After a delicious brunch... onto dinner! :-)
We hadn't seen our friend's L. & D. in a while, and a friend of A.'s just moved to NYC. So we invited them all over for dinner. Aren't cold fall nights perfect for just staying in with friends and chatting for hours and hours over cheeses and wine, and a big dinner? I think so... I wish we had a long farmhouse style rustic table and could have all of our friends over every Saturday until the weather warms up again. Wouldn't that be wonderfully fun??? :-)
On the menu for dinner... first: the appetizer. We had 2 pounds of local wild sea scallops and thought they'd make the perfect appetizer seared and served atop a bed of watercress. For extra flavor, I made an aoli of basil and parsley... delicious!!!
I have to say that making an aoli (or mayo!) is a pretty interesting process. It's amazing how the slow streaming oil creams the egg yolks into a perfect custard. It was my first time attempting this, and it was much easier than I imagined, and delicious atop fish or even as a dip for fresh veggies. I think I must have called A. over about 10 times as I was processing the ingredients to show him the texture change... it's almost like magic! :-)
This recipe serves 6, but you can easily decrease it for a quick weeknight dinner for 2 or even one. The herb aoli can be made a day beforehand and the scallops only take about 5 minutes to cook. Enjoy!
SEARED SCALLOPS w/FRESH HERB AOLI (serves 6)
2 lbs Scallops (about 3 scallops/person)
1/2 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
Slice of Bacon or Pancetta
Fresh Herb Aoli (recipe below)
Watercress Lettuce, or Frisee
Marinate the scallops with olive oil (about 3 tablespoons), lemon juice, herbs, and salt for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat and add a bit of olive oil and the bacon. Allow the bacon to cook and release its fat. When the bacon starts to crisp, remove the strip from the pan and carefully add the scallops (which have been patted dry with a paper towel).
Do not overcrowd the pan or the scallops will not sear, leave about 1" between each scallop. You can do the searing in batches, but you don't want to do more than 2 batches since scallops should be served immediately after searing. Cook the scallops 2 minutes on each side until they get a light brown crust and are cooked in the middle. If cut down the middle, you will see about 1/4" crust and a translucent center.
Plate the scallops atop a bunch of watercress (tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper) and add a dollop of the fresh herb aoli.
FRESH HERB AOLI
4 egg yolks
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon basil
3 tablespoon parsley
3/4 cup olive oil
Add the eggs, lemon juice, and herbs to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture becomes creamy and the herbs are finely chopped. With the food processor on, add the olive oil a 1/4 teaspoon at a time until the mixture starts to thicken. Slowly start to stream the olive oil into the processor.
* My mini prep food processor does not have the option to add to it while it is turned on, so after chopping the eggs, lemon and herbs, I put the mixture in a bowl, and added the olive oil while mixing with an immersion blender... it worked just fine! Just remember to add the oil slowly.