seared scallops with a red pepper sauce

July 12th, 2008 · 35 Comments


after 6 weeks of being away from my kitchen, i finally got to throw a dinner together.  something simple and quick – something light and fresh.  scallops are a favorite and a red pepper sauce pairing makes an effortless and classic dish. 

into the vita-mix went:

a roasted red pepper – blackened, peeled, seeded
small clove of garlic

smoked salt
cayenne pepper
balsamic syrup
lemon infused extra virgin olive oil

searing scallops is a favorite culinary task of mine.  i fought with them for awhile, trying to achieve the perfect caramelization on both sides while still having a rare center.  i use cast iron, getting the pan super hot, adding the oil and/or butter and then placing the very dry scallops into the hot pan without overcrowding.  it’s all about moisture avoidance.  also, i choose to not season my scallops as they always seem to have the right amount of salt just as they are. 

they were served over a plate of fresh baby spinach leaves with halved grape tomatoes and some pea shoot tendrils scattered about, just because.  the sauce acted as the dressing and really, it was satisfying as could be on a hot summer night. 

tonight i made broiled halibut, lightly salted and peppered with some olive oil.  i took no photos and just enjoyed the simplicity of the fish over the same spinach leaves and tomatoes – along with some of ‘karen’s hot giardiniera’, given to me by a friend who had discovered it in vermont, quite by accident.  you need to buy the 4 jars.  so just do it and then thank me.  these jars of spicy olivey goodness make amazing gifts and will be much better received than yet another bottle of oaky $14 chardonnay.  not that you’d ever show up with that…

i bring up my humble dinner tonight to not only let you in on the secret of this amazing olive spread that absolutely blew me away – but to also tell you that i am a fan of eric ripert, and because of his new blog ‘avec eric’ (thank you michael ruhlmanagain) where the cuisinart brick convection toaster oven (brk-200) is flaunted as the one essential you must never ever live without… i slapped down my credit card quicksmart paying (a discounted) $200 (in turn receiving a whole 220 frequent flying miles) and i must say, not only is it a handsome devil, not unlike both eric and michael, but it’s going to be extremely handy to have around.  for one frozen bagel.  grilled tomatoes.  fish for 2, roasted chicken, a tin of 6 muffins, a small homemade pizza – the endless possibilities boggle the mind… and eric’s blog keeps showing me the simplest, freshest, healthiest ideas – all while leaving a slightly smaller carbon footprint.  i own double convection gaggenau ovens, which are totally sexy looking (kind of like both eric and michael) and wonderful around the holidays (if you’re a woman, i’m thinking what you’re thinking), but 9/10 of the time, it’s small quantities around here.  and my new cuisinart mini-oven is working like a dream…

a week from tonight i’ll be dining at alinea and 3 nights from that at charlie trotter’s.  in nyc i ate at jean georges, babbo, blaue gans, bar americain and felidia.  this time around i’d have to say my favorite was felidia – ‘jg’ losing out only due to the fact that it’s high french and i am so partial to italian. and really, felidia was just very good.  i had pear and fresh pecorino ravioli and calves liver over farro and polenta.  joe (thank you joe, again and again) sent over a wonderful bottle of wine along with octopus done 2 ways.  i was very, very happy with this food. 

and as much as i both hate and hesitate to say this, babbo was somehow a huge let down. the lambs brain ‘francobolli’ was plain bad.  the goose liver ravioli was just wrong.  the rabbit and duck were just ‘ok’ – nothing to remember.  the branzino, lambs tongue and sausage plate were all excellent as was a saffron panna cotta with rhubarb.  but ‘osteria mozza’ in LA kicked ‘babbo’s’ culinary ass.  again i will say, our dinner at mozza was a full fledge knock-out.  but this is why you don’t review on one meal.  i know babbo is a great restaurant.  my dinner there 9 years ago still rolls around in the food archive section of my brain.  but this time, the chef de cuisine was off and it was a long holiday weekend… so next time i’m in ny – this autumn, i hope to go back. 

i had the pleasure of meeting the brilliant, warm and witty michelle from ‘thursday night smackdown’.  she dined with me and my mother at babbo.  you need to read her take on my mom.  as one might expect from michelle, it is classic and spot on and if you have to ask, you could never understand… 

my ‘jg’ dining partner was my friend amy from minimally invasive.  she is now forced to dine with me every time i come to nyc.  we agonize over where to go.  it took us about 20 emails to get both a date and a restaurant in ink.  we were excited about jg and ordered with abandon.  nothing like a little $300 lunch… and then, believe it or not – afterwards, we took a quick trip across the street to time-warner for a macaron at bouchon bakery.

so it’s been a stream of superior food and wonderful wine… and people.  it’s all about the people.  and there’s so much more to come.  i am truly grateful beyond measure and so incredibly fortunate.  yay.

oh and thanks for reading…


Tags: restaurants · seafood

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