Scallop, Dungeness Crab, Black Quinoa, Spinach, Tomato
Shall we begin? French for “to amuse the mouth,” an amuse bouche is a delectable morsel sent out by the chef in fine dining establishments to welcome and delight the guests. Unlike appetizers, diners don’t choose an amuse bouche from the menu. It is a lagniappe, a little something extra created by the chef, to whet their appetites for the meal to come.
For elegant entertaining at home, I think of an amuse bouche as mingling plush ingredients and pizazzy flavors in a diminutive eye-popping presentation. This scallop & crab amuse bouche was a perfect way to tickle the tastebuds at our recent sea-centric dinner party.
Scallop, Crab, Black Quinoa, Heirloom-Tomato-Meyer-Lemon Sauce Recipe
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Paella Rice with Baby Octopus & Meyer Lemon
Peas, Fennel, Onion
Lemon Olive Oil, Basil, Black Pepper
“Cooking is a love affair. It’s all about falling in love with your ingredients.”
Ingredients. Ingredients were the inspiration for this “casserole.” A brown paper bag full of gorgeous Meyer Lemons from my friend Judy’s yard. A Christmas gift of heavenly Lemon Olive Oil from my friend Allison. (Thank you, ladies). A charming cloth bag of arroz tradicional from Spain. And irresistible fresh baby octopus at my local Korean market.
“You can’t cook well without good ingredients. If you don’t treat the ingredient and its flavors with respect, if you drown it in oil, even good olive oil, you spoil it.”
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Fresh Sea Urchin
Meyer Lemon Juice, Single Varietal Olive Oil, Sea Salt
For me, the Farmers Market can be a dangerous place. No, not in the sense of personal safety, but hazardous for my wallet. Last weekend I came home with heirloom baby cherry tomatoes, wild arugula, avocados, fresh salmon. All intended for dinner that night. But also in the shopping bag were yu choy, epazote, unique baby red-speckled romaine, single varietal olive oil, a bottle of safe & organic pesticide purchased from the woman who invented it, and a live sea urchin harvested just down the coast off Dana Point. Impulse purchases.
Decades ago when sushi was just becoming popular here, a date took me out to a sushi bar. He warned, “Don’t order uni, it’s disgusting.” Months (or years?) later I tasted it, and could not believe what I had been missing! I was intoxicated with the exotic, mysterious gonads of a spiky purple sea creature. Over the years I’ve enjoyed uni sushi dozens of times, and have bought many little trays of fresh uni from the Japanese market for various dishes, but until last weekend, I had never handled nor cleaned a live sea urchin.
Sharing the joys of cooking with friends in my kitchen and through Taste With The Eyes is a pleasure and a passion. Should someone one day ask, “Hey Lori Lynn, do you know how to clean a sea urchin?” I want to be able to say, “Sure, let me show you.” And that’s why a live sea urchin ended up in my shopping basket…
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Cocktail Hour @ Ciao Fiore!
Meyer Lemon Arancini, Flower Petal Confetti, Parmesan
It’s cocktail hour at Ciao Fiore! Meyer Lemon Risotto left over from the previous night’s service is formed into balls, coated with panko bread crumbs, and fried in canola oil. We need to watch our food costs so here we transform the day-old risotto into a delightful bar appetizer. Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprinkling of flower petal confetti make the presentation pop!
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Meyer Lemon & Pink Rose Petal Risotto
Edible flowers are so darn pretty, it is easy to use them to garnish the plate and call it good. No complaints. But for this challenge I wanted to incorporate the flowers into my dishes so as to marry the flavors and colors, to create a synergy where all the elements of the dish are enhanced.
Lemon trees and rose bushes thrive side-by-side in the garden. The colors yellow and pink make a delightful pair. And the aromas of citrus plus floral make for a heady perfume. And so Meyer Lemon & Pink Rose Petal Risotto was born. A hint of rose water plus a chiffonade of “passionate kisses” rose petals transform this creamy citrus risotto into a blissful dish.
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