This weekend I have not been as busy as I could have, but it was not totally without achievement. On Friday night Jel and I went out for dinner. He had been away for a week and it had been a long week of solo cooking, so he kindly chose to whisk me away for a nice Chinese dinner at Tai Pan in Manchester. I had been hearing about how good this restaurant is for the last 18 months and this weekend was the weekend I finally got to go there. I won’t go into pages and pages of detail but it was very nice. It was authentic and not too ‘westernised’. Saturday night I was planning to cook but a last minute change of plans saw us out again with some friends for a simple burger and a glass of wine and some good conversation. Although good conversation around Jel and Maurice tends to be all about the aviation industry and little else, but I have certainly learned a lot from it and it can be interesting so I won’t complain. After all, I do believe that life is too short for complaining.
So todays culinary exploits were pasta with scallops and lemon butter, and chocolate brownie and ice cream for dessert. I have never cooked scallops before as I have always been a little scared of them to be honest. There is all the pressure not to overcook them or they will end up like little balls of fishy rubber. But my fear was rather unfounded. It was a fairly basic recipe, some fresh pasta that I made this afternoon, and some lemon butter. Fresh pasta is some work but it isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds. Its a simple ratio of 1 egg per 100g of flour, and 2 eggs and 200g of flour makes enough pasta for about 3 people. That and 8 minutes of kneading and you have pasta dough, and the pasta machine takes care of the rest. While the pasta is cooking, melt 60g of butter and a bit of oil to stop it burning, then add 2tsp f lemon zest and a good grinding of black pepper and cook for a few minutes. Then add the scallops and cook for 30-40 seconds per side and then turn the heat off. Drain the pasta and then toss with the scallops and lemon butter and serve. Its a simple dish but a nice one infused with subtle flavours.
The brownie recipe is one that I found online and that professed to be excellent so I thought it was worth a try. It as chocolate in in, what can ever be wrong? They did turn out very nicely and although it is not the simplest recipe for brownies, it is worth the little extra effort. So here is the recipe and you can try for yourself.
(Source: Dorie Greenspan “Baking: From My Home to Yours pages 92-93)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
180g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar