seared scallops in saffron white wine sauce, sauteed chard,

Two rules: shellfish goes great with saffron, and saffron dissolves in water, not oil.

Sauteed chard

1. Sautee 1/2 diced onion and 2 cloves of sliced garlic.
2. Cut the stems out of a single bunch of well-washed chard (either green or red works well), and cut into 1 inch strips. You could braise these greens, in which case you’d leave the stems, but that’s a different recipe.
3. Put them in your sautee pan and stir over medium heat until they soften.
4. Sprinkle a few chile flakes and some lemon juice, season with some salt.

Seared scallops in saffron/white wine sauce
1. Keeping the rule in mind, take a small cup of dry white wine (about a half a cup), and put a small pinch of saffron in. In a few minutes, it steeps and gives a pretty intense yellow liquid.

2. Dry the scallops well, and season with salt. If you want, you can dredge in a little corn starch or flour, especially if they’re not as dry as you want them to be.
3. Pan sear over high heat in a mixture of oil and butter, basting them constantly, flipping every 15-30 seconds as they allow. This will depend on what kind of pan you use, how much fat, the water content of the scallops, etc. If you have nice dry scallops, use a stainless skillet. If you’re worried that they’re wet, use the nonstick, and don’t worry if they don’t brown. When in doubt use more butter/oil than you think you need, but tilt your pan so that you use this more as a basting liquid than a deep fry.
4. When they’re done (for me rare to medium rare), let them rest on a wire rack while you finish the sauce.
5. In your skillet, pour off the fat, and add the wine/saffron combination. Scrape down the pan getting all those little brown bits in the sauce.
6. Strain and spoon over or around the scallops.

apalachicola, oysters and such

For you southerners out there, the Apalachicola river forms when the Flint joins the Chattahoochee somewhere under Lake Seminole. The Apalachicola Bay is probably the most well-known southern stronghold of oysters. We’re fans of the 13 mile brand which they happen to serve at the Indian Pass raw bar. Luckily, we found their store in Apalach when we were down recently on a fishing trip that left from Boss Oyster. I mean, how many restaurants can you hop on a boat, go catch some fish, clean them there, and have the cooks in the back fry half and blacken the other half?

BDE takes on the Windy City

No pictures, sorry.  I’ll include website links if you’re interested.

Purple pig.  poached tuna with lima beans and vinaigrette, roasted marrow bones with toast and coarse salt, calimari with Isreali couscous and pistachios, foie gras and membrillo smear, meatball slider, fried pigs ear with kale, pork sweetbreads, lingua agridolce.  Just happened to be across the street from the hotel.
Frontera grill.  We had the brunch menu with ceviche tostadas, mole enchiladas, tacos al carbon, and brunch cocktails.  Solid but a little forgettable.
avec.  Long wait to get in this time, 2 hours, as they don’t take reservations.  Just means more cava which is good and bad.  Deluxe foccacia with taleggio and ricotta (easily one of my most memorable dishes of the trip), chorizo stuffed dates, wood-fired squid with guiancale and fennel, veal sweetbreads, crispy redfish with compressed watermelon, burata with pork bits and tomato, I forget the rest.
DMK Burgers at Lakeview.  #1 with aged cheddar and bacon, balsamic onions, and BBQ sauce.  #2 with onion strings, Amish blue cheese, chipotle ketchup.  Salt and pepper fries, fried pickled okra, blue cheese fries, onion strings, and some good beer topped by the Resin IPA.
Publican.  Dozen oysters on the half shell, octopus with fingerling potatoes and peppers, pickled cauliflower, hamachi crudo, bouchot mussels with grilled bread, spicy pork rinds, veal sweetbreads, grilled beef hearts, espresso chocolate cake.
Mercat a la planxa.  serrano ham and fig salad, fried padron peppers with salt, arroz a la cazuela, mixto croquetas, truita de patatas with spinach and saffron, diver scallops a la planxa, hanger steak with potato croquette and braised short rib, espinacas a la catalana, veal sausage with white beans and pickled carrot, croquettas de xocolata.
The Bristol.  lemonfish crudo, wagyu beef taratare, smoked chicken hearts, panzanella of cucumber with bluefish, chitarra pasta with sweet corn and basil, cavatelli with rib bacon and pasta fagioli, potee’ polonaise with boudin-tongue-beef belly, duck fat fries with aioli and house ketchup.

This is mostly to chronicle where we were and what we had, to see if any of this stuff will influence what we do this fall and winter.  I’m betting it does.

Call it a good start to what should be a fun and interesting fall of cooking. More on that later.

How not to cook shad roe

I have to admit, I had no idea what it was when I went to the local chain grocery store (Harris Teeter) and I saw it.  I’ve found smelt there before, and I posted earlier in the year about deep frying them and how yummy that was.  So, when I happened upon the seafood section, here’s what they had.

From 2010-04-19 – 2010-04-19 shad roe

Shad roe.  Apparently a spring delicacy as the shad migrate, mostly on the East Coast.  I had to check it out. So I loaded up a few lobes of it and brought it home. I guess I should have thought about a little anatomy before I started cooking it. I didn’t much other than season some AP flour with salt and cayenne pepper, lightly dust them, and throw them in a hot, cast iron skillet with melted butter.

From 2010-04-19 – 2010-04-19 shad roe

Big mistake. If you check out this description of how to do it, you’ll see there was a fatal flaw in the preparation. High heat. Why, you ask? The egg sacs rupture and hot grease goes flying all over you and your kitchen.  Yeah, really.

From 2010-04-19 – 2010-04-19 shad roe

Not to mention the result. It tasted like firm, fishy chicken liver. Yuck.

The real way to prepare them is over low heat, either as a slow pan roast, or poached in the fat of your choice at about 180F until just done. Butter would have made a nice choice, and then served about like I prepare skate (Grenobloise with brown butter, capers, and lemon juice). I’m not saying you should give up on shad roe, just don’t cook it like that.