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Seared Scallops and Corn and giveaway winner

I was at a restaurant recently with an out-of-town friend who ordered scallops for dinner. They arrived looking pale, small, and sitting in a pool of insipid liquid, which was almost unforgivable, given how easy it is to get a good sear and add flavor to scallops with some butter and seasonings.

I’d like to invite her back and cook this recipe for her, especially while corn is at its peak and the scallops at our fish market are particularly fresh right now. We’ve had great corn this summer in New Jersey, but we purchased this delicious sweet corn at a farm stand in upstate New York last week, on our way home from the Glimmerglass Music Festival (where we also got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, but that’s another story).

We could have eaten like normal humans and limited ourselves to one ear of corn each, but what the heck – why not cook all four ears of corn. We could always reheat the leftovers, right? (Wrong, we scarfed them all down in one sitting!)

It’s easy enough to slice the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.

Sauté the peppers, corn and tomatoes in a skillet with some butter and olive oil, along with the seasonings.

Meanwhile, use a large cast iron skillet to sear the scallops. Heat it until it’s screaming hot, then add the oil and butter. By the way, try to find the largest scallops you can. That way, you’ll be able to get a nice sear on the outside without overcooking the inside. Make sure you dry the scallops thoroughly with paper towels to avoid any moisture from oozing out. If your scallops have too much moisture, or if you crowd too many in a pan, you could end up “steaming” them instead of searing them.

Sometimes, the scallops you buy are so filled with moisture, you wonder if the fish sellers injected them with water to make them weigh more. But these scallops, from our local fish market at the Jersey shore, were large, exceedingly fresh, and not at all weighted down with water. They sautéed beautifully in a minimal amount of fat (about 1 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil). But feel free to add a little more butter if you’re feeling indulgent. There are few things as delicious as browned butter over sautéed scallops.

The whole dish takes less than 30 minutes to put together, from scraping the corn off the cob to presenting it at table. We ate this as a regular weeknight dinner, but it’s certainly company worthy too.

Don’t you agree?

The inside of the scallop is still moist, while the outside is well seared to a buttery goodness.

And now, for the winner of the giveaway in my last post about lobster fra diavolo  and as my way of saying thank you to one of my readers as I celebrate 10 years of blogging, ta da … drum roll please!!!  Sarah Zimmerman, you’re the winner of the $100 Lobstergram gift certificate, selected by a computer driven, random number generator. Look for the gift certificate in your email.

Thanks to all of you who left comments and have been reading Ciao Chow Linda through the years. To see what’s cooking in my kitchen, or what other adventures I’m up to, connect with me on my Instagram page here.

Seared Scallops and Corn
 
 
Ingredients
  • 10 large scallops (or about ¾ pound)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter (or more if you like)
  • salt, pepper
  • 4 ears corn (or two unless you are a glutton like us)
  • ½ green bell pepper, mined
  • about a dozen red and yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half.
  • fresh chives
  • fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Strip the corn off the cob using a knife.
  2. Add one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon oil to a skillet and add the minced green pepper.
  3. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes and corn kernels.
  4. Season with salt, pepper and snippets of fresh chives and add another tablespoon of butter if desired.
  5. Cook the corn mixture over low to medium heat for two or three minutes while you sear the scallops.
  6. Make sure you buy the largest scallops you can find to ensure you get a good sear without overcooking the interior.
  7. Dry the scallops on all sides with a paper towel.
  8. Heat a large cast iron skillet until it's really, really hot.
  9. Add one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon butter to the pan, then add the thoroughly dried scallops.
  10. Do not overcrowd or you risk "steaming" the scallops.
  11. Let them sear on one side for a couple of minutes only.
  12. Then flip and sear on the other side.
  13. When the scallops are almost finished cooking, transfer the corn mixture to a platter.
  14. Remove scallops from skillet and place over the corn.
  15. Pour any butter/oil left in the pan over the scallops.
  16. Decorate with a couple of strands of fresh chives.
 

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Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Anyone who’s ever eaten or made ratatouille has an opinion on what the dish should taste like and how it should be prepared. Let me just say there is no definitive version. There’s only the version you like. The version I like? It spoke to me at a Provencal restaurant along the Mediterranean Sea nearly 25 years ago. “Use more olive oil,” it said. “Use more red peppers,” it said. So I listened. And I made it. But it wasn’t the same. So I made it again. And again. And again. After years of trial and error, I finally figured out why I so loved that particular ratatouille in a little French village near the Italian border on that particular night. Yes, I liked the heavy hand the chef had taken with the olive oil, and yes I liked the abundance of red peppers. But it was technique as much as ingredients that made the dish special. The key to this particular recipe is layering. Don’t just throw all the vegetables into the pot and expect it to transport you to St. Tropez. Read the instructions and you’ll see what I mean.
This makes a great side dish, particularly with sausages or pork as a main course. But it’s wonderful as a main course too, in individual casseroles topped with grated parmesan cheese and placed under the broiler for a few minutes. It’s the next best thing to being in Les Baux.

Ratatouille

Serves six as a side dish or four as a main course.

I prefer more red peppers (a lot more) and zucchini and fewer eggplants than most ratatouille recipes, but you can substitute anything you like.

1 medium size yellow onion, chopped into small pieces
3 medium size zucchini, cut into chunks
1 medium size eggplant, partly peeled (I make “stripes” down the eggplant with a vegetable peeler) and cut into chunks
6 large red peppers, cut into chunks
8 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh plum tomatoes, or 1 28-ounce can tomatoes
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. freshly ground sea or kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. herbs de provence

Saute the onions in part of the olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until translucent and golden. Remove the sauteed onions to a plate or bowl.
Add more of the olive oil and the zucchini. Saute for five minutes or just until the pieces begin to soften. Remove and place on a separate plate.
Add the peppers and saute for five minutes. Then add the onions and zucchini back into the pot with the peppers. Add the garlic and let it saute a few minutes.
Add the remaining olive oil and eggplant pieces. Saute all the vegetables together another five minutes at medium heat. (The eggplant should be added last since it will disintegrate into unrecognizable pieces if given the same cooking time as the other vegetables.)
If using fresh tomatoes, peel the skin ahead of time by placing in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, then cut in half, clean out the seeds and dice the flesh. Add the tomatoes to the pot. If using canned tomatoes, do not use the liquid in the can at first. You can add it later if the mixture looks too dry.
Add the salt, pepper and herbs de provence and simmer at medium heat for 20 minutes with the lid off, to help evaporate some of the liquid.