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We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other. - E.H.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pasta with seared scallops, mushy peas.

I promised myself I would post a recipe along with my long-winded life updates. This is a food blog after- all, non? And this recipe is too good not to share. It's not at all vegan (no matter how much I love my vegan housemates, sometimes I crave scallops.. and butter.. and cream, you know?)

This is a recipe in two parts, and they go too well together to post separately.

Part 1: Pan seared scallops in a white wine cream sauce, served over egg noodles.
Part 2: Mushy peas with fresh mint (the Brits aren't wrong! Mushy peas are delicious.)

This is the kind of meal you should make on a first date, or for your mother or something - super easy, beautiful and guaranteed to win hearts. In my mind, the mushy peas really steal the show here. Mostly because it's so unexpected. I mean, really, who named mushy peas?? It has got to be the most unappealing name out there. Mushy peas are a side dish in need of a good marketing campaign.

Pasta with seared scallops, in a white wine cream sauce:

you'll need:

pasta - we used egg noodles and it was delicious.
1 lb scallops
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/4 milk
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley (or finely chopped spinach)
1/4 cup shallots, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
freshly grated parmesan cheese, for topping.

1. Cook the pasta. While that is happening:
2. Rinse and drain the scallops.
3. Make a roux. If you've never made a roux before it's really easy, and it's pretty much the key to making any kind of a white sauce (the base for cheese sauce, cream sauce, etc). Here it is:
     a) Melt the butter in the pan on low heat
     b) Slowly add the flour to the butter, mashing it around with a rubber spatula. It should form a small
     ball. The idea is to dissolve the flour in the butter and cook it, without letting it burn. This should take
     about a minute.
     c) Slowly add the milk to the flour/butter combo. The small ball should expand to absorb the milk,
     making a thick creamy sauce. Now you have a white sauce, the base of a number of delicious things.
     d) Add the cream. Now you have a cream sauce! Easy.
4. Melt a bit of butter in a different pan and saute the scallops, shallots, parsley and garlic - not too long! Scallops turn into tiny hockey pucks if they're overcooked. We're talking 3 minutes, tops.
5. Add the roux to the scallop mixture and stir well. Add the white wine, and cook over medium heat until the sauce reaches the desired thickness (about 5 minutes).
6. Squeeze fresh lemon into the mixture, add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve over pasta with freshly grated parmesan. Fancy!

Mushy peas with fresh mint:
(Have I mentioned this was so delicious I made it the next day.. and the next? It's that good.)

You'll need:
1/2 lb frozen peas
1 big handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch green onions (so.. 5 or 6 green onions? lots.), finely chopped
1 or 2 dabs of butter

1. Heat olive oil in the pan over medium heat.
2. Add green onions, mint and peas, stirring for 2 minutes.
3. Add a splash of water to the pan and cover. Leave for 5 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through.
(But still tender. No one likes overcooked peas).
4. Mash the peas with a potato masher! Add the butter and mash some more! Then add salt and pepper to taste. Thank the Brits.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring! An update

Ok, so spring came and I forgot I have a blog - guilty as charged. But... it just got so nice out, you know?

Spring has been so worth waiting for. The few weeks have been pretty amazing - backyard rock shows, patio beers, lots of long dog-walks with friends. It's good to get to know this city again as an adult, almost seven years after I left. Lots of re-connecting with old friends and meeting exciting new people - moving from Peterborough to Toronto was scary, but it was worth it. Good times, my friends.

                        Lily and Toby, bffs.

We've been working on the back garden too. We're pretty much too broke to buy plants or do any serious soil amending,  but we have lots of seeds saved from last year and we've been sowing and watering and hoping for new shoots to come up. So far there have been signs of life from the kale, chard, beans and snow peas - the garlic is growing like crazy in it's transplanted home and it looks like the herb garden will survive. Have I mentioned how amazing it is to have a backyard garden in Toronto? It's pretty rare, and it's totally amazing.

In an effort to keep the dog (and all the other dogs who visit) out of the garden beds, we've constructed a makeshift fence around the borders of some of the beds.

                        My awesome friend Jen, stick weaver extraordinaire 

Again, this falls into the category of too-poor-must-invent, but I like the way it turned out. Basically, we banged some thick, strong sticks into the ground every couple of feet, and then wove flexible, green branches between the pegs.

I don't know that the fence has what it takes to physically keep the dogs out of the beds - it's more of a psychological barrier, but so far that seems to be enough for Lily. She's pretty eager to do the right thing (and any plants we grow will have to be tough enough to withstand the occasional canine intrusion).

But you want to know the best part?? The best part is our entirely salvaged privacy fence/hammock setup.   Totally free, totally destroying any work ethic I may have once had.

    Tony, the farmer behind Wheelbarrow Farms, busy manning our backyard CSA drop-off. It's a tough    

And, last of all - happy 2 year anniversary to my beautiful housemates Meagh and Claire... the only people I could ever imagine sharing a house with. So much style, so much love.

Hope y'all are having a great time in the warm weather.