Impress at home with scallops, mushroom leek risotto and strawberry crunch ice cream bars

click to enlarge Scallops with mushroom leek risotto. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Scallops with mushroom leek risotto.

If the idea of cooking up a gourmet dinner for your date conjures images of Gordon Ramsay on an iconic "this is the worst thing I've eaten in my life" rant, fear not: You can do this.

While scallops and risotto may sound intimidating, both elements are actually pretty easy to cook when you get right down to it, allowing even fairly new chefs to create an impressive-looking gourmet dish that's tasty and filling.

Much like your relationship, the key to risotto is patience, love and attention. Instead of boiling the rice, you slowly add stock and stir the dish by hand until just enough liquid has married with the grains to create a creamy delicious texture.

As for the scallops, it's really about not getting impatient and moving them before the bottom has cooked through. Patience allows the heat to create that delicious caramelized texture that makes you drool on sight.

Of course, after enjoying your magazine-worthy meal together, there's always a little room for dessert, and that's when you can break out a nostalgia-inducing homemade take on strawberry shortcake ice cream bars.

With just a few simple ingredients, this frozen treat can be made the night before and kept in the freezer. Just slice, sauce and serve when you're ready to savor the end of the meal with your sweetheart.

Scallops with Mushroom Leek Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • Roughly 1 quart chicken stock
  • 5 to 10 cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 2 medium leeks, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 large scallops
  • Dill to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat chicken stock over medium-low heat in a saucepan, then melt butter in a separate large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic to the butter and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the rice, stirring constantly for about a minute as the grains get coated and slightly toasted.
  3. Add the white wine and stir as it cooks into the rice. Once absorbed, add chicken stock to the skillet one or two ladles at a time, letting the liquid absorb before adding more.
  4. Once about half the stock has been added, which may take 10 to 15 minutes, toss the sliced leeks (just the white and light green parts) and mushrooms into the risotto, stir and continue adding stock a ladle at a time until the mixture is thick and creamy. Once 3/4 of the stock is added, sample the rice every few minutes and keep adding liquid until it's fully cooked (you may not need the entire quart of chicken stock) then remove from heat and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Total cook time should take about half an hour.
  5. For the scallops, heat oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat until shimmering. Pat the scallops very dry with a paper towel, then gently set them in the oil. Don't move them for about three minutes, until the bottom half starts to turn opaque. Carefully flip the scallops to maintain the golden caramelization and continue cooking another three minutes or so until the outside is opaque and the bottom is caramelized as well. Lightly sprinkle with salt when done.
  6. Top the risotto with scallops, garnish with dill and add salt and pepper to taste.

click to enlarge Strawberry crunch ice cream bars with balsamic strawberry sauce. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Strawberry crunch ice cream bars with balsamic strawberry sauce.

Strawberry Crunch Ice Cream Bars With Balsamic Strawberry Sauce

  • 18 Golden Oreos
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter; melted, separated
  • 1 cup freeze dried strawberries
  • About half a quart of vanilla bean ice cream, softened
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  1. Put nine cookies in a food processor and pulse until crumbled. Add two tablespoons melted butter and stir until combined, then press into the bottom of a small rectangular baking dish or loaf pan.
  2. Spread ice cream on top of crust, creating a layer an inch or two deep.
  3. Put the remaining cookies and freeze dried strawberries in the food processor and pulse until crumbled. Add the other two tablespoons melted butter and stir until combined. Sprinkle on top of the ice cream until covered and gently pat down.
  4. Freeze for at least two hours.
  5. For the sauce, remove stems and slice strawberries, setting a few aside for garnish. Heat the berries and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 12 to 15 minutes until strawberries start to break down.
  6. Add balsamic vinegar to sauce and continue stirring over low heat for another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  7. When you're ready for dessert, cut and serve ice cream bars with drizzle of sauce and garnish with a fresh strawberry. ♦

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...