teeth sinking into slices of banana throughout. Nothing processed; all parts of the luscious pie made from scratch. Just how long does a perfect banana pie take? With any great project comes a need for patience but the patience is linked to the waiting period necessary for the custard to properly set up. I did not do this on the first slice because 2 hours was all we could hold out for. 4 hours refrigeration time is the recipe's request.

As you can see, the custard was not set up after 2 hours chilling.

Previously, banana cream pie recipes have been a complete let down. My mind must have a definite idea of what my taste buds should be looking for because I keep trying but now my search has almost been completed. The wonderful, creamy banana pie was close to perfection ~ ~ ! Maybe a thick custard is not the texture my mouth is used too but the flavor is here in every way. The graham cracker crust even has 1/2 cup of mashed bananas. NOTE: Do not press very hard when using a measuring cup to shape the crust into place in the pie dish. If you press to hard, the crust will come out of the oven hard and difficult to cut later. The recipe, with my altering for a thinner crust and less sweet filling, has been tried many times before and I made a few changes based on other baker's issues. Recipe is based off of a similar banana cream pie served at Emeril Lagasse's many restaurants.
The pie turned out absolutely delicious!

Dreamy Holiday Banana Cream Pie
(adapted from Emeril Lagasse with a few changes)
For custard filling:
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 to 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

For pie crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 pounds bananas, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices

For drizzled toppings:
3/4 cup caramel sauce
, recipe follows
1 cup chocolate sauce, recipe follows

For whipped cream topping:
2 cups heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Shaved chocolate
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare custard filling, in a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, cornstarch, and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Whisk to blend well. Set aside. Combine the remaining 2 cups cream, the sugar, and the vanilla bean in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and bring to a gentle boil, about 10 minutes. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Be forewarned: this mixture must break and look curdled otherwise it will not set up properly and it will be runny. Pour it into a glass bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap down over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely at room temperature. When cooled, remove the vanilla bean and pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip. Beat at medium speed to combine the mixture. If it will not combine, warm another 1/2 cup heavy cream and slowly add it to the mixture. Whip until you have a thick and creamy custard.
To prepare pie crust, in a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and mashed banana. Mix thoroughly. Add the butter and mix well. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until browned, about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cool, for about 10 minutes. To assemble, spread about 1/2 cup of the custard on the bottom of the crust. Arrange about a third of the banana slices, crowding them close together, over the custard. Next, spread 1 cup of the custard over the bananas. Arrange another third of the banana slices close together over the custard. Top with 1 cup of the custard and the banana slices. Top with the remaining custard, covering the bananas completely to prevent them from turning brown. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. Cut the pie into wedges and serve with a drizzle of caramel and chocolate sauce. Top with the whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Caramel Drizzle Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is a deep caramel color and has the consistency of thin syrup, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream, return the saucepan to high heat, and boil the sauce until it regains the consistency of a thick syrup, about 2 minutes. Cool.

The sauce can be refrigerated until ready to use. Allow it to reach room temperature before drizzling it over the pie.

Chocolate Sauce
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the half-and-half and butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until a thin paper like skin appears on the top. Do not boil. Add the chocolate and vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
Remove from the heat and let cool.
The sauce can be kept refrigerated for several days, but must be returned to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Winter Time Roasting/Smoking Briquette Grill Experience: Glazed Smoke-Roasted Fresh Ham

My first real winter BBQ is a 16 pound fresh ham - or as the Port Orchard local butcher tells me: a pork leg. The spiral hams in the grocery store just say processed or overdone and the idea of buying another one for the holidays is not speaking to me. The BBQ pork spareribs I smoked earlier in the year were absolutely delicious! Is it so wrong to dream about your own spareribs? The idea of freezing my bun-buns off to grill ribs again was not appealing but the thought of spending $60 on the store's choices for a holiday ham, only to have the ham pre-spiral cut and me having to doctor the whole bundle of supposed joy with spices simmered in fruit juices made me come to this realization: I can learn to winter BBQ too! Okay, aside from me sniveling about the cold, I am worried about keeping the briquettes at a toasty 300 degrees F. The mesquite wood chips do not worry me. Temperature and timing take technique and practice.

Here are the facts I knew to begin my ham project (once the facts are down, the rest can be researched and planned):

  • My butcher readied a 16 pound fresh pork leg (so I called it a ham - but then I received "the look")
  • 3 chimneys are ready to light briquettes for continual heat
  • 2 Large bags of natural briquettes are at the ready
  • Mesquite wood chips are soaking for 75% of the roasting/smoking period "and"
  • Apple chips are soaking for the last hour of smoke
  • Brining the fresh ham 24 hours in advance
  • Using a Fruit Glaze for the last 30 minutes of roasting
  • Diamond Scoring for brine, appearance, and placement of whole cloves
  • Foil under pork leg containing: 2 c. orange juice, 1 1/2 c. water, dozen whole cloves and 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • Use meat thermometer and oven thermometer

(Recipe adapted from Grill It! by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby)

Glazed Smoke-Roasted Fresh Ham

The Brine:

3 quarts water

2 cups dark rum

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup kosher salt

2 Tablespoons ground allspice

The Meat:

1 Bone-in fresh ham (mine is 16 pounds)

1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/2 cups pineapple juice

3 Tablespoons roughly chopped sage

12 whole cloves


Score diagonal cuts both ways into the skin of the ham with a sharp knife to make a diamond pattern all over it.

Brine: Combine the brine ingredients in a container large enough to easily hold the ham and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Place the ham in the container (I used a large stock pot), making sure that there is enough liquid to cover it completely. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days, turning the ham every 12 hours.

Combine the fruit juices in a small saucepan on the stove top over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir frequently, until the mixture is syrupy (about 45 minutes). Stir in the sage and set aside.

Light a fire well over to one side of your grill, using enough coals to fill a large shoebox. Remove the ham from the brine and dry it well with paper towels. Insert the cloves evenly across the skin in the points of the diamond-shaped cuts.

When the fire has died down and the coals are covered with white ash, place the ham on the side of the grill away from the coals, being careful that none of the meat is directly over the coals. Put the lid on the grill with the vents open one-quarter of the way, and cook, adding a handful of fresh charcoal every 30 minutes or so (I had a chimney with lit charcoal continually ready because of the outside temperature being so cold). Start checking for doneness after 2 hours; it may take up to 3 hours to fully cook (my 16 pound ham took 3 hours and 15 minutes).

Baste the ham generously with the fruit juice glaze during the last 30 minutes of cooking. To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the ham and let it sit for 5 seconds, then read the temperature: look for 134 degree F for medium, 150 degrees F for medium-well, and 160 degrees F for well done; we pull the ham at 147 degrees F. When the ham is done to your liking, remove it from the frill, cover loosely with foil, and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Look at Julia Child or How to Approach Learning

Julia Child and I are becoming close friends through her recipes "but" along the way, a learning problem has surfaced. A deadline date is needed for me to complete any project but giving Julia Child the time necessary, the deadline will be movable.
Cooking with Julia can be seen as insulting if the idea was to race through her cookbook, just completing recipes. Yes, the movie inspired by Julia and Julie was the final inspiration to start Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but for any project to be meaningful, so much more is necessary. A strong desire to learn, patience, humility, scheduling, concentration, and allotting the right amount time in the right learning atmosphere are all part of how I am approaching the cookbook.

Each recipe takes time and concentration with a need to reread each recipe before starting, usually several times (Have you tried her recipes? I can honestly tell you there is a reason Julie must have had multiple meltdowns in the kitchen.) because Julia attacked every aspect of her cookbook with care and precision. She wants the cook looking at the recipe to understand why the step is necessary and what the home cook should be looking for while completing each step.

So here I am, wondering how to document my journey. Even giving myself time, I have made blunders like buying the wrong cut of beef (misread the label), trying to find veal, or getting steps confused (I rushed the recipe).

The aspic recipes are making my tummy do flip flops as well as the brains and other lovely recipes but we will do them and we will openly discuss the good and the not so good.

First Point: I am going to share what I have learned with each recipe.

Second Point (not yet fully decided): To get a full understanding of how to approach a main ingredient, a section should be completed at a time but just how much poultry can a family eat continuously?

I am hoping the rest will fall into place =).
Julia Child (Volume I ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Days Left: 298
Recipes to Go: 583

Leek and Potato Soup (p. 37 - 38)
Scallops Gratineed with Wine, Garlic, and Herbs (p. 218 - 219)

Leek and Potato Soup
Julia states how "leek and potato soup smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make". I think French people spend a lot of time in the kitchen. What we in America view as simple and what Julia views as simple are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Yes, the soup does not take large amounts of time but I had a sink full of dirty dishes to show for all the steps required to get the most flavor and texture (the soup is delicious) from the recipe. I do not believe I saw a dishwasher in Julia's kitchen but I could be wrong. Julia attacks a recipe to show scientific precision. I doubt she worried about how many dishes would go down in the effort.

A 3- to 4-quart saucepan or pressure cooker (used pressure cooker)
3 to 4 cups or 1 pound peeled potatoes, sliced or diced (I diced)
3 cups or 1 pound thinly sliced leeks including the tender green; or yellow onions
2 quarts of water
1 Tablespoon salt
4 to 6 Tablespoons whipping cream or 2 to 3 Tablespoons softened butter
2 to 3 Tablespoons minced parsley or chives

Either simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender; or cook under 15 pounds pressure for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill. Correct seasoning. (*) Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to the simmer.

Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls. Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with the herbs.

Learning Point #1: The pressure cooker is still new to me and I am amazed at how easy and fast this method of tenderizing is.

Learning Point #2: Julia Child states that to puree a soup does not mean to take away the texture and create an end result resembling baby food. Blenders create just this type of texture; hence using the food mill or a fork.

Verdict: Loved the simple soup as a starter course for the meal (in place of a salad maybe) and thought the addition of minced parsley added elegance to the dish. This recipe is highlighted to be used for entertaining as a first course.

Scallops Gratineed with Wine, Garlic, and Herbs
Julia's recipe for these luscious scallops are fit to be a first course meal or the cook can double the ingredients and the dish will suffice for a main meal.

Serve a chilled Rose', or a dry white wine. Ingredients:
1/3 cup minced yellow onions
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 Tablespoon minced shallot or green onions
1 clove minced garlic

1 1/2 pounds washed scallops
Salt and pepper
1 cup sifted flour in a dish

2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 10-inch enameled skillet

2/3 cup dry white wine, or 1/2 cup dry white vermouth and 3 Tablespoons water
1/2 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon thyme
6 buttered scallop shells, or porcelain or Pyrex shells, of 1/3 cup capacity
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 Tablespoons butter cut into 6 pieces

Cook the onions slowly in butter in a small saucepan for 5 minutes or so, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in the shallots or onions, and garlic, and cook slowly for 1 minute more. Set aside.

Dry the scallops and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Just before cooking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour, and shake off excess flour.

Saute the scallops quickly in very hot butter and oil for 2 minutes to brown them lightly.

Pour the wine, or the vermouth and water, into the skillet with the scallops. Add the herbs and the cooked onion mixture. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Then uncover, and if necessary boil down the sauce rapidly for a minute until it is lightly thickened. Correct seasoning, and discard bay leaf.

Spoon the scallops and sauce into the shells. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter.
(*) Set aside or refrigerate until read to gratine.

Just before serving, run under a moderately hot broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to heat through, and to brown cheese lightly.

Learning Point #1: This recipe follows suit with the rest of the recipes tried, devised for entertaining. I enjoy being able to calculate my time and know that I can prepare a dish in advance, refrigerate, then heat just before serving. This allows the host to enjoy her/his company and relax enough to enjoy the food as well.

Learning Point #2: The scallops were sliced thin and sauteed quickly. The flavor was tender, moist, and delicious. I would never have thought to slice a scallop into thin slices without taking something away from the seafood presentation.

Verdict: Scallops are one of my favorite seafoods' and this dish really brought out the flavor, adding a moist and tender texture. The dish surpasses any scallop dish ordered at a restaurant to date.