Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce

As foretold yesterday, I have a scallop/Meyer lemon recipe today. Huzzah!

You know, all those people who unsubscribed because I’m “no longer relevant,” what with my lentils and quinoa and photos of crocus, are going to be disappointed that they missed this one.  It may not be Whole30 compliant, but it’s pretty straight-forward paleo/primal, and it’s absotively-effing delicious.  To say nothing of quick and drop-dead simple.

Oh, well.  Their loss.

Anyhoo, Meyer lemons.  I’d heard of them, but had never actually seen one until last week when I chanced upon a small bag of them at the local supermarket.  I eagerly bought it and left it on the counter while Beloved and I traipsed down to southern Ohio for an extended weekend of dominoes, hot tubs and other middle-aged fun and games (ahem).

I thought the Meyers, which are believed to be a hybrid of standard lemons and mandarin oranges, giving them a deep yellow color and sweeter, more floral flavor than your average, run-of-the-mill lemon, would be fine.  After all, I buy citrus all the time in season and it all does quite well sitting on the counter for several days.

Meyer lemons, not so much, unfortunately – all but one of them were beginning to rot when we returned on Monday.  Disappointed, visions of Meyer lemon goodies in the form of pies and pound cake quickly banished, I salvaged the one good fruit and began to wonder what I could do with it.

Once I’d remembered the scallops, it was easy.

Our butchers, Whitefeather Meats, have recently found a good source of wild, sustainably caught seafood, and last week we were pleased to see scallops in the seafood case.  They’re my absolutely favorite shellfish, so we bought them eagerly and when faced with no leftovers for lunch yesterday I decided it was time to consume them – pan-seared, they take all of about 8 minutes.  Coming up with the sauce took little time, and served with leftover Roasted Root Vegetable Hash, we were eating lunch in the comfort of our home 15 minutes later.

Let me just say, the Meyer lemon pan sauce is outstanding – I was literally licking it out of the pan as I cleaned up afterward.  It would be great on shrimp as well as chicken, so if you don’t do shellfish you can still make it and it will still be outstanding.

No Meyer lemons?  No problem – this would work well with your regular, garden-variety lemons, although you might want to increase the amount of honey and/or butter slightly, to keep it from being too acidic (which is the whole point of the honey and butter in the first place).

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce.  So simple and easy, but impressive enough for company!

Click the image to enlarge

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • the juice and grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry; sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter begins to foam.
  3. Place the scallops in the skillet and cook until lightly browned but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate; cover and keep warm.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the liquid in the pan until it becomes a light golden color, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, scraping up any brown bits, then the zest, rosemary and honey. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce is reduced and almost syrupy (this should take less than a minute). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.
  5. Plate the scallops and drizzle with the Meyer lemon sauce. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 211 calories, 13.2g total fat, 42.5mg cholesterol, 446.6mg sodium, 279mg potassium, 11g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 14.1g protein

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Look – I’m here!

More importantly – I cooked!

It was a nice weekend; we finally got a little down time.  A good thing, too, because that won’t happen again until after Christmas.  I love the holidays, but the older I get the more I just don’t want to deal with it.

We are SO taking the week between Christmas and New Years off.

I’m also glad to report that my oven is back in working order, and this was the first thing I made once it was up and running again.  We have a ton of root vegetables in our fridge, as well as sweet potatoes and winter squash on our counter, some from the farmer’s market and some from our own garden (we were surprised at the success we had at growing sweet potatoes; there will be more next year), so I decided to see what I could do with them.

This recipe makes a lot – 6 very generous servings – and is quite easy to make, if you discount all the peeling and dicing prep-work involved; fortunately for me, my better half has no problem helping out with such tasks.  And it is just delicious – Beloved not only wolfed down a second helping the evening I made it, but ate more the next morning with breakfast.

I think he’s hording what’s left in a Tupperware in the back of the fridge where I can’t find it.

I used a delicata squash in this, but you could use any winter squash you like, as well as just about any combination of root vegetables – a rutabaga would be nice thrown into the mix, as would some red-skinned potatoes if you’re so inclined.  But as written, the hash is Whole30 compliant as well as vegan-friendly, and would make a great addition to a real food holiday table.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash. This simple and colorful autumn hash can be made with any variety of squashes and root vegetables.

Click the image to enlarge

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 large delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl; toss, making sure all the vegetables are coated with the olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Spread the mixture in a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender.
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and place under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to finish browning if desired.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 164 calories, 7.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 547.1mg sodium, 583.7mg potassium, 24.7g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 2.3g protein

Beef Bourguignon

Julia Child.  She revolutionized the way the United States not only cooks, but views, food, and collectively we owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Beef Bourguignon, that gorgeous peasant dish of beef stewed in wine with bacon, mushrooms and onions, is arguably her seminal recipe; you can barely think of Julia Child without thinking of Beef Bourguignon, and vice versa.  And for good reason – it is most likely the best beef stew you will ever, ever eat.  Julia herself wrote in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, “[It is] certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.”

Who am I to argue with that?  Why would I argue with that?  I don’t disagree with her at all.

This is a somewhat streamlined version of the recipe that appears in MTAOFC.  The most notable deviation from the original is the substitution of tapioca flour for wheat flour and ghee for butter; nor do I bother with the traditional bouquet garni or thickening the sauce.  But while the list of ingredients is long, and the instructions seem longer, it’s not a difficult dish by any means – just rather time consuming.

With 607 calories, 31 grams of fat and over 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving (and I’ve increased the servings to 8 from the original 6), this is not “diet food” by any stretch of the imagination.  But who cares?  Julia certainly didn’t, and neither should you.

Beef Bourguignon. The classic French dish of beef stewed in wine with bacon, mushrooms and onions.

Click the image to enlarge

Beef Bourguignon
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds stew meat, cut into 2” cubes
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/homemade-tomato-paste/” target=”_blank”]tomato paste[/url]
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 pound new potatoes
  • Braised Onions
  • 24 white “pearl” onions, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/ghee/” target=”_blank”]ghee[/url]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sautéed Mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. In a 9” to 10” oven-proof enameled Dutch oven or casserole, fry the chopped bacon in the olive oil over low heat until slightly browned and most of the fat has been rendered out. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Dry the beef well with paper towels. Increase the heat to high and cook the beef, a few pieces at a time, until well-browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the bacon.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and add the carrot and onion to the pan, cooking until the vegetables begins to soften and brown. Pour off any remaining fat.
  4. Return the beef and bacon to the pan with the vegetables and season wit the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the tapioca flour and toss to lightly coat the beef. Set the the pan, uncovered, in the center of the oven for 4 minutes.
  5. Toss the beef and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove the pan, and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. Stir in the wine and beef stock; add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, then cover and place in the oven. Braise the beef for 2 1/2 or 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  6. While the beef is in the oven, prepare the onions, mushrooms and potatoes.
  7. [b]For the onions:[/b] Heat the ghee and olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and sauté the onions, for about 10 minutes, stirring or rolling the onions frequently so they will brown as evenly as possible and taking care not to break the skins. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper and stir in the beef stock and herbs. Cover and simmer over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are tender, but still retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the bay leaf and the stems of the parsley and thyme. Set aside.
  8. [b]For the mushrooms:[/b] Heat the ghee and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer, taking care not to crowd them, and sauté, stirring or tossing frequently, until they have given off their liquid and are nicely browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  9. [b]For the potatoes:[/b] scrub the whole new potatoes gently under running water. Bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil; add a tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Boil until fork tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, carefully slice each in half. Set aside.
  10. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the pan through a sieve set over a large saucepan. Wipe the Dutch oven or casserole with a clean paper towel and return the meat to the pan; stir in the onions, mushrooms and potatoes. Skim as much of the fat from the sauce as possible and return to the pan with meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the stew is completely heated through, and serve.
  11. Nutrition (per serving): 607 calories, 31.1g total fat, 141.8mg cholesterol, 883.8mg sodium, 1437.4mg potassium, 22.5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3.5g sugar, 44.7g protein

Eggs Blackstone

Life is very, very stressful for me right now, some of which is unbloggable, and some I’ll tell you about soon.  But if I don’t get some time to decompress in the very near future, my head may pop right off my shoulders.  There is just so much going on.

I haven’t had much opportunity to do much in the way of “creative” cooking lately, and that’s part of my problem – it’s hard to do a blog-worthy recipe when you’re constantly on the run.  But this Sunday I went out of my way to make something special for brunch, and I’m so glad I did.

Beloved is a huge Eggs Benedict fan; if you ask him what he wants as a special occasion breakfast or brunch, that will probably be his first answer.  Me?  Not so much, but I still make some version of the dish a few times a year, simply because he loves it so much.

I forget where I ran into this particular version – in the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, I believe – and have been meaning to make it for quite some time.  Now is the perfect opportunity, since the cool weather is keeping our abundant crop of tomatoes from ripening quickly.  In other words, I’ve got green tomatoes out the wazoo in the back yard, so why not fry them up?

I have to say, out of all of the versions of Eggs Benedict I’ve made over the years, this is one of my favorites, right up there with the Crab Cake Benedict.  Beloved devoured it (in fact, he devoured thirds), and while I’m not a fan of poached eggs, this was just as good with softly scrambled eggs.  Just delicious, and while it’s a tad labor-intensive, it’s a marvelous special occasion brunch paired with some fresh fruit.

Eggs Blackstone. A unique version of Eggs Benedict featuring fried green tomato slices and crumbled bacon.Click the image to enlarge

Eggs Blackstone
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 ounces bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
  • 1 recipe [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/fried-green-tomatoes/” target=”_blank”]Fried Green Tomatoes[/url]
  • 1 cup clarified butter or ghee, melted
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • kosher salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Make the Fried Green Tomatoes; set aside and keep warm.
  2. [i]Make the Hollandaise:[/i] Bring two inches of water to a simmer in the bottom half of a double boiler. Whisk the eggs with the cold water in the top half until light and foamy. Add a few drops of lemon juice and continue whisking over the simmering water until the egg yolks have begun to thicken.
  3. Begin whisking the clarified butter into the egg yolks slowly – just a few drops at a time. As an emulsion forms, begin adding the butter in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Once the butter has been completely incorporated into the egg yolks and the sauce is smooth and thickened, add the remaining lemon juice and Tabasco. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.
  4. [i]Poach the eggs:[/i] Pierce the large end of each egg with the pin about 3/8 of an inch deep; lower the eggs into a saucepan of boiling water for exactly 10 seconds, remove immediately and set aside – this will help the egg keep it’s shape during the poaching process. Pour 1/4 cup of plain, white vinegar into a wide, fairly shallow pan of simmering water; the vinegar will also help the egg retain it’s shape when poaching. Crack an egg sharply against the side of the pan and, holding the egg as closely to the surface of the simmering water as you can manage, break open the egg quickly and slide it into the water. Set a kitchen timer for 4 minutes and quickly repeat with the remaining eggs.
  5. Increase the heat slightly if you need to in order to keep the water simmering, and when the 4 minutes is up, remove the eggs with the slotted spoon, one at a time, in the order you dropped them into the water – depending on how quickly you got them into the water, you shouldn’t need more than 15 seconds between each egg – and place them in a large bowl of hot water. This will help keep them warm as well as remove the taste of the vinegar.
  6. Divide the Fried Green Tomatoes between 4 plates; top with the crumbled bacon. Place a poached egg on the tomatoes and bacon, then spoon the hollandaise sauce over the egg.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 593 calories, 51.5g total fat, 399.3mg cholesterol, 957.9mg sodium, 378.4mg potassium, 11.4g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 2g sugar, 19.9g protein

Venison Tenderloin with Blueberry-Red Wine Reduction

I am SO thrilled – I pretty much have all of The Young One’s college finances wrapped up.  We’ll meet the deadline for payment, with time to spare (thank goodness), and then all I’ll have to worry about is getting everything together he needs to take with him by his move-in date.

And then things will be very quiet in our house.

I don’t know how much I’m looking forward to that.  I’ve been a Mom for 30 years, and the whole “empty nest” thing is going to require some adjustment.  (The dog may not survive all the attention.)

If there’s anything I am looking forward to when it’s just me and Beloved, it’s that I won’t have to worry – too often, anyway – about accommodating the palate of a very picky eater.  For the time being, the only time this isn’t an issue is when The Young One is out and about with his friends; yes, that’s been more often than not the last six months, but the last few weeks he’s been kind of sticking close to home.  Separation anxiety, maybe?  At any rate, when he’s avoiding the National Guard safely ensconced in the hallowed halls of Kent State University, I’ll have more time for cooking things, well, like this.

With the exception of a couple of roasts, this is the last of Bambi’s Mom the deer we were gifted last autumn.  Like beef and pork tenderloin, venison tenderloin is quite tender (duh) and very lean, requiring it be cooked on the medium-rare side.  Searing it, then finishing in the oven, is the best way to accomplish this, and the use of an instant-read thermometer is almost mandatory.

Because an overcooked deer is a dry, tough deer.

The blueberry-red wine reduction came about because it is blueberry season and they’re dirt cheap right now.  (Okay, yes, they’re delicious, too.)  Honestly, though, they pair really well with a good quality, dry red wine (I believe I used a red zinfandel) and fresh thyme; the sauce was just lovely and complemented the rich, slightly gamey flavor of the venison really well.

The recipe is not only delicious, but also quite easy – the hardest thing about the dish is the reduction, and it takes all of about 15 minutes.  It would also go quite well with beef or pork tenderloin, if you don’t have the venison.

Venison Tenderloin with Blueberry-Red Wine Reduction. In this classically styled dish, flavorful venison is paired with a sweet-tart blueberry sauce.

Click on the image to enlarge

Venison Tenderloin with Blueberry-Red Wine Reduction
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 venison tenderloins (about 2 inches thick and 4 inches long), patted dry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Generously season the tenderloins with the salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 thyme sprigs and 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Place the venison in the skillet and sear 2 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer the skillet to the oven for 7 minutes, or until the venison is medium rare, or has reached an internal temperature of 135 F. Remove from the oven; tent loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a wide, shallow sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and remaining thyme and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add the wine and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by half.
  5. Stir in the blueberries and honey and cook on medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring and lightly mashing the berries with the back of a large wooden spoon. Pass the blueberry sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids, and set aside.
  6. Cut the tenderloins into 1/4″ slices and plate, fanned out across the surface. Spoon the sauce over the venison and serve.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 433 calories, 21.9g total fat, 42.7mg cholesterol, 156.4mg sodium, 555.5mg potassium, 26.1g carbohydrates, 2.4g fiber, 17.8g sugar, 18.7g protein