Monday, March 29, 2010

Alpacas, Pygmy Goats and Scallops with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

The weekend found TBHITW and I all alone. The girl was staying with friends and the boy was attending a two day interview at his summer camp in the hopes of being accepted into the Counselor in Training program (he made the grade!).

Two whole days with nothing to do except what we wanted to do.

And how did we choose to fill the hours?

We dreamed of course.

We talked about our future.

The land, the new house.

And for me, any future plans have to include a few animals. Yes, I'm one of those kind of people.

I am an animal lover.

We have our Holly Bear now. And some koi in a backyard pond. Do fish count as pets?

Anyway, we talked and I googled. There is a lot of information out there regarding small farm animals. Much more research and of course some solid courses are needed in the future but for now we have decided we would like:

Some Pygmy Goats AND some Alpacas

Alpacas are known to be gentle, intelligent animals and are raised for their luxurious fiber. Pygmy goats are well, just look at them, how cute are they? And their milk is sweeter and has more nutrients than cow's milk; not to mention goat cheese making is on my list of kitchen activities.

Of course we will also have some chickens. And TBHITW wants to add two Miniature Australian Shepherds to the mix as Holly will be entering her golden years (or at least middle age years) by then and may be more content laying in front of the fire instead of herding alpacas, goats and chickens.

These boys look up to the job, no?

All the dreaming and talking and planning put us in the mood for a romantic dinner for two. This is an elegant meal that is luxurious to eat, yet easy to make. While one of you tends the scallops and vinaigrette, the other can stir the polenta. While stirring, dream your own dreams.

Scallops with Hazelnut Vinaigrette over Soft Polenta: serves 2

1/2 pound fresh caught scallops
4 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, rough chopped
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup arugula

First, make the polenta:
2 cups chicken broth, simmering
4 tablespoons polenta (quick cooking kind)
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Bring the broth to a simmer. Whisk in the polenta (slowly, no lumps). Cook until thick (about 5 minutes). Switch to a wooden spoon. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Set to very, very low. Stir occasionally while you make the scallops.

For the scallops:
Place the butter in a large saute pan and melt over medium low heat until melted and foamy.
Pour off the butter (save). Do not wipe out the pan.
Dry the scallops on a paper towel and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat the pan over medium heat and add the scallops. Turn after 2 minutes. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a warm plate and keep warm by loosely tenting with foil.

Put the reserved melted butter back in the pan and add the shallots. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, just until soft. Add the hazelnuts and toss around to warm. Add the white balsamic vinegar and heat through - it will sizzle up. Toss in the arugula.

The finished vinaigrette is richly sweet, tangy and nutty.

Quickly, finish the polenta by stirring in the butter and cream. Ladle some polenta into two shallow bowls. Top with some scallops. Drizzle the hazelnut vinaigrette over the scallops and serve.

A Cook's Notes: of course every romantic meal needs an equally romantic dessert and what is more romantic than something chocolate? Tomorrow I'll give you the fastest, easiest make ahead recipe in the world for Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes. Until then, Bon Appetit!


  1. Argghhhh, you've got to get ALL those animals... those EXACT ones, they are soooo cute

  2. The scallops look fantastic!

    Goats? Better have good fence as I am sure part of their Latin name is Caprine Escapus Houdinus. :-)

  3. I love that there's obviously so much romance in your marriage after all these years. It makes me happy. And hopeful!

    And tiny goats? Whee! With tiny dogs!

    And one of my friends has an alpaca, but it's kind of mean and it spits. Find a friendly one!

  4. The scallops look very tasty. I will print this one and try it.

  5. Those animals are adorable. Probably only a bit less cute as adults. I like the idea of raising animals for milk and fur, rather than for slaughter. Of YOU raising them, that is. :-)

  6. Eternally - I agree, I want them all!

    Teri - Yes, my farm friends tell me if it can't hold water, it can't hold a goat. Good fencing is in our future.

    Kate - Keeping the romance in a marriage takes practice, patience and hard work. But it's sooo worth it. Are you sure it's an alpaca and not a llama? Llama's tend to spit and can be surely. But of course I guess any animal, humans included can be mean....

    R.J. Do let me know how you like the recipe.

  7. Those goats are adorable! My ex-boyfriend's parents had a couple and they ended up being WIDER than they were long! LOL! They were just pets though, they did nothing as important as milk-producing. Ha.

  8. Who will milk the goats?

    Love the recipe....if only loml wasn't gouty.

  9. Bliss - it will be an adventure!

    Jen - yes, they get big "football" tummies.

    Kathy - I'm sure the milking will fall to me. :-)

  10. Oh how wonderful to dream those dreams!! those pygmy goats are soo adorable! are you going to get a horse??? I would get one.and those 2 puppies... what can I say... Sounds like paradise to me...

  11. Well, dreaming of the future never makes me want to make dinner, but it sounds wonderful!!

  12. Love these animals! I would have them in my commune, too. This recipe is the perfect match to a romantic dinner and dreaming. Perfect.

    Also will buy the cookbook from last post. I really like how you had the button to "buy."

  13. PYGMY GOATS! They are the cutest little things!!! If I were in your shoes I would be dreaming as well! You have so many things to look forward to! Maybe Josh and I can come play with your alpacas. :)

  14. With goats that cute I'd be happy to milk them. It can't be any worse than motherhood...
    How exciting to plan.

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Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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