Saturday, September 06, 2008

Quickest 3 Course Dinner to Impress

A presentable one too! Seems like I've been away for a bit, have had so many things happening that need a bit of thinking time ... but I'm back, as usual, this time with an impressive 3 course dinner that takes 40 minutes from start till the end. Good for those who are in a rush with this impromptu, simple classics ...

Inspired by what's seasonal/on offer in supermarkets, I got myself some fresh scallops (8 of them), a pack of rocket leaves, some sweet cherry tomatoes on the vine, baby/salad potatoes, and 2 spare rib chops, strawberry flavored Onken yoghurt and some digestive biscuits (optional).

The beautiful thing about cooking is that you DON'T NEED to be super skilled/trained to cook amazing food! Most of the time, it can be supplemented with super FRESH, QUALITY INGREDIENTS ...

This applies to the starter dish. Was gonna serve Pan-fried Scallops with Tomato and Rocket Salad. Preparing the salad first, simply just mix the rockets and tomatoes with your favorite dressing, I used French dressing in mine, done! Ooh, loving the speed eh?

Scallops cooks pretty quickly, so just heat up 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and once hot spoon the scallops on the pan gently, preferably cooking them in one go as they have to be serve immediately once done. Bear in mind that they overcook very easily, and full attention to the pan please for 3 minutes maximum, ok? While they are sizzling away, season with salt and black pepper, then flip them over after a minute. Do the same on the other side, season to taste and it should be slightly brown both sides after another minute. Serve with the salad immediately like below:

Beautiful yea? I prefer having them one minute a side pan fried, to be it's just nice, but if you prefer them 100% cooked, you can have them 90 seconds a side, it'll still be fine. All you want to avoid is eating a rubbery, overcooked texture ... It was perfect, P was pretty amazed at the speed and taste for sure ... this is exactly the misconception I'm trying to prove to many out there who are intimidated by cooking - taste does not always equal complicated and lengthy cooking preparations!

Ok, main course next! First, settle the potatoes: bring a pot of water to boil and place the potatoes in to cook. Meanwhile, the meat: this is my random seasoning which I thought up on the minute since I didn't have time to marinade for hours, but thankfully it didn't taste weird, hehe. So I had some leftover tomato puree from the last cooking of spaghetti, some ketchup, balsamic vinegar, paprika. Basically I put a similar seasoning to the BBQ Pork Fillet recipe, so listen up. First season the meat with salt and pepper all over and rub them well. Put 2 generous tablespoon of paprika, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, about 100g of tomato puree (for a bit of sauce for the meat so it's not too dry), and generous dollop of ketchup. Mix the seasoning and rub it all over the meat, leaving it to rest while you heat up your grill pan. The potatoes should be cooked now, as seasoning of meat probably took 5 minutes, so drain them and set aside.

Once the pan is hot, place both the spare rib chops and let them sizzle away. Note that you would have leftover marinade and use these to spoon on the meat when you flip them later. Since the meat is cooking away, you can afford some time to set up your simple salad on the plates, which is the same as your starter anyways, with the additional potatoes on the side now. Time taken? 1 minute at max :P

So full attention to your meat now, let it cook about 5 minutes on one side and flip them over. Now hopefully you have some professional looking charred lines on it, but if not it's not a disaster either, LOL. Spoon some marinade on top and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Like the scallops, overcooked meat is hard and chewy like rubber, not very nice at all. So avoiding this simply takes a sharp eye and a bit of gut feeling. For those more risk averse, after cooking 5 minutes a side, you can use a fork/knife to put through the meat and if the juice looks clear you're fine. As long as it 's not bloody/red. But that is difficult to gauge with the marinade being of similar color in this case! Hence the gut feel comes in, you know it's almost cooked and perfect when you prod the meat and its slightly springy. Serve immediately and spoon as much of the marinade in the pan on top of the meat. There you go: BBQ Chops with Potatoes and Rocket Salad

There you go, 15 mins for starter, 20 mins for main maximum, and of course 5 mins for a simple easy dessert. Just roughly break some digestive biscuits served with dollops of strawberry yogurt, for a Quick and Healthy Cheesecake Imitation! Surely you don't need a picture for that :P Enjoy!

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