As I mentioned over on my Facebook page, I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired lately. This is mainly due to the fact that we’re trying to lose a bit of weight – eating lots of vegetables, avoiding starch and alcohol, and getting more serious about running (we’re looking at another 5K in April, then our first 8K in May). We’re eating simple preparations of food for the most part: roasted vegetables, sauteed greens, lean protein, fizzy water and tea. Not much to talk about, really.

asparagusroasted asparagus

But yesterday was Brigid, also known as Imbolc, and we always have a little private celebration to observe the return of the light and what tends to feel much more like the start of a new year than “normal” New Year. I wanted a dinner that was light, non-starchy, but a little fancy and evocative of spring, and I found one in Nigella Lawson’s new book (I love Nigella, reading her is like eating potato chips for me). It’s a very simple supper for two consisting of pan-seared sea scallops and a puree of peas flavored with creme fraiche and Thai green curry paste (a take-off of British mushy peas, I assume). I added a side of roasted asparagus, which was perfect with the other flavors, and opened a bottle of rich, buttery California chardonnay.

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caramel scallops

Vietnamese braised scallops

Caramel-coated seafood sounds unlikely, I realize, but keep in mind this is Vietnamese caramel sauce: savory and bitter, it’s not at all like candy. Thankfully.

This wasn’t entirely my favorite way of eating scallops (panfried, wrapped in bacon, holds that honor), but we’d been looking for ways to use the caramel sauce Jon made awhile back, and it made for a very quick and interesting dinner. The sauce was made from a recipe in Andrea Nguyen’s Vietnamese cookbook, and the braised scallops were done more or less according to Molly Stevens’ book – basically, heating the caramel, adding fish sauce and shallots, putting in sea scallops and covering until just cooked through, mixing in chopped scallions, then dumping it all over white rice. The flavor was rich, and not nearly as salty as you’d think from looking at it. A plate of paper-thin slices of cucumber was a nice accompaniment, along with a sparkling low-alcohol Riesling.

Vietnamese braised scallops

I might consider making the sauce again, but maybe with halibut instead of scallops. Or if I did use scallops, I think I’d pan-sear them instead of braising. It’s hard to resist a seared scallop. Even if it doesn’t have bacon on it.

a quick lunch


It was midmorning on Saturday that we realized there was nothing in the house for lunch. Well, apart from peanut butter and sardines. So I volunteered to trot down the hill to the co-op and see what looked edible. It was snowing, but not too hard, and it’s not a bad walk as long as I don’t try to carry anything too heavy back up the hill.

So I peeked into the meat case and saw these gorgeous dry-pack sea scallops – they were enormous and very fresh, so I snagged a package. Then, on my way to cruise the cheese case, my eye was caught by a pack of prosciutto. Lunch seemed to be taking shape rapidly. When I checked out, the cashier commented that I was the second person that morning who was obviously going to be having prosciutto-wrapped scallops, based on the groceries that had passed down her belt. Great minds think alike? Continue reading

an after-yoga supper


This past month we’ve been trying something new – Bikram yoga. Two or three times a week we voluntarily put ourselves in a very hot room and twist ourselves into postures that leave us unbelievably sore, with a tendency to sleep ten hours a night (not that we generally get to). The drawback (for those of us obsessed with food) is that you can’t come home after nine hours of work and 90 minutes of hot yoga and expect to have time or digestive power for an exciting, complex or heavy dinner. Or alcohol. As a result, we’ve been expanding our repertoire of fried rices and other things that can be processed in the morning, then dumped in a hot wok and promptly inhaled alongside a pot of green tea. A few pounds have been lost, let me tell you. Continue reading

scallop crêpes

scallop crepe

I love scallops, and I love crêpes. When I saw a recipe in the April 2007 issue of Saveur magazine for buckwheat crêpes with scallops and scallop cream sauce, I knew I would have to make it at some point. We got around to it last week, on a rare sunny evening. We sat by the stove drinking white wine, frying scallops and eating them rolled in hot crêpes as they came out of the pan. Bliss!

We never remember which buckwheat crêpe recipe we like best, so this time J used Mark Bittman’s version from The Best Recipes in the World. The scallop sauce recipe was written to feed a vast number of people, so I edited it heavily to suit myself. The result was delicious, to say the least, but I’m not sure I would make it quite this way again. I’d rather eat my scallops whole and make a shallot-cream sauce to go on them, instead of using any of them in the actual sauce. But that’s just me – the pureed scallop did have a wonderful sweet flavor, and it’s definitely worth trying.

scallop crepe with asparagus

Scallops with Scallop Cream Sauce
adapted from Saveur magazine

  • 3/4 pound large sea scallops
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Select a third of the scallops (I picked out the ugliest ones for this part). Pat them dry and season with salt and pepper. Fry them in a bit of butter until golden brown, then puree them in a heatproof container with the broth, wine and cream. Pour back into the pan and simmer until thickened. Salt to taste.

Cut the remaining scallops in half and fry as you go – two pieces per crêpe works well. Cook a crêpe, lay it on a plate and arrange the scallops on it, then spoon a good glop of the sauce on top. Asparagus is a good addition; leeks might be tasty as well. Roll up the crepe and eat.