Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to the Beach: Seafood Part Deux

Seems like my tastebuds have decided to stay at the beach. At least until things get farther along in our growing season here. We did go to the market to get herb starts and the fresh asparagus, first of the season. Which is a whole other post. We also got some of the herbs and some local ingredients to cook one with more seafood dinner. Think of it as a long goodbye to vacation.

Scallops and Bleu Cheese Grits
This is a riff on the southern Atlantic classic, Shrimp and Grits. You can definitely use shrimp here, and it will work just great.

For the Bleu Cheese Grits:
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cups water
3/4 cup grits
6 oz. bleu cheese, crumbled
black pepper to taste
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine butter, salt, 1 cup milk and water and heat to boiling over a medium high heat. Stir in grits, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce heat, cover and continue cooking, stir occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat and blend in bleu cheese.

In a large bowl, mix beat the eggs, add pepper and blend. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk until blended. "Temper" the egg mixture before adding it to the grits by adding a half cup of the hot grits to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add another half cup of the hot grits. Once blended, mix the eggs and grits in with the remaining hot grits. If you omit this step, the egg mixture will end up "scrambled" by the hot grits when you try to mix it in.

Divide the mixture among four ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top begins to turn golden.

While the Grits are Baking, Prepare the Scallops
1.5 lbs. scallops (or shrimp)
4 slices, thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup clam juice
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.

Cook the scallops in the bacon grease, about three minutes per side for large scallops, or until opaque and cooked through, but tender. Remove the scallops from the skillet and set aside.

Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Add the green onions and the corn. Saute about three minutes, or until just golden. Add the paprika, saute for a minute. Deglaze the pan with the clam juice, blending the fond into the corn and onion mixture. Taste, seasoning with pepper. Salt only if you need to. Toss with the fresh parsley.

Plate the dish with a ramekin of the grits, scallops and top with the corn and onion sauce. Serves 4-6.

Key Lime Martinis
I was lucky I could still cook after one of these. Always risky to give the cook a martini while I'm trying to come up with a new recipe. We based these off of a drink we had in OBX, at a place called Tail of the Whale. I altered it a fair bit to use real lime juice and none of the premix sour or Rose's Lime.

4 oz. vanilla vodka
3 oz. Midori
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. agave syrup
2 oz. cream
graham cracker crumbs
pinch nutmeg, optional

Rim the glasses with a wedge of lime. Rub in a mix of the nutmeg and graham crackers. Add the other ingredients to ice in a shaker. Give it a good shake. Pour. Makes about four.

This is more of a Florida thing, but ever since we did a "Brazil Night" feast with Avocado Creme Brulee, I've been wanting to try it as a pie. I mean, it has a vegetable in the dessert. I love that when it works. This worked, too.

Key Lime Avocado Pie
For the crust:
1.5 cups shortbread cookie crumbs
1 cup macadamia nuts
5 tbs. melted butter
1/8 tsp. salt

For the pie filling:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 avocados, peeled, pit removed
6 tbs. key lime juice
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
zest of 2 key limes, optional
1/8 tsp. salt

For the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the cookies in the processor until they are nice, even crumbs. Add the macadamia nuts and salt. Pulse until the nuts are ground well into the crumbs. Add the butter and pulse to combine. Press the crumbs into either a 10-inch tart pan or an pie dish. Either will work.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until just golden. Remove from oven and let cool.

Add the avocados and cream cheese to the work bowl of the food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add the lime juice, zest, salt and condensed milk. Pulse until creamy, well blended and smooth. Pour into the cooled crust. Refrigerate at least five hours before serving.


Joe said...

Did you use Key limes in the martini, too?

ExpatChef said...

But of course! But you can sub in regular lime juice. Just use the real stuff, none of that HFCS and flavoring.

KCNapkins Guy said...

HOLY MOUTH-WATERING PHOTOS, Batman. I absolutely cannot wait to steal these recipes for a special night sometime in the near future. They look SO DELICIOUS.

ExpatChef said...

Thanks! I've been trying to get a few decent shots here and there. Course, after a martini, things get a bit fuzzy all around.

Melanie said...

I want to eat everything. Looks delicious and beautiful.

ExpatChef said...

Thank you, Melanie!

jomke said...

My mouth is salivating!!! Everything looks and reads so delicious. I can't wait to make this meal. Thanks for this awesome post!

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