The month of May makes me think of sitting outdoors, enjoying the lingering light of the still somewhat cool evenings, having a beer and noshing on some chips and salsa. What better way to do all of this than with a delicious Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and some homemade chips and heirloom tomato salsa from one of our favorites…Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock.
The word salsa almost lacks any kind of specificity…it can mean anything. This is a perfect variation of unadulterated flavors. Heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, diced onions peppers. A little heat, but mostly crisp and fresh tastes of summer!
Beer. I’m partial to IPA. I like me some hops. This takes me overboard. It’s black as night without any hint of chewyness, it’s hoppy and oh so good! It might just be my favorite beer of the moment. It has the right match of malt and hops, along with some noticeably different floral notes.
It’s not for the faint of heart…as the alcohol is 8.7%. An added benefit, we can find it on draught at Lucky’s up the street.
What dishes make your feel like summer has arrived?
Scallops are like the tenderloin of the sea. If I spot a seared scallop dish on a menu…it’ll be hard to steer me in another direction. Seared in butter, with a nutty sweetness and tender texture…I could eat them right out of the pan, but plop them in a delicious soup with a little something extra…and, I’m DONE! Stick-a-fork-in-me-done! And just one bowl of soup, simply presented is completely satisfying.
Instructions are simple:
Take one head of cauliflower, cut it up into rough chunks, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 375º oven for 20 minutes, or until brown around the edges and your kitchen smells wonderful. Prep the scallops by letting them rest on a plate on a counter so they come to room temperature, which helps with sear. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit. The salt actually helps bring soluble proteins to the surface which will also help develop a nice crust. Once the cauliflower is cooked, let cool and then toss into a soup pot, add in chicken or vegetable broth to almost cover. If you want a little more complex flavor, you could sweat some onions in the pot first and then dump the rest in. Bring it to a boil and then break out your immersion blender. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you don’t know what you’re missing…it’s one of my favorite kitchen appliances and is a very inexpensive addition to your culinary toolbox.) Purée the bejeezus out of it…the silkier the better. And if you really want to get fancy you can break out a chinois, or strainer and make sure you’ve caught any sneaky chunks. Season again with salt and pepper and any additional flavors you want; truffle salt would be interesting…maybe some smoked paprika…fresh herbs…you could go a lot of directions. Keep the soup warm and sear the scallops in butter with at least a touch of oil which will help prevent the butter from burning. When the pan is hot, add in the scallops, and make sure to not crowd the pan. Leave the little guys be in the pan…don’t move them around, don’t peek underneath. Just 2-4 minutes on the first side, flip them and cook for another 2 minutes and they will be done. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE SCALLOPS! It would be an atrocity of great proportion and the scallop police would come find you, take you away and feed you rubbery overcooked seafood for the rest of your life to prove a point. Don’t do it!
Portion the soup out into shallow bowls, drop in the scallops, drizzle with a favorite olive oil and finish with a scattering of parsley and just a touch of sea salt! Voilá!
You can thank me later!
Burgers with mushroom duxelle and goat cheese crumbles served with roasted cauliflower, wilted spinach and quick roasted cherry tomatoes.
Delicious, filling, and used up a whole bunch of leftovers and veggies we had lying around!