Friday, January 6, 2012

Caesar Salad with Scallop Croutons

 Most of my recipes are homey, stick to your ribs, "the kids will love it" recipes. But every now and then I like to fancy it up. Ya know, get out the good china (that's not chipped from "helpful" kids loading and unloading the dishwasher) and silverware and eat in the company of other adults.

I had this salad at a restaurant over 10 years ago and it has stuck in my mind ever since. I've been wanting to try to make it for years but it never crossed my mind when I was actually planning dinner parties. A couple weeks ago it popped back into my brain and right then I emailed my friend Laurie and asked her if she wanted to come over for lunch the following week, I wanted to use her as a guinea pig. To my amazement she said yes! I think she said yes because she knows I'm not a seafood fan and couldn't believe I wanted to make something with scallops, and just had to see me eating them with her own two eyes to believe it. I'm a complex gal.

So Laurie came over and helped me prepare this yummy, hearty salad for lunch. The bay scallops are breaded in panko and fried (how can that NOT be good?) and placed atop a caesar salad made with homemade dressing and act as the crunchy croutons... with a soft, slightly sweet centre.

This recipe would make 8 appetizer size salads or 4 meal size salads, and would be an elegant addition to your next dinner party.

 Caesar Salad with Scallop Croutons

1 egg
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. oil, vegetable or canola olive oil really changes the taste
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

scallop "croutons"
1 lb bay scallops  (the wee ones)
1/4 c flour
2 eggs
2 c panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
salt & pepper

1 head romaine hearts
1 small container mixed baby greens
6 strips bacon, fried crisp and chopped
parmesan cheese, shredded


1. In a food processor or blender, pulse egg and lemon juice until combined.
2. Lightly mince your garlic and add to the egg and lemon.
3. With blade spinning, slowly stream in the oil and allow to continue blending for 1-2 minutes.
4. While the mixture is blending add the vinegar and cheese and salt and pepper.
5. Transfer to a bowl or pitcher and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (1-2 hours is better) so the dressing has a chance to set and thicken and the flavours to develop.
6. In the meantime, fry the bacon until crisp and allow to drain on paper towels. Chop  into 1/2" pieces.
7. Set up a breading station by putting flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), eggs and panko in separate shallow dishes.
8. Rinse the scallops and dry on paper towels.
9. Dredge the scallops through the flour, then eggs then roll in the panko to coat thoroughly.
10. Heat oil to 365˚F. Carefully drop the scallops into the hot oil making sure not to over crowd. Cook until scallops are golden brown.
11. Drain excess oil off by removing scallops and placing on paper towels.
12. Rinse and dry the lettuce and tear into bite size pieces. Toss with bacon, dressing, parmesan and the scallops and serve.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mango Chicken Curry

When I first started dating my husband he was really excited for me to meet his friend Mike. Mike was a great guy, really friendly and smart and we hit it off right away. One night Mike asked us over for dinner. My husband was all for it and told me Mike was going to make us his famous Mango Chicken Curry. At first I was all "Seriously? Not frozen pizza or a bottle of marinara poured over pasta?", the usual single 20-something guy's cooking staples. And then I was all "Really? YOU like curry? The guy who eats almost nothing adventurous?". I had to say yes because I had to see these two phenomena for myself.

I went right from work to Mike's apartment and got there before my husband-to-be, so Mike let me watch him make his curry dish. I was really impressed with the fact that he didn't have to read a recipe, and even more impressed that it was so freakin' good (I have to admit, wasn't a big curry fan up until this point)! My future husband ate 2 plates of dinner and I knew I had to add Mike's famous curry dish to our repertoire. What I really like about this dish is that there is a nice balance of spice and sweet and all the ingredients can be easily found at any grocery store.

So Mike Lamont, thank you for teaching me how to make this. I'm sure along the way somewhere I changed some ingredient quantities because I never wrote down the original recipe, and have been making it from memory for almost 10 years, but Jason still eats 2 plates of it so I must be close!

Mango Chicken Curry

1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled & chopped in 1/2" pieces
1 green pepper, chopped in 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
3 cups chicken stock or water
3 tbsp Sweet Mango Chutney
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt & Pepper

1. Brown chicken thighs in olive oil until about 50% cooked through.
2. Remove chicken from pan and add onion & green pepper. Cook for about 5 mins over medium heat.

3. Add rice and stir. Cook for about a minute and add chicken stock.
4. Add chutney, curry, cumin and coriander and stir.

5. Return chicken to pan and cover.

6. Cook over medium-low heat until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through (about 20 mins)  stirring occasionally and adding more stock/water a little at a time as needed.
Serve hot.