Milan, Italia!

That’s right, for the few of you who may have puzzled at the last post, I was in Milan last week a few weeks ago visiting my good friends, J & G. A confluence of events created a last minute opportunity I just couldn’t pass up, despite the usual work pressures. Sleeping in on Monday was all the sweeter for having worked so much extra before.
The last post was of delicious butternut squash risotto, compliments of J & G. There are few things sweeter than the hospitality of friends, in my opinion, and it’s even better when those friends are good cooks, as these two are! They even demonstrated in that last post that it is perfectly possible to cook a good meal with a kitchen the smaller than an American storage unit. Bam.

How did I repay their generous hospitality in sharing a one-bedroom loft apartment with me and my spouse for a week? More, food, of course!

A request for something somewhat light (and fast) was made, so I scaled down the portions of pasta (er, to what was in the pantry), and did one of my favorites -but only if you do it right: seared scallops. G did a great job slapping a salad together to go with, and we hunted up a delicious strawberry tart from pasticceria marchesi, a super old school classic pastry place.

Thanks for the salad, G!
Thanks for the salad, G!

Got the scallops from the local fishmonger, and I was stoked to find they delivered each precious scallop still attached to the shell. I’ve seen it on tv, but never found sea scallops sold this was in the states. They did appear to already have some guttiness removed, though, which was a minor relief.

Pescheria Spadari: yummy seafood source!
Pescheria Spadari: yummy seafood source!

First, I prepped the lemon garlic pasta, since if you cook them ‘the right way’ (er, the Wong way), it takes very little time and you want to be paying enough attention to get them off the pan before they are overcooked. This classic in my arsenal has remained largely unchanged since my (other) friend J and I started making it about 15 years ago, from a Byerly’s cookbook, of all things. The main thing different is just a little less oil, and more garlic (always):

garlic n’ lemon pasta

1/2 pound dry angel hair pasta
1/4 cup olive oil (or a smidge less, for a less oily product)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or TWO teaspons. go wild.)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. cook angel hair pasta according to package directions in boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt; drain.
2. In small saucepan, heat oil and butter, stir in garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, marjoram, salt and pepper, simmer 2 minutes.
3. transfer pasta to heated serving bowl. toss with oil mixture and parsley. serve immediately.

6 cups.

Similarly, 8+ years ago I decided I only liked sea scallops when they were seared in butter and olive oil, and just barely raw in the middle. I found Alton Brown’s recommendations the most useful: click here for Alton Brown’s Seared Scallops recipe. In this instance, I had one extra (exciting) step, to cut the scallops off the shell, which wasn’t really challenging but still entertainingly novel. My only other advice to myself in my notes on this recipe is just not to get distracted, but resist the urge to move the scallop until just the right time for the 90 second flip, and then removal after the second 90 seconds. Any more time and you’ve overcooked them, any less and you may not get that delicious sweet brown crust.

Voila! Dinner in ~under 30 minutes.

scallops on the half shell!! lemon and pasta ingredients, scallops patted dry and prepped with salt and pepper for the pan, and finally: scallops in the pan full of butter and olive oil.
scallops on the half shell!!
lemon and pasta ingredients, scallops patted dry and prepped with salt and pepper for the pan, and finally: scallops in the pan full of butter and olive oil.
The final product: plated
The final product: plated

Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
Very novel to get scallops still in their shells, and even better to serve it to friends living as expats.
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
Some part of this will be repeated, the lemon garlic pasta has been good for meals for co-workers with new babies and it keeps well enough to serve cold at picnics.
Lesson Learned: Umm…everything is better with friends?

Delicious store-bought follow-up. I will be dreaming of this tart for years. The berries were small but packed with flavor.
Delicious store-bought follow-up. I will be dreaming of this tart for years. The berries were small but packed with flavor.

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