Table for Two

Happy Valentine's Day!

Please permit me to put off doing housework just a few minutes longer.  It seems that a romantic dinner for two requires a modicum of clean-up around the place, and so that's next on the agenda.  (I knew I wouldn't have much time for sewing yesterday or today.  Rats.)  It's a small price to pay for a chance to prepare a nice dinner, restaurant style. 

I'll confess right now that I haven't actually cooked the dinner today, although I have made this dinner previously.  But since I don't have any pictures of my own cooking, I'll have to borrow from la internette (that's French for Google). 

Yesterday, I hinted to you that I had already made the soup and the dessert.  This Roasted Beet Soup with Creme Fraiche is such a perfect choice for Valentine's Day.  The recipe is from the February, 2005, issue of Bon Appetit.

(Image credit:  Bon Appetit)

Of course, I'll be making mine a lot snootier by using sour cream in place of the creme fraiche.  Really.  It works just fine.  This is so easy to do.  Just put a glob (that's a precise measuring term) of sour creme into a sandwich bag.  Snip off a tiny bit of the corner of the bag, and pipe to your heart's content.

Also prepared yesterday was the dessert:  Chocolate-Orange Pots de Creme with Candied Orange Peel.

(Image credit: Bon Appetit)

Despite it's fancy name, Sondra Bernstein's recipe which also appeared in the February, 2005, issue of Bon Appetit is not difficult to make.  I like it because it can be prepared up to two days ahead of time.

So what's the main course, you ask?  Sea Scallop Risotto.  It's a combination of recipes I put together from different sources after seeing this picture on the cover of the May/June 2008 issue of Fresh Ideas, a magazine put out by one of our local high-end markets called Zupan's.

(Image credit: Fresh Ideas)

It's not the best picture, but the dish features seared scallops and risotto with a steamed vegie accompaniment all smothered in Newburg Sauce.  Yum.  I just love a good high-calorie sauce, don't you?  The article was a promotion for a cookbook, and didn't give the recipes beyond how to do the vegetables and the scallops.  Undeterred, I found my own recipes for the Newburg Sauce and the risotto and put together this dish for some other romantic occasion . . . an anniversary, maybe?  So here is what I came up with.

Sea Scallop Risotto
Servings: 2   

10 very large sea scallops
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
2 ounces vegetable oil
2 cups  cooked risotto (recipe follows)
6 stalks  asparagus, steamed, -- cut into thirds
1/4 medium red bell pepper -- finely julienned, and sauteed in olive oil until tender
1 tablespoon  olive oil, more if needed
1 1/2 cups  Newburg Sauce (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons  chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Prepare risotto according to recipe.  While cooking risotto, prepare Newburg sauce.  Prepare the vegetables by heating olive oil in a small saute pan.  Saute asparagus and bell pepper until tender.  Drizzle more olive oil if dish seems dry.  When all are finished set aside to keep warm.

Finally, wash sea scallops and pat dry with paper towels.  Season one side with seasoning salt.  Warm vegetable oil in large skillet.  Place scallops seasoned side down in hot oil and sear them for 2-3 minutes on the first side.  Season second side and turn scallops and sear for 2-3 minutes on the second side.
Place the risotto in the middle of a large plate, using a biscuit cutter to form a disk with the risotto if it will stand up firmly.  Otherwise, leave out that step and simply pile it up with a spoon.  Next, ladle the Newburg sauce around the risotto.  Place the scallops on the sauce and around the risotto.  Scatter the asparagus and red pepper julienne on top of the risotto.  Ladle a little more sauce over all, and garnish by sprinkling chopped chives decoratively over all.  Serve immediately.

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I found the recipe for the Newburg Sauce on the Food Network website.  Here's how you do it:

Newburg Sauce
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch cayenne
kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot -- minced
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry sherry

Combine the flour, paprika, curry powder, nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, to taste, in a small bowl, and set aside.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.  Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes until it begins to brown.  While the shallot is cooking, bring the milk and tomato paste to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; be careful not to let it boil over.  Add the flour mixture to the browned shallot and stir until mixed well with the butter.  Add the sherry and whisk until smooth.  Add the hot milk mixture to the flour mixture slowly, whisking constantly until the mix is creamy and thick.  Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

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Finally, I found the recipe for this Basic Risotto on the back of the Arborio rice container.  Here's how you do that:
Basic Risotto
Recipe By:  Lundberg Family Recipe
1 cup Arborio white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups hot chicken stock, more if needed
1 large onion -- chopped

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy, nonstick skillet .  Saute onion in oil until translucent.  Add rice and stir rice until grains are coated with oil.  Add wine and stir constantly on medium heat until wine is absorbed.  Add 1 cup hot stock, stirring until liquid is absorbed.  Continue cooking for about 20 minutes, adding the remaining liquid, one cup at a time.  This rice creates its own creamy sauce; add additional liquid if more sauce is desired.  Remove from heat, stir in cheese and serve immediately, or keep warm until ready to serve.

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My notes about this collection of recipes:  To make Sea Scallop Risotto with all the fixings requires the use of a lot of pans and it may seem complicated.  However, it is easy to prepare everything separately and keep it all warm while the scallops are being seared, then bring all the parts of the dinner together just before serving.  It all comes together for an elegant dish that would be perfect for any special occasion. 

Sounds good, huh?  Now I'm hungry.

I guess I've put off doing that housework long enough.  Time to get going.

6 comments from clever and witty friends:

Sarah said...

I adore risotto and this sounds divine. I hope you enjoy your romantic dinner and I'll be saving this recipe for later :)

Needled Mom said...

It sounds divine!!!! Dinner at home on Valentine's Day has much better service too!!! ;-)

Stray Stitches (Linda G) said...

Sounds like the perfect Valentine dinner! I much prefer dinner at home just for two (and a furry friend or two).

make.share.give said...

My my, how fancy. Risotto is one I've never tried, but they make it look so easy on Food Network.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Denise :) said...

Yummy, yummy!! What a lovely dinner!! We had steaks and boiled new potatoes and salads and special cookies I made (sugar free) for my guy. It was a fun day! Enjoy your romantic dinner!! :)

Susan said...

I hope your hard work was appreciated!