In those carefree days before we had kids, my husband and I were quite the home chefs. Our courtship involved many ambitious meals prepared in my attic apartment’s tiny kitchen; and in the early years of our marriage, we put all the Wüsthof knives and Calphalon pans we got as wedding presents to good use making everything from paté, duck curry, and pheasant pie (his specialties) to grilled lobster tails with (labor-intensive but divine) potted mushrooms and pasta with homemade Bolognese. Once, we made the best crab cakes I’ve had to this day. If I remember correctly, we made an entire meal out of those giant, seared-in-butter marvels. Besides cooking, we both love eating, which is a nice thing to have in common I think.
Those were romantic times (sigh). Now we have kids, and our meals are…different. Gone are the days of a leisurely trip to the market, looking for inspiration in the aisles of Wild Oats (now Whole Foods), opening a bottle of (good but cheap) wine, preparing a meal, and eating it at 8:30 p.m. (with more wine).
Well, not entirely gone. Last week we had the extremely rare circumstance of having a night home alone. Instead of going out, which has become a habit — you know, “date night”— we decided to eat in.This dinner is something my kids might have eaten, but I definitely enjoyed not having to worry about toning down the spice or slicing extra veggies in case they didn’t like the curried peas — and of course cooking and eating without a the bath-homework-bedtime crunch was a nice change of pace. I felt a bit like a person I vaguely remember, putting on lipstick before opening a bottle of (good and not cheap) wine, and cooking a lovely, if quick and easy, grown-up meal for a handsome man.
This is just delicious, by the way. It’s a combination of several recipes I’ve seen lately, all of which come from English womens’ cookbooks. Not sure what it is about the Brits and their peas…
Seared Scallops with Puréed Peas
1 lb. frozen peas (get the bright green petits pois if you can find them)
1 tbs. Thai green curry paste
1/4 – 1/3 cup sour cream
about 10 large sea scallops
Turn on your oven to its lowest setting and warm 2 plates in it. Cook the peas in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, drain. Put in the blender with green curry paste and 1/4 cup of sour cream. Purée in the blender until the peas are mashed but not smooth. Add salt of needed, and maybe a bit more sour cream.
Heat the 1 tbs. butter and 1 tbs. oil (I used a combination of olive oil and canola) in a large frying pan (not non-stick, you want a nice sear) on high heat. Cook the scallops for about 2 minutes per side until they are opaque in the middle but still tender. They should be slightly browned on the outside.
Put the scallops on the warm plates. Squeeze the lime into the hot pan, de-glazing all the stuck-on bits with a spatula or spoon. Mix well then pour the sauce over the scallops. Serve the puréed peas, and maybe some short-grain brown rice, on the side. There’s something about the combination of these tastes together that is just fantastic.