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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

10 months later...

Yesterday, I was feeling rather smug.

For, there I was on Sunday, trapped in my flat, clutching my dining table for dear life, while the Island was veritably sinking before my very eyes.

And yesterday? 
A storybook summer's day, the Regent's Park canal shimmering blue (not grey) and the sun dripping caramel, like Nigella on the cover of Stylist
Very glorious indeed.

Of course, I was trying hard to "reign" in my excitement because as you know from my post here, I’ve been throwing a tantrum or two in protest of this non-stop rain, in the foolish hope that somebody will listen. And then yesterday, I believed - actually - that somebody had. Woah, I have friends in high places, I was thinking to myself.  And feeling rather smug.

Clearly that didn't last very long. Because when I woke up today, it was dejavu all over again. Windy, blistery, wet, wet, wet.


And now just hours later, it seems as though the people in high places want to be friends again, because it’s dry and sunny and well, no surprise since the English weather is as whimsical as Woody Allen on an off day. (On an “on” day,  of course, he wins hands down.)

Anyhow, being home-bound for the last couple of days (or weeks…) I was going through the blog and chanced upon a happy post written back in June, 2011 called Summer Food Part 1, where I’m ranting about how there’s too much sun?!!

Pitted against this one, it makes me seem positively cuckoo. 

Still, I read it over and had myself a wistful sigh. How faraway they seem, those days when it was too hot to eat (or so I claim). 
And how lovely that salad sounds – full of lettuce-y crisp and crunch.
And how bored I am of the soups and stews and spaghetti carbonara that I’ve been eating for the last several months.


More pressingly, however, it came to my attention that I had named the piece Summer Food Part 1. And I can only logically assume that it was appended with a "Part 1" because there was to be, at some point in the not too distant future, an equally exciting and entertaining - Part 2.

Sadly, this never came to be.

Which is really very naughty of me.

But honestly, and I'm not making excuses, but I think this was more than likely because shortly after I'd written Part  1, Summer went away. And hasn’t been back since.

Which would make anything called Summer Food (Part 1, 2 or 96) horribly out of fashion.

But now, while the sun is shining, (and I mean now. Not tomorrow, not later today, but as of this precise moment) I have my chance. If I hurry.

So – 10 months and not one snappy second later – I give you: Summer Food Part 2.

Now, I earnestly request you to make this (while you still can) and really savour it. Because soon enough, (I know it) we’re all going to drown. And the only thing on your mind when that happens is a big hearty bowl of borsht. Which couldn’t be further away from Summer Food.

Right, so much as I enjoy salad, sadly, Part 2 isn’t one, because my fridge is as bare as Canary Wharf on a weekend, and I don’t have anything to make a salad with. Not even for a sorry little excuse of a salad.

What I do have, is a whole lot of frozen peas and frozen edamame. And – oh, oh, oh – I have sea scallops! 
Courtesy of hubby dear, who somehow always seems to know exactly what to do, to rock my world. This time it’s by bringing me a bag full of the said scallops – round and beautiful.

“Oh I happened to be by Shellseekers” he says casually.
“How do I love thee, let me count the ways,” I say

I am a seaside girl at heart, he knows that. I was born and bred by the sea and if I had my way, I'd live my whole life by the sea, and indeed, die, by it too.
So I am terribly moved by the gesture.
And more so by the quality he’s managed to get his hands on. They are large and plump, the way scallops should be. 
Small scallops wouldn’t have moved me quite as much.

Anyhow, so I’m making bacon-wrapped scallops and green pea and edamame mush.  And Im going to tell you how. I also happen have some left-over harissa from Gog Magog Hills. Gog Magog, which is in Cambridge, does some of the finest cuts of meat, by the way, not to mention produce fresher than a college freshman and other foodie treasures like hummus and cheese and pesto, and the harrisa which I have. Which is magical stuff and which I’m not going to tell you how to make. Well, not now).

So, for the scallops, then – here’s what I gather from here and there:

-     12 large sea scallops, trimmed, well drained
-     1 lime, juiced and zested
-     1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
-     Coarse salt and black pepper
-     12 slices centre-cut or smoked bacon, halved

And here’s what I do with it all:

I preheat my oven to 230C. 
I arrange my scallops in a shallow dish and dress them lovingly with lime juice and zest, salt, and black pepper. Then I drizzle sesame oil all over them. Next, I wrap the outside of each scallop with a half slice of bacon. I pierce each bacon-wrapped scallop, most cruelly, through it's heart with a toothpick. This is to hold it all in place. I bake my beauties for 15 minutes and stop when the scallops are opaque and the bacon is crisp and I hear a most-satisfying sizzle.

Here’s what I need for my accompanying green mush:

-     300g fresh or frozen peas
-     300g fresh pr frozen edamame
-     2 garlic cloves, peeled
-     4 tbsp olive oil
-     Zest of 2 lemons , juice of 1
-     Salt and pepper, to taste

And here’s how I do it:

I salt and boil my peas and beans together for about 3 minutes, and then drain them. I add oil to a pan and cook the garlic till it has softened – I am trying to make a garlic-infused oil, so I make sure I don’t burn the garlic. Now I tip the oil and garlic into a bowl and let it cool. I blitz the peas, beans, zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper and my lovely garlicky oil in a food processor. To serve, I spoon into a dish, swirl the top dramatically, and drizzle on a bit more  olive oil.

I'm happy to report that the result is exactly what I was hoping it would be.
My pea and edamame mush is cool and sweet and refreshingly delicate. I can’t take credit for the harissa, but it’s a russet medley of red peppers and cumin and coriander and walnuts, and it is smoky and it is sexy and it is stunningly saporous.

The two balance each other out beautifully.

And as for the star of the show – my bacon wrapped scallops?
Well…all I can say is that I don’t care if it’s sunny or raining or hailing or snowing outside. Because in Yummyamiland, it is Summer!

The scallops are sweet and chewy and melt in my mouth. 
The bacon is salty, and crisp and smoky.

Together, they are exquisite and taste like the sea.

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