The Last Supper: from Suburbia to The City

After 3 years of living in a bucolic, Northern New Jersey setting, I have relocated to Hoboken, NJ to start a new life (with my better half, too). This change has come at what I have deemed the perfect moment, for spring has finally graced us with its presence and we are entering one of my favorite seasons of the year. This post is delayed due to moving and everything that goes along with cohabitation, but I wanted to definitively nail this down as the ultimate winter send-off.

My meticulous selection for this so-called last supper features sea scallops and buttermilk onion rings. I will opine that sea scallops are among my favorite foods ever, even in contention with lobster or any of the other glorious sea treasures that are harvested from the sea. I love everything about scallops: the texture, the flavor, the aroma, and the ease of cooking associated with them, and most importantly – the simplicity that they elicit in their own nature. Even a layman can conjure up between 4-5 ingredients, sear, top with herbs and serve up a restaurant-worthy meal. Pair with libations and your night — or even week — can be “made”. These Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter are exactly what I was clamming for (had to).

The winter months are rife with comfort meals and dense food that are supposed to alleviate the burden of chill, seemingly omnipresent precipitation, and general restlessness. Buttermilk onion rings seemed like an appropriate way to put the cork on the winter bottle of wine. I eat them sparingly, but have never made them myself. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try. As stand-alone ingredients, buttermilk and onions are revered, so I anticipated that the fusion of the two would result in perfect harmony. And it did.

I’m eagerly awaiting the fresh spring greens, summer vegetables and fruit bounty, grilling season, seafood, along with Mexican fare (and imbibing in seasonal cocktails). Consider the transition complete, as the ink dries up on this digital quill with which I write.

 Stages de Onion Rings (CTB, 2015)

Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter
Recipe adapted from the August 2013 issue of Bon Appétit
Serves 4

1 lb. sea scallops, side muscle removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsps. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 sprigs herbs (such as tarragon, lemon thyme, or sage)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper and cook until deep golden brown on 1 side, about 3 minutes. Turn scallops and add butter and herbs to pan. Continue cooking, spooning butter over scallops often, until scallops are cooked through and butter is brown and smells nutty, about 3 minutes longer. Add lemon juice. Serve scallops with brown butter pan sauce.

Buttermilk Onion Rings
Recipe adapted from the March 2014 issue of Bon Appétit
Serves 5-6

Vegetable oil (for frying, about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 buttermilk
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, sliced 1/8″ thick, rings separated

Fit a medium saucepan with thermometer; pour in oil to measure 3″. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, mix buttermilk and vinegar in a shallow bowl. Place flour in another bowl or baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Toss onion rings in flour mixture, shaking off excess, and transfer to a wire rack. Working in batches, dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl; toss again in flour.

Working in 2 or 3 batches and maintaining temperature of oil, fry onion rings until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per batch. Let drain on paper towels; season with salt.

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