Here is what we’re cooking up this week.
Seared sea scallops: Scallops are a nice, delicate dinner option on these sweltering summer nights. When a friend brought me a dozen large scallops after visiting a local seafood market, I was excited to experiment with some of my favorite fish recipes. With fish, less is best when it comes to cooking. My scallops were hearty and perfect for sauteing in butter and olive oil. I made sure they were dry before I put them in a hot, oiled skillet. I seared them until they developed a golden brown crust on each side and removed them quickly. I used some lemon and white wine to deglaze the pan and added some fresh herbs, too. Just before I plated the scallops, I put them back in the pan and then drizzled the sauce over the scallops on each serving. I made rice and broccolini on the side.
French onion soup: I make an easy version of this fancy soup dish using caramelized onions as the base. I start with a little olive oil in my Dutch oven and add up to six cups of thinly sliced onions. I saute them until they are brown and caramel-colored. Be patient, this process takes time. I usually give the onions an hour, at least. When they are nicely browned, I add about four cups of beef broth along with dried thyme and salt and pepper. I splash a couple of tablespoons of cooking sherry in the broth and let the soup simmer for as long as I have until dinnertime. I portion the soup into oven-proof bowls and top each with a slice of stale French bread. If the loaf is long and thin, I put a few of the slices on each bowl. I add a good amount of grated Gruyere cheese to the top of each bowl. I put the bowls on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. If the cheese needs more color, I turn on the broiler for a minute or two. I like to top each bowl with fresh thyme leaves before serving. We enjoyed this soup with a dinner salad and some crusty bread.
Lasagna rollups: These seem like they are a little easier to make than regular pan lasagna but, the truth is, they require the same amount of effort. However, the rollups are definitely easier to portion out once the lasagna hits the dinner table. I use my homemade meat sauce as the base and blend ricotta cheese, egg, shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese for the filling. I cook the lasagna noodles and lay them out on a baking sheet, then spread a layer of the cheese mixture in the center of each one and add a heaping spoon of sauce on top of that. I roll them up and place them upright with the seams touching in a 9- by 12-inch baking dish. It’s a messy process for sure. When the dish is full, I spread the remaining sauce over the top and add a hefty sprinkling of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on the top. I put chopped, fresh parsley on the top and cover the pan with foil to place in the oven. The casserole bakes at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, then I remove the foil and let it brown for another 5 minutes. After the lasagna rests for a few minutes, it’s easy to spoon the rollups onto plates.
Grouper sandwiches: The weekend fishing haul included some huge grouper that I portioned out for several friends and our family. I grilled the fillets on my indoor grill with a tiny bit of melted butter and topped each fillet with a slice of extra sharp cheddar cheese just before removing them from the grill. We had some extra large hamburger buns and store-bought tartar sauce to finish the sandwiches. I made homemade steak fries and served some fresh fruit salads on the side.
Chicken schnitzel: This recipe can be made with pork or veal, the traditional schnitzel meat. My family prefers chicken so I start by pounding chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap until they are about a quarter inch thick. I bread them with flour, egg wash (egg and a little fresh lemon juice in this case) and seasoned bread crumbs. The secret to good schnitzel is frying the pieces in just the right amount of vegetable oil. I prefer to use less than I do for deep-frying but a bit more than I would use for sauteing a cutlet. I place the chicken on a wire rack to cool a bit after cooking, and serve with lemon slices. German potato salad goes lovely with this dish but, on this night, we made do with smashed red potatoes and rainbow carrots on the side.
Summer pasta: Having a few staples in the pantry can always produce a good pasta dinner. While boiling a pot of linguine on the stove, I chopped tomatoes, fresh herbs (I had parsley and basil and a little mint) and garlic. I mixed them in a bowl with olive oil and salt and pepper. After the pasta was cooked and drained, I tossed the bowl of tomatoes and herbs into the hot noodles and added shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese. I plated the pasta and topped each dish with a bit more fresh Parmesan and some fresh basil. I made some garlic bread with a leftover baguette, and dinner was done.