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Baked Scallops on Pesto Gratin


(serves 5)
This is my take on the classic French dish, Coquilles Saint Jacques, with an Italian twist. I have devised a quick thrice-baked routine which makes the recipe extremely easy to execute. Scallops have a nice texture but it is hard to infuse flavour into them. One common way to given them additional layers of taste is to use a gratin. This is what I have done, using a simple breadcrumb mixture containing 3 complimentary flavours: garlic, pesto and parmesan.  

IngredientsBaked Scallops

  1. Large Scallops (500g)
  2. Bread (3 slices)
  3. Minced Garlic (3T)
  4. Pesto (3T)
  5. Parmesan (1T)
  6. Olive Oil (1/4 cup)

Preparation

  1. Leave 3 slices of bread in the open to dry overnight.
  2. Cut the crust off the bread and cube the bread into 1cm pieces. Cut the crust into small pieces as well, but separately. 
  3. Pad your scallops dry with a kitchen towel. Cut off the white sliver of flesh where the scallop attaches to the shell if the scallops do not already come processed this way.
  4. In a large mixing bowl mix 3T pesto, 3T minced garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  5. Spoon 2T of this mixture into the scallops. Add also a light sprinkle of salt and a heavier sprinkle of pepper. Mix well and leave to marinate.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200oC.
  7. Place the bread pieces on a casserole dish and bake in the oven. When the bread is crispy and dry, this will take 5 minutes, take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on.
  8. Allow the bread to cool for a short while on a cool plate. Then smash the bread in a plastic bag with a mallet to turn them into fine crumbs. Add the crumbs into the mixing bowl and sprinkle on 1T of powdered parmesan cheese. Mix well and then put the flavoured crumbs back into the casserole dish and back into the oven, this time for 8 minutes.
  9. When the gratin has formed, take the casserole dish out again, and immediately arrange the marinated scallops into the dish evenly. Spoon any left over marinade onto the scallops. This goes back into the oven for a further six 6 minutes or so, depending on the size of your scallops.
  10. Serve immediately, advising your guests to eat the scallops with the gratin.

Notes 3 Scallops

  • Your scallops should not be too small for this recipe. For 500g, there should be about 15 scallops. I usually just use frozen ones, the higher grade type that comes in a box, not a plastic bag.
  • Scallops should not be overdone. They are best when they have shrunk slightly. Look for the right moment and take them out of the oven immediately. If your scallops have shrunken noticeably, then they are overdone and will be tough and hard.
  • If you wish too, you can re-plate the scallops as shown here.
 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in A Kobi Original, Appetizers, French, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Pesto Crusted Lamb Chop Medallions


(serves 2)
This is a delightful main course which improves on your run-of-the-mill pan fried lamb chops by a mile. It solves the thousand year old lamb chop connundrum by cooking the tender eye seperately from the tougher bone portion, plus it uses the trimmings to create an incredibly intense sauce. If I must say so myself, the pesto crust works really well with lamb. This recipe does however require a tad more time and effort, but its ooh so worthwhile in the end.
 
Ingredients Pesto Crusted Lamb Medallions
  1. Lamb Chops (8)
  2. Pesto (2T)
  3. Parmagiano Reggiano (1T)
  4. Bread (1 slice)
  5. Garlic (0.5 bulb = 6 cloves) 
  6. Fennel Seeds (2T)
  7. Mint Leaves (1T)
  8. Rosemary (1T)
  9. Thyme (1T)
  10. Cognac (2T)
  11. Woustershire Sauce
  12. Dijon Mustard
  13. Misc Vegetables 

Preparation – Earlier in the Day

Buy the type of lamb chop which has some meat clinging to the rib end of the bone. Cut each chop into three parts:

    • The first part is the round meaty eye, which will become your medallions (chopping board, left). Make sure you trim away most of the white bits as you won’t be cooking the medallion too long.
    • The second part is the flank, basically the fleshy portion around the long end of the bone (chopping board, right). You can leave the white bits on for these cuts.Lamb Chops Deboned
    • The third part will be the trimmings (on the plate), basically the bone and chunks of fat and connective tissue.
  1. Marinate the medallion and flank pieces in 2T olive oil, 1T cognac, 1T thyme, 1T fennel seeds, 0.5t salt, a pinch of sugar and a dash of woustershire sauce. Lamb is one of the more gamey meats and you should marinate it for a minimum of four hours.
  2. Boil the trimmings in a pot, with just enough water to cover everything. Add to the pot, 1T mint leaves, 1T fennel seeds, 1T rosemary, 1T Cognac and 6 garlic cloves. Simmer with the cover on for a minimum of half an hour. Follow up by microwaving the meat and stock on high power, covered, for 3×3 = 9 minutes, allowing the meat to cool between cycles.
  3. Leave a piece of bread uncovered in the fridge to dry out.

Preparation – Before the Meal 

  1. Cut the piece of bread into little cubes. Toast the cubes into croutons and smash them in a zip-loc bag with the flat end of a meat mallet or rolling pin to produce some fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix 2T of these breadcrumbs, with 2T of pesto and 1T of finely grated Parmagiano Reggiano. This will form the pesto crust.
  3. Pick out the marinated flank portions and pan fry these on low heat with a spot of oil till they are nicley browned. These bits have to be fried as they take much longer to become tender.
  4. Set aside the flank pieces, leaving the pan unwashed. Pour the lamb stock Lamb Medallions ready to Grillthrough a strainer into the same pan. Boil the stock down until it becomes a thick sauce. Take the opportunity to cook any vegetables you would like to serve with your lamb medallions in the stock as it is thickened. Examples include baby corn, baby carrots or peeled shallots. 
  5. When the sauce has thickend, remove the vegetables and stir in one t of dijon mustard. Taste and add salt as required – only at the end.
  6. In the meanwhile, spoon the pesto mixture onto the lamb medallions. Its alright for the crust to be thick so use up all of the mixture you made.
  7. Oil a baking tray and preheat it. Arrange the medallions in the middle (you should hear a slight sizzle) and then the pre-cooked flank pieces around the edges (as per photo on the right). Cook in a preheated toaster oven (heat on top and bottom) for about 7 minutes, or until the pesto crust begins to bubble and harden.
  8. Spoon the sauce onto the serving plate first, followed by the lamb and finally the vegetables. 

Notes

  • You have a couple of options regarding the bones. The lamb reduction sauce is very good as it contains all the tastes you normally associate with lamb but can’t apply because of the pesto crust: mint, garlic, rosemary, mustard etc. If you really can’t bother with the sauce, just throw the bones away and use the drippings from the medallions as ‘jus’. Alternatively, you can boil the stock as per above but serve it (still strained) as a mutton broth to go with the medallions.
  • I used a toaster oven because it gives just the right heat to form the crust without overcooking the lamb. If you are making portions for more than 2, you can just use the grill in your oven. 
  • The microwaving helps melt the remaining fat and connective tissue. If you don’t own a microwave, then you’ll just have to simmer the lamb bones old style for a long time, until the gelatine is released.
  • FYI. I grilled the tomatoes with cheese topping seperately. Those were not cooked in the sauce pan with the baby corn.
 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Italian, Main Courses, Recipe, Red Meat

 

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Creamy Pesto and Mushroom Fettuccine


(serves 2 full portions)
This is an easy fast pasta, something that can be cooked from scratch in under 15 minutes, great for those times you suddenly find out you need to whip out something from the kitchen immediately, or if this is the first time you are making pasta. The key to its speed is pesto, a great alternative to cutting up and frying a proper mirepoix or sofritto. It contains herbs, so you also don’t need to worry about adding any yourself. The mushrooms do a good job of soaking up flavour to go with the pasta. To sum up: it may be fast but it still looks and tastes great. 
 

Ingredients

  1. Pesto Genevese (4t)
  2. White Mushrooms (140g)
  3. Garlic (6 cloves = 1/2 bulb)
  4. Parmigiano Reggiano (40g)
  5. Fettuccine (160g)
  6. Cream (100ml)
  7. Chicken stock cube (1/2)
  8. Cognac (1T)  

Preparation 

  1. Put a pot of water to boil for the pasta. 
  2. Grate the Parmigiano. For decorative purposes before grating you can, if you like, make some shavings of the cheese with a potato peeler.
  3. Manually break off and discard the stems of your mushrooms. Slice them top down into 1/8 inch thick pieces.
  4. Peel the garlic and put it through a garlic press. You should end up with 2 heaped t of garlic.
  5. Add a dash of olive oil and 1t of salt to the pot of boiling water, followed by the fettuccine.
  6. Put 3T of olive oil, 4t (heaping) of pesto and the minced garlic in a pan on medium heat. When the mixture is bubbling, add the mushrooms. Reduce to low heat and sautee.
  7. Mash half a chicken stock cube in 1/4 cup of hot water. 
  8. When the mushrooms begin to soften, add 100 ml cream, the chicken stock plus 1T of cognac. Stir fry till the liquid is boiling. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, turn the heat off and continue stirring as the cheese melts. 
  9. After the pasta has been boiling for about 7 minutes, drain it. It will still be a bit hard. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce and toss fry on low heat till the pasta is al dente. This pasta dish is meant to be dryish (see photo) but if the pan begins to dry too much, sprinkle on a bit of water or cream.
  10. Season with a touch of black pepper before serving.

Notes

  • To my friends who protest my recipes are too ‘complicated’, well here you go. The preparation describes everything done in parallel to save on time. If you like you can cook in stages. Cut the vegetables first, then make the sauce, and finally boil the pasta.
  • This recipe is very scalable. To make pasta for 4, just double the amounts, the cooking time remains unchanged.
  • I keep a bottle of store bought minced garlic in oil in the fridge for recipes where minced garlic is cooked. A great time saver. The same goes with pesto, no need to make it fresh if you are not eating it raw.
  • Pesto is slightly sour already, so don’t substitute the brandy with something sour like wine.
 

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Linguine Vongole


(serves 3-4)
When someone mentions linguine, I can’t help but think of clams, the same way I think of bolognese when I hear spaghetti or carbonara when I hear fettucine. There are many varieties of Linguine Vongole, from light neuvo versions made with garlic and sake to ultra-orthodox ones served with clams still in the shell. My version of this timeless classic use a few extra ingredients to arrive at a richer sauce, but it’s still distinctively a Vongole.
 
 
Ingredients
  1. Smoked Clams in Oil (150g)
  2. Linguine (250g)
  3. Crushed Garlic (4t)
  4. Parmesan (3t)
  5. Pesto (3t)
  6. Onion (1) 
  7. Chardonnay (0.5 cup)
  8. Olive Oil (0.25 cup) 
  9. Basil (1t)
  10. Oregano (1t)

Preparation

  1. Put a pot of water to boil with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt, so you’ll be ready to do the pasta at a moment’s notice.
  2. Cut your onion into half and slice into very thin half rings. These have to be thin (2mm) as they are meant to disappear into the linguine. Brown them in a sauce pan with 2T of olive oil.
  3. When the onion begins to soften, add 3t of pesto and 3t of crushed garlic and continue to stir fry. After a minute, turn up the heat and add your clams, including their oil. 150g of clams should be about what you get from two standard rectangular sardine tins.
  4. After another minute, deglaze with half a cup of chardonnay. Sprinkle in 1 heaped t each of basil and oregano and simmer on low heat.
  5. In the meanwhile put your linguine into the pot of boiling water.
  6. When the wine has lost 90% of its volume, turn the heat off. Pour in 1/5 cup of olive oil (extra virgin of course). If you like a hint of fresh garlic like me, stir 1t of crushed garlic into the olive oil before pouring it in. Sprinkle on 3t of finely grated parmigiano and give the sauce a final stir. 
  7. When your pasta starts to soften, strain it and continue the final softening in the pasta sauce itself. Toss the linguine in the pan as it cooks under medium heat until it is al dente. Taste and add a bit of salt if required (particularly if you didn’t use smoked clams).
  8. Finish off with a sprinkle of black pepper on the serving plate.

Notes

  • Why not fresh clams? Well they are hard to procure. They are troublesome to pre-boil. Their shells get in my way when I’m trying to enjoy my pasta. They take up more space and you’ll need a very larger pan if you are cooking for more than 2. The shells will scratch the pan if it is of the non-stick type. I can go on and on.
  • I’ve chosen smoked clams as the smoked flavour bleeds into the sauce and gives a very interesting taste. Besides, I generally avoid boiled canned clams as they carry a metallic taste from the can. If you have to use the unsmoked variety, remember to strain the can’s contents ahead of time to get rid of as much of the liquid as possible, and don’t deglaze with the chardonnay until the remaining moisture has evapourated in the hot pan.
  • You can also use the commercial powder parmesan instead of parmigiano if you like. Its only a small amount of cheese and its is being used mainly as a thickener.
 
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Posted by on November 4, 2010 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Seafood

 

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Mayonnaise Glazed Sole di Italia


(serves 3)
This is not an Italian recipe. It only says ‘di Italia’ because I used the same colours as the Italian flag. As you may have guessed, this fish dish comes in three flavours. Its popular with kids and is easier to cook than you think. Its also quite a flexible recipe and other than the mayonnaise you can change the ingredients to whatever you have on hand. You can also make this in smaller portions of a single colour if you want to serve this as an appetizer.
 
Ingredients
  1. Sole Fillets (3)
  2. Mayonnaise (150g)
  3. New Potato (1)
  4. Grana Padano 
  5. Pesto (4t)
  6. Tomato Ragu (3t)
  7. Crushed Garlic (3t)
  8. Chinese Wine
  9. Honey
  10. Paprika

Preparation

  1. Start by boiling your new potato in a small pot of water for about fifteen minutes. As shown in the picture, I’ll usually boil some side vegies of the same colour and then coat them in some butter and tarragon. If you plan to do this, boil them with the potato since the fish should be served immediately after its done.
  2. Peel and put some garlic through a garlic press until you get 3t of crushed garlic.
  3. Flush you sole fillets with tap water and then pad them dry with kitchen towels. Marinate them in a mixture of 3T of Chinese Wine, 0.5t salt and 0.5t pepper. Chinese wine is best for freshening up fish, but if you don’t have any, use sake or vodka. Set aside the fillets while you take care of the glazing.
  4. Spoon your mayonaise into a bowl and grate in one inch cube of Grana Padano. Skin your potato and mix that in as well after mashing it with a fork. Follow up with a sprinkle of salt (or Hon Dashi if you have any) and 1t of honey. Finally, divide the mayonnaise mix into three portions.
  5. For the first portion, mix in 4t of pesto. This becomes the green mayo.
  6. For the second portion, mix in 3t of crushed garlic. This is the white mayo.
  7. For the third portion, mix in 3t of (meatless) tomato ragu. If you don’t have any home-made ragu in reserve, just use the kind that comes in a bottle. Sprinkle in 1t of paprika to get the colour to a deeper red.
  8. Turn on your grill and oil a suitably sized baking tray with olive oil. After placing the sole fillets in the tray, spoon the mayonnaise on in sections until all the fish is covered.
  9. Grill for about 13 minutes, or until the mayonnaise starts to brown. If you don’t have a grill, you can just use a regular oven on high heat, or even a toaster oven.

Notes

  • As mentioned in the introduction, this is a flexible recipe. If you want to use salmon or some other fish fillet, go ahead.
  • The colour of the mayonnaise is entirely up to you. For example if you need black for a German flag, you can use black olive tapenade for black and mustard for yellow. You can basically create any colour you want except for blue, unless you like blue berry flavoured fish..yuck!
  • Why does my recipe have mashed potatoes? They help the mayonnaise stay on the fish instead of sloughing off .
  • A new potato is the small type that is white inside. I don’t mean a potato you just bought.
 
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Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Appetizers, Main Courses, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Pesto Marmalade Salad


(serves 6-8) 
I discovered the pure magic of combining marmalade with pesto one time when I was trying to use up some leftover ingredients for a salad. The result of my thriftiness was this unique salad-hater’s salad. It’s slightly sweet but best of all, it contains all your regular breakfast staples like jam, toast and eggs. If you like coleslaw but hate ‘regular’ green salads, this is the salad for you.  

Ingredients 

  1. Arugula (12 oz)
  2. Marmalade (1t, heaped)
  3. Olive Oil (1/3 cup)
  4. Balsamic Vinegar (4T)
  5. Pesto (4t)
  6. Pine Nuts (1/4 cup)
  7. Croutons (1 cup)
  8. Eggs (2)
  9. Black Pepper
  10. Cardamon

Preparation

  1. Hard boil 2 eggs and if you are not buying ready-made croutons, dice some overnight bread and toast them into croutons in a toaster oven.
  2. Spoon the marmalade and pesto into a bowl that will hold the dressing and microwave for 15 seconds to soften the marmalade.
  3. Add the olive oil and vinegar, plus 1t of black pepper, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cardamon (use nutmeg if you don’t have any). This completes the dressing.
  4. Put the hard boilled eggs through the egg slicer 3 times, each in a different direction. On the third time, each egg will literally fall apart, so do it over your salad bowl containing the arugula to catch the little egg bits. In anycase, have all the egg end up  in the salad bowl when you are done.
  5. When its time to serve your salad, drizzle your dressing into the arugula and eggs and then toss. When the yolks have melded into the dressing, add the crutons and pine nuts and toss lightly a second time. Serve immediately to keep your arugula crisp.

Notes

  • On occasion I also use baby spinach and it works well, and that results in a different look. I only used arugula in this recipe because its supposed to (actually it does) pair nicely with fruit and nuts.
  • I’d recommend heavier breads like farm bread for the crutons, so they stay crunchy longer.
  • I swear by coarse-cut marmalade, the tiny bits of peel add character I think.
  • In smaller portions, you can also use this salad as decorative side-salad on your main dishes or hot appetizers.
 
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Posted by on October 14, 2009 in A Kobi Original, Appetizers, Recipe, Salad

 

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