Monday, February 27, 2012

Matt's Birthday Dinner

Last Saturday, I hosted what will probably be my last dinner party for quite awhile (I hear new babies require a lot of attention) in honor of Matt's birthday. The birthday boy requested scallops and risotto. Holy heavy! Holy delicious! Needless to say, I kept the rest of the of the menu light.

Enjoy all of the recipes from the night.

Roasted Tomato Bruschetta [adapted from Rachael Ray]
-2 pints grape tomatoes
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1 loaf French bread
-4 scallions, finely chopped
-1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

2. Coat the tomatoes in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes to concentrate the flavor and burst the tomatoes.

3. Cut the French baguette into 1/2 slices and broil until lightly toasted.

4. In a bowl, lightly mash the roasted tomatoes and combine with scallions and basil. Top the French bread slices with the mixture and serve.

Seed Salad
This is one of my family's favorite salads of all time! My mom has been making it for years and years. It doesn't keep very well in the fridge (the word "soggy" comes to mind), so make sure there are no leftovers.

-1 1/2 heads of iceberg lettuce
-1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
-1/4 cup chopped white onion
-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
-2 tablespoons poppy seeds
-4 tablespoons sugar
-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1 teaspoon Accent
-1/8 cup olive oil

1. Cut up lettuce in large bowl. Add almonds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and onion.

2. Mix together remaining ingredients, adding the olive oil last. Shake or blend well.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad no more than one hour before serving. Toss well.

Roasted Asparagus
-2 bunches of asparagus
-olive oil
-kosher salt
-fresh cracked pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

2. Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the asparagus for 20-25 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

Goat Cheese, Pancetta, and Mushroom Risotto
I posted this recipe as one of my favorites of 2011 after only making it one time. Two times in, I continue to stand firm in my endorsement of this risotto. Wow, wow, wow.

-5 cups low sodium chicken broth
-10 ounces cremini mushrooms
-3 tablespoons butter
-1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 cup pancetta, diced (4 ounces)
-1.5 cups Arborio rice
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
-3/4 cup goat cheese (3-4 ounces)
-1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
-1/2 teaspoon. kosher salt
-1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over medium-high heat and keep warm over low heat.

2. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms and pancetta and cook until the onions are tender but not brown, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.

4. Add ½ cup of warm stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

5. Continue with remaining stock, adding ½ cup at a time, and allowing each addition to be absorbed, until the rice is tender to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parmesan, goat cheese, chives, salt and pepper. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Seared Sea Scallops [recipe courtesy of Alton Brown]
-1 to 1 1/4 pounds dry sea scallops, approximately 16
-2 teaspoons unsalted butter
-2 teaspoons olive oil
-kosher salt
-freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.

2. Add the butter and oil to a 12 to 14-inch saute pan on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other.

3. Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Serve immediately.

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