Prosciutto-wrapped Scallops with Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

Prosciutto-wrapped Scallops with Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette is a simple and elegant recipe that can be served in meal or appetizer portions. The citrus-spice vinaigrette can be prepared ahead of time and the total prep and cook time for the scallops is less than 15 minutes. When broiling the scallops take care not to overcook them or they will get chewy. The cook times in the recipe should yield perfect scallops unless you are using unusually large medallions.

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Prosciutto-wrapped Scallops with Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Serves 2

Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tsp finely grated orange zest
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp granulated sugar
2 drops Sriracha
Kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Scallops
4 paper-thin slices prosciutto, each sliced lengthwise into 2 long strips
8 sea scallops, halved horizontally
Baby arugula
EVOO
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme leaves for garnish

Vinaigrette – In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, paprika, sugar, Sriracha, and ¼ teaspoon salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Gradually whisk in the oil until the dressing is creamy and blended. Taste and adjust the flavor for balance and seasoning. Whisk again just prior to serving.

Scallops – Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Wrap 1 prosciutto strip around center of each scallop half pressing ends together to seal. Arrange scallops on prepared sheet.

Preheat broiler. Brush scallops lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil scallops until opaque in center and prosciutto is almost crisp, turning scallops over halfway through broiling, 1-2 minutes each side, depending on the size of the scallops. Arrange scallops on platter over a small bed of arugula. Top each with a sprinkle of vinaigrette and a few thyme leaves.

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Spicy Asian Flank Steak Salad

The Spicy Asian Flank Steak Salad is a tangy, tart presentation of grilled flank steak over a salad of mixed greens and raw vegetables dressed with a portion of the reserved marinade. Add a few crispy wonton strips to the top and serve with a piece or two of crusty bread.

Spicy Asian Flank Steak Salad
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Ethan Danstrom, 2013)

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Serves 4 to 6

1 flank steak, 2-3 pounds

Dressing/Marinade
1 cup soy sauce
½ cup cilantro stems, finely chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp Adoboloco Jalapeno Sauce
1-2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 Tbsp dry mustard
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup white vinegar

Salad
8 ounces baby arugula
2 small heads Boston red lettuce, roughly chopped
10 slices water chestnut
2 green onions, white and green parts sliced
½ cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise
24 snow peas
1 lime

Rinse meat under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Transfer the steak to a 1-gallon zip-top bag and set aside.

Combine the soy sauce, cilantro, oil, Sriracha, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, mustard, lime juice and sesame oil in a blender and puree for 2 minutes. Pour half of the marinade in the zip-top bag with the steak. Massage the bag to thoroughly coat the steak. Squeeze most of the air out of the bag and seal it. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Heat grill to high. Bring steak to room temperature. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry. Brush with a light coating of canola oil. Place the steak on the grill over direct heat. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steak to a plate. Cover loosely with foil and let is rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Combine the salad ingredient and divide among plates. Slice the steak thinly on a bias. Place strips of steak over the salads and drizzle with dressing. Serve with lime wedges to garnish.

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Chicken Crescents

Chicken Crescents have been an Ample Bites family favorite for more than 20 years. Kids and adults alike enjoy this comfort food. In the Ample Bites household Chicken Crescents are almost always served with a side of cold mixed bean salad.

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Chicken Crescents
(Sandy Kelly, 2013)

Serves 4

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp garlic powder, divided
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
¼ tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cooking sherry
1 Tbsp chopped chives
3 ounces button mushrooms, finely diced and sautéed
2 Tbsp dried minced onion, divided
8 ounce Pillsbury quick crescent dinner rolls
¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix cream cheese, butter, chicken breast, salt, pepper, sherry, chives, mushrooms, ½ tablespoon garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon dried minced onions.

Separate the dough into 4 rectangles and press centerline perforations to close them. Divide the chicken-cheese mixture evenly between the four dough rectangles by placing it in the center of each leaving enough room around the mixture to allow the corners to be pulled over it and close completely. Pull the corners to the center and press them tightly together and then seal all of the edges.

In a shallow bowl mix the breadcrumbs, the remaining ½ tablespoon garlic pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of the dried minced onions.

Spray the dough with cooking spray on all sides. Press the dough into the breadcrumbs covering all sides.

Bake on a foil lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

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Lobster Linguine with Chives and Tomato

Lobster is the star of Lobster Linguine with Chive and Tomato. There is no drawn butter, no creamy sauce, and no heavy spice to steal the show. This healthy yet indulgent dish is quite simple to make so it takes the intimidation out of cooking lobster. Follow the recipe closely and you will have a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

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Lobster Linguine with Chive and Tomato
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of For Cod and Country, Barton Seaver, 2011)

Serves 2

2 large lobster tails (about ¾ pound each)
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
Juice of ½ lemon
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 tsp cracked red pepper
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound linguine
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Fill a large pot with about 3 quarts of cold water, the Old Bay seasoning and the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Place the lobster tails in the boiling water and cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes. With tongs transfer the lobster tails to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Do not discard the cooking water.

Remove the lobster tails from the ice bath and allow them to return to room temperature then remove the meat from the shells and cut the meat into a ½-inch dice. Reserve the shells for a future seafood stock preparation.

Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, and ½ cup of the lobster cooking water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down and the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add a good amount of salt to the remaining lobster water and cook the linguine. When the pasta is about 1 minute from being done, strain off all but about ½ cup of the lobster water. Add the tomato sauce and continue to cook the pasta for another minute until it has absorbed most of the liquid. Remove from the heat and toss in the chopped lobster meat. Toss to combine.

Divide the linguine between two serving plates and garnish with chives and Parmesan cheese.

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French Onion Soup

A warm bowl of French Onion Soup topped with a slice of crusty bread and a layer of melted Gruyere cheese is the ultimate comfort soup for winter. The rich broth and the caramelized onions combine with the bread and salty, creamy cheese to create a savory meal or appetizer.

The soup can be topped with other cheese besides Gruyere, such as Asiago, Swiss or Parmesan, but the original French cheese seems to give the soup the best flavor. This recipe also uses a mixture of vegetable stock and beef broth. You can tailor the soup to your own preferences by using all vegetable or all beef.

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French Onion Soup
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Makes 16 appetizers servings or 8 to 10 main course servings

3 pounds sweet onions, julienned
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Quarts low-sodium vegetable stock
2 Quarts low-fat, low-sodium beef stock
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp brandy or cognac
Gruyere cheese and crusty bread for serving

Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the butter and melt until just foaming. Add the onions and cook them slowly until the wilt and start to brown. Stir frequently scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Season with a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until the flour is cooked. Slowly add the vegetable stock and beef stock, alternating between the two until all stock is incorporated. Stir frequently to dislodge remaining browned bits. Heat the soup to a boil, then turn it down to a low simmer for about 30 minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the top.

Add the tablespoon of salt and a couple more grinds of black pepper, to taste. Add the brandy or cognac (optional).

Preheat broiler.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls leaving room for a piece of bread on top. Place the bread on top of the soup and sprinkle with a generous topping of the Gruyere cheese. Place the soup under the broiler until the cheese is melting and just begins to brown.

Serve immediately.

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Sweet Tater Tots

Sweet Tater Tots are a homemade version of the children’s favorite that uses sweet potatoes. The crust of the Sweet Tater Tots is made with sweet potato chips. The Sriracha Mayo dipping sauce gives this side dish a sophisticated punch.

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Sweet Tater Tots
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine, January/February 2013)

Makes about 36

1 ½ pounds medium sweet potatoes (about 3 potatoes), pricked with a fork
Cooking spray
4 cups finely crushed sweet potato chips
¼ cup dried minced onion
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Sriracha

Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake sweet potatoes directly on the rack until tender, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Peel the potatoes, transfer to a large bowl and mash. Stir in 1 ½ cups crushed chips, onion, butter and egg. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste; stir until combined.

Spread the remaining 2 ½ cups crushed chips in a shallow bowl. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture into your hands and shape in to a 1-inch-long cylinder. Repeat to make about 36 cylinders. Roll in the crushed chips to coat on all sides and arrange on the prepared baking sheet; spray with cooking spray. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until crisp and golden, about 30 minutes. Season with salt.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl. Serve on the side for dipping.

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Smoked Pulled Pork with Carolina BBQ Sauce

This is an updated post for Smoked Pulled Pork with Carolina BBQ Sauce. The sauce recipe has been improved and is less spicy as is the rub mix.

Pulled pork can be made in a slow-cooker or roasted in an oven but nothing adds the depth of flavor that smoking does. My Smoked Pulled Pork with Carolina BBQ Sauce is slow smoked with a combination of mesquite and cherry wood. The smoked meat is then braised in the oven with a dark beer until it is fork tender. The vinegary Carolina BBQ Sauce is added at the very end and served on the side. The pulled pork sandwich is best served with a generous topping of coleslaw and accompanied by sweet potato fries and a cold beer.

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Smoked Pulled Pork with Carolina BBQ Sauce
(Mark Kelly, February 2013)

Serves 16 – 24 servings

12-16 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed
1 ½ cups Dry Rub for Barbecue (see recipe below)
8 cups wood chips, soaked in water for 24 hours and drained
2 (13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum roasting pans
4 cups barbecue sauce (see recipe below)
1 dark beer (such as Negro Modelo)

Pat pork dry with paper towels, then massage dry rub into meat. Place meat in a large roasting pan, cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.

At least 1 hour prior to cooking, remove roast from refrigerator, unwrap, and let sit at room temperature. Using 2-4 large pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil, wrap soaked chips in 2-4 foil packets and cut several vent holes in tops.

Place wood packets over primary burner in gas grill. Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off all other burners. (Adjust burner as necessary to maintain grill temperature of 300 to 325F.)

Set roast in disposable pan, place on the cool side of the grill and cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. During the final 20 minutes of cooking, adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 325F.

Pour one dark beer in to the disposable pan and seal the pan with foil and cook in oven until meat is fork-tender, about 2 more hours. Remove roast and let rest for about an hour.

Transfer roast to carving board and unwrap. Separate muscle sections and remove fat, if desired, and tear meat into shreds with your fingers. Place shredded meat in a large bowl and toss with 2 cups of barbecue sauce. Serve with remaining sauce on the side.

Rubbed Pork Shoulder

Rubbed Pork Shoulder

Dry Rub for Barbecue
Makes about 2 cups

½ cup paprika
3 Tbsp chili powder
4 Tbsp ground cumin
4 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
4 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.

Carolina BBQ Sauce

Makes 8 cups

4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cup finely chopped onion
8 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp dry mustard
5 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups ketchup

Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, sugar, paprika, salt and cayenne, bring to a simmer, and stir in ketchup. Cook over low heat until thickened, about 15 minutes.

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Avocado Dressing – The Perfect Sauce for Fish Tacos

Avocado Dressing is a perfect condiment for seafood tacos. The acidity of the lime juice, the creaminess of the avocado, and the earthiness of the cilantro kick up the flavor of the fish or shrimp in the taco.

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Tangy Avocado Dressing
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday)

Makes about 1 ½ cups

½ cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
½ cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 ripe avocado, pitted and flesh scooped from skin
½ cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
Kosher salt

Combine the oil, lime juice, garlic, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, avocado, cilantro and large pinch of salt in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Taste and season with more salt, if needed. Pour into a jar and secure the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. Shake well immediately before use. Use within 2 days.

Serve as a topping for shrimp or fish tacos or as a dressing for grilled vegetables.

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Pan-Roasted Salmon with Fennel Salad

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Fennel Salad is a very simple dish to prepare. The keys are shaving the fennel very thin with a mandolin; using fresh squeezed orange juice; having a hot pan to sear the fish; and, finally finishing the fish in the oven. Follow the Ample Bites recipe closely and you will enjoy a simple, savory meal.

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Pan-Roasted Salmon with Fennel Salad
(Adapted from a recipe by Bon Appetit, January 2013)

Serves 4

½ fennel bulb, plus 2 tablespoons fronds
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
1 1-lb. skin-on salmon fillet, preferably wild-caught, cut into 4 pieces

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a mandoline finely shave fennel; transfer to a medium bowl. Add fennel fronds, orange juice, and olive oil; toss to combine. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Heat grapeseed oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon pieces with salt and pepper. Place the salmon in skillet skin-side down. Cook without moving. Gently press with spatula to ensure skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven (do not turn fish over) and roast until salmon is just opaque in center, 3-4 minutes for medium-rare (time will depend on the thickness of fish and desired doneness).

Divide fennel salad among plates. Top with salmon skin side up.

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Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips

Ample Bites has braised vegetable many times before but never using orange juice. Braising normally used an acid but it is usually a vinegar, milk or a wine. Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips uses the orange to impart a sweet-spicy flavor to both the carrots and the parsnips.

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Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips
(Adapted from a recipe by The Barefoot Contessa, 2013)

Serves 6

1 pound carrots, scrubbed and peeled
1 pound thin parsnips, scrubbed and peeled
1/3 cup diced shallots (1 large)
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 ¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice, divided (3 oranges)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley, for serving

Preheat the oven to 275F.

If the parsnips or carrots are thick, slice them in halves or quarters lengthwise so that the carrots and parsnips are all about the same size.

Place the carrots and parsnips in a Dutch oven that is large enough for the vegetables to lay flat. Add the shallots, orange zest, ¾ cup orange juice, olive oil, thyme, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover tightly with the lid. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 ½ hours, until the carrots and parsnips are very tender. Discard the thyme bundle. Sprinkle with the remaining orange juice and parsley and season to taste.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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