One of my most profound memories from the School of the Arts in high school is the first time I ate in the dining hall. I remember surveying my options and in a blinding moment of clarity realized these people don’t eat like I do. I grew up fed in a very Southern way by a grandmother, who being taught by her mother, knew only that way of cooking. If you had a green bean, you cooked the snot out of it, f you had a beet, you pickled it, and anything with four legs had a destiny doomed for a cast iron frying pan. Nothing was ever wasted, including the rind of a watermelon, which was turned into jelly, and not to be forgotten, the various and sundry parts of swine.
Since my formative years, I have had the opportunity to travel some, experience other cultures and see that the world is indeed not flat as a tater fritter. Thus began my culinary journey of satisfying my own taste buds. I enjoyed reading cookbooks like they were novels and imagined the flavors melding on my tongue as I read through the recipe. I practiced, ate and tested. Although not a trained professional or glorified “foodie”, I still have not grown tired of the process and ritual of cooking so much so that if I don’t do it for several days in a row, I feel like I’m missing something.
Cooking for a family, especially dealing with the finicky palates of four children, has brought about it’s own series of challenges. For instance, no one enjoys the same vegetable on the same night. Ever. And you can be certain that if one of them enjoyed a food two weeks ago, the very same food will almost certainly repulse them the next week. They grow, I grow and we gather round the table knowing that being a “Clean Plate Ranger” isn’t really what it’s about anyway.
But the pleasure of feeding myself is something I never get tired of. In the summer, one of the recipes I enjoy is very simple and easy to make. Scallops. You can find them almost anywhere and you can add one or take away two depending on you own level of hunger. I add only a little pasta with lemony cream sauce to enhance the satin smoothness of the scallop, no veggies. I won’t tell the kids if you won’t. This is how I make them. And p.s. I know I’m not a food photographer, but you get the idea.
*start with ½ to 1/3 lb. fresh scallops
• a little all purpose flour for dredging
• 4 Tbsp. clarified butter (don’t overlook this step! It makes all the difference in the outcome)
• fat shallot, finely diced
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• splash of white wine from the glass you’re already drinking, remember it’s for yourself, the Health Department isn’t giving you a sanitation grade!
• chopped fresh parsley or thyme, whatever is easiest to obtain
Wash, clean, dry scallops and then dredge in flour (adding salt and pepper into the flour if you want). In the hot skillet, add butter, then the scallops, shaking off any excess flour. Cook on each side. Total cooking time should not be more than 3-4 minutes. Remove scallops and let them rest on a warm plate.
Lower the heat to moderate, and toss the shallot in the pan. Toss around, splash with the wine and let this cook down for about a minute. Add cream and stir. Season with salt if necessary. Pour sauce over scallops and pasta, I prefer an angel hair pasta. Sprinkle the fresh parsley on top. Enjoy your feast for one.