My last day off was in February. I am told that yesterday’s conference was a big success, but it’s a bit hard to hear through the haze of exhaustion. I slept 9 1/2 hours last night and woke up achy and somewhat remorseful for last night’s lackluster takeout nachos.
There’s a steady rain thrumming against the window air conditioning unit, making me thankful to be holed up in my apartment in my favorite sweatpants, The Smiths on the stereo and a neglected cat by my side. Lunch was clearly going to have to be assembled from ingredients I had on hand.
Kale & Smoked Salmon Nicoise Salad
- Hard boil an egg according to your preferred method–or mine. (While you’re at it, why not boil a few more for mid-week breakfasts?)
- Boil a handful of small potatoes in salted water until a butter knife slides in easily.
- Rinse and dry a few of handfuls of kale.
- Whisk the juice of half a lemon with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a healthy pinch of salt, a small pinch of sugar and plenty of black pepper. Gradually whisk in a couple of tablespoons of good quality olive oil. Mince a shallot and add this as well.
- Toss the kale with your dressing and let stand while your egg and potatoes cool. (If you don’t have a nasty cut on your forefinger from god-only-knows-what, you might consider using your hands to really massage the dressing into the kale. I opted to use the back of a spoon to get the job done.)
- Top the kale with halved potatoes, quartered eggs, an ounce or two of smoked salmon and those olives that have been lurking in the fridge since your blizzard dinner party.
This weekend was Beth and Don’s annual epic barbecue in Baltimore. In March Neil and I tagged along on a road trip down to Lang BBQ Smokers in Nahunta, Georgia to collect Don’s new baby.
Don spent the past couple of months seasoning his new cooker with lard and taking it on a few dry runs. But Sunday the beast fulfilled its true calling when a couple hundred people descended on Beth and Don’s home for a twelve-hour festival of meat. Tending the cooker was serious work, as I learned during my six-hour stint. I’ve got a handful of mystery bruises and what I can only assume is heat rash on my chest. When I blew my nose yesterday, it yielded something familiar in texture but black as, um, charcoal. Two days and two showers later, I still have a faint dirt ring in the crease in my neck. And the lovely dress pictured below will likely never be the same.
I got home around 8:00 last night and depart for my next adventure around noon tomorrow. Tonight I was craving some time on my couch and a light supper that required minimal heat. I swung by Mermaid’s Garden on my way home from the office and picked up some large and luscious dayboat scallops. Half an hour later, I was sitting down to this delicious salad and cuing up Sunday’s episode of Mad Men.
Scallops, Arugula & Tomato-Olive Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon or so hot Spanish paprika
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 8 assorted good quality olives (seasoned, stuffed, etc.), finely chopped
- 1 medium tomato or 8 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon small capers
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- pinch sugar
- 1/2 pound dayboat scallops
- 1/4 cup leftover white wine
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups arugula
- Whisk the mustard and vinegar together in a bowl and then slowly whisk in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil until emulsified. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon or more of the paprika, the shallot, olives, tomatoes, capers, parsley, sugar and a good dose of black pepper. Allow this to marinate while you move on to your scallops.
- Bring 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil up to medium heat in a small heavy-bottomed skillet. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle on both sides with salt, pepper and more of the paprika. Once the skillet is thoroughly heated, place the scallops in gently and resist the urge to touch them for about three minutes. Peek under one and, if it has some nice brown color, flip them all over and give them another three minutes or so. Remove the scallops, return the pan to the heat, add the white wine and stir, making sure to scrape up any crusty bits on the bottom. Reduce the wine to a couple of tablespoons.
- Lay your arugula on a plate, spoon the vinaigrette over the greens, place the scallops on top and drizzle them with the reduced wine.
This would be great with some crusty bread. Alas, I had none.