Have you flown thousands of miles for the holidays and unwittingly still found yourself signed up to bring a dish for the family potluck? Have all the gifts been arranged and wrapped by your helpful partner (or recent Past Self) , patiently helping you bear the crush of expectation to somehow visit 50+ people in the span of a few days? Do you still feel that inexplicable competitive urge to “win” the potluck?
Well my friends, I’ve got the recipe for you. Here’s my fallback, which has only 4 critical ingredients, 1 bonus, and the real secret ingredient is finding out when the store near where you’re staying is open on Christmas Eve day, Christmas Day, or whatever other holiday you are celebrating.
Lots of other people tend to have some of these things lying around their house already, I try not to use too many canned products in my cooking, but I do keep canned artichokes around so I can make this on short notice.
This was originally from my friend Gihani back in 2007 when I live in DC, she got it from her husband who got it from his mom. I’ve refined it only a little, because the base was just so solid.
1 cup mayo (I trying mayo with olive oil today, but hopefully the smoke point of olive oil won’t mess it up)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Parmesan,, shredded
15 oz. can artichokes hearts, drained and chopped. (or marinated artichokes)
I got up my last full day in London and headed over to the East End’s Old Spitalfield Market to check out the food, and catch a street art tour. I’ve lately really loved learning about the different histories tied to street art and graffiti in cities, which are varied and many, and a great way to bring recent history/modern events alive. Plus, I think art on the street engages the residents of a city on a more human-scale level than giant glass skyscrapers.
I didn’t feel a lot of patience for market stall browsing, so I popped in to Rapha Cycle Club in the corner of the market for some darn decent coffee.
Now for a departure from the standard format I’ve laid out: for the next weekish, this is now a travel and food blog. Don’t worry, there’ll still be lots of food, I can’t resist!
For any potential house burglars: I’ve got house guests living at my home in Seattle, and a home security system. First stop: SFO. I made a brief pit stop to visit my sibling and his family. Here’s a group selfie, it was the kids’ first day of school! Apparently, these days they let you out early on the first day, and you get to pick your own school lunch every day. What luxury.
For more food clips, take a look at the instagram feed to the right. Had a nice joint dinner endeavor with my brother. He made lasagna, I made my standard green beans, and threw in an ad hoc peaches and cream dessert. I think the lasagna won.
Also, I’m skipping the rounded corners. Let me know if you miss them, but it saves on processing/turnaround time.
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.
Scallops in Milan
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.
Pasta Timing Notes
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):
Lemon Garlic 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.
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.
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?