Category Archives: Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once

Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once,Volume 8: Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Swiss Buttercream Frosting and Blueberries

These were actually Sue’s birthday cupcakes (which was now over a month ago, and we’re still writing about it, because we cooked a lot and because we are blogging slackers apparently), but the title was already really long.  I made the cake part, and frosted them and decorated them, but Sue made the frosting which was hands down the best part.  It’s kind of a high-touch frosting, as my boss might say; part meringue which requires you to temper the eggwhites and whatnot, it seems like a lot more work than I would ever, ever do.  Which is why Sue made it, because she’s better at complicated cooking.  These were a classic Sue choice; one of the things she has in common with my mom is that she never met a lemon-flavored thing she didn’t like.  Another thing is a fairly nasty right hook.

So, the cake.  The truth is, I was in a hurry when I made these, so I found a recipe online, with the caveat that it include real lemon juice (I was going to put in a whole mess of lemon zest either way) and that it have buttermilk, because I like what buttermilk does to cake.  For the record, I gave not one iota of attention to the whole “baking at high altitude” concern.  Because I forgot.  But they turned out fine, so, eat that Betty Crocker.  Here it is:

Lemon Cupcakes, adapted from Sweet Cheeks in the Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

zest of 2 lemons

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar if you don’t have buttermilk, which I never do)

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a muffin tin with cupcake papers.  Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest until fluffy and pale.  In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.  Mix in each egg, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated.  Alternate adding the buttermilk and dry ingredients like this:  add 1/3 of dry ingredients, then add 1/2 the buttermilk, then add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the rest of the buttermilk, then the final 1/3 of the dry.  Mix until JUST combined, and fill the cupcake papers about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are pretty and golden brown.  You can do the toothpick-insertion test, but the  best test is the color and poke one with your finger- if it feels like cake, it’s done.  Cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Swiss Buttercream Frosting

Let me say, before Sue goes forward with her recipe, that it was flingin flangin delicious.  It was fluffy, light (a total manipulation, because there was about 14 pounds of butter in it) and beautiful to look at.  Most importantly, it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet like a lot of frosting can be; you know, when you leave the frosting in big gobs on the edge of the plate, only eating a little bit at a time as you eat the cake part, and then you try to throw the whole plate away really quick before anyone notices you didn’t eat any of the frosting.  Her frosting was NOTHING like that.  I ate a whole bunch with a spoon after I was done frosting the cupcakes and realized that I, sadly, had some leftover.

This is Sue now. Everything she said about this frosting is right; this is hands down my favorite frosting ever. Not only to make, but also to eat. Towards the end of the evening, someone found the icing bag in the kitchen and was giving people icing shots- that’s how good this icing is. Yes, it’s not exactly a beginner icing, but you can do it, I swear.

This is a classic recipe from the buttercream family. What makes this kind wonderful is that you are mixing the butter with a meringue which lightens it up significantly. The other kind of frosting that is similar to this is an Italian Meringue buttercream, the big difference with that is you have to cook the sugar, (using a candy thermometer) basically its a big huge process….this one is much easier. Italian meringue is supposed to be a bit more stable…but I wouldn’t know since I always just make this. Do keep in mind though, that this frosting will never set, it will always be soft and shiny (things I like in a frosting, but something to keep in mind for storage and travel).

Swiss Meringue Buttercream with white chocolate


makes enough for 28 cupcakes, or a two layer cake

2 1/2 cups sugar

10 egg whites

4 cups of unsalted butter (8 sticks), cubed

2 tsp of vanilla

12 oz of white chocolate*

candy thermometer


Melt chocolate slowly in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Set aside.

Place egg whites and sugar into a metal bow,l (if you are using a stand mixer, you can use that bowl) place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the bottom of the pot). Whisk gently until the sugar has been dissolved and the mixture has reached 160 degrees. You test if the mixture is ready by rubbing a bit in between your fingers. If it feels smooth it’s ready, if it is grainy the sugar hasn’t completely dissolved. Transfer the bowl back to the stand mixer (or have your hand mixer ready). Using the whisk attachment, whisk until the mixture comes to glossy stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.

With the mixture whisking on medium, add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Don’t worry if the mixture appears curdled, this is common with buttercreams, it will come together. Once all the butter is added, mix on high for 1 minute. Add vanilla and chocolate and beat on medium until combined.

A note about the chocolate: Make sure the white chocolate is real white chocolate, this means that cocoa butter is one of the first ingredients. If you use a imitation version, the oils will separate and will not be good in this frosting. You could also use bittersweet chocolate to make this a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.

Frost the cupcakes, top with blueberries and serve.

– Cat and Sue


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Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once, Volume 6: Oven Fries and Dipping Sauces

Soooo it’s been awhile since we posted, turns out life is busy and being a grown up takes away a lot of your free time. Anyway, this will be the last day of this series (finally).

Oven French fries.  Since we made these while Cat was visiting I have probably made them about 5 more times, everyone LOVES them. That’s right, fries not cooked in grease, and people love them. It shocked me too. The key to these are good spices, and a long cooking time. We also made a few dipping sauces to go on the side (both of which we didn’t take pictures of, who is surprised?) But they were really easy and went really well with the fries, even though Cat thought the chipotle ketchup would be gross. (Note- not gross, just unnecessary, but I was 100% wrong, which is why I owed her an apology for that, because it was totally delicious.)




Olive oil

Yes, that’s the ingredients, there are no measurements, this is just a method. I have used both Yukon potatoes and russet potatoes, and I know that sweet potatoes would also work.

So here is the method and a few tips:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the potatoes into small wedges. Soak the wedges in water for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour. Soaking the potatoes helps remove some of the starch, which will help them crisp up in the oven better (it will also prevent them from turning pink if you aren’t going to cook them right away).  Drain the potato wedges and place in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet (one or more depending on how many potatoes you are making). Liberally drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with spices. Toss with your hands, and then season again. You want each potato to be lightly covered with the spice mixture. You don’t want the potatoes to be sitting in a pool of olive oil, but a little bit of excess is ok.

Put the potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes, then flip the potatoes, and place back in the oven. Look at the fries after the first 20 minutes, if one side looks more done than another, rotate the pan, or if you have two pans on two racks, rotate which one is on top. Cook for at least another 15-20 minutes, checking to see when the fries are crispy. This could take up to an hour depending on the thickness of your wedges, and the amount of fries you are cooking at once.

So you want to know about what spices to put on them? Anything- you and literally put ANYTHING on these. You could just put salt and pepper, or you could put a little bit of cumin, some chili powder, maybe even some curry (<–that would be especially good on sweet potato fries). The spice mixture I love to use is by Frontier Spices, you can order it here or I have found it at places like Sunflower Market, and Whole Foods. It’s called garlic and herb blend, I love this blend on potatoes.  I have also made this at other people’s houses with other spice blends. Just look at the label, if it says things like garlic, onion, black pepper- it’s probably going to be delicious on fries. Just be sure to spice liberally, no one likes bland fries.

Dipping sauces:

Faux Sour cream and onion dip:

1 cup of greek yogurt (that’s where the faux part comes in, and the healthier part)

One small bunch of green onions, chopped, including some of the whites and the green

1 tsp of vinegar (anything but white would work, but even white will work in a pinch)

¼ tsp of garlic powder (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to let the flavors marry.

Chipotle Ketchup:

1 can of tomato paste

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ tsp of garlic powder

½ tsp of salt

½ tsp of chipotle powder

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Whisk all ingredients together. If the mixture is too thick add a splash of water. Taste and adjust spices to your own liking (for instance, I tend to use more vinegar because I like the tang).

– Sue


Filed under Appetizers, BBQ, Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once, Recipes, Sides

Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once, Volume 6: Caramelized Onion Dip, or How Sue Owes Cat an Apology

Sue and I cooked a LOT the weekend I was in Denver.  We spent most of Sunday in the kitchen, and all of Monday as well.  This dip was one of the things we planned for her birthday party/Labor day BBQ , and it came together pretty quickly and spontaneously, by which I mean: “it was 3:30 and people were starting to arrive, and we kind of forgot about this dip and Sue still needed to shower and get dressed, so I looked at the caramelized onions as though they had personally offended me, drank half a glass of wine, and threw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl while shouting at Sue to wear the pink dress”.

There are two reasons Sue owes me an apology for this dip: A, she didn’t trust me to just throw ingredients together and have it turn out well, and B, because I wanted to put mustard in the dip and she didn’t like that either, but it was delicious, so there.

Caramelized Onion Dip (I think, because it was awhile ago when I made it, and I didn’t use a recipe, and, well, the wine…)

2-3 big sweet or yellow onions, chopped

1 stick of butter (yeah, a whole stick, butter is what makes things taste good)

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Miracle Whip

1 tsp dry mustard

2 tbsp brown mustard/sweet mustard/garlic mustard/whatever fancy mustard you have in your fridge

1 tsp worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper

Put the onion and butter in a dutch oven or deep saucepan.  Saute on medium heat until the onions are golden brown, probably 45 minutes or so.  When the onions cool, put them in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well.

it would have looked like this, if we would have remembered to take pictures.

– Cat

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Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once, Volume 5: Heirloom Tomato and Corn Salad

For this,  Sue and I went to Whole Foods (I normally find Whole Foods to be too far up its own ass to warrant visitation, but in this case I deigned to make an exception) and came back with 4 pints of heirloom cherry tomatoes. Alright. So here’s the thing: if you’ve never had a $6 pint of organic, heirloom tomatoes, you’ve not only never eaten a real tomato, you’ve never lived. We got two pints of reddish/greenish/purplish ones, and two of these tiny, perfect orange ones. These orange tomatoes were the most beautiful color, were so tiny and perfect and sweet and juicy. They were like candy that’s good for you. They were like sitting on the couch that burns calories. They were like a 4th cocktail that doesn’t turn you into an idiot.  They were a symbol for all that is good and right in the world.

I sang a song while washing these: one for me, one for the salad. One for me, one for the salad.

We put some other stuff in the salad, sweet corn, cotija cheese, green onion, and we dressed it somehow.  Who cares.  The tomatoes were the best thing in the entire world.  Sue slapped my hand more than once for sneaking them from the pint before we made the salad.  And we all cried a little when someone rinsed the bowl out with a few tomatoes still lingering in the bottom.

Heirloom Tomato and Corn Salad

6 ears fresh corn, boiled until tender and cut off the cob

6 green onions, chopped

3-4 pints of HEIRLOOM CHERRY TOMATOES, I halved the big ones and put the orange ones in whole, though admittedly I ate like half of them before they made it to the salad

1 block cotija cheese, crumbled (cotija is a hard, white, salty, goat’s milk Mexican cheese, kind of like feta but not as tangy, it’s GREAT)

Dressing: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper

the one we actually made was a lot prettier than this picture. but it was like day 14 of cooking, and we forgot to photograph.

– Cat and Sue

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Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once,Volume 4: Disaster Edition

For our delicious scallops dinner, we decided to make peach ice cream, with blackberry sauce and dulce de leche shortbread for dessert.


Let me start by telling you the things that went perfectly: the blackberry sauce.

Now the things that went not so perfectly: everything else.

We blanched and peeled the peaches, pureed one half, and the other half I chopped into a beautiful tiny dice on one of Sue’s nice bamboo cutting boards.  We set the peaches to macerate in a little honey and lemon juice while the custard cooled in the fridge.

For the blackberry sauce, we put a pint of blackberries, a 1/4 cup of sugar and the juice from one lime in a sauce pan and brought it to a bubble.  When a nice sauce appeared, we pureed it and strained it.  Done.

For the shortbread- we baked it in a round cake tin (the recipe is a Croal family secret, sorry) with the idea that we’d cut it into wedges.  We heated some pre-made dulce de leche and drizzled it, very prettily, over the shortbread when it was nearly done baking.  It was really attractive, and Sue and I spent some time admiring it until we realized that to get the shortbread out of the pan required turning it upside down onto a plate or something.  And we had just drizzled it with a lot of sticky caramel.  Well- we turned it out anyway.  And the entire top layer of shortbread and drizzle stuck to the cutting board.  Amidst much laughter and scraping of dulce de leche/shortbread bits from the cutting board into our mouths, we agreed that we could just drizzle them again and no one would notice.  And they didn’t.

Post-dinner, Sue and I came in from the roof deck to get the peach custard/peach chunks mixture going in the machine (it takes 15-20 minutes), went back outside for another drink, and came back in a bit later to find the ice cream machine exploding everywhere with peach ice cream.  Laughing, freaking out, covered in ice cream, we scraped ice cream out of the machine into a bowl, and got to tasting.

Ensuing conversation:

Me, to myself, in my head: Hmm, I must have much garlickier fingers than I thought from that garlic I chopped earlier, this ice cream is peachy and fantastic but also tastes kind of like garlic.

Sue, to me, aloud: “Hmm, I must have much garlickier fingers than I thought from that garlic I chopped earlier, this ice cream is peachy and fantastic but also tastes kind of like garlic.”

Me:  …… “WHAT?  I was just thinking the same thing, and also, you didn’t chop any garlic, I did.”

Sue:  ….  “Oh shit.”

Me:  ……

Sue: …….

….10 minute interlude for helpless-roll-on-the-floor-pee-your-pants laughing as we realize we chopped garlic on the same cutting board as the peaches I cut up and the resulting ice cream definitely took on a distinct garlicky flavor.

So, we made peach-garlic ice cream.  Hundreds of jokes were borne of that ice cream- this is taking the wacky sweet/savory ice cream thing way too far…this would be great with some grilled pork…next ice cream idea: raspberry and salmon…

We served the ice cream anyway, and everyone agreed it was gross.  And hilarious.  Luckily the shortbread was fantastic, and there was lots of wine, so nobody cared.  But here’s the lesson: wood absorbs flavors, no matter how well you wash it.  I think it’s best to get a plastic cutting board for garlic and onions, like you have for raw meat, or at least a wooden one you ONLY use for garlic and onions.

– Cat


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Cat and Sue Cook Together for Once, Volume 3: Vegetarian Samosas and Mango Chutney

This is another good example of how Cat and I don’t always get along in the kitchen…but through our stubbornness and eventual compromise, we come up with something great. Cat and I both really enjoy Indian food, although I will admit that Cat was the first person who introduced me to it, and she also has more experience cooking it. This, however, did not stop me from asserting my opinions. For instance I HATE ginger, I think it tastes like soap. I know there are a lot of you out there who feel exactly the same as me. That said…I realize the importance of it in certain dishes. Specifically Indian food- but even in things like my mom’s baked beans. Eventually we compromised on it all and OH MY GOD did these turn out good. We had some leftover potato mixture…and it all got eaten within a day. On to the recipe:

Veggie Samosa Filling:

6 small to medium potatoes cubed

1 cup of peas, frozen

2 Tbs of ghee (or clarified butter)

1 medium sized yellow onion finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tsp ground coriander

3 tsp turmeric

2 ½ tsp garam masala

2 tsp ground cumin

¼ cup cream or milk
Cat and I also disagreed with the potato preparation (I have a maniacal problem with peeled potatoes, it makes no sense to me to remove the healthiest part of the vegetable – Cat) but the end compromise was perfect. I peeled the potatoes randomly, as in if I saw an eye, or a dark spot, I peeled it. But we kept most of the skin. Cube the potatoes into small bite size pieces and boil in salted water until fork soft, about 10 mins.  Drain and place in a large bowl. With a potato masher or a fork, slightly mash the potatoes, leaving a fair amount of chunks. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the ghee (see note about ghee at the end) until melted, add the onions and sauté on medium for about 5 minutes, then add garlic and sauté both until soft and translucent. Add all the spices and keep stirring until they are fragrant and have evenly coated the onions and garlic. Add the onion mixture, and the cup of frozen peas to the potato mixture. Fold the mixture together.

The mixture will still probably be a bit crumbly, so add the ¼ cup of cream and mix again. Taste, and add any additional spices you think it needs.

At this point Cat and I added a bit of extra turmeric (which has very little flavor but creates the lovely yellow color) and a bit more garam masala. I accounted for both of these additions in the recipe, but the idea is that samosas vary from family to family, restaurant to restaurant, so feel free to adjust the spices to your own liking.

Mango Chutney

Sauces are kind of my thing.  Dressings, too.  Ask anyone.  This chutney turned out fantastically.  I had two issues at the start of this recipe.  First: I hate when mango chutney has too-big mango chunks that make it hard to dip whatever you’re eating.  Second: I refused to exclude the ginger, even though Sue really, really wanted to.  Mango chutney is good on samosas, obviously, but of course is a great accompaniment to any Indian dish, and probably anything Thai also.  It would also be fantastic with jalapenos wrapped in bacon.  Just saying.

2 ripe mangoes, cut into a nice small dice (people cut mangoes a lot of ways, I do it this way for chutney: peel the mangoes with a vegetable peeler, cut all the flesh off you can, the end.)

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced

1/2 an onion, minced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup pineapple juice (or other citrus, orange would be just fine)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

salt and pepper

Put everything in a saucepan.  Boil it gently on medium-low heat until it’s thick and golden, probably 45 minutes.  Cool and serve.

Samosa dough

Our original idea was to use Goya empanada wrappers because we thought the dough texture would be similar to the typically fried samosas. We could not find it anywhere. On our last attempt we checked Whole Foods, who also didn’t have it, then we thought we might try wonton wrappers (another good alternative to baked versus fried dough) but since it was Whole Foods, they didn’t have that either. SO we finally settled on my pie dough recipe. Which worked, quite well, but was not perfect, and kind of split apart in the baking process.

The point of that long ramble is….do whatever you want for dough. You can either use pre-made or homemade pie dough, frozen empanada wrappers, wonton wrappers, or Google a recipe for samosa dough. The only thing we would not suggest is puff pastry dough, this is far too buttery and sweet for something like this.

For our assembly we used a jar lid to cut the dough into 4 inch circles. We placed a small amount of filling on one side, folded the other side over, pinched it shut, and brushed the tops with butter. These cooked for about 35 minutes. Since your filling is already cooked, your cooking time will vary based on dough you choose to use.

Trust us, whatever type of dough you use…they will be delicious.

A note:

Ghee (the fat used in most Indian cooking) is clarified butter. You can buy it in the super market, but if you do, you are stupid. Clarified butter is easy to make, there are instructions here. Cat and I were lucky because my boyfriend keeps clarified butter in the fridge for his amazing omelet making, so we didn’t have to make it, but we could have. The reason clarified butter is essential in something like this (and a lot of dishes really) is because it has a higher smoke point. The solid fats and cream are all skimmed off, so there’s nothing left to burn. What happens when butter burns is that it turns into browned butter, if you do it right, or burnt, nasty tasting butter if you do it wrong. Either way- it’s not the flavor you want in this recipe, so clarified butter is best.

– Cat and Sue

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Cat and Sue Cook Together For Once, Volume 2: Gruyere Polenta Cakes, with Creamy Braised Leeks, Seared Diver Scallops and Roasted Tomato Drizzle

I’m so proud of how LONG that title is.  Because, as everyone knows, with recipes, long = fancy.  The coolest thing about this meal is that Sue and I made it up.  The second coolest thing about it is that it is a pretty even split of ideas, some were mine, some were Sue’s.  The finished result was really harmonious, all the flavors and textures complementing each other well, nothing jarring but everything speaking for itself.  Plus, people who don’t like scallops are no friends of mine.  So here are the recipes, with a few notes about each one.

Gruyere Polenta Cakes

Polenta is grits, in case there’s any confusion about that.  To make polenta cakes, you cook the grits, including all your flavors, pour them into a pan, cool them in the fridge, cut them into shapes, and then pan fry them.  Simple, delicious, an excellent addition to meals when you’re tired of rice and potatoes.  Polenta is pretty bland, so be careful to include lots of flavor.  For these, we made them creamy and cheesy with Gruyere, though I’ve  made cheddar grits, parmesan grits and goat cheese grits with enormous success as well.  The ratio I use for liquid to grits is 1:3, assuming you’ll add cheese and some butter.

1 cup grits

2 cups milk and/or heavy cream (Some cream is fantastic in here, not that you MUST include it.  Just make sure that whatever proportions of milk and cream you use add up to 2 of the 3 parts of liquid required.)

1 cup chicken stock (You can use veggie stock if you’re a vegetarian.  Please don’t use water.  If you must, use another cup of milk.  Just don’t use water.)

3/4 -1 cup shredded Gruyere

a pat or two of butter

salt and pepper

Toss the grits and all liquid in a cold pot and turn heat to medium.  Let the grits slowly incorporate the liquid, stirring frequently.  This takes 20-25 minutes, but if you’re in a hurry, you can cook them on higher heat and stand there whisking the grits the whole time to make sure they don’t clump, burn, or cook unevenly.  Your call.  When the grits are done, they’ll look like thinnish porridge or oatmeal, and you can pour them into a buttered dish or pan.  Bear in mind the eventual shape you want the polenta cakes to have, we did pretty triangles, you could easily do circles or squares, or whatever.  Let the grits cool and harden in the fridge until you’re ready to pan fry them, at least a couple hours.  To pan fry them, simply cut them into the desired shapes, melt some oil or butter (or bacon grease!) in a nonstick pan on medium-high heat, and pop the polenta cakes into the oil.  Don’t move them around much, they’re a bit fragile.  Let them cook maybe 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping only once, until each side is a nice, deep, crunchy brown.  Remove them from the oil and plate immediately.

Creamy Braised Leeks

2 big bunches of leeks

1/2 cup unsalted butter (unsalted butter is better for this, but if you only have salted, watch your temperature and account for the salt)

1 Tbs of all purpose flour

1/4 cup of cream or 1/2 and 1/2

Fresh ground pepper


So last time we talked about leeks it was for potato leek soup. Leeks are like a mildly flavored green onion. They are also a very dirty vegetable.  To prep leeks, you will need to cut off the roots (about an inch) and then cut off the top dark green fibrous portion of  leeks (about 1 1/2 inches). Cut the rest into small rings (about 1/2 inch thick). Place the rings into a bowl of water and separate the rings with your fingers. Swirl them around to help release the dirt, and then let them sit for awhile. Scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon into your cooking pot (we used a small enameled dutch oven). DO NOT pour the leeks into a colander or you will coat them with all the dirt you took the time to extract.

Add the butter to the pot and let them cook on low heat until they are tender, be careful to not let them brown, or they will turn bitter. Add the flour and stir until evenly distributed, cook for about 1 min (you are making a roux here). Then add the cream and stir until creamy. Add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Taste to see if you need more of anything. You can keep these on low heat while you prepare everything else, if they start to get too thick add a splash of chicken broth, or splash of milk.

Seared Diver Scallops

When you go to the grocery store to buy scallops, you’ll notice the diver scallops are like 40 times the price of regular scallops.  That’s because they are diver scallops, which means that divers pluck them from the sea by hand, as opposed to farmed scallops which are dredged up with a big net.  They are the best, biggest, tenderest, tastiest scallops a person can eat, and in this recipe they’re prepared so simply it’s worth it to spend the money to get something perfect.  Also- if you don’t like scallops, or you think you don’t, you’re wrong.  Scallops are like clouds with a very delicate sea flavor.  We served 3 scallops per person, which is more than enough.  They were about the size of golfballs.


1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper (liberal amounts)

cayenne pepper (small amount)

Get your oil hot in a nonstick saute pan, on medium heat.  Salt, pepper and cayenne both sides of your scallops.  When the oil is hot, place scallops in the pan in one layer, not touching each other.  If you have to do this in several stages, do that, just don’t crowd the scallops or they will not sear properly.  Tongs are the best tool for turning scallops, they are a meaty fish but they are still flaky like fish, using a spatula will sometimes result in broken scallops. Let them cook 3-4 minutes, not moving them around.  After 3-4 minutes, when you can see some nice browning happening on the underside of the scallops, flip them over and cook them a further 3-4 minutes to achieve the same browning on the opposite side.  When they’re brown on both sides, remove them from the pan and plate them immediately.

Note- scallops are DELICIOUS raw.  If you’ve never had raw scallop in a sushi restaurant, do so immediately.  I prefer raw scallops to cooked, actually.  My point is, it’s best to serve scallops rare- just make sure they’re nice and brown on the outsides.

Roasted Tomato Drizzle

This is the easiest thing on the face of the earth.  Seriously.  Make it and put it on anything, but in this meal, the acidity of the tomato and balsamic compliments the richness of the leeks and the polenta.

1 pint cherry tomatoes

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Roast the tomatoes, olive oil and salt and pepper in an oven safe pan for 20-30 minutes, on 350. Roast the tomatoes until they burst and some are slightly charred. Remove them from the oven, let them cool, and toss them in your food processor with the balsamic (make sure to scrape all the drippings off the pan, there is a lot of flavor in there).  Serve however you want.

Pre- food processor stage, these are also the roasted tomatoes I (Sue) used on the vegan pizza, in fact I use them in a lot of things.  If you are like me and don’t love raw tomatoe,s (except the heirloom ones, I can eat those like candy) this is a great way to maintain a fresh flavor, while still taking away that “raw” taste. Keep in mind that you can roast them as long or as little as you like.

These pictures aren’t perfect…but we also spent the ENTIRE day in the kitchen, and we were really hungry.

We also were trying to plate quickly for 6 people….

– Co-written by Cat and Sue (can you tell?)

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