Saturday, May 7, 2011

sake and squooshed scallops

Fine food doesn’t have to be complicated food and “ah lo-o-oves me” some scallops. That little muscle that opens and closes the Coquille Saint-Jacques shell is such a tasty little morsel from the sea it needs only showcasing a bit. This quick and delicious recipe does just that.

You’ll need four or five large sea scallops per person. Some zucchini, garlic and a fresh jalapeno pepper makes the presentation bed. I added some baby bok choy on the side for a healthy crunch. And the black sesame seed garnishes while the sake takes good care of the chef. Start by clarifying some butter. If you’ve never done this it’s easy, and that nutty flavor with such a huge burning temperature is essential.

Clean your vegetables and ready them for a brief sautée. The idea is to soften them and to concentrate their flavors but don’t make anything too brown. The fresh green color and flavor is the point.

With everything nicely softened and piping hot, spoon it all into a food processor and spin it to a paste. Taste and add salt and pepper and more jalapeno if you like the warm burn. Mmmm. I do.

Keep processing until it grows creamy-fine and becomes similar in color and texture to wasabi.

Now cover and set that all aside. 
We’re gonna cook the scallops.

While your clarified butter is melting and getting insanely hot, mix up a small batch of sea salt and dark brown sugar in equal parts, then coat the scallops lightly and set them into the hot butter. Be careful. You want this searingly hot so the sugar will caramelize.

Start stir frying the bok choy with garlic in a bit of sesame oil so everything comes out together. As your scallops crackle in the red-hot butter keep a close eye on them, you want them with a crust on the outside but barely cooked to translucency--even slightly raw-- through the center. And flip them with a tongs. Spearing with a fork lets the natural juices out.

Are we there yet? Great. Make a tidy pile of the warm jalapeno/zucchini purée on your plate then squoosh the scallops into it and garnish with a few sage leaves for presentation. That salty sweet crunch giving way to the creamy sea-flavored center in a bed of warm purée will have your guests swooning in no time.

The bokchoy is rather nice, too.

And the sake...(hic)... is awesome.

Friday, May 6, 2011

signifying precious little, anyway.

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5

Thursday, May 5, 2011

restraint and respect surrounding

The ends rarely justify the means in my book. I believe how something is achieved is as relevant and central to that success as the achievement itself. And frankly, I can be critical of our President from time to time. This morning is in favor.

With no “Mission Accomplished” swagger, Barack Obama this week demonstrated possession of a quiet, highly-evolved courage and a hard and focused intelligence. His attempt and success in a mission of such enormous risk and complexity is inspiring. I appreciate most the decision not to release the photographs in contrast to the common “head on a pike” mentality of war. 
President Obama’s restraint and respect surrounding this entire amazing week is an uncommon credit to the American intelligence community and to our brilliant Navy SEALS, to his able administration and to the increasingly evidenced character of the man we elected to hold this very difficult and demanding office.

And in fact, we did. 
Well done, Mr. President, and thank you.

going into the the woodwork

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

goes great with seafood

(n) Appellation many Puerto Ricans prefer as a matter of ethnic pride.”

“Boricua” was the name Puerto Rico’s indigenous Indians, the Taino, gave to their island. The term means valiant people.”

“The Taíno Indians... were a peaceful people with a limited knowledge of agriculture, who lived on such domesticated tropical crops as pineapples, cassava, and sweet potatoes supplemented by seafood.”

And beer. Naturally.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I smelled Summer today

Sunday, May 1, 2011

gasping for godliness

The Vatican in Rome today staged a lavish ceremony moving the late Pope John Paul II closer to sainthood, a process known as beatification and the last step before his canonization.

Elected pope in 1978, this very popular man is credited with an intercession to God on behalf of Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a French nun who was suffering from Parkinson's disease. The Pope himself died of Parkinson’s in 2005 and the nun’s inexplicable cure is the basis for today’s ritual. The Vatican must now certify one more miracle before he can be made a saint. 
During his 26 year reign Pope John Paul was blessed with the unprecedented opportunity to leverage his moral authority against the deepest religious scandal the world has ever known, by exposing and denouncing the sexual wrongdoings of his clergy. But critics say that’s not how his leadership worked. 
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP – issued a statement on Friday condemning the beatification and reminding the world of a pious man’s political choices that turned a blind eye to obscure rather than apology that helped to heal. His sincere mea culpa that discarded protective business as usual would have been the miracle worthy of sainthood, if you ask me. 
The masses will hold their faith today and the victims can hold their children and their tongues while Roman Catholics the world over will hold their rosaries and pray. But as Pope John Paul approaches sainthood in spite of his historic concealment, history teaches that none of us should really hold our breath.