Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Caribbean Pineapple and Coconut and Rum Risotto!

OK... I have tried twice to make a sweet creamery Coconut Milk and Rum Risotto.  Much controversy.  Meaning one of us liked it a lot and one of us would just rather have "plane" risotto.

Here's what i did...

We will call the first batch ... BATCH A...

Batch A was made with...

1 cup Arborio Rice (Just Jackie and I, an experiment, so I didn't want left overs... just in case)
3 slices of pineapple, diced
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Pineapple Rum
!/2 cup Pineapple Juice

Make the rice in the usual way... simmer, add liquids slowly and stir stir stir...

I added the pineapple at the very end so it would contrast warm rice and cool pineapple.

The verdict...

Well, it was paired poorly.  It was paired with the garlic salmon.  It is sweet, with the pineapple and the coconut milk.  The salmon had no HOT spice (just garlic), so the mix was not what I was after... But close.

So, we move to Batch B...

The rice in batch B had the same ingredients... 1/2 cup each coconut milk, pineapple Rum and Pineapple Juice.  I left off the whole pineapple (overkill), and added some savory items... Spinach and mushrooms.  I put these in towards the end of the cook, so they would still have a bite to them and not over cooked.

I served this with the Spicy JERK/PINEAPPLE Chicken wings I blogged about yesterday.  The pairing was exactly what I wanted... a bite of spicy wings, a bite of sweet coconut risotto.  This worked very well.  A nice contrast to each other.

The combination meal was exactly right...

Where we have controversy is the question of making this again.  One of us liked the dish (without the chunks of pineapple, that was just a bit too much).  One of us thought that the only time to make this dish was when we were eating something a little too spicy.  Too spicy meat, paired with too sweet risotto.

So, as a stand alone risotto, it is still a work in process.  As a compliment to a spicy dish, it works exactly right!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pineapple Jerk Chicken Wings part 2 !!!

In my on going attempt to make a great wing...

This time, I had a 20 pound bag of wings, and tried a couple different recipes to try to recreate a Pineapple jerk Chicken wing.  Again, no grill, so I will be baking.


I wanted to try A dry jerk rub instead of the wet rub I used last week...

And here it is.  It is the commercial dry jerk rub that my "spice guy" in Kansas City sells.  Very good.  So, I coated the wings with the dry rub...

Sadly... baked, not grilled... 45 minutes at 375 degrees...

I took a can of sliced pineapple... tossed the whole thing, juice and pineapple into a mini chopper and nearly liquefied it all...

Brushed it thickly on the nearly cooked wings... turned them over and brushed on the other side as well...

Back in the 375 degree oven for 10 minutes...

  And a REALLY good combination of heat from the spice and sweet from the pineapple...

Easier, cheaper and different, but equally as good as the wet rub... My new signature chicken wing recipe!

Someday soon, I will post my Coconut Rum/Pineapple Juice Risotto... A combination of spicy chicken wings and sweet risotto...

This was a GREAT meal!

A fine meal indeed!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shrimp Scampi Pizza

You have to look close, but those are indeed shrimp sticking up out of that bed of cheese!

First thing I did was make a Mediterranean Herb Pizza Dough (that post to come soon, but the Mediterranean Herb rub mix is on my sister site... A Kansas Foodie in the Virgin Islands)...

Lets make the scampi...

2 TBS Garlic infused Oil
2 TBS Butter
6 cloves Garlic (minced)
3/4 pound of tiny salad Shrimp

Heat the oil, melt the butter, sauté the garlic and add... wait, slow down... Sauté the garlic for about 5 minutes to get the garlic flavors intensified into the oil/butter mixture.  The garlic/scampi flavor is in the oil, not the garlic.  

Meanwhile, if like me you are using a bag of frozen shrimp, be sure they are thawed, and use a paper towel to dry them off.  The shrimp will release moisture while you are cooking the pizza.  Don't add to the danger f a potentially soggy pizza dough.

NOW, add the shrimp and sauté.  Be sure to get all the pieces coated with the oil.   

I made my own pizza dough, infused with a Mediterranean Herb rub mix.  If you prefer, use one of the pre-made pizza rounds.

The dough I used needed to pre-cook for 10 minutes prior to adding the toppings.  Remember, shrimp cooks very fast.  I only want to cook the pizza with the shrimp added for an additional 10 minutes.

Add a layer of pizza sauce (I used a store bought)

I added a layer of provolone cheese

Then I added the shrimp.  DO NOT spoon the extra sauce on.  Sop it up with some bread if you like, it is very good, but do not add to the pizza.  The dough will get soggy.

Then I top with a layer of Italian cheese mixture.

Finally, another TBS of Mediterranean Herb rub mix is sprinkled over the cheese...

350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely melted.

OMG...  I made this for my wife on Friday.  I am continuing to further the cause of Christ on Earth by making a fish course on Friday's during Lent.

I do not observe the season myself (well, I guess I do just cause I eat what she eats, but she gets more out of it than I do).  However, I did a little checking.  In the 50's, the church would make eating meat a mortal sin and you were doomed to hell (or at the least purgatory) if you had those ribs you wanted.  But, thanks to the Vatican II conference of the early 60's, meat eating was no longer a mortal sin.

It does beg the question of what happened to those souls that ate meat during the time it was a mortal sin?  But, in the end, it is probably a moot point, as the type of people who eat meat on Friday are likely to be the type of people who commit other sins and they end up in the same place.

But not my wife, thanks to this Shrimp Scampi Pizza!

Now I have to find that "tongue in cheek" humor font...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beer Braised Brats

These are so easy... so tasty.  Once you try this method, you will never go back to just tossing them in a no stick frying pan...

First thing I did was to make some buns.  Of course I used the Moomie Bun recipe.  I have blogged of this often, most  recently on today's  A KANSAS FOODIE in the VIRGIN ISLANDS post... "Garlic/Onion/Chipotle Moomie Buns... I did it My Way!"!  This time I made split top sausage rolls.

I had found a good sale price on some Johnsonville Brats (they're everywhere).  No grill ; (   ... so I decided to beer braise them.  Just cut some onion slices and separate into rings.  This will make a bed for the brats to rest on while the beer steams and seeps into the sausages.

For the beer, my preference is always Killian's.  Sadly, i have not been able to find Killian's on the island.  I have been trying a few local beers.  Here is a Tropical MANGO Pale Ale.  Not very good for drinking, but perfect for cooking with.


Prep the brats first... Meaning, take a couple of toothpicks and puncture the casing of the sausage in a dozen spots on each of the 4 sides of the brats.  this allows the grease inside the sausages to escape without a buildup and then a splits.  It also allows the beer to seep in just a little (it is only a tiny series of holes), and flavor the brats.

Add enough beer to the onions to fill just 1/4 inch above the level of the onions...

Get the beer to simmer...

Rest the brats on the beer...

Turn after 5 minutes...

Keep adding beer as needed to have just a bit of beer above the bed of onions.

And after all 4 sides are done... So are the brats.  Filled with flavor, and not dried out from over cooking.

Just a simple meal after a lazy day on the beach...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blackened Pork Loin CHOPS! Fried and Baked!

I have seen a lot of pork lately.  Back a few years ago, it was advertised as the "other white meat".  Indeed, chickens have their place, but amongst BBQers, a great hunk of pork is not just other, it is a favorite!

Since I am without a grill, or a smoker for a few months, time to use my next favorite cooking method... Blackening!

 Blackened is a cooking method, made popular by Paul Prudhomme.  Here are a couple of myths (LIES, damn LIES I tell ya) about blackening...

Myth #1, Blackening is NOT a seasoning.  If you order food blackened from a restaurant, and all they do is sprinkle Cajun spices on it, you are being ripped off.  Blackening is a cooking method that uses Cajun spices.  But without applying the method, you are only getting fancy, spicy salt added to your food.

Myth #2, Blackening does not mean burnt.  Sure, it looks burnt, but the black crust comes from a combination of browned milk solids from the butter and charred spices.  The meat is not burnt at all.  The spices and butter form a crust that is charred.

OK, that is what it is not, here is what it is...

A week ago, I found a great price on a HUGE Pork loin.  This is just 1/4 of that loin.  I have already cooked one section, and I have 1/2 of the loin still in the freezer.  Anyway, I took 1/4 of the loin out of the freezer, and allowed it to thaw overnight in the fridge.  I sliced into chops, about 1 1/2 inch thick.


Butter Butter Butter Butter BUTTER!  One TBS per chop.  Melt 4 TBS in an aluminum easy clean skillet.

Add the seasonings (1 rounded tsp per TBS of butter).  I make my own.  It is easy and cheaper.  On my sister blog, A KANSAS FOODIE IN ST THOMAS, I recently posted my recipe for making my own Cajun Rub (Blackening seasonings).  Click HERE to find that recipe.  I use a lot of this rub, and it is cheaper for me to make a batch to last a couple months.  There are plenty of very good commercial blends you can buy.  Try Paul Prudhomme's.  But, also by making your own, you can make a low salt or no salt (my preference) version.  You get plenty of salt in your diet as it is.

OK... Time to fry up your chops (briefly).  First, crank the heat up.  You want the butter just short of burning. My stove is electric.  I can set my burners from 1 to 9... I set mine at 8.

You will see the butter starting to smoke a little.  That is GREAT!  Pop the chops in for 2 minutes.

Flip em over and cook another 2 minutes... Notice the smoke starting to increase.

Now, if I were making thin chops, I would continue to cook on the stovetop.  these were very thick, so I am going to finish in the oven.  Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part...

350 degrees.  BUT, do not overcook.  best to cook by temperature.  One more "can not live without item" is my remote prob thermometer/timer.  Just insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat and wait till you hit the correct temperature... In this case, 155 degrees.  It took about 30 minutes.

MOIST... not burnt.  Filled with Cajun flavors, but not fiery pepper HOT.  I love Blackened fish, steaks and especially chops!

Served this up with a little left over Bow tie past spinach salad (terriyaki dressing) and it was fabulous)!

And if you read my sister site, A KANSAS FOODIE IN ST THOMAS today, you will see a similar use for the Cajun Rub, make a Blackened Tilapia!

Prices for those remote thermometers have taken a huge price drop recently.. I like the one that has a timer built in...

And since I bought mine, they even come wireless so you don;t have to trudge out to check the grill...

All for less than $25!!!  Incredible!


Friday, March 26, 2010

CINNAMON ROLLS - Bread Baker's Apprentice #5

If it's Friday in the Caribbean, it must be my day to post my bread baking adventures for the week. I promised myself on New Year's Eve that I would be trying to learn more as a bread baker, and if possible to cook through the"The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" book. I brought three cookbooks with me to my island adventure. The "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" book was one. It is now week five of my island adventure, and here is week five of my bread baking experiences.

But more than the rolls, aren't you just a little jealous that you don't get to eat off the really groovy Marcia Brady appetizer plates?  They came with my condo, and I get to relive the 60's every night... I think they are groovy in a far out way!

My spareribs, Paul Prudhomme's blackened cheese stuffed pork chops and now these... What do they have in common???  They are my three favorite things to eat in the whole world.  And who knew they were so easy to make.  This is another single day recipe, no over night ferments.  They are easy to freeze so you can make ahead.  And best of all, they are just as good as the kind you get at the airport, without having to go through the effort of flying.

Here's what I did...

First a note about what I am learning... Room temperature.  Eggs, butter and milk should be removed from the fridge a couple hours before you start.  The bread will rise better (yeast loves room temps, and sleeps when it gets too cold (or too hot)).  You should always read the entire recipe prior to starting.  But when baking with yeast, it is assumed that you will be working with room temperature items.

OK... after removing the buttermilk, egg and butter from the fridge earlier in the day...

6 1/2 TBS Sugar
1 tsp Salt
6 TBS Butter (room temperature)

Cream the sugar, salt and butter together

Then add ...

1 Egg
1 tsp Lemon Extract (I used Coconut Rum)

Mix again...
 Then add...

3 1/2 cups of Flour
2 tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/4 cup Buttermilk (room temperature)

And mix.  No kitchenaid... not even a hand mixer... so get out the wooden spoon and mix mix mix.  I put on my Annette Funicello playlist on my iPod, which has some excellent bread kneading rhythms.  It is best to plan for Jo Jo the Dog Faced boy towards the end...

Go ahead, hit play, you know you want to...

but I am digressing from the recipe...

I mixed and kneaded the dough for 15 minutes.  It was silky and subtle and not sticky.  I did have to add quite a bit of extra flour to get the right feel.  But, eventually, between the extra flour and Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy, I got a nice ball of dough.

Oil the bottom of a mixing bowl, and roll the ball around to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to ferment at room temperature (no drafts, in the warmest area of your house) for 2 hours, or until it doubles in size.

Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter, and roll it out to a rectangle, 9 inches by 18 inches.  For larger rolls, leave thicker, and only roll out 9X12.  In a desperate attempt at calorie control (HAHAHAHAHA), I made them smaller (they were plenty big, and since they were small, I could justify eating two).

OK, time for the stuffing... I mixed together 7 TBS of Sugar and 2 TBS of cinnamon and sprinkled this over the entire surface.  With the wide part of the rectangle of dough facing me, I started rolling till I had a tube 18 inches long.  At this stage, I allowed a final rise of 90 minutes.

After the final rise, I cut the dough into 6 inch sections.  Each section makes 4 rolls.  I froze 3 of the sections.  If I want rolls in the morning, I leave a section out overnight.

One of the sections, I cut into 4 - 1 1/2 inch sections,put into a small baking dish (sprayed with oil) and baked in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  My, did the kitchen smell good!

While the rolls were baking, I made the glaze...

And yes, I used just a smidgen of CRUZAN Coconut rum.  First, why not, but equally as important, have you ever used vanilla in a recipe?  well guess what, vanilla is more than 50% (actually, better vanilla is more than 75%) Alcohol.  You can light it, you can run a car with it and you can indeed get drunk very quickly with vanilla (would be expensive, but would work).  My point is, flavored rums make a nice addition (in moderation) to a sauce.  I had a hint of  Coconut (the book called for lemon) in the dough, and now a hint of coconut in the glaze.  It works just fine.


1 cup of Powdered Sugar
1/4 tsp Coconut Rum
1 tsp Buttermilk

I mixed the sugar and rum together, and then slowly added bits of buttermilk into the mix till I got the correct texture for the glaze... a little thick, but something you can drizzle.

OMG... heaven in the mornings!

We are having our first batch of guests here next week (sadly, the girls (and Chris) from Our Krazy Kitchen have not agreed to that tax deductible summit meeting in ST Thomas, a couple of Jackie's cousins and her favorite aunt are coming), so one morning, I pop these out of the freezer and listen to the oooohs and ahhhhhs!  And yes, there indeed is just a tiny hint of coconut (but with just 1 tsp cooked in the dough and 1/4 tsp in the glaze, no rum taste!  Just an accent taste.

I did it.  And it is the best recipe i have made from the book!  I will be making these again and again!  I am only about 10% into the book, but i already feel myself growing as a cook.  More than just a collection of recipes, it is indeed a primer on learning to be a baker.  I am so loving this book, and incredible collection and certainly belongs on every cook's shelf.

The book is LARGE, lots of photos, and information.  Filled with dozens of recipes and easy to follow step by step directions.  And now Amazon is selling this for nearly half price (less than half if you want a used copy.  Folow the link  above and order TODAY!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MAPLE GARLIC SALMON ala A Bolder Table for Taste & Create

I love bloggers! I was new to the world of blogging (and to cooking) just a few months ago. I went from hamburgers and hot dogs once a month to a 3 meal a day, 7 days a week cook. I needed help, and I found it. I am always thrilled to find new blogs. Without bloggers who provide insight you do not get from books, I would not be as brave as I am in the kitchen. Last month I was introduced to a wonderful opportunity. TASTE & CREATE is a cultural exchange program for bloggers. Click on the logo to the left, but the premise is simple...
Once you sign up, monthly, you are paired with another blogger. Hopefully, someone you have never seen before. You take a look at their blog, hunt down a recipe that you find appealing and cook and post the results. You are introduced to a new recipe, and at the same time, because you dig a little deeper into a new blog, you find bits of personal information that gets you a new blogger buddy!

This month, I was paired with Megan, from a BOLDER TABLE.  Megan is from Colorado, writes an entirely original blog (no recipes from magazines).  The emphasis in her writing is healthy cooking.  From shopping local to cooking mostly vegetarian meals, she talks the talk and she cooks the cook of an aware consumer.  Take a moment and head over to see what she did to a couple of my recipes today... But also dig a little deeper into her blog.  i think you will be back...

I really enjoyed Megan's blog, and will be heading back for several side dishes I have in mind.  But one original recipe caught my eye.  I had some really nice salmon (go figure, salmon is available here, fresh, and at a very good price).  I also had maple syrup on hand and of course i love garlic... so, here's what Megan said to do to create her "Maple Garlic Salmon"...
place on a baking sheet that has been brushed with olive oil.  I made slices (not all the way through) every in or so along the fish so I could stuff chopped garlic in the salmon.

After stuffing the slices with garlic, I drizzled olive oil and maple syrup, then salt and pepper.  I added some sliced onions on the tray, poured a little veggie broth onto the pan for extra moisture, and baked at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or so, just until it was done on the outside and slightly darker inside.  Drizzle with lemon after taking the salmon out of the oven.
And, here's what i did...

Um... Wgat she said to do... Little oil, cut some slits, stuff with minced garlic and drizzle maple syrup 

Cook at 400 degrees, for 10 minutes.  I did sprinkle just a bit of dried parsley on so there would be little flecks of color.

It came out beautiful!  But very important, the fish was cooked perfect (10 minutes was all, came out very moist and flaky... DO NOT OVER COOK YOUR FISH!).  BUT, the most important thing... it tasted WONDERFUL!  Hints of garlic in every bite (remember the slits, not just top with), and the syrup made a nice sweet contrast.  Very easy, very fast and most of all, a very impressive taste!

I plated with Coconut Rum Pineapple Risotto (really did make it, you will hear about that soon), and a bit of spicy mango chutney!

Thanks Megan, great recipe....

TASTE & CREATE is great fun for me.  I am always looking for new bloggers to follow and especially new recipes.  this was my second time playing along and each time has been very instructive for me.  You have to cook anyway, may as well be challenged.  TASTE & CREATE is my very favorite blogger activity.  Signing up is easy (just go to the website and follow the easy instructions).  You get an email telling you who you are partnered with and how much or how little you work with them is up to you.

But really, don't you think you will find something amazing???

Do me a favor and head over to Megan's blog, a BOLDER TABLE.  Tell her hi for me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Bowties

It's another session of what to do with the second half of one of those rotisserie chickens you buy every week.  And there are enough different tastes to satisfy everyone.  Jackie had asked for a salad recently.  So, when I saw Melanie's post at THE SISTER's CAFE, I knew I had another use for that rotisserie bird...

And here's an oddity... no rum, no extra spices, I didn't change a single ingredient.  I followed Melanie's recipe as she wrote it.  If you go to her post (click HERE), Melanie listed a few additional ingredients as optional.  But really, if you have a plate of spinach, do you really need to add parsley?  Adding the oranges and water chestnuts was already inching the price up.  So, unless you have them on hand, do as I did and leave out the craizins, parsley, ... And here is what she wrote...
Spinach Salad With Teriyaki Bowties 
submitted by Melanie

16 oz. Bowtie pasta, cooked and cooled
1 - 2 bags of fresh baby Spinach
2 small cans Mandarin Oranges
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 can Water Chestnuts
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 cup Honey Roasted Peanuts or Cashews
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds, toasted
2 cups torn cooked Chicken

1 cup Vegetable Oil
2/3 cup White Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2/3 C. Teriyaki Sauce
5 Tbs. Sugar

Cook bowtie pasta according to directions, drain and cool while whisking the dressing together in a large bowl. Marinate cooked bowtie pasta in the dressing for 1 hour or longer in the fridge. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl and pour the teriyaki sauce and pasta over the salad, toss together and serve. If it's just a few of you, make individual salad servings; keeping the salad and bowtie sauce separate for the rest of the week (no one likes a soggy salad).
This sauce is terrific!  Beyond terrific in fact.  The whole thing blended so well.  It was a perfect addition to my new series on what to do with those rotisserie chickens that are so cheap here in paradise.

Jackie loved it!  Thanks Melanie... A GREAT recipe!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Laziest Cooking Session - and a Spice Question

I really tried to fight it.  I really wanted to cook local, but somethings are just TOO expensive.  Fresh spices in St Thomas are either difficult to find, or are extremely expensive.  I have talked before about the Rivermarket in Kansas City.  It is our local farmer's market.  we have a spice guy there that has row upon row of spices.  He sells them for $1 a scoop (1/2 cup in each scoop).  Last week, I spent $8 for less than 1/2 a scoop of garlic flakes that I needed for a recipe.  Well, that wasn't going to happen again.  So, I called a buddy to have him ship me some spices.  they arrived yesterday.  I showed more details, and gave a list of the 50 scoops of spices I now have here in paradise!  Go to my sister site, A KANSAS FOODIE IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS to see what I think is important to have on hand.

So, I have two questions... What is the single spice that you would not like to cook without?  For me, it would be the pepper spices, Cayenne and Chipotle.

My next question is what do I do with all this bounty?  I don't mean what to cook, I mean how to store them. Here in paradise, ST Thomas is a tropical island indeed.  High humidity, temperatures in the 80's ALL the time.  I am too cheap to turn the air conditioner on all the time.  So, how to store.  I know, cool dark spot.  The spices are all in ziplock bags.  I put these bags in a second larger ziplock bag, and then put these into a crisper drawer in the refrigerator.  the drawer has a humidity control that I set at low.

Any other advice???

OK, on the same day I received my care package, FILLED with dozens of different spices, what could you possibly imagine me cooking???

Well, nothing with the spices.  I have started making a serious effort to menu plan.  I set a menu for a week, and live with those decisions.  I try to do all my shopping at the beginning of the week, and do not make repeat trips to the store.  It is a cost saving effort, as well as a knees saving effort.  The least expensive store to shop at is 6 miles from my condo (cab ride back though).  I walk there once a week.  But, it does not have a huge inventory (think Costco).  So I also have to walk 4 miles to the larger store that has most items.  I go there the next day.  Finally, only 1 and 1/2 miles away is the expensive (VERY expensive) gourmet shop that has the best meats and fish.

Yesterday, armed with my list, I hiked cross island to the big box store.  that's the store where I buy the rotisserie chicken for $6 bucks.

That's what I had planned, and that's what I was going to serve.  Part of menu planning is to stick with your decisions.  Things may come up, guests come, a night out, an unexpected invitation all can derail the plan.  But whenever possible, don't waver from the plan.  Meals will be planned soon that take full advantage of the new spice drawer.  But tonight was not one of them.

Only slightly less easy was my choice of a side dish...

3 baking potatoes, cut to bite size, 1/2 onion, cut same size, add 1 cup of Zesty Italian dressing, bake at 350 degrees for 1 and 1/2 hours...

You can get really fancy and add some cheddar cheese during the last 10 minutes

Some nights here in paradise, it's bonfires on the beach... 

Some nights it's cheap potatoes, rotisserie chicken and "Chuck" and "Big Bang Theory" on TV....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rum Poached Scallops with a Roasted Pepper - Pineapple Pesto

There was one serious problem with this dish...  

I made these as appetizers, only two for each of us.  We wanted a dozen.

The inspiration for these came from One of my favorite bloggers, Penny from LAKE LURE COTTAGE!  Penny is an extraordinary cook.  Hardly a Penny come lately to the foodie fads that brought many of us to blogdom.  Penny has been cranking out top quality gourmet items for decades.  Some day when I grow up, I want to be half the cook she is. She did a column on AN ELEGANT APPETIZER.  Her Champagne Poached Scallops with Red Pepper Pesto sounded wonderful.  But, of course I did't have all the correct ingredients, so I doctored her recipe up just a bit...

First, no champagne.  While Jackie and I both have been known to occasionally have an adult beverage (on rare occasions), we are not fans of the bubbly.  Too sweet and honestly gives us a headache.  But I did have a little RUM (go take a look at my sister site, A Kansas Foodie in the Virgin Islands.  Today's post gives a very detailed explanation for why I am cooking with so much RUM!  I also had a fresh pineapple.  Pineapple adds such a wonderful flavor to almost anything.  Certainly a little pineapple in the pesto will make this more fun...

So, here's what I did to Penny's Elegant Appetizer...

I actually had a little left over bread that we had saved from eating out the night before.  Just the right size, a sweet baguette, ready to be sliced and toasted (with a little garlic infused EVOO).

To make the pesto, I roasted 1/2 a red pepper...

Roasting a pepper is easy, and adds an extra layer of sweetness to your pepper.  It draws out the natural sugars in the pepper and makes a normally bland pepper (the bell) a much more full of flavor ingredient.  It is easiest to grill them, but without a grill, I just used the stove top method in a dry skillet.  Just keep rotating and you get this look...

Put the hot pepper into a plastic ziplock bag and allow the pepper to cool.  The skin will peal easily, leaving just the meat of the pepper and none of the charred skin.

I had bought a fresh pineapple (one of my very favorite fruits).  I took an equal amount of pineapple to the pepper, added a couple cloves of garlic, and a small amount of fresh ginger.  Put all this into a mini chopper (one of the few items I brought from home), and bingo bango bongo... PRESTO, I had Pesto.

This pesto was really good.  I added a carefully measured 3/4 of a dollop to the toasted sliced baguette.

I had about half a cup left of the pesto, so I tested the "everything tastes good on a Ritz" theory and sure enough... This tasted great on a Ritz.

While all of this was going on, I also worked on the scallops... I chose 4 from my big bag of frozen sea scallops (20 pounds) I had bought a few weeks ago.

1/4 cup CRUZAN Pineapple Rum, the juice of half a lime
and my now famous Lime Zest Sea salt (2/3 rds zest to 1/3 rd salt)

I gently poached the scallops in the simmering rum.  About 6 minutes per side, until they are no longer translucent.  I removed the scallops, and turned up the heat on the rum/lime juice mix.  I reduced the sauce by more than half, and brushed that sauce on the top of the scallops...

Toasted baguette slices...

Topped by the pesto...

Topped by the scallops...

Topped by a sprinkling of grated Asiago cheese

Topped by a sprinkling of Lime Zest salt

Followed by listening to your wife bitch for HOURS because she only got two (they were only supposed to be appetizers).  These really were among the best things I have made since becoming island bound.  I could well imagine these with shrimp in place of the scallops, or how about toasting a little crab meat on the baguette, and then topping with the pesto.  this is a terrific combination and a perfect appetizer.