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15 March 2009

Scallops with Prosciutto, Sage and White Wine Sauce Served with Wilted Spinach and Grilled Polenta

With this recipe I have tried to recreate an absolutely delicious meal we had on the last day of our honeymoon. We were in Manhattan Beach just near Los Angeles airport and we had this fabulous meal in a tiny restaurant we just happened to walk past. It was a perfect meal to finish our amazing trip.

Try and buy the freshest scallops that you can. The ones I used today unfortunately tasted a little too fishy, which was not ideal. The meal was still lovely however. And don't overcook the scallops as they will become tough. They don't need long at all to cook.

I may keep refining this recipe, so check it for updates. The polenta recipe is from Australian Good Food Magazine (April 2009 issue). In the version I made tonight, I added 2 tablespoons of sage to the polenta, but found it was a bit overpowering, so I have left it out in the recipe below.

I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients (serves 2)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup instant polenta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
16 scallops cleaned with roe removed
4 slices prosciutto cut in half lengthwise
8 sage leaves halved
150g baby spinach
2 tablespoon olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons butter (at least half must be chilled)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


Soak 4 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

To make the polenta, heat the milk and water in a medium saucepan on high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Add polenta in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir for about 5 minutes or until polenta comes away from the side of the pan in one lump. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the polenta onto a lightly oiled board or baking tray. Smooth until it is about 1 1/2 - 2cm high. Cool at room temperature until firm and set (about 30 minutes).

Thread the scallops, sage and prosciutto onto the skewers. I did this by threading a sage leaf, then adding the prosciutto and scallop. I then added another sage leaf, wrapped the prosciutto around the scallop and back onto the skewer and then repeated the process. I left the prosciutto long so that it would wrap around the scallops. I needed 2 prosciutto strips per skewer. (Not the best description I know, just go with whatever you like.)

Heat a grill pan or fry pan over medium heat with half the olive oil. Cut the cooled polenta into 4 pieces. Fry the polenta for about 5 minutes each side until golden. Set aside and keep warm (I kept them warm in a low oven while I finished the meal).

Heat the olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the scallop skewers and cook for 30 second to 1 minute on each side (I cooked on all 4 sides so that the prosciutto was well browned). The length of cooking will depend on how big the scallops are. Add the white wine and lemon juice and simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat half the butter in a large saucepan. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the skewers from the pan and set aside. Whisk the rest of the butter (must be chilled) into the white wine sauce.

Serve the scallop skewers with the spinach and polenta and white wine sauce.


Pesto was one of the first recipes that I started making from scratch instead of purchasing it. I don't really like the taste of store bought pesto, something about it never tastes quite right to me.

I actually have not made pesto very much lately, it has sort of fallen out of my repertoire. Not that I don't like it anymore, I just started making other dishes more often.

Today I have made some because I am using it in a "Quick Lasagne" recipe (this recipe should be posted in a few days). It is very hard for me to give precise quantities, like a lot of my cooking, I add ingredients by feel and measure very little. With pesto I just keep adding whatever I think it needs until it tastes right. But I have given it a go below.

I have used extra virgin olive oil below (because that is what I had), but to be honest, I think that in this batch of pesto the taste of the olive oil is a little overpowering, it is quite a peppery olive oil. If you have a strong olive oil, I would be inclined to either use half extra virgin olive oil and half regular olive oil, or just regular olive oil alone. But this also depends on how you are using the pesto. As I am using this in another dish with many ingredients, the strong taste is fine. If I was serving it as a dip, I would probably try and tone the flavour down, or make another batch.

My tip is taste as you go and add any ingredient you think the pesto needs more of.

1 bunch basil (sometimes I use half basil, half parsley as some people find the basil too powerful a taste)
2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, parmesan and garlic in a food processor. Process to combine. Slowly add the olive oil while the motor is running. Continue to process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Taste the pesto and season to taste.

Thai Beef Salad - My Style! (Or "Beef Salad with Soy and Lime Dressing")

Okay, I admit, there is not much about this salad that is authentically "Thai". I only call it a "Thai Beef Salad" because the dressing came from a Thai Beef Salad recipe I saw somewhere...I think. I'm not too sure actually where it came from.

Regardless, I love this salad. I always feel really healthy after eating it. Obviously avocado is not something you would normally see in a "Thai Beef Salad"...the story here is that one night I really felt like avocado, so I just added it to the salad, and LOVED it. So now, I always add avocado when making this salad.

Really, it should probably be called "Beef Salad with Soy and Lime Dressing". Regardless of the name, it is a delicious, easy and healthy meal.

The quantities below are for 2 people. One note of warning, I love to drench this salad in dressing. If this does not suit you, remember to add less dressing. If you are a chilli fan, add some fresh chilli for a little bite.


2 beef steaks (about 200g per person)
2 handfuls of salad leaves (enough per person)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
1/4 cup mint roughly chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves roughly torn
125g cherry tomatoes (or 2 -3 ordinary tomatoes) diced
1/2 lebanese cucumber sliced
2 shallots finely sliced (or 1/2 small red onion finely diced)
1/2 - 1 avocado deseeded and chopped (use a quantity to suit you)
41/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar


Pan fry, BBQ or char grill the steak until cooked to your liking. Allow the steak to rest before slicing thinly.

Meanwhile, dry roast the almonds in a small pan until golden. Set aside to cool.

To make the dressing combine the soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl or glass jar and mix to combine.

Toss the salad leaves, mint, basil, tomatoes, cucumber, shallots, and avocado together in a bowl.

To serve, top the salad with the beef and almonds and finish with the dressing.