Scallops are an exquisite delicacy brought to us by the sea. Subtle as their flavors may be, the combination of sweet, buttery and nutty always hits the right spot and makes them so addictive.
Sea scallops are widely known for their iconic, beautiful shape …. a fan-like shell with fluted grooves. Different varieties are found in oceans all over the world and come in many sizes. For commercial purposes they are labeled similar to shrimp. A number is used to designate how many scallops of a given size it would take to constitute a pound. The label 20/30 means it would take 20/30 scallops to make up a pound and labels like U10 means it would take less than (‘under’) 10 to make a pound.
Scallops are bivalve mollusks (meaning having 2 shells- usually united by a hinge) that have a reddish-pink, upper shell and white or cream colored, lower shell.
Wild scallops feed by filtering microscopic plankton from the water. They are hand shucked immediately and frozen at sea to capture their fresh sweet flavor.
Brion & I don’t have scallops often but when we do we enjoy them to the fullest.
Parmesan Baked Scallops
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place 'scallop shells' on a baking pan.
Rinse scallops & thoroughly pat dry on paper towels. Season with salt & pepper.
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the compound butter. Mix well.
Place 4 scallops on top of each shell dish. Divide butter into 4 portions & place one on each dish of scallops. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of scallops. Test at about the 6 minute mark. Try to avoid over baking as you will be broiling for a few minutes to finish.
As scallops are baking, melt butter in microwave for the crunchy topping. Mix in the panko crumbs & fresh parsley.
Remove the scallops from the oven. Turn on the broiler. Top each with a spoonful of the crunchy topping. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan cheese. Broil for about 1 minute or 2, just enough to brown the topping & melt the cheese.
Nice to serve with rice or pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley & serve with lemon wedges.
The irresistible combination of strawberry and lemon is a taste most of us love to savor. This sweet and tart pairing isn’t reserved for strawberry lemonade served in a cup either. The flavor combination works wonders in cupcakes, sophisticated crepe cake, custard tarts, etc. etc. With the fact that we can readily buy strawberries year round, doesn’t make them any less special.
I’m not sure if you recall that fabulous glazed fresh strawberry pie from years ago …. so addicting! It consisted of a crisp crust filled only with fresh strawberries held together by a thickened fruit juice glaze. It was the quintessential summer dessert back in the day. A lady by the name of Claire Moore created this pie in 1954 in the USA. She shared the recipe with her husband, former ‘Eat’n Park‘ CEO Bob Moore, and the rest is history! This regional diner chain began during the days of the 1950’s car hops when everyone thought it was real cool to park and eat right in their hot rods. Today they’re a family restaurant and coffee shop chain still serving their signature fresh glazed strawberry pie.
To make a long story short, it was the memory of that dessert that made me think of doing these strawberry custard tarts for today’s blog.
Strawberry Custard Tarts w/ Lemon Curd
In a medium sauce pan over low heat, whisk together butter, sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt until combined. Add eggs one at a time, whisking until fully mixed each time. Cook over low heat about 8-9 minutes, whisking frequently, until somewhat thickened. Remove from heat and cool completely. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt until fully combined. Add the cubed butter, and using either a pastry blender or two forks, cut the butter into the mixture until the pieces are around the size of a pea. Pour in the vanilla extract, and cold water. Stir until the dough clumps together.
Move the dough to a floured surface and fold the dough into itself until the flour is incorporated (if it is too sticky, add some more flour to the surface or your hands) and forms a ball. Divide the dough into quarters and pat each one down into four discs, about ½ inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to an hour.
Remove the dough from fridge. Roll it out into 5-inch circles on a lightly floured surface and use to line four 4-inch tart pans. Crimp the edges as desired.
Prick the bottoms with a fork. Line the chilled dough crusts with parchment paper and fill each with baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans. Remove from heat and let them cool completely.
Filling & Assembly
Whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract together and then stir in the honey yogurt. Place the strawberries on top of the cooled crusts. Pour the filling over the strawberries.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden and custard filling is set. Cool for 5 minutes, drizzle with lemon curd, and serve.
- There are numerous good quality lemon curds on the market if you would rather not make it from scratch since it is only used for drizzling.
Today, March 28th, our family honors the birth date of my mother. Over 40 years has gone by since her passing and she still is a never ending song in my heart …. sometimes I may forget the words but I always remember the tune. As children we think we are invincible, that nothing can harm us. Innocence is bliss and makes our childhood carefree and happy as it should be. Little do we know of the worry we cause our mothers as soon as we step out of the door.
I grew up in a time when we would sit down to supper with the entire family and relate our adventures of the day. So much has changed since then and I feel so fortunate to have experienced a time when life was much gentler.
As I’ve mentioned many times on the blog, my mother was an amazing ‘baker’. Although, my siblings & I just took her cooking and baking skills for granted then, I realize now just how amazing they were. If she ever had any ‘failures’, I sure can’t remember them. Yeast goods were her forte. She baked bread every week and there was always something special with one little piece of that dough such as a pan of cinnamon rolls etc.
I recall some raised potato doughnuts that my Dad called ‘spudnuts’. Potato bread or doughnuts are supposedly a creative way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. The truth of the matter is, it is the secret ingredient to incredible tasting, light & airy potato bread.
Spudnut Shops were North American, 1950’s franchised stores selling doughnuts made with potato flour called Spudnuts. The original recipe is based on a folk recipe that traces back to Germany. I’m presuming Germany calls them ‘fastnacht‘.
To make a long story short, when my mother made these potato doughnuts, they were to die for! So here’s my version of the taste of a memory.
BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES OF OUR DEAR MOTHER!
Raised Potato Doughnuts w/ Blackberry Glaze
In a small bowl, combine lukewarm milk, & 2 Tbsp of the sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in the yeast & allow to sit until frothy.
In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, eggs, salt & butter. When yeast mixture is proofed, add to potato mixture, combining well.
In another bowl, whisk together flour & remaining sugar. Combine with wet mixture until dough forms a ball. Knead on a work surface for about 10 minutes then place in a greased bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap & a towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Lightly butter a 12-hole doughnut pan; set aside.
Punch down the dough & cut into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a strip long enough to fit around each doughnut hole mold. Lay them in the molds & pinch the ends together so the dough rounds are more or less even.
Cover the tray with plastic wrap & a towel & allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake doughnuts for about 20-25 minutes. The bottom should only be slightly browned while the top is still pale as they will be a bit chewier then.
While doughnuts are baking, place blackberries in a food processor & puree ; strain. Place in a small bowl & add lemon juice, vanilla & sifted powdered sugar. Combine until fully incorporated & no lumps remain.
When baked doughnuts a still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over them & allow glazed doughnuts to set about 20 minutes before serving.
- I wanted to give my little doughnuts a bit of a fancier look today so I baked them in mini Bundt pans. Same great flavor wearing a new look!
Salmon croquettes are basically a version of a salmon cake, salmon balls or patties and can be fried or baked. They were originally made of beef, probably leftovers that needed to be used up. Croquettes originated in France in about 1898 by the founder of classical French cuisine, Escoffier. As Escoffier’s chefs started to travel throughout the world, they took the recipe with them to other cultures where it was transformed based on local cuisines. From the original beef croquette, it branched out into salmon croquettes, chicken, vegetarian, and many other versions.
There are many variations of ‘croquettes‘ on the market, and just about every culture has developed their own recipe. Constantly, new recipes are formulated and something new is invented and created. With the input of different cultures, the original recipe has taken itself into many directions, different applications and ingredients. Very often salmon croquettes (cakes, balls or patties) are made with canned salmon though there are quite a few newer recipes that use fresh salmon that has been either chopped finely or ground to mold into the various shapes.
I think, using a zesty orange-pineapple glaze is the perfect compliment to these baked salmon balls.
Baked Salmon Balls w/ Orange Pineapple Glaze
If using canned salmon, drain & flake well. If using fresh salmon, brush with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill for about 6 minutes or bake wrapped in foil at 350 F. for approximately 10 minutes. When cool, flake salmon. Add carrot, green onion, potatoes, tartar sauce, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro paste, Old Bay Seasoning, salt & pepper. Combine well.
Using a small scoop (about 1/2 oz size), measure salmon mixture out into palm of your hand & gently roll into balls. Mixture should make about 32 balls.
Roll salmon balls in Panko crumbs & place on a well buttered or sprayed baking sheet. Lightly spray tops with spray as well.
Bake about 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven.
Place all glaze ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir gently & simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid begins to thicken slightly & reduces by half.
Drizzle over salmon balls or serve on the side. These salmon balls are nice served with rice & a steamed veggie.
The Caramilk chocolate bar is a Canadian creation that has been around since 1968. First produced at the Cadbury factory in Montreal then production moved to the Gladstone factory in Toronto in 1978 and has been made there ever since.
The general name for the candy confection is actually Cadbury Caramilk, but in the USA, this candy bar is more familiarly known as Caramello. The entire styling of the bar is different depending on where it is sold and this can lead to confusion that these are different candy bars when they are actually the same product. There are some variations in the recipe in different countries but the overall taste is remarkably similar.
There have been countless theories and debates about how Caramilk gets the soft flowing caramel inside the Caramilk bar. To date, it is still one of those Canadian enduring mysteries as Cadbury has guarded the Caramilk ‘secret’ for over 50 years.
These apple tart/baskets are certainly taken up a notch by simply adding a piece of Caramilk chocolate to the center. Who knew …. what’s old is new again!
Caramilk Apple 'Baskets'
In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & salt. Add cold butter, vanilla & lemon zest. Cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender until dough starts to come together & form clumps. Divide 2/3 of pastry between 10 tart/muffin cups. Using fingertips, evenly press the dough into each cup. With remaining pastry, divide it into 10 balls & flatten each to form a top for each tart. Place pastry in refrigerator until filling is prepared.
In a saucepan, whisk together 1 1/4 cups water, both sugars, spices, salt & lemon juice. Add the diced apples & simmer for 10-12 minutes to soften apples, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water with cornstarch & add to apple mixture; continuing to cook until thickened. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Place a Tbsp of apple filling in each tart shell. Divide the Caramilk bar into 10 pieces. Place one piece in the center of each tart. Divide remaining apple filling between the 10 tarts. Top each with a pastry round & bake for about 35 minutes or until golden.
Serve inverted on a serving plate, either as is or with your choice of topping.
Scones are the quintessential, must be baked at home and eaten immediately foodstuff. Good scones are all about lightness and texture …. crumbly but a little moist, slightly dense but not grainy, flaky but not powdery.
The secret to a good moist scone that is also light, is in the proportion of rising agent to flour. Use too much leaving and your scone will definitely rise but be overpowered by baking powder chemicals. It is also important to keep the mixing to an absolute minimum or the gluten in the flour gets overworked, which makes the dough elastic and consequently the baked scones hard.
Many recipes call for self-rising flour as a staple ingredient. Often times, we find ourselves passing these recipes by because we don’t have it on hand, or because we don’t use it enough to actually want to buy it. Luckily, self-rising flour is easy to make at home. It requires only three ingredients and can be used in both recipes that call for it as an ingredient, and as a substitute for regular flour in quick-rise recipes to cut down on separate leavening agents.
The glaze is definitely the ‘icing on the cake’ when it comes to these scones. Chambord Liqueur is created using all natural ingredients. Black and red raspberries are blended before being steeped in Cognac to achieve a highly concentrated base. The mixture is then extracted and a second infusion captures the remaining flavors from the berries. The final step marries the berry infusion with Cognac and extracts of Madagascan vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and hints of fragrant herbs.
The total combination of scone and glaze is absolutely awesome!
Mango Scones w/ Chambord Glaze
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cardamom & lemon zest. With fingertips, cut in grated butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg & vanilla; add to flour mixture. Fold in JUST until incorporated then carefully fold in mangos.
Place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet. With lightly floured hands, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Score into 8 or 12 wedges.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden & test done. Cover lightly with foil if over browning before finished baking. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. cool slightly before glazing.
In a small dish, combine glaze ingredients & drizzle over cooled scones. Decorate with raspberries & mango if desired.
Self-rising flour contains baking powder in a proportion that is perfect for most sponge cakes, cupcakes and scones. Some recipes may ask for a little additional baking powder to be added, particularly if the cake is made with an all-in-one method as omitting the creaming stage in the cake making means less air is incorporated into the batter during the mixing stage. Other times a small amount of baking soda is added if the ingredients include cocoa powder, yogurt or buttermilk.
- For 1 cup of self-rising flour use: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder & 1/4 tsp salt. Multiply the amount as needed to create a larger amount.
Cheese, generally speaking, is not a tough sell. Even so, it is hard sometimes to convince someone to stray from the usual cheesy standbys and try something new. Comte is a creamy, nutty tasting French cheese that absolutely deserves to be checked out.
A fairly firm cheese that can be sliced, cubed or grated. Besides being versatile for uses in both sweet and savory cooking, Comte has a good shelf life. If you buy a wedge and it doesn’t get entirely used up, it can sit in the fridge for a week or three and it will be fine.
Cheese and dessert pairings are almost better than cheese and wine pairings. If you have the right cheese and dessert, the contrasting flavors complement each other so well you’ll never eat one without the other again. Your probably quite familiar with apple pie and cheddar cheese. The nutty, earthy flavor of the Comte cheese in these little pie bites definitely kicks that ‘sweet-savory’ appeal up a notch.
Comte Apple Pie Bites
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & salt. Cube butter & cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until butter is about pea size & mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing with a fork ONLY until dough starts to pull together. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface & shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic & chill for an hour.
Place the chopped apples, cinnamon, sugar & lemon juice into a skillet over medium high heat. Cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has completely evaporated & the apples have softened, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat & place in a small bowl; add flour. Stir to combine. Cool completely before using. If apples are too wet, drain away any excess liquid.
Prepare egg wash. Remove pastry from fridge & roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 18 rounds.
On each round place a heaping teaspoon of apple filling & sprinkle with a bit of Comte cheese. Fold in half & seal with a fork or alternately use a perogy cutter to cut , fold & seal.
Place the mini turnovers on a parchment lined baking sheet & keep in the fridge or freezer while you continue to make the rest of the pastries.
Brush egg was all over the pastry crusts. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of coarse sugar. Bake for about 14 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese & place pastries on a wire rack to cool.