I don’t cook as much as I would like to. This isn’t because I’m lazy; rather, it’s because S. tends to control the kitchen most evenings. It’s just one of those habits that have evolved over time, and develop from a series of minor compromises that occur throughout a marriage. A lot of people think it’s incredibly sweet, the way S. commandeers the making of dinner each night, and it is – it is – but in all honesty he does so partly because he enjoys it and partly because he looks upon with trepidation almost anything I prepare. It isn’t that I am a bad cook. I actually think I’m an excellent cook, if you want, say, an omelette with pesto and swiss cheese, or a hot spinach salad, a baked potato covered in chili, or cheese and crackers for dinner. But S. is a Dinner with a capital D man, a meat and veggies and carboyhydrate man, and is less enamored of boneless skinless chicken breasts than I am, and so most evenings he makes dinner because I am not going to roast a chicken or broil a filet, even, probably, on the weekends.
Frankly, it was a little embarrassing this weekend, while my parents were visiting, to have S. prepare the main meals while I handled nothing more difficult than toast, but I do know he manages to make meals that make everyone happy while I make meals that make me happy. I don’t believe this stems from any innate selfishness on my part – it’s just that I can’t believe most people, in their heart of hearts, aren’t happy with eggs and toast for dinner.
But lately I have been working at expanding my cooking repatoire, especially when S. is out of town and I am not beholden to his fish and seafood allergy. Fish is mostly what I eat when he is gone, if I don’t go completely vegetarian. It does seem S., and many of the men I know, have much stronger meat-eating tendencies than the women I know. On S.’s most recent return from a business trip we were pondering what to eat for dinner and he mentioned grilling a steak and I said, sort of startled, that yes, we could do that, since I hadn’t had any meat at all since he left.
“Why on earth did you do that?” He asked. “Are you becoming a vegetarian?”
“No. It just didn’t even occur to me to eat any.”
And he gave me that stare that you sometimes receive from a spouse that proves you still have the ability to surprise, even if the surpise isn’t all that pleasant.
Last month while S. was on a trip I decided to try my hand at a new scallop recipe. I was looking for something a little different to do with scallops when I came across a wonderful recipe from the Food Network. It’s one of those recipes you make and you can’t even believe how good it is – the kind of meal where you eat the first part of the meal a bit too quickly because you can’t believe it turned out as well as it did. I’m still a bit of a novice in the kitchen, always completely surprised when something works well. I was eating the scallops, taking part in a lot of self-congratulating, and catching up on the Sunday paper, when I was a huge boom went off in the back yard. It was louder than a fire cracker – louder, I hoped, than a gun shot – so loud, in fact, it sent my very loyal and brave dog racing upstairs under the bed. I grabbed my plate of scallops – see? This is how good they are. I grabbed my plate of scallops and went outside to investigate. The noise brought out most of my neighbors as well and we all watched as a fire began eating away at the apartment across the alley. Someone had already called 911 and a few brave souls were knocking on doors and trying to make sure everyone was out. My next door neighbors drank wine and I ate scallops and we all admired the fitness of the firefighters who arrived to put out a rather unexciting garbage fire, started by some kids in the neighborhood when they decided to combine a firecracker and an accelerant in a garbage can. A note to the kids in the neighborhood, who have been acting rather like hooligans from a 1950’s movie this summer – your neighbors truly have nothing better to do than call the local authorities. We are home all of the time because we are poor from remodeling our homes.
Anyway, here it is, July’s recipe of the month (a new category I’ve created in an attempt to liven things up here a bit – a few other categories coming). I call them Scallops That Make the Sky Go Boom, and I will always have the base ingredients on hand to make them. Tyler Florerence calls them Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Spicy Mayo.
- 1 1/2 pound large scallops
- 1/2 pound thin-sliced bacon
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup hot chili paste (recommended: Sriracha Hot Chili Paste)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 heads Bibb lettuce, washed
- 3 avocados, sliced
Heat the broiler. Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Place the bacon wrapped scallops onto a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Cook them under the broiler for about 10 to 15 minutes until the bacon is cooked through, turning once.
Make the spicy mayo by combining the mayonnaise, chili paste, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, carefully peel away the lettuce leaves and line a large platter with the lettuce cups. Top each with a bacon wrapped shrimp, 2 slices of avocado, and a spoonful of spicy mayonnaise. Garnish with cilantro leaves.