Friday's food  --  09/24/05

I like to play with food... I mean, I enjoy cooking and finding interesting ways to fix food...

This runs in the family. My father enjoyed cooking (and baking). When I was young he would make an occasional Sunday dinner, but once he retired he began cooking more and more frequently. Eventually he began to fix dinner at least as often as my mother did. She remained the baker of pies and cakes and cookies, but my father enjoyed making bread and even homemade bagels.

Jeremy loves to cook. Ever since he started cooking in pizza places, he has taken to cooking at home -- usually for himself in the middle of the night or for groups of his friends, but he also, from time to time, has fixed some very nice family dinners. He specializes in pasta with homemade sauce and chicken and beautifully presented salads, but he has also branched out in various directions. One night he decided he wanted to make chicken soup. He had never made soup before, but he just fearlessly set out to do it, only asked me a couple of questions, and ended up producing a really good chicken soup. He just says he always remembers me having a good time in the kitchen.

Last weekend -- with Adam and Leah and Sammy here -- we had Nancy's mother and her sister Janet and her husband and their younger daughter plus Jill and Eli for dinner on Saturday night (I think that was all that night -- we had more on Sunday) -- and I made spinach lasagna and eggplant Parmesan and a nice big salad... plus lots of veggies and dip, etc. I made scallops casino as a kind of sec dish, to move people from standing around with veggies and dips to the dining area (which was set up on our back deck because we have it covered with a canvas roof and mosquito net side walls). Clams casino was (according to stories that have been passed down, including an account by the chef who invented the dish) invented at the Narraganset Pier Casino (yes, the place where the only remains are the Narragansett Towers where Nancy and I sometimes oversee weddings, etc.) So I made scallops casino -- essentially the same thing, except I used chopped up scallops instead of clams -- and served it on clam shells.

Where is this leading? Well, for sometime now I've been wanting to make stuffed Portabello mushrooms. On Friday it occurred to me that something similar to scallops casino might make an interesting stuffing for the mushrooms...
So I chopped up some red onion and three different color peppers -- red, green, yellow -- and some celery and some herbs (parsley, oregano, and green and purple basil leaves). I took some bay scallops (usually I always get sea scallops, but since I'm going to chop them up into little pieces anyway...), sauteed them in a bit of olive oil, chopped them up, sauteed the chopped veggies, tossed the veggies back into the pan, added butter and wine and lemon juice and somewhere around a cup of bread crumbs and some fresh ground pepper.
I cleaned two large Portabello mushrooms (discarding the stems), stuffed them both with a big mound of the scallops/veggie/bread crumb mix, placed them on a cookie sheet (sprayed with olive oil PAM) and popped them into a 375 degree oven (you'll have to figure out the metric version)

In the meanwhile, I had also made salad: beds of romaine lettuce topped with veggies (red onion, carrot slices, yellow pepper, slices of tomato fresh from my garden), lemon slices, and some smoked salmon (topped with a sprig of fresh parsley).

I also had some brocolli steaming.

And I had some fresh filets of flounder which I tossed into a frying pan (with a little bit of olive oil) and maybe half a cup or so of almond slivers.

And I had sliced a baguette.

So while the stuffed mushrooms were baking and the fish was cooking, I called Nancy to the table and served the salads.

And some Australian wine -- Banrock Station Chardonnay.
And here's a shot of the main course... flounder almondine, baked stuffed Portabello mushroom, steamed brocolli, and cole slaw (made with red cabbage and slivered carrots).

I don't get carried away every night -- some nights feature creative use of leftovers -- but I usually try to make dinner tasty and interesting.

Yes, clams casino -- and scallps casino -- are supposed to have a piece of crips bacon on top, but I decided not to do that because I didn't want it to be to be exactly like scallops casino -- besides which, because of wonderful crop of delicious tomotoes from my garden, on Thursday night we had dined bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches (served with caesar salad on the side).

Coming in just two days -- the 9th anniversary of jimsjournal -- on the Web since September 26, 1996!

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