Quinoa Mariniere with Scallops & Roasted Asparagus

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Have you ever seen a scallop when it was alive? Eek. Google it.

We’ve come to learn that the same friendly, French-speaking man that works at Ina Garten’s preferred seafood shop in Sagaponack, NY does not work at our local Shaw’s Supermarket. When Ina goes to the supermarket, she pulls up in her BMW coupe convertible, wearing a custom made button down and a little scarf from Hermes. She walks up to the counter and smiles at Jacques over a sea of fresh haddock, swordfish and mahi mahi.

“Bonjour, Jacques,” Ina exclaims in her breathy alto, “I’m having a great dinner tonight for my multitude of gay friends and I need one pound of those fresh scallops.”

Jacques smiles back, straightens up his pinstripe apron and loads the perfect amount of fresh scallops into some parchment paper and hands it back to Ina.

“Sounds great, Ina. I’ve got some great ones in here. Brought in this morning!”

They air kiss each other, wish one another a great weekend, and off she goes into culinary fabulousness. Thanks in part to Jacques of course, the sommelier of seafood.

That is Ina’s life. This is ours:

It’s was Columbus Day so we are in mesh shorts, hats, tshirts and flip-flops. It’s October, but a balmy 80 degrees, so everyone is in a generally unpleasant mood since we are being robbed of the best season in New England. As we strut up to the counter, clearly amateurs in the fresh seafood world, Jason turns to the seafood man (who most likely worked the deli the day before and the pharmacy the day before that) and asked, “Can you show me what ½ pound of scallops looks like?” When the man loads four scallops onto the scale, it is evident that two relatively hungry men wouldn’t fill up on that. “I’d better go with one pound,” Jason added.

It was as if we insulted his wife. He turned from the scale, and proclaimed, “Are you awarrrre of how much these are per pound?”

This was not Jacques from Sagaponack. This was Dick from Waltham.

Forget the fact that they are $19 a pound. Forget the fact that that is a horrifying number and that Dick was probably right to assume that we would never pay that. It was the principle! So he handed us our ½ pound of scallops in a plastic container and we strutted away from his counter carrying our bruised egos and a bag of quinoa.

 

At quick glance, it looks like Dip-n-Dots.

KEEN-wah is how you pronounce it and it has been everywhere lately. People are eating it dried with granola, or cold in salads with roasted tomatoes on the vine. They are all the rage in the health food community and are shipped in from mostly South American countries. It is a rice-couscous love child.

We were inspired to make this dish after seeing a recipe for risotto using quinoa, but we weren’t interested in adding stock and flour for thickening to actually make a risotto, so we took the lazy way out.

It was still good. So good we’d like to share it with you if you wouldn’t mind.

You’ll Need

½ pound of fresh scallops (or 1 pound if you have Beyonce’s money)
1 cup of whole-wheat quinoa
2 cups of marinara sauce
1 bouquet of asparagus
¼ cup of Italian style breadcrumbs
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (grate it yourself, please!)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 450. This is for the asparagus. Don’t forget to do this first or you will find yourself with cold scallops in your hand waiting for the asparagus to roast.

Measured to perfection

Second step is to measure out one cup of quinoa. It might not look like much, but one cup of dried quinoa can yield about 4 cups cooked, so unless you haven’t eaten since Monday, start with only one cup.  Make the quinoa according to the package directions and set aside.

Snapping their stumps off is a great way to get out agression.

Wash and clip the asparagus and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Using your hands (duh) roll around the asparagus until the oil and dry ingredients are evenly coated throughout.

Roasty-toasty and ready to rock-n-roll

Toss in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, heat your marinara sauce on low.

Once your asparagus is about halfway done, start heating up a sauté pan for the scallops. Use medium heat so you don’t burn the hell out of the little fish. They are fragile and pissy and will turn against you in a minute.

Lay your scallops in a bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. Toss together carefully until evenly coated.

These will totally be worth the $270 they will cost you.

Transfer the scallops to the pan and DON’T TURN YOUR BACK FOR A SECOND. Treat these scallops as if they were the Chucky Doll. Remember the Chucky Doll in the movie Child’s Play? Would you turn your back on him?

HELL NO!

Scallops cook really quickly and go from raw, fleshy discs to shriveled, dry balls in minutes. Start by cooking for 1 minute per side until they are opaque and browned to perfection. They might expel some liquid, but don’t freak out. All is well. They are not sick or rancid.

Then, combine asparagus, scallops, quinoa and marinara and enjoy!

And whatever you do, don’t offer any to Dick from the seafood counter. He won’t appreciate them the way you will.

xoxo

Culinary Capitol

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Honey! We're home!

We know what you are thinking.

“Where in the hell have you been?! Are you not eating anymore? Are you done blogging? Do you not care about your 8 subscribers or the 5 random people that found your site by accident?”

Now don’t be so dramatic, dear blog-friends. Of course we still care about you. We jaunted off to the bureaucratic center of our nation for a wedding and a few days of R and R.

Don’t think for one minute we weren’t worried that you would forget about us because we haven’t posted in a few days. As matter of fact, we couldn’t wait to go to D.C to try some new places out and tell you all about them! We thought of you the whole time. We were faithful. Were you?! It’s okay if during our absence you cheated a little and found a much more established gay food blogger, or if you decided that all of our cooking was too fattening and you needed a low cal break and stumbled upon a healthy options blog that we love.

It’s okay, we forgive you, as long as your little affair is over. Just for you, we’d like to share some of our culinary escapades with you while we were away.

Only 690 calories!

Lunch on day one was sort of an emergency. We flew in on Jet Blue early in the morning, checked into our nice little hotel right near the mall, and trudged through the uncharacteristically hot fall day to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum.  By the time we were done there, it was the high heat of the day and we were tired and emotional. Lunch was a necessity and there was no time to troll Yelp or Urbanspoon for recommendations so we set sail past protesters and lost families in search of anyplace with a table and food.

And we found the Corner Bakery. It was on a corner. How original.

The food there was less than enjoyable. Jason blew 46% of his daily calorie allowance on chicken salad with raisins and almonds on some dry slice of wheat bread. Mark “enjoyed”  a ham and cheese sandwich and some wilted Caesar salad. They were served with a side of crushed potato chips and a pickle which was still more of a cucumber. Oh! And the personnel there seem to be adverse to cleaning off tables so it’s hard to find a clean place to sit at.

"Above all, have a good time!"

After the less than edible lunch, it was time to pay homage to the one and only Julia Child! Her kitchen was a mere half mile from the Corner Bakery and we couldn’t resist!

You can almost picture Julia and Paul sitting at this table.

It was really a great experience to be that close to her kitchen. Granted we had to stand in a small plexiglass vestibule to get close enough for a picture that was 25% reflection of what was behind you, but it was still an experience!

It was the subtle things that we loved the most about her kitchen. Her shelf of cookbooks had many of the staples that you would expect. The Joy of Cooking, Larousse Gastronomique and other essentials were coated in splattered food and peppered with oversized fingerprints. They were loved. They were used. But one shelf above the must-have cookbooks were HER cookbooks.

Her proud library

And the best part? These too were used. Coated in drops of gravy and splatters of red wine. If it weren’t for the plexiglass barrier, we most likely could have smelled that wonderful aroma that comes with books that have aged and been put to good use.

Open concept!

She was kind of a kitchen tool hoarder, but in a good way.

You can almost smell the stew, can't you?

Being gay and being in the Museum of American History, we had to also track down the ruby slippers. So we did. But they were more maroon than ruby. Which was kind of sad.

With a little crisco, they might actually fit Mark if we tried.

After a very gay-centered tour of the Smithsonian (Julia’s kitchen, ruby slippers and the First Lady’s exhibit) we needed a nap. After a few hours of relaxing, we were ready to have a little dinner at a nearby McCormick and Schmicks.

Moules mariniere

Perhaps it is because we have been spoiled by Legal Seafoods. Perhaps it was because the martinis and dessert was so much better than the dinner, but we weren’t thrilled here either.

Mahi Mahi and Cosmo!

Poor Mark. He ordered pecan crusted mahi mahi but what came out was a filet with a pecan jam on top. It was swimming in what appeared to be chicken noodle soup with gnocchi.

Um, yes please

But the dessert! Holy hell! Chocolate espresso creme brulee with fresh berries. Across the table from that? A flourless chocolate cake sundae. Bailey’s on the rocks and an Irish Cream coffee, too! It was heaven.

Um, yummers. Like totally. But the strange part? When the waiter brought our bill he asked if we wanted to buy discounted movie tickets. What? For real? Why is a seafood place (that isn’t good at making seafood) selling Regal Theater tickets?

We came to DC for a wedding and it was truly wonderful.

A CD of songs they love

The food was delish and the atmosphere was simply gorgeous. We didn’t take any photos of the food at the wedding because we were too busy talking and drinking. But it was divine from start to finish! We did get a cool shot of the venue:

National Building Museum

But, before the wedding started, we had a dirty goose martini with blue cheese and bacon stuffed olives. It only seemed right.

Dirty girl

So now here we are. Back home in suburban Boston, planning out our next week of culinary adventures. We bought some quinoa to cook with for the first time so that should be interesting!

Thanks for letting us get away for a few days!

But seriously, damn it. Enough cheating on us with that amazingly sweet blog that we love to bake from. We were only gone a few days.

xoxo

Mark’s Mother’s Chili

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Not your average chili

We love our slow cooker (or crock pot to some of you).

We love our slow cooker so much we would take her out for a nice dinner at Sonsie. Afterward, we would buy tickets for a Duck Tour so she could be exposed to the wild world outside of our pantry. Sure it would look like a scene out of the movie Girl, Interrupted, but it’s a risk we would take to show our gratitude for her hard work. If people can clip their nails on the MBTA Green Line, we can take our slow cooker out for a night on the town.

After all, how many people do you know have the ability to work non-stop for 10 hours without so much as a break just to cook you a nice roast? No one can stay focused on one task longer than our slow cooker. She has chutzpah; her mind set on the final goal of delivering us a meal cooked perfectly and free from salmonella or E-coli.

We love her so much we use her even when we really don’t need to. Like in the case of this chili.

You’ll Need
Vegetable cooking spray
1 pound ground beef (we used angus)
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper
7 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
Sliced green onions (optional)
Ditalini pasta

Coat a large saucepan with the cooking spray and set on stovetop over a medium-high heat. Add your onion, meat and garlic and sauté until the meat is cooked. Drain your meat in a sieve and return to the pan.

Beautiful Beans

There is something very pretty about kidney beans, you know? We don’t revere them like we do our slow cooker, but they are pretty to look at when photographed under the right light.

Well, who isn’t?

Dress them up, and take them out!

Anyway, add in your drained beans and the next 8 ingredients (through pepper) in a separate bowl and stir until mixed. Add the mixture to the cooked meat. Cover and reduce the heat and allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. We also got a little greedy and added some cooked bacon to the mixture and this point. It was heavenly.

Ditalini or shrunken ziti?

Meanwhile, cook the ditalini according to the instructions on the box and combine with the mixture in a large serving bowl.  Here is where our love for our slow cooker came in and we added the mixture to the cooker to stew it a little longer. To avoid the chili drying out, we didn’t let it stew very long.

Serve with a dallop of sour cream and a fistful pinch of Mexican shredded cheese. You could also garnish with some chopped scallions if so desired, to add a little heat and some color. Serve with some cornbread on the side and a good seasonal beer.

It is beyond good chili. Don’t picture a chili that is swimming in beans and stew. That is Wendy’s. This is home-cooked. This right here will warm your heart. This is love.

With or without your slow cooker.

xoxo

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream w/ Mint Chips

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Unhealthy in every aspect.

We feel so Amish right now. You can go ahead and rank us right up there with any gay Amish couple because we can churn cream like the best of them.

Well, that is a lie because we had a machine do most of the creaming and mixing for us while we watched and took some photos with our iPhone, so I guess we couldn’t be farther from a same-sex Amish couple.

Do they have same-sex Amish couples? Life without Lady Gaga, Glee and Cuisinart appliances sounds like hell to us, but we’d love to have a gay Amish couple over for dinner to talk about this and learn how it works.  We’ll add that to our “60 Before 60 List”  between learning how to make licorice (#48) and petting a real toucan (#46).

We’d ask about their fantastic hats and the steeds that pull their bedazzled buggy. We could share with them the magic of Home Goods, Sur le Table and Crate and Barrel. They could bring us some butter. They would share their craziest memory from Rumspringa. We would whip out our prom pictures. There would be giggling until 2am.

We’d be best of friends.

We’d make them ice cream for dessert.

You’ll need:
3 cups of heavy cream (half and half would work too)
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds of one vanilla bean)
1/4 cup of mint chocolate chips

Or you could just drink it as is

Add all of the above ingredients (minus the chips) into a saucepan and heat lightly until the sugar dissolves. We used a whisk and it worked perfectly. To test, dip a spoon into the mixture and taste. Can you taste any grainy sugar? No? Perf. Transfer your mixture into a bowl and chill.

Oh! We had never seen vanilla bean paste before, so here is what it looks like. Take it from us, it’s a lot easier to use this rather than risk slitting your finger off trying to squeeze beans directly from the vanilla bean pod. Market Basket has it!

Life (and finger) saver!

Meanwhile, in the freezer, you should be freezing the cylinder from inside your ice cream maker. Once the cream mixture is chilled and the cylinder frozen, you are ready to churn some ice cream.

You might need a Lactaid handy

Slowly pour your cream mixture into the ice cream maker and then let it churn for about 20 minutes.

Then, add the mint chocolate chips. Your ice cream maker may grunt and be visibly upset that you added some chunks to her otherwise smooth creation, but she will get over it.

You won't regret it

While it churns, you will notice it bulk up a bit and eventually look like freshly scooped ice cream. After about 30 minutes, transfer to a bowl or plastic container and freeze for a few more hours until firm.

The result is a fancy schmancy batch of homemade ice cream, ready to serve to your favorite Amish gay couple! If only we knew how to get a hold of one…

xoxo

Pomegranate Martini

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Chillin'

Do you know what feels absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious? Coming home on a Thursday night filled with the anticipation that Saturday is only one workday away.

Saturday! Sleeping in! Farmers market hopping on the hunt for the perfect gourd! Cleaning out the DVR! Getting reacquainted with a good book! Reuniting your ass and the couch! Kitchen experimenting! Spending time with the ones you love! Tearing through the ample back issues of Boston Magazine that you have stashed away! The list goes on…

Do you know what really sucks? Coming home on a Wednesday and thinking that it is Thursday.

Ugh. Totally just happened to us.

But don’t fret, dear blog-friends. Make these and it will feel like Thursday regardless:

Heaven's Bounty

You’ll Need:

2 cups of Grey Goose vodka
1 cup Cointreau
1-2 cups of Pom brand pomegranate juice
½ cup of lime juice
1 pitcher and 1 gigantic spoon
3 Advil

Even if you are depressed because you thought today was Thursday, you can still bring yourself to make these. Throw them all into a pitcher and stir. Except for the Advil. That is for later. We served these in two chilled martini glasses and they were phenomenal. We ended up adding a little extra pomegranate juice to cut the alcohol because, lets be honest, it is Wednesday after all. Don’t go nuts.

Real Houswives material

They taste even better when you are drinking them while watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Something about them makes you feel like you are friends with Lisa Vanderpump. More than one of these and you might be fooled into thinking that you actually are Lisa Vanderpump.

xoxo

Shrimp Scampi French Bread Pizza

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Crispy love

Picture this: Jason at (roughly) 8 years old or so.

Hair: styled with neon-green gel brought to you by LA Looks. (Slicked back, of course).

Clothing: Most likely a shirt-and-short set by the couture House of Bugle Boy. (If it were a special occasion, it would be a silk shirt from Burlington Coat Factory and pleated khakis from Hills or Ames).

Accessories: The “look” would not be complete without the quintessential leopard print snap bracelet and all-too-cool Reebok pump high tops.  (If it were a special occasion, the silk shirt and khakis would be paired with the pricier LA Gear sneakers that lit up when you rested your heel on the ground.)

The Soundtrack: Genesis or Phantom of the Opera (playing proudly and loudly through walkman headphones).

Now picture this epitome of style sitting in the backseat of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (completely devoid of air conditioning, a working radio or muffler) screaming insisting begging asking nicely to be taken to The Ground Round for dinner. For Jason, The Ground Round was so much more than a pay-by-the-pound pork chop dinner. It was even more than the bottomless bowl of popcorn or back-to-back Betty Boop cartoons.

It was where he discovered parsley.

Don't hate, appreciate!

The Ground Round had a penchant for trying to be more fancy than it was and to accomplish this, they plopped a bouquet of parsley in the white space beside the baked potato and pork chop as if to say, “Hey, parents! We could have offered your kid a second side dish to fill this space, but since we are only charging you 62 cents for this meal, you’ll get a garnish instead.”

Jason would stare quizzically at the mound of stiff greens.

“It’s a garnish, darling. No one is supposed to eat it,” said a wise relative who watched as the young and awkward Jason stared longingly and curiously at the questionably fresh plant. It was sad to think that it served no purpose.

It was an impossible thought, to have something on the plate that wasn’t edible. It was almost insulting. There was no way young Jason could let this go to waste. So it was decided. That night, it wouldn’t. In an uncharacteristically bold and confident move, the young man brought the parsley to his mouth and devoured the entire stem.

From that moment on, parsley was more than just a garnish that wasn’t supposed to be eaten. It had a distinct taste that wasn’t horrible, but just needed a meaningful relationship.

The short of it: parsley is misunderstood. Parsley is unappreciated. Parsley developed a complex from all this hate. Be nice to parsley. So make this quick little treat and make some parsley’s dreams come true (ps, thanks shutterbean!):

You’ll need:

1 loaf of ciabatta bread or French baguette
12 cloves of garlic
15 oz of ricotta cheese
1-2 lbs of cooked shrimp
1 bunch of fresh parsley
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes

Now when you go to the grocery store, please note that 12 cloves of garlic does not mean that you need to buy twelve bulbs of garlic. Oh no! Two should do it. After all, it’s what is on the inside that counts and you will get more than 12 from two bulbs.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. This is by far the hottest we ever asked our oven to get and we weren’t sure how she would react. She did not explode. This doesn’t mean that yours won’t.

Meanwhile, smash up 8 of your garlic cloves and sauté them in olive oil. They should get all nice and brown and look like this. DON’T burn them. Burnt garlic is yucky.

Garlic breath, baby!

Scoop them out once they are brown (but keep the oil in the pan, so use a spoon with holes) and transfer them into the food processor. They will take a tumble in here with a handful of parsley until blended. Remove ¼ cup of the mixture and set it aside. We’d recommend adding some scallions or red onions to add a little spice.

Then add the ricotta and parmesan cheese to the processor. Ricotta cheese is an interesting substance. Not quite cheese and not quite yogurt. It’s a cheesegurt.

All over it like parsley on shrimp

Meanwhile, back in the pan of oil, you should mince your remaining garlic and add the red pepper flakes.. Cook for a little while until the garlic browns and then add shrimp. If you buy cooked shrimp like we did, it goes much faster. Once the shrimp is warm, add the ¼ cup of parsley mixture that you set aside and stir.

Turn your attention to the lovely loaf of ciabatta bread.

Yummers.

A little extra cheese on top never hurt anyone

Cut it in half length wise and then cut in half again, leaving you with four nice sized pizza crusts. Spread the cheesegurt onto the bread and top with the shrimp. Sprinkle a little more parmesan on top.  Bake in your exceedingly-warm-almost-dangerously-hot-oven for 20 minutes until the bread is crunchy.

To enjoy to the fullest extent, step into your LA Gear light up sneakers, slick your hair back, turn on some vintage Betty Boop to make up for lost time.

You owe it to parsley.

xoxo

Ridiculously Yummy Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcakes

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Um, yum. You'll need a moment alone with these.

We really didn’t need a reason to bake 24 cupcakes.

We could have easily baked these in secret, not blogged or photographed the evidence and devoured them swiftly before the week was over. You wouldn’t have known the difference. The old adage is to “dress a size up to look a size down,” and that’s exactly what we would have done until the bloat went away from our secret cupcake eating frenzy.

You would have been none the wiser.

Thankfully for us a reason came up to publically announce the birth of these little darlings! A very talented cupcake-maker friend of Mark’s was turning another year older. We have certainly benefitted from her baking talents in the past and it only made sense to return the favor by baking her treats in return.

So we kicked it up a notch. Like mega. Because after all, what do you bake a cupcake-making magician? Answer: Something with a wad of uncooked cookie dough in the middle, that’s what.

Now don’t say it. You won’t get salmonella because the binding agent in the dough is peanut butter, not raw egg, so life is good. For this recipe, there are quite a few steps so clear your schedule and turn on some Amy Winehouse. Pour a glass of malbec. And be prepared: you will be covered in homemade marshmallow.

You will want to start with the cupcakes first. And no matter how tired you are, do not settle for cupcakes from a box. Duncan Heinz is perfect if you are depressed and pressed for time, but this recipe is too classy for the box stuff. Splurge. Splurge and they will look like this:

Amazeballs

While the cupcakes cooled in the pan, things got real intense in the kitchen. Did you know if you simmer some water in a pan, drop a bowl on top of the pan and mix together a bunch of stuff it the bowl it will become a marshmallow? Totally true.

We know that because we are hardcore marshmallow makers. Now the original recipe says not to add the vanilla until it is in the mixer but we were tired and lazy and added it while the mixture was in the bowl simmering over the water. Newsflash, it made no difference. It still ended up gooey and delicious and all over our faces:

Depressed? Just grab a spoon.

Then you can make the cookie dough. You should double the recipe because you will eat about half of it before they ever make it onto the cupcakes. Plan ahead.

All we need is a spoon and the Grey Gardens DVD

After your cupcakes have cooled, take a knife and cut a small hole out of the center so that the tiny ball of cookie dough can rest safely inside without rolling off and taking the entire topping with it. Rest easy, ball of dough, because we are about to bury you in a marshmallow grave.

Lucky ball of dough.

Jason ate these four before they even got frosted.

This is where it gets messy. We couldn’t take any pictures of this next step because we were totally covered in marshmallow but allow us set the scene: two gays that hate getting dirty trying to fill a pastry bag with a cement-like substance with the goal of squeezing it out of a tiny hole and onto a cupcake in a neat and organic swirl. It was everywhere.

But we did it! And then you stick them under the broiler long enough to toast them to perfection. Please dear God, refrain from burning them.

Totally tubular when toasted

Our lovely neighbor holding one proudly.

Our dear friend Siobhan (hiya, Shiv!) came over to taste test these lovely wonders. She makes an excellent hand model, eh? Such a lovely person enjoying a lovely cupcake. Wicked perf! Life is good…

..and so is being obligated to eat a few so the batch will fit in the tupperware container.

xoxo