From the monthly archives:

May 2013

Pan seared scallops with sage and capers over arugula is a great spring dish. It’s what I would be eating if I could have found some dry scallops. But alas, Richmond is an oyster town when it comes to fresh shellfish.

I can find wet packed scallops, but they are full of sodium tripolyphosphate, a preservative. And that sounds tasty.

Wet scallops are packed with water making them weigh more. And cost more. Have you ever cooked scallops and all of a sudden the pan is full of water? Wet packed scallops. The added water and phosphate keep the scallops from browning. Plus they shrink up, dry out and flood the pan with liquid when cooked. You can usually spot them as they are very white. Don’t waste your time or money.

Dry scallops are free of preservatives and added water. They are harvested, shucked then frozen. They caramelize naturally during cooking and amazingly taste like scallops. They have a light vanilla color and are easy to recognize, but it’s alway worth asking your fish monger what you are buying.
I first had this dish at the River Cafe in London more than a decade ago so I can’t take credit for the dish. I am sure that this rendition is no longer true to or as good as the River cafe’s the cafe’s, it’s still pretty good.

By the way, should you find yourself in London needing a great Italian meal, visit the River Cafe.

A well seasoned cast iron skillet is perfect for this dish. Otherwise use a heavy steel pan. Non-stick pans will make it hard to sear the scallops.


12-16 large sea scallops
20 or so fresh sage leaves (must be fresh)
1 Fresh lemon
Capers – 3 oz
Olive oil
12 oz mache, arugula or spring mix lettuce.
Fresh cracked pepper


Rinse the scallops and dry on a towel. The drier the better for the searing step.
Grind pepper on each side of the scallops.

Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet on medium high.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and add the sage leaves.
Fry until crisp and remove to a paper towel.

Juice the lemon and toss 3/4 of it with the lettuce.
Add 3 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper and toss the greens to mix.

Add the scallops to the pan and let sear for 3 minutes – do not move them around.
Flip over and add the capers to the pan.

Sprinkle the scallops with salt.
Drizzle the rest of the lemon juice over the scallops.

Cook one minute more and remove from pan.
Serve over the dressed greens and add the sage on top of the scallops


Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon. And don’t forget the hazelnuts.

It’s been awhile since I looked at this recipe and the first draft was OK. The second was better and now this one makes sense. Actually it;s the fourth version. The first having been written in the little blue book of recipes. When you write recipes, it’s hard to explain what ou do. First I just sort of takes notes in the book. But it;s hard to remember to measure, time and not fuss with the final product.

Next I fiddle with the details. I cook it a few times and revise the instructions and rewrite again. By the time yo get the recipe here on the blog, it’s been through the grinder a few times. But while it may seem sometimes that I just whipped it up, I do want you to be able to reliably cook the dish.

And since its brussels sprouts; arguably the most hated of all the vegetables, you have to get this stuff right – write?


1/2 cup hazelnuts, pine nuts or walnuts
2 cups chicken stock or 1 can broth
1 cup white wine
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved if large
1 pound orecchiette pasta
3 slices of thick-cut bacon,
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago or other hard sharp cheese.
Freshly ground pepper
One large heavy non-stick skillet. One large pasta pot. One small sauce pan.


Preheat the oven to 375°.
Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for 8 minutes, or until fragrant.
Let the nuts cool, then smash them up.
If you cannot find hazel, get filberts, almonds, pine nuts or walnuts.

Read the rest of the directions as they all happen at the same time.

In a small saucepan, boil the chicken stock and wine until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes; keep warm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add the Brussels sprouts, cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the Brussels sprouts and pat them dry.

Return the water to a boil.
Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente, 12 to 15 minutes; drain.

I a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until crisp.
Drain the bacon on paper towels.

Add the butter to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until browned and nutty, about 3 minutes.
Add the Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Add the orecchiette along with the reduced chicken stock and simmer, stirring, until the sauce is slightly absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano cheese, season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a large serving bowl.
Garnish with crumbled bacon and  the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and serve.


Fresh Oregano Pesto

Thumbnail image for Fresh Oregano Pesto May 2, 2013

Fresh Oregano Pesto. I am usually a basil kind of pesto guy, but the oregano has been just bursting out of the ground. Oregano can be a bit assertive when dried, but in the spring, the fresh leaves are mild and flavorful. I have taken a few liberties with this pesto. But, in reality, pesto is […]

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