scallops provencal (“ish”)

I LOVE scallops. As in, I want to bury my face in the plate and motorboat them. I love how a good scallop can literally melt in your mouth. When made well they are so delicate and flavorful. It’s like cutting into butter. Just looking at these pictures brings back the taste of this dish and I wanna go make more!

One thing that I have found with high end restaurants that are gluten free friendly is that they always have a scallop offering. And 9 times out of 10 that is what I order. I totally judge a restaurant based on how good their scallops are. There was one such restaurant that I wanted to love so badly. They brought me out a plate of 10 (!!) scallops as my main course and I almost passed out. Usually you get 4 and are always wanting just one more. But 10! I was in heaven. Until I had the first bite. They were overcooked and soaked in the saltiest butter sauce that made me want to gag. Those beautiful scallops were mutilated by overpowering flavors.

When it comes to scallops I believe that simple is always better. They have such a great flavor all on their own. Any sauce that accompanies them needs to be light, delicate and clean. Then you can truly savor the natural flavors of the meat. A great scallop can be just as satisfying as a good steak. That is this humble seafood lover’s opinion anyway.

One of my favorite restaurants serves a scallops provencal with a simple mushroom and tomato sauce. It is so simple to make that I was able to duplicate it within the first couple of tries. The key is to start with the best ingredients, most importantly the scallop. You must buy the expensive scallops. There IS a difference! It is not going to be the cheapest dish to make but it will satisfy any foodie craving. You know. The one you get while watching Top Chef or The Biggest Loser. It’s always at 10:00 at night that I want to rummage in my fridge for goat cheese and foi gras.

Scallops come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices. You may be tempted to save a little money and buy the cheaper bay scallops, but I promise you will regret it. For one, they just aren’t large enough for pan searing. And secondly I think they taste way too fishy and spoiled. I purchased the scallops for this dish at my local Whole Foods and they were a whopping $24.99 a pound. I thought since I was only purchasing 4 that I’d be ok, but my total was still over $12. I won’t lie. They were worth every penny and were a well deserved treat to myself. I only bought 4 because nobody else in my family eats them. I decided to make a nice lunch that day. I definitely recommend buying them and making them right away. This is not a food that you can just keep on ice for a couple of days. If you’ve never purchased scallops before, here is a great article explaining the differences in sea, bay and diver scallops…how to buy fresh scallops

When researching provencal sauces I found so many varieties and it was honestly hard to pinpoint what a true provencal sauce really is. There seem to be two camps. One calls it a tomato based sauce. And another says it is a sauce based around herbes de Provence (a blend of marjoram, savory, fennel, basil, thyme and sage). That is why I have called this my “ish” sauce. I am sure someone will come along and harangue me for misuse of the definition. They would also probably harangue me for use of the word harangue. Haters. My version is a fresh tomato based sauce. The great thing is that you can tweak it to your own tastes adding or subtracting a number of ingredients. As with any dish, make it your own.

I would like to add that lately I have been doing a TON of research into the Paleo lifestyle. I am not going to use the word diet because as a Celiac that word leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. I’m not on a diet. I live a certain lifestyle in order to merely survive. I have come across Paleo in search of what I hope will be an answer to many issues that I am still having even while being gluten free. Constant bloating is at the top of my list and just not feeling 100%. I have read so many success stories of fellow sufferers whose lives have been transformed by this new way of eating. I will delve more into it in a separate post. I’m only mentioning it now because I had Paleo in mind when making this meal. It fits (I hope!) all of the guidelines and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at all. In fact I feel like I’m being self-indulgent whenever I make this. It will be baby steps for me but with steps like this I think I can do it!

Here is the recipe…PLEASE tell me what you think and be nice enough to leave a comment. Good or bad, this is what it’s all about. I’m still learning after all.

scallops provencal (ish)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

One

This recipe can be changed in so many ways. You can sear the scallops and top with any number of sauces. And if you are not Paleo friendly or gluten free, use any type of flour or fat to your liking. Leave out the wine if you are on a Whole30. You won't miss it at all.

Ingredients

  • This recipe is for a single serving. You may double or triple based on servings needed
  • 4 large sea scallops
  • 4 large button mushrooms, sliced with stems removed
  • 1 large roma tomato, diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. ghee (or butter)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (or your favorite GF flour)
  • dash of kosher sea salt
  • dash of pepper
  • lemon wedge

Instructions

  • Start by rinsing and thoroughly patting dry your scallops. Most scallops are treated with a liquid solution to keep them white. If you purchase them "dry-packed" (preferred) there is no need to rinse them. I would still pat them dry for the best results. You need your scallops to be very dry in order to give them a good sear.
  • Next, prepare your dredging dish. Sprinkle the almond flour, sea salt and pepper on a plate. Make sure the ingredients are evenly mixed and then set aside.
  • Heat a small pan on the stove and start to melt your ghee. Add in the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add your tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic. Once everything has started to cook down, I slowly add in a little bit of wine at a time. This part of the dish is very subjective. You may use all of the wine or very little. Mix a little in, simmer and then taste. You will know if it is just right or if it can use a little more. You may also add some salt and pepper to taste. Remember we want this sauce to be simple and clean and not overpower the scallops.
  • Once your sauce is almost ready, turn it down to warm and begin working on your scallops. Your scallops will literally take under 5 minutes and need to be served immediately. So you do not want to be waiting on your sauce to finish.
  • Melt some coconut oil (or your preferred oil or butter) in a pan and make sure it gets very hot. If the pan is not hot enough the scallops will not sear properly. While you are heating the pan, take the scallops and lightly dredge both sides in the flour mixture. You want just enough to coat the tops and bottoms. Throw a little flour in your pan and watch for the sizzle. When the pan is hot enough, place the scallops in, spacing them a little bit apart. If they are too close together they will bring down the temperature of the pan and they will steam instead of sear. The time for cooking will depend on the heat of your pan and it may be different for everybody. Typically it will only take a minute and a half to two minutes per side. Watch closely and do not touch the scallops until they are ready to be turned over. They are very easy to overcook. When the scallops are done they should be springy to the touch and have a nice caramel coating. They will also be slightly translucent (see image).
  • When you turn your scallops over remove your sauce from the heat to let it cool slightly. When the scallops are ready, plate them, pour the sauce over the top and add a squeeze of the lemon. Voila! A restaurant quality lunch for half the price and without the crowds!
http://trulymadlyfreely.com/scallops-provencal-ish/

gluten free creamy chicken tortilla soup

Well, it’s time to post my first recipe and I’m scared to death! This is a big leap for me. My first passion is photography but since I do it for a living it is accompanied by the stress of trying to provide for my family. Disclaimer: I’m not a food photographer. I photograph people so forgive my learning curve as I experiment. Cooking is my way of being creative without any pressure. I’m not a chef. I’m a home cook with a real life. These recipes are ones I hope that anybody can make. I would really love any and all feedback. I’m learning and growing and I’m open to ideas. I’ve got my big girl panties on and I’m ready.

I am a huge fan of Mexican flavors and I also love soup, so this recipe is the best of both worlds. We have it at least once every couple of weeks during the fall and winter months. And still occasionally in warmer weather. One of the best things about it is the simplicity and how adaptable it is. You can make so many changes to this soup depending on your palette and what is available in your pantry.

creamy chicken tortilla soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin (divided into 1/2 tsp. and 1 whole tsp.)
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 smallish tomatillos
  • 1 can rotelle tomatoes
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
  • 16 oz. GF chicken broth
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 2 tbs. GF flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Start by boiling the chicken breasts in a large pot until done. Remove from water, pat dry and shred chicken breasts into tiny pieces. If you've never shredded a chicken breast before it's relatively easy and a great technique for tons of recipes. Take 2 forks and pull them in opposite directions through the chicken. Be prepared for a great forearm workout! This is one I usually let my hubby help with ;)
  • Set the chicken aside. Finely chop the onion and cube the tomatillos. I like to cut my tomatillos into rather small pieces so that they are not as noticeable to my picky 8 year old. Heat some oil or butter in a pan and saute the onions with a pinch of salt (I like to use kosher sea salt) for a couple of minutes by themselves and then add the minced garlic, tomatillos, and the first 1/2 tsp. of cumin. Cook low and slow for a few minutes until the tomatillos are tender and the flavors have mingled. Add the cooked chicken and saute for another couple of minutes . Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a separate pot start the roux for the soup. Melt 2tbs butter, then slowly whisk in the flour. Make sure to stir so that all of the flour is thoroughly blended. Since we want this to be a lighter colored soup you do not need to cook the roux for too long. A few minutes will do.
  • Slowly pour in the room temperature milk and continue to stir to prevent clumping. I like to add my cheese in next to give it time to melt and add flavor to the soup base. Continually stir so that the cheese does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add chicken broth, the remaining spices, chicken mixture and canned tomatoes (do not drain). Turn heat to low and let simmer for approx. 20-30 min. Stir occasionally. This time will allow the flavors to build and produce a tastier dish. Add salt and pepper to taste once the soup has simmered for a while.
  • Top with your favorite garnish and serve. I like to add tortilla chips to mine. Otherwise it wouldn't really be tortilla soup!

Substitutions

Dairy Free- sub coconut milk for regular milk and omit cheddar. Less Spicy-sub regular canned tomatoes for the Rotelle (drain). Less Chunky-use 1 medium chicken breast and give the soup a quick puree in the food processor.

http://trulymadlyfreely.com/creamy-chicken-tortilla-soup/

Here is a tutorial on making a roux. Making a roux with gluten free flour is a little different because GF flour tends to be more dense. I experimented and found that 2 tbs. butter to 2 tbs. rice flour worked well.

If you’ve never worked with tomatillos before, don’t let them intimidate you. Also known as the Mexican tomato they are a fruit and part of the nightshade family. Tomatillos (pronounced toh-mah-TEE-yoh) are somewhat tart when raw but have an amazing flavor after they are cooked. And cumin and tomatillos are a marriage made in heaven. I can’t even describe the flavor, but it’s oh so good!  This is a great article on how to choose a tomatillo . You will need to remove the husks before cooking and rinse the tomatillos because the husks leave a sticky residue.

Once you’ve made this soup and feel confident, experiment! I have added leftover mashed potatoes to the chicken saute before and it gave the soup an even creamier texture and great flavor. Once, when I made it just a little too spicy, I searched my fridge for some kind of cream to tone it down. The only thing I could find was goat cheese. We love goat cheese so I decided to give it a try and added about 2 tbs. worth. It worked. My hubby said it was his favorite version I’ve made so far. You could also add black beans, corn, or avocado. Let your imagination do the cooking! I’d love to hear what you tried.