Thursday, September 03, 2009

Shameless Pandering

Some kind soul nominated this here blog for an awards-type competition. So if you like what you read here, why not click over and vote (come on, gimme 5 hats) so I can build enough traffic to get a book deal for something that I'm working on. I have no idea who nominated me, but thanks. Not sure what the deadline is, so be skippy. If I win, I will send you BACON.

Tonight, continuing our sojourn through the superb seafood I picked up yesterday, I marinated a pound of scallops in kimchi juice for an hour or so to give them a little firmness and a slightly ceviche-esque acidity. While they sat, plump and quiescent, soaking up tangy complexity, I peeled a huge red potato from the garden, halved it lengthwise, and pared those two halves into approximate cylinders which I sliced into discs about 3/16" thick, and then steamed until just tender. Next up I made a batch of pie crust, but since we only had the local white flour with all the germ intact, it ended up a slightly more rustic version than the usual; it held together OK, but didn't have the elasticity that my idea really called for. In any case, it worked out all right.

The idea was pretty simple: alternate slices of scallop and potato, season, roll, and bake. And that's just what I did. The scallops, cut in half, ended up abut the same thickness as the spuds. I melted a little butter with a clove of garlic, a small spoon of pimentón, thyme, and olive oil, and brushed the dough with it. I also dribbled more over the finished stacks just prior to rolling them up (I made two, each about 7" long). A little pinching to repair holes, some crimping and gentle compression, and into the oven they went.

While they baked, I made a simple ragout of good-looking stuff I picked in the garden today while I puttered around and planted hardy lettuces and greens for fall and winter salads. Leaving aside the grotesque injustice that the weather has been so far- summer literally started a couple of weeks ago- there's no denying that it's been just perfect lately, with crystalline blue skies, beaming sunshine, and temps in the 70s. So I got motivated to try and grow something, despite the humiliating fail of so many of our crops this time around. The ragout was a gently sautéed (in the rest of the butter-oil blend) mix of onion, carrot, fennel, celery, chioggia beet, potato trimmings, cherry tomato, herbs, garlic, summer squash, and corn (these last two did not come from our garden).

It's a common refrain here that I rarely have enough time to make things the way I want them to be, since I can't normally start making dinner at lunchtime- which is pretty much what it would require. So I make the most of an hour, sometimes two, and think of many of these dishes as rough drafts, filing away the better results for another time when I can go crazy and take a week off from all other duties just to cook. Other people call this "Thanksgiving."

And this turned out fine- certainly from a flavor point of view it delivered handily. Even Milo said "This is such summery food!" As he ate first the crust, then the potatoes, then the ragout. He doesn't love scallops. In his defense, cooking them properly done up like this was impossible; something to think about will be how to keep them medium while getting a good brown on the crust. (Once he turns five, though, I'm going to expect better of him). Possible variations include thinner layers, perhaps with more different ingredients for color and texture inside. But the white on white look kind of worked, and the colorful vegetables set it off pretty well. There are lots of ways it could go. We drank a 2005 Domaine de Longval Tavel, which is just wonderful; it may even be a little too assertive for this food, since the age and the tannins (it's pretty dark for a rosé) make it maybe more of a BBQ chicken kind of wine, but the extra power it had did help it get into all the nooks and crannies, scouring some interesting resonances out of the shellfish and vegetables.


Heather said...

Scallops definitely taste better with a little maillard on them - if you're lousy with them, seafood chowder or an English-type fish pie is really what comes to mind. Actually, I guess if you put some nice peas and cream gravy on this instead of serving it with that tomato salad, it would be quite a lot like a high-falutin' fish pie.

Zoomie said...

Milo has good taste - I'm not overly fond of scallops, either. I loved them as a child but may have eaten one too many - now, ick. He may even have a shellfish allergy in the making.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I like all the textures here. I might have also liked wrapping them in whole wheat phyllo to get the crispy thing really working.

You got my hats, for what they're worth. ;-)

peter said...

Blanche: That's pretty much what it was. Or a chowder roll.

Zoomie: He has good taste, but scallops taste good.

Jen: Thank you. I really appreciate it.