Category: Sides

Scallops with Asparagus and Couscous in 15

Scallops with Asparagus and Couscous in 15

Faster than a speeding bullet……
” ” pizza delivery…..
” ” going for burgers
” ” cheese sandwich…well, not faster than a cheese sandwich
First of all, I’m just not about speed in cooking or anything else. If I can’t take my time about whatever it is, I’m generally not interested. And, I adore slow-cooking. I’m never happier than if something is braising away in the oven for hours on end while I…while I.. while I…
  • iron linen napkins
  • look at my husband
  • throw the ball for the golden retriever
  • watch old movies (or MSNBC–I’m a politics junky)
  • walk
  • talk to a friend
  • have lunch with a book
  • make candy
  • listen to “Fresh Air” on NPR
  • play the piano or listen to someone else do it better
  • go shopping (if someone else is home to watch the oven)
  • run down to Coaltrain and see what’s new
  • write a letter (Yes, I write letters. I write something to my daughter
    snailmail every single week. Well, I try.)

But, once in a while I take a lesson, run to the grocery, run home to teach a lesson, do three more loads of wash….(Ok. Where does it come from? There are only two of us. Can’t we wear dirty clothes?)

On those days, I’m desperate for something for dinner. And, yes, I could have wine and cheese (I almost typed “swine.” I have that, too, occasionally.) I could have a grilled cheese and tomato soup. I could order out. Or, I could “throw something together” like grilled scallops and asparagus with couscous cooked with yellow raisins and onions.

If I know I’m going to be desperate, even on a cold and blustery fall day, I search for desperate food at the store on my way home. What looks good, doesn’t cost a fortune, and, here’s the hard part, sounds good to me? In this case, my husband had to eat, too–so I couldn’t just consider my desires. He’s not picky and will eat anything but tuna casserole, and I have to confess that once in a while, I’ll buy a frozen tuna casserole just for me. For lunch. Over a whole can of green beans. Ah, confessions.

Today, I grabbed asparagus, 2 for $3.00. (Like my friend Sue, I’ll pay nearly anything for asparagus anyway.) I checked the meat counter for specials (Lamb chops are quick, but they’re rarely on sale to coin a phrase.) No on-sale tiny steaks. Chicken was on sale (when isn’t it) and I had no desire for it. I’ve given up boneless breasts for humane and political reasons and the rest would take too long. Hmm. Fish? My store doesn’t have the best fish market and, to tell the truth, the dolt serving the counter was texting … who? I don’t know. Luckily, someone else saw me waiting. “Can I help you?” Scallops, fresh, were $11.99 a pound. Not a great price for 4 or 6, but not bad for 1 or 2 in a real hurry.
Home again, home again. Teach, have tea with great student. Husband home. Dinner?

—————Things you need are in green—————

Make couscous. (I like the kind with olive oil and garlic)

Heat 1 1/3 c (1 1/4 at sea level) water to boiling. Meantime, in 2 qt saucepan, saute 1/2 red onion, chopped and 1/3 c golden raisins in 2 T olive oil with kosher salt and pepper. When onion is soft, add couscous and water. Cover for 5-7 minutes. 5 at sea level; 7 at altitude. Fluff with fork when done. Keep warm in pan covered.
Grill asparagus and scallops.

Meantime, heat grill pan, brushed with olive oil, over medium heat to make scallops and asparagus. Add 1# asparagus (washed and trimmed). Co0k about 1 minute and push to perimeter. Add towel-dried 1# scallops. Salt and pepper all. Turn asparagus several times; turn scallops once when medium-brown grill marks on first side–after about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper all on this side. Cook another 2 minutes or so and test scallops for doneness. They should give slightly to the touch; you don’t want them well-done… just cooked through is more like it. You can take a sharp knife and check the inside. It should be just barely opaque and still juicy.

Put it together

Place about 1 cup of couscous on each plate. Top with 3-4 scallops and a few asparagus spears. Squeeze lemon over scallops and asparagus. Eat while hot.
(Serves 2)

15 minutes… total… maybe————————-Why go out?
For gluten free, omit couscous and sub salad and gluten-free bread.

Wine: California Chardonnay

Sigh… You can fix this for friends another night. You know how to do it now.

Oh, and you’d better set the table and pour the water and wine before you begin!

Sing a new song while you love the scallops, even in the cold and snow—
September Staples-3-Pepper Short Ribs

September Staples-3-Pepper Short Ribs

Friday Morning. 43 degrees F Leaves on trees still green; robin in cherry tree…
If you read the last blog, you’ll know I spent a day making a new tortellini soup and tasty it was! In the middle of getting things out of the garage (I have a pantry, huge upright freezer and extra double-wide frig out there) for that soup, I noticed it was time to finish clearing out meat from the freezer before winter came and I needed the space for legions of soup, stews and boo coo Tupperware containers of cookies. To say nothing of the things I make ahead for Thanksgiving, which include stacks of cranberry bread. I digress. ( What else is new? )

September Staples includes using up the frozen meat. It appeared there were two huge briskets, short ribs, a standing beef roast and some boxes of Omaha steak hamburgers, which are my emergency rations for any occasion. Sounded like time for a party to make barbequed brisket (coming to your food blog soon), but, in the meantime, the two small packs of on-sale short ribs caught my eye and out they came.

I love short ribs and they have been sort of a trendy entrée for a while, but I also find them 1. full of fat and 2. pricey, pricey. When they’re on the cheap, I’ll grab some, try and cut out some of the fat (useless—just figure on pot roast calories that day) and fix them braised in beer or wine with onions, served over sticky rice with a plate of garlicky green beans on the side. Great for a winter crock pot when you’re busy all day.

It wasn’t winter, but it had cooled off enough to want something more substantial than fish and salad. (We did eat outdoors in the “cool, cool, cool of the evening.”) And who doesn’t love a reason to raid the wine cellar of some cookable AND drinkable red wine? I also cook for therapy and to keep busy sometimes; cooking is good for that and baking is even better. The day I went to cook the ribs, I had a pretty rough morning personally and it threatened to knock me low; I needed to cook to free my mind and heart to consider new endeavors. (Blessings abound; the next day I saw “Julie and Julia” and saw further possibilities in life.) Cooking is so…..


Let’s do something I don’t usually do with these ribs…. I went over all of the ways I’ve made them. My friend Rick loves them any-old way and I think I’d made them for our wine group a time or two just simmered all day long with lots of broth, wine and garlic. Those were boneless ones, even more expensive and, frankly, while yummy, none of them had a lot of meat for the bang. I used them for starters and kept some behind in case someone at the dinner party didn’t like fish, the main course. What else? I got to thinking about my Dad and his cooking style.

My Dad was from near New Orleans, and, hence, cooked a lot of things with onions, celery and green peppers. In those days, I didn’t see yellow or red peppers; where were they? I grew up with produce grown in my own back 40; those are the vegetables I know best. The red peppers we grew were hot enough to make a child very ill indeed; I stayed well clear of them. Lord, Lord, Lord. Just to think of them makes my mouth burn. But the pepper thing came back to me; I had plenty of peppers in the frig drawer as they had been ten for ten dollars. (My father would have called that highway robbery, but I call it a good deal in a world where fast food hamburgers are usually cheaper than fresh peppers.) At this time of year, my Mom would make pans full of stuffed green peppers, freezing them for wonderful cold winter nights. Why not throw these peppers on top of the ribs and see what happened?

Oh, my; you’ve got to make these. If you don’t have short ribs, cut up some pot roast. Tempting, filling, satisfying and great leftover, reheated. Make a lot. I see no reason why you couldn’t freeze this dish for later if you did a double batch. Here’s how:

3-Pepper Short Ribs
Serves 3- 4

2 T olive oil (use regular, not extra-virgin—not so much olive taste)
Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper
8 bone-in short ribs
2 large onions, cut into eighths
4 cloves of garlic whole
4c beef broth, low-sodium, gluten-free or regular
2c red wine (any full-bodied)
2 large carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
3 large sweet peppers, sliced (I used one ea: red, yellow, orange)
2t dried thyme
¼ t crushed red pepper

Heat oil in Dutch oven to medium high. Salt and pepper well ribs. Brown them well, about 5 minutes on each side. Stir in onions and garlic; cook five minutes. Pour in broth and wine. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add carrots, celery, peppers, thyme and red pepper. Stir well. Cover and cook until short ribs are tender, about 2 ½ hours. Spoon off as much fat as possible or strain the cooking liquid through a gravy de-greasing measure cup. (Get one for Thanksgiving now if you don’t have one.)

You could make this in the crock pot: follow through Stir Well and put in crock pot. Cook on low about 6 hours.

Accompaniments: I served this with the juices over mashed potatoes along side a medley of green beans, carrots and mushrooms seasoned with a little more thyme. French bread for sopping juices.
Green Beans were $1.00 per pound…………Mushrooms were $3.50 per pound………… ????????

Wine: We liked an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon with this dish; an Argentine Malbec would also be fine. (Save the good cab for steak or standing rib roast.)

Dessert: Probably not.

Current Reading: Barbara Brown Taylor’s THE PREACHING LIFE and Dorothy Sayers’ THE NINE TAILORS. I thought I had read everything Dorothy Sayers had written and was heartened and hopeful to find this old mystery involving church bells (one of my favorite subjects) that was written in 1934. My parents weren’t even married until ’36! Excellent, excellent reads.

Bloggin’ dogs…………………………………….
Current Listening: I invested in some “old” Mo-town cds a couple of weeks ago and I’m still listening. Also have on albums from The Rose Ensemble, a vocal arts ensemble out of Minneapolis. I’ve heard some lovely music from my students this week; people making music together. Chopin, Bach, Morgan…It’s all good!

Don’t weigh yourself today.
Sing a new song,

In memoriam: Mary Travers/The Answer is Blowing in the Wind