Scallop Crostini with Blueberry-Rosemary Sauce

This tasty hors d'oeuvre was inspired by a bright and beautiful nibble we had a few summers ago in Maine and we've decided to enter it into the "Blueberries Meet Their Match" recipe contest. The contest ends tonight, so we're cutting it close, but we've been working on the recipe for a few days and we think we finally have it down.

The contest, sponsored by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, which refers to blueberries as "Little Blue Dynamos," required us to use blueberries along with one other intriguing ingredient - coconut, balsamic, bananas, or rosemary. We chose the latter, and used scallops as our protein. Interested? Read on.

We started by making a sauce with frozen blueberries, shallots, chopped rosemary, champagne vinegar, and a little water. While it cooked down, we skewered our scallops with additional rosemary and seared them in a hot pan with a touch of olive oil. After brushing some baguette slices with oil and browning them, we placed a perfect scallop on each and topped it with the delicious sauce that had notes of tart and sweet that only blueberries could impart.

Scallop Crostini with Blueberry-Rosemary Sauce
(makes 5)


5 sea scallops
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon champagne (or white wine) vinegar
1/2 shallot, chopped finely
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 small sprigs fresh rosemary
5 slices baguette

Pat dry the scallops and place aside. Place blueberries, water, vinegar, shallots, and 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced. Season with salt and pepper. Place one tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet and heat. Skewer each scallop with a sprig of rosemary and sear on both sides until nicely browned. Drizzle baguette slices with oil and broil until brown. Assemble by placing one scallop on each baguette slice and top with blueberry sauce.


Stuffing Waffles Topped with Turkey and Gravy

When you don't host Thanksgiving, there are a lot of variables to consider, particularly regarding the availability of leftovers. Will there be any/enough? Will the host be willing to share? Will I get a little of everything, or a lot of one thing, or (horror!) nothing at all? In order to assuage our anxiety, we took advantage of the wonderful chefs and students in the culinary department at Chris's school who were selling both stuffing and gravy available for pickup the day before Thanksgiving. This way, leftovers were a sure thing. 

We didn't need to worry so much because, as always, Amy's mom was very generous with her leftover-giving (thanks, Mom!). She cooked at 20-something pound turkey and gave us the carcass to make homemade stock, which will do later this weekend. We nabbed some turkey meat as well, but the stuffing and gravy were scarce, so we were glad we planned ahead. Inspired by the chicken and waffles we enjoyed at The Hidden Still, we planned to make stuffing waffles and top them with shredded turkey and gravy. 

Holy amaze-balls! The cornbread stuffing was delicious on its own - moist, well seasoned, and perfectly savory. But when cooked in the waffle iron, it was incredible, for our favorite parts of the stuffing are the bits from the crunchy, crispy edge - you know, the super browned parts, and in the waffle iron, that happened with every delicious bite. Topped with shredded turkey and hot, thick gravy, this took plain leftover turkey sandwiches to new heights.

It was so easy, we can't really write a recipe. Here are the steps:

1. Spray and heat the waffle iron.
2. Form leftover stuffing into a medium-sized ball.
3. Place one ball on each part of the waffle iron.
4. Close waffle iron and allow to cook until nicely browned and crispy (about 10 minutes).
5. While stuffing waffles are cooking, shred turkey and heat gravy.
6. Remove waffles from waffle iron, assemble and enjoy.


The Beautiful Genius of Chef Geoffrey Zakarian

Beet Salad/Smoked Trout Roe/Rock Shrimp/Blis Maple Yogurt

It's getting colder, it's darker earlier, and the school year is in its full stressful swing, all of which means is we have summer on the brain. We had the wonderful experience of joining friends J and T on their "Love and Romance" - themed wedding cruise to Bermuda on the beautiful new Norwegian Breakaway back in July, and reminiscing on that amazing vacation is just one of the many coping mechanisms helping us make our way into winter.

Beet Salad (close-ups)

First and foremost, the wedding itself was just perfect - on a cliff, overlooking the turquoise waters and pink sands of the Bermuda beach, with J and T pledging their lives to each other -- it was the epitome of both love and romance. Their musically talented friends played Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up", and one of the readings was this one, from Louis de Bernieres' Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which we think truly sums up what a wedding is all about:

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love", which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” 

Grilled Prawn Panzanella/Heirloom Tomatoes/Taggiasca Olive Vinaigrette

Plus, it was a cruise! And we were on it! Our room had a small balcony, our steward predicted our every need, there was food and drink galore, and Bermuda itself was a wonder to explore. But seriously, what do we want to talk about here? Chef Geoffrey Zakarian has restaurants on this ship. True, they weren't included in the fare, but the extra cost was minimal when you see what we experienced at the fine dining venue, Ocean Blue, which truly encompasses the beautiful genius of Chef Zakarian. Our words do not suffice...nor do our photos, admittedly. We can say it was in our Top 10 Overall Food Experiences Ever. And yes, Chris was slightly obsessed by that gorgeous beet salad, which explains the additional pics. 

Rolls made with Marscapone and Sesame Seeds

By the way, the latest intel says that the Iron Chef champion and Chopped judge extraordinaire will be present on the December 1st cruise to the Bahamas. We're jealous.

Lightly Roasted Sea Scallops/Guanciale/Grapefruit/Caramelized Pork Belly/White Anchovy

Dover Sole/Whole Roasted/Sauce Meuniere

Selection of Artisanal Cheeses
(Tete de Moine/Membrillo Quince Paste
Cave-Aged Cloth-Bound Cheddar/Fig-Date Bread
Bayley Hazen Blue/Candied Walnuts)
Yeah...that's a flower made of cheese in front!

CHEERS to Love and Romance
and, again, congratulations to J and T!!! xoxo



"Chili con Caffé" for Secret Recipe Club

When we received our assignment for this month's Secret Recipe Club, the blog from which we needed to choose and make a recipe, we were a little intimidated. You see, we have followed and admired Authentic Suburban Gourmet for some time, and you will understand why once you take a look at that blog, with its plethora of intriguing recipes, unique style, and gorgeous photographs. It's the kind of blog we strive for ours to become, and its author, Lisa, is the kind of fellow foodie we love to follow.

We spent hours going through Lisa's countless recipes trying to find just one. We especially love her series of "Friday Night Bites," a wide array of fabulous snacks and appetizers perfect for entertaining. And we have bookmarked plenty of those, we can tell you. But as we looked ahead to the busy, and according to the local weather report, "chilly" week ahead, we had to go with one of her "chili" recipes. But which one?

Having judged a couple of chili contests for the International Chili Society, the argument over the inclusion of beans, while it amuses us, doesn't deter us from throwing them into our chili pot. While they scoff at "chili con carne" (of course it has meat, they insist, but it absolutely should not have beans!), we add not one but four kinds of beans into ours. But what really drew us toward one of Lisa's chilis was the secret ingredient...one that has proven its worth in another of our SRC recipes. That's why we're naming this particular dish "Chili con Caffé." Yup...there's coffee in that there chili! 

After doubling the recipe, we had a vat o' chili to eat for Sunday night dinner and a few school lunches after that. Plus some to share, of course. It was truly delicious, and perfect for these dark and cozy late autumn days. With the blend of meats, variety of beans, slight chipotle/hot sauce heat, and intriguing dark coffee notes, its had plenty of heartiness and depth of flavor. Thank you to Lisa from Authentic Suburban Gourmet for sharing the recipe. It's a keeper!

Chili con Caffé


2 pounds "meat loaf mix" of ground beef, ground veal and ground pork
2 onions, diced
2 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 15-ounce cans black beans, undrained 
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5-6 tablespoons chili powder
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 cup your favorite salsa
2 chipotle peppers, chopped
Hot sauce (we like Cholula), kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups brewed coffee

Brown the ground meat in a large pot, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the diced onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, then turn down heat and simmer for one hour. Serve with chips or cornbread with shredded cheese, chopped green onions, sour cream, cilantro, or any other of your favorite chili accoutrements.

UPDATE: Go HERE to see what Annie of Annie's Noms did with our recipe for Peppermint Bliss Bark.

Secret Recipe Club


The Hidden Still, Ellington, CT

Located in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it plaza in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Ellington in Northeast Connecticut is CT's hottest new bar and grill - The Hidden Still. First thing we need to tell you is: don't blink! And definitely do not miss it!

Billing themselves as CT's first restaurant and moonshine bar, The Hidden Still boasts over ten brands of moonshine from around the country, including CT's own Onyx, as well as a host of delicious, unique twists on pub food favorites. We first met some staff from The Hidden Still at Onyx's Gatsby Ball back in October, when they were competing in the Onyx 111 Infusion Challenge. Their Fire Roasted Pear and Sage Infusion, served with a splash of white cranberry juice, while not a challenge winner, was one of our faves, and convinced us we needed to experience The Hidden Still as soon as we could.

That opportunity came a few weeks later, when we had finished proctoring the PSATs at Amy's school and we were starving. The first place we thought of was The Hidden Still, which (huzzah!) happens to be right down the road from the school. We loved the variety we found on the menu, with its many "Bites" sized, and priced accordingly, at "Small," "Bigger" and "Biggest," along with a few salads, and a sandwich "Creation Station." We decided to make a meal out of a few of the small/big bites, and (thankfully!) save ourselves a little room for dessert. 

To start, we absolutely had to try the "Grilled Mac & Cheese," especially since it is inspired by the locally legendary Shady Glen Fried Cheeseburger. Tastes just like it, too, with its creamy mac-n-cheese center wedged between slices of grilled American. Ooh, that's the kind of foodstuff you obsess about forever after, and Amy certainly can't wait to sink her teeth into it again soon. Bonus points? This unique dish is a mere $6, and washes down very nicely with the (dangerously yummy) raspberry moonshine infusion cocktail.

With those years living down South always in the back of her mind, for her second course, Amy happily opted for the "Chicken and Waffles" - a generously portioned "Small Bite" choice coming in at only $7 and consisting of three open-faced "sliders" of Belgian waffle topped with crispy fried chicken and drizzled with maple syrup. 

Chris, as he often does, went for a healthier choice, by way of the fish tacos. Another generous portion at a reasonable price, with three tacos at $9 made from fried cod and topped with pico de gallo, avocado and a fresh and zingy cilantro lime cream sauce.

Yes, we went ahead and ordered dessert. After all, we surely needed to experience everything we could, and we were having a blast chatting with the amiable barkeep and the handful of other patrons seated nearby. Who, as we did, made quite a fuss over the cheekily named "Fudgin' Nutty Brownie," perhaps the fudgiest we've ever had, topped with homemade caramel, fresh whipped cream (because yes, we can tell the difference), and fried candied nuts.  

We were extremely full when we left, and we know, in our minds anyway, that this is not the kind of eating we should do very often. Nonetheless, we will be back again and again, and hope that you, too, will check it out. This is local at its best, the type of place that should be supported well and visited often. The Hidden Still offers daily specials, including a Friday Happy Hour, and Full Moon Parties. And there is more to drink than moonshine (although yes, there is a still!). So convince someone to be your designated driver and get to Route 83 in Ellington (15 minutes off either I-84 or I-91) to experience CT's first, and in our opinion, best, moonshine bar and restaurant. 

The Hidden Still Resturant and Moonshine Bar on Urbanspoon