Thursday, February 19, 2009

prosciutto wrapped asparagus

this year husband and i decided to celebrate valentine's day by cooking together. specifically, i suggested we choose recipes from an aphrodisiac cookbook called intercourses (steamy title, i know). i received this book at my bachelorette party from a good friend and i think it's one of the best gifts...but for what ever reason, i haven't made anything from it yet. so we went through the chapters and picked a recipe for most of the foods. we tried to find a few appetizers, a good selection for dinner, and a dessert.

then we made a day of it. in the morning we went down to the "strip", an area filled with specialty food shops and street vendors and one of my favorite things about this city. after breakfast (chocolate covered strawberries, scones, and smoothies) we set out to find all the items on our list. if i hadn't been stuffed full of smoothie (and had it not been 9:30 am) i would have so gotten a gyro from the street vendor...we walked past that guy 4 times and each time i debated getting one because it smelled so good. supplies procured, back home we went, ready for a day of fine cuisine.

so easy, so so good

first up for the day was appetizers.

asparagus-prosciutto rolls
6 stalks thick asparagus or 12 stalks thin, trimmed
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half crosswise (i didn't cut mine)
3 tbsp goat cheese or cream cheese, divided (i used goat)
1 tbsp minced fresh chives for garnish

1. boil a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat & prepare a large bowl of ice water
2. add the asparagus to boiling water and cook for until bright green and just tender
3. remove the cooked spears and dunk in the ice water to stop the cooking; drain and pat dry
4. mix vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, shallot, salt and pepper; pour in olive oil and whisk until emulsified
5. set a slice of prosciutto on a clean surface and spread on 1/2 tablespoon of goat cheese
6. set 1 thick spear or 2 thin spears of asparagus on the cheese near the bottom of the prosciutto slice
7. roll up the asparagus in the prosciutto
8. drizzle the rolls with the vinaigrette, garnish with chives, and serve immediately

oh mah gah. these were good. the vinaigrette was so amazing i was eating it plain from the empty plate. we made a whole bunch of these and finished every last one. i forgot how good shallots are!

seared scallops

this next one made me a little nervous. husband loves scallops...i've never had any i've really even liked. but today was about trying new foods in new ways, so i took the plunge. and thanks to valentine's specials, a pound of these sea scallops was only $10! we ended up with two separate meals.

also, i have an aversion to flavors/scents found in soap used in foods. things like jasmine tea and rose ice cream make me was to scrape the residue off my tongue...i do not enjoy floral "essence" in my meals. i do enjoy herbs, so instead of using lavender oil, i put real lavender (from our plant) in some olive oil and heated it was far less "soapy" than true lavender oil, but gave a hint of flavor. still, i'm sharing the original recipe in case you don't mind tasting soap.

if you think you don't like scallops, try these

grilled scallops with basil and lavender essence
15-20 basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 drops essential lavender oil
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb sea scallops

1. combine basil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender; process until smooth
2. add 2 drops of lavender essential oil to 1 tbsp of olive oil, then add to the processed mixture
3. cover and chill for 30 minutes for the flavors to meld
4. prepare hot grill or preheat broiler (i used a hot saute pan)
5. hold the scallop flat against a cutting board & cut a deep slit into the edge; be careful not to cut fully in half
6. gently pack a bit of the basil puree into the scallop using your finger or a small spoon
7. secure the scallop closed with a toothpick if the puree is seeping out
8. drizzle scallops with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
9. grill scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown outside and barely cooked in the center (alternatively, you can broil or saute scallops)

i was wrong about scallops. these were yummy! even better for iffy scallop eaters? dredge in flour (+ salt, pepper, and cayenne) , dip in an egg/milk mixture, and coat with panko. fry those over a tiny bit of olive oil. um, yes. i'm a scallop convert.

stay tuned for the rest!


Thomas said...

scallops are delicious! they're the only thing i miss being a vegetarian. also, the strip is amazing and one of my favorite places to go in pgh, but i NEVER go. i'm glad it turned out so good for you two. intercourses always sounds like a great book.

Jen said...

huuuuge teaser not posting the other 2 parts of this post. anyways, just wait till you are pregnant and have food aversions to normal things like chocolate. and toothpaste. rough.