At this very moment, Mr. RGBistro on a sailboat with four of his best dudes. On this, their bi-annual sailing trip to Catalina Island, no dudettes are allowed; the boys have a 5-day nag-free hall pass to sleep in, golf all day, banter about sports, scratch their !@#$ and talk like Pirates.
Lovingly excluded, I observed from the sidelines a week-long ritual of sailing preparation. First, there was the list. Camera, pillow, boozle cooler, mai tai ingredients…
Then there were the piles… in the bedroom, clothes. In the living room, gear. In the dining room: Alcohol… and in the refrigerator, cheese.
Right there, stage left, middle shelf, center of the loot, was a whole block of my favorite domestic triple cream cheese: Mt. Tam. It was winking at me, pleading with me, begging me to pick it up and tear it open.
I knew the cheese wasn’t for me… but I doubt the five guys would eat an entire round… especially with all those grapes, gouda, Humboldt Fog and St. Agur blue.
So I swiped a slice… and shared the rind with Britta.
Satiated, I wrote an apology note, tucked it back into the cheese, re-wrapped it and carefully placed it back where it belonged.
The next day, all alone… I made dinner for one. Seared diver scallops with a syrup of citrus and vermouth, served with pan-boiled asparagus finished with basil oil. It’s a remake of a Dorie Greenspan recipe we tweaked over the winter when we had so many tangerines.
Not exactly hand-harvested off Catalina (like the scallops the boys are likely to find this weekend), but still delicate, sweet and delicious.
What’s your favorite dinner for one?
Sea Scallops with Caramel-Mandarin and Soy Sauce
~ Serves 2 ~
~ Ingredients ~
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ cup dry vermouth
- Juice of 2 mandarins (yield 2 tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- ½ pound U10 sea scallops (yield about 6 scallops)
- ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- ½ tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
~ Preparation ~
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
- Sprinkle the sugar into a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and warm the sugar until it starts to melt and color. As soon as you see it turn brown, begin to gently swirl the pan. When the sugar has turned a deep caramel color (you can put a drop of sugar on a white plate to test the color), about 3 minutes, stand back and add the dry vermouth and mandarin juice. It may bubble and spatter, so watch out. Also, to avoid bitterness, be careful not to let the sugar turn too caramel. Turn the heat up to high, stir with a wooden spoon, add the soy sauce and rice vinegar and boil the sauce until it is reduced by half – you should have about 3 tablespoons. Pull the pan from the heat and set it aside. (You can make the sauce up to 2 days ahead and keep it covered in the refrigerator.)
- Pat the scallops dry between paper towels. Slice or pull off the little muscle attached to the sides of the scallops. Have a warm serving platter and a small strainer at the ready.
- Put the saucepan with the caramel sauce over very low heat so that it can warm while you cook the scallops.
- Put a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in ½ tablespoon unsalted butter and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the scallops, season them with salt and white pepper, and cook, without moving them, for 2 minutes. Flip the scallops over, season with salt and white pepper, add a little more butter if needed, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the scallops are firm on the outside and just barely opaque in the center – nick one to test. Transfer the scallops to the serving platter.
- Check that the caramel sauce is hot – give it more heat if necessary. Pull the pan from the heat and toss in the butter, bit by bit, swirling the pan until the butter is melted and the sauce is glistening. Season the sauce with salt and white pepper, then pour it through the strainer into a sauceboat or pitcher.
- Drizzle some of the sauce over the scallops and pass the rest at the table.
Nutrition content per serving: 177calories, 10g carbs, 20g protein, 5.5g fat, 0g fiber
Cost per serving: $7.06
Source: Around My French Table, 2010, pp. 317-318. Modified as noted by the RGB.