There were some bright spots in the cooking that ensued during girls' weekend. In fact, most of the night was bright as can be. Shining glasses of red win began our journey through the edible wonderland that was Saturday night. Our starter course, taking a cue from Orangette, was a crunchy baguette topped with butter, fleur de sel and crispy sliced radishes.
Now, let me tell you, I used to hate radishes. Despised them. But as I read Orangette's post on radishes and butter and watched Anthony Bourdain eat them joyfully at Prune in the New York City episode, I knew that I needed to open up my mind to this pretty little vegetable. And I am so glad I did. This was a fabulous and refreshing way to start a meal and I will from this day forward eagerly embrace the radish at my dinner table.
Following the radishes, we moved onto the main course. We based this dish on Last Night Dinner's Scallops in a Snap, however neither of us is very fond of the tiny bay scallop, cute as they are, so we opted to change things up a bit for our recipe.
Angel Hair Pasta with Seared Scallops
adapted from Cappellini with Nantucket Bay Scallops from Last Night's Dinner
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
Red chile flakes to taste
Sea Scallops, 2-3 per person
3/4 lb. angel hair pasta
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Meanwhile, sear the scallops over high heat in a pan with a little butter and olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute until just beginning to brown, then add the wine and the chili flakes. Add the pasta to the garlic oil and toss together. Plate the pasta and top with fresh lemon zest and breadcrumbs (we used a piece of baguette that had been pulsed in the food processor and toasted in the oven with a little olive oil... these were the best breadcrumbs I've ever had and would highly suggest this method). Place the scallops lovingly on top and sprinkle with a little more olive oil if you wish.
I loved this pasta and brought leftovers, sans scallops, for lunch the next day. The chili flakes give is a great heat and the breadcrumbs add a nice little crunch to the whole thing.
Now, onto the good part of dessert: the fried part.
When I suggested salted caramel ice cream to end our girls' night meal, Megan, the genius that she is, requested that we also make Apple Zeppole. These lovely little balls of fried dough were dusted with powdered sugar and then dipped into cinnamon whipped cream. Had the ice cream tasted better it would have been a dessert that other desserts would have looked up to. We made the batter before dinner and then left it in the fridge until we were ready for frying. And fry we did. With our trusty sidekick, my new oil and candy thermometer, we did pretty well. Some were a little doughy in the middle from the oil getting a little to hot, but otherwise there were amazing. They made me think that one day I might be able to make regular donuts.
Apple Zeppole with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 large apple, peeled and grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
Olive oil for frying
Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt, sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously until mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl. Using an electric hand mixer on low speed, add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Beat until smooth. Add the grated apple and stir to combine. If not frying immediately, cover with plastic wrap and reserve in the refrigerator.
Combine the whipping cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, and cinnamon in a
medium bowl. Whip until medium soft peaks form. Transfer the whipping cream to a serving dish.
Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F.
Using a small ice-cream scooper or 2 small spoons, carefully drop about a rounded tablespoon of the dough into the hot olive oil. Turn the zeppole once or twice, and cook until golden and puffed up, about 4 minutes. Fry the zeppole in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Transfer the zeppole to a serving dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar using a small sieve. Serve with the cinnamon whipped cream alongside for dipping.