When folks come to visit, I like to have the first night’s dinner well underway when they arrive so they can settle in and relax after what has probably been a long day of travel. Maine is not the easiest place to get to!
Already on the breakfast room table are these wonderful antique beer bottles, but instead of being filled with beer, they hold a stem or two of near season’s end hydrangeas. I love how the bloom changes from white to green as it matures.
Dinner is a casual affair, so I’m going for comfort with simple black square plates from Ikea on these placemats of many colors. I love the flared top of the placemat which creates just enough space for a glass.
Hmmm, there are salad plates to match the larger ones, but now seems a good time to use the black and white ones scored at Goodwill last week. I’m beginning to like shopping there for new treasures!
The wine bottle holder is one that I brought back from a spring trip to Vietnam, and it is a definite conversation piece as everyone is intrigued by how it stays balanced!
Added to the mix are the much used King’s Crown thumbprint glasses and flatware from TJ Maxx, another of my favorite shopping haunts.
Now, it’s to the kitchen to start dinner which features very fresh scallops. I promise you this dish is what we call a real moaner as moans of appreciation replace words at the table!
Carmelized Scallops with Mushroom Couscous Risotto
2 T. olive oil
2 T. finely diced yellow onion
1 t. minced garlic
1 c. Israeli couscous (I like the tricolored)
1 1/4 c. water
2 t. sea salt
In a 3-4 quart saucepan, saute onions in olive oil over medium high heat. When they start to brown, add garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add water, couscous and sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir gently.
1 T. unsalted butter
4 T. diced yellow onion
4 t. minced garlic
2 c. oyster mushrooms cut in 1/2″ pieces
1 c. heavy cream
2 T. chopped parsley
2 T. chopped chives
Preheat large saute pan over medium high heat. Melt butter and saute onions, garlic and mushrooms until they start to brown around the edges. Add cream and salt. Bring to a boil, add couscous, breaking up any clumps. Cook until most of the cream has soaked into the mixture. Gently fold in herbs and adjust salt and pepper.
1 T. canola oil
1 1/2 lbs. sea scallops
1/2 c. sweet Vermouth
1 c. heavy cream
Preheat saute pan over high heat. When hot, add oil and immediately add scallops with a flat side down. Sear only one side until you see a light brown caramelization coming up the sides. Remove from heat and add vermouth. Gently remove scallops from pan to a room temperature casserole dish. Add cream to pan and return to high heat. Bring to a boil, then immediately pour over scallops and let rest for 2-3 minutes to finish cooking scallops.
To serve place a serving of “risotto” in the center of a bowl or rimmed plate. Place scallops around the risotto and pour 3-4 T. of sauce over the scallops. Garnish with parsley and chives. Makes 4 servings.
This dish is just as good as it looks and is quite easy to prepare. Using couscous for the risotto takes the pain out of making it and yields a surefire success. As with any seafood dish, the real key is having good and fresh seafood. To complete this dinner, all you need is a green salad and some crusty bread to “sop” up the sauce. No one will leave the table unhappy!
By the way, this recipe is inspired by one in a beautiful cookbook Fresh From Maine.
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