Saturday, October 17, 2009

Seared Scallops with a Smoky Orange Glaze
Curried Rice Pilaf
Baby Greens with Ginger Pear Vinaigrette

My dinner was inspired by two things; the first was Robin Miller of “Quick Fix Meals” making chicken breasts with a smoky orange glaze. The glaze immediately appealed to me, while the chicken breasts did not. I don’t like chicken breasts in any form except presented as Cordon Bleu. The second inspiration was from a dinner my husband and I had recently in Ketchikan. While there on a business trip we dined at Annabel’s, supposedly the ‘best restaurant’ in town. While it wasn’t great, or even good, the rice pilaf was spectacular. I couldn’t figure out the warm mystery spice. I asked our server and she said it was curry. Hmmmm….

Are you catching the warm fuzzies going on in my head? And my palette? Its fall, I’m bored, I feel like nesting and I had just purchased the movie, “The Proposal”. Just perfect for snuggling into the sofa with.

Okay. Orange glaze and curry, it’s working so far for me. I decided to head off to the grocery store and find the protein to happily marry with the glaze. I already knew that rice pilaf with curry was a given, but what to serve with it? I decided on sea scallops. One, they were on super sale, and two, they marry well with citrus, and three, they are just wonderful on their own.
The last part of the meal was a simple salad tossed in a bottled Ginger Pear Vinaigrette. I add sliced figs, chopped pears and a sprinkling of goat cheese. Fabulous.

I started with the glaze In case I needed to make adjustments, which I didn’t. It was simply a jar of orange marmalade, a hint of liquid smoke, and a teaspoon or so of soy sauce gently heated, with just a whisk or two to combine the flavors.

Once the scallops were rinsed and dried, I sprinkled them with kosher salt, seasoned pepper, and chopped parsley, they were ready to go into the smoking pan.

For the rice pilaf, it was just two boxes of prepared rice, instead of using the recommended water amounts; I used ¾ of the measurements in chicken stock. Chicken stock gives rice such a delightful depth of flavor. As for the curry, use your best judgment and your own personal preference. I personally love curry so I dumped a good healthy tablespoon or so in. Literally. I had a little spillage, which worked out fine. I also felt inspired to add some nearly thawed peas and carrots, I would venture I put in about a cup or so.

1 to 1 ½ lbs Sea Scallops
Rinse and pat dry scallops – dry scallops are essential to achieve a good sear.
Lightly salt with Kosher Salt and Seasoned Pepper
Chop handful of Parsley – about a ½ cup.

Get the pan and cooking fat hot — Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat for a minute or so; then add the fat and let it heat up. If you’re using oil, it’s ready when a drop of liquid sizzles as it hits the hot oil. If you’re using oil and butter, wait until the butter stops foaming.

Don’t crowd the pan — There should be enough room between the scallops so that they sizzle rather than steam—that’s the only way you’ll get a good crust. If your pan isn’t big enough to hold the scallops without crowding, sear them in batches.

Scallops only need a few minutes per side to get nicely browned. They’re done when they feel barely firm to the touch, and when you cut into one, it should be faintly opalescent. Don’t overcook them or they’ll be dry and rubbery.

Smokey Orange Glaze;
10 oz. jar Orange Marmalade
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
½ teaspoon Smoke Seasoning.
1. Combine all ingredients and heat gently on low.
2. Pour glaze into shallow dish and place hot scallops on top.

Curried Rice Pilaf
2 boxes Rice Pilaf
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 ½ Cups Hot water
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Curry
½ Cup Frozen Peas and Carrots

1. Follow directions on box, when the rice and seasonings are boiling, add the peas and carrots and the Curry. You may want to adjust the amount of curry you use – more or less is fine.