Saturday, September 27, 2008

If You Show a Chef a Menu

My title is a takeoff on the children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, in case you were wondering. In the book, once you give a mouse a cookie, he'll ask for some milk to go with it. Then he'll want this, that and the other thing until it comes around again to giving the mouse a cookie again.

In my story, if you show a chef a menu, she'll want to cook something from it. And if she cooks something, she'll want to take a picture of it. And if it's really great, she'll want to blog about it. And before you know it, she'll be thinking about the next menu and the next thing she can cook.

It started this morning, when I ran into a good friend at the local music store. Her children were just finishing their lessons, and I had run in to get a flute book for my daughter.

I wished her a happy birthday (it was yesterday), and she told me her family had enjoyed a great dinner out at a local restaurant the evening before. She proceeded to pull the menu from her handbag and point to the entree she had ordered. (All of my very good friends carry menus in their handbags. ;) ) Actually, the way she put it was, "I want you to make this for me next time we get together." It was a delicious-sounding dish of shrimp, scallops, spinach, garlic, white wine, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and mushrooms on pasta.

As I left the music store, though it was only 11 am, all I could think about was that dish. It sounded sooo good.

Fate intervened when my son (the picky eater) decided to spend the afternoon and evening at his friends' house, leaving me all alone for dinner. (My daughter's at a sleepover birthday party, and my husband is at the race track.) YES! I could make the dish I'd been thinking about all day.

I didn't have shrimp, artichoke hearts or mushrooms, but the result was really scrumptious. Feel free to double, triple or quadruple the quantities, depending on how many people you're serving.

Sauteed Scallops with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes over Fettucine
Serves 1

handful of dry fettucine
4-5 scallops, rinsed and patted dry
1 1/2 T. EVOO, divided
salt and pepper
white wine
chicken stock or pasta water
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 package baby spinach
2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Put a pot of water on to boil. When boiling, add fettucine and cook until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat 1 T. EVOO in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add scallops, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let cook 3 minutes. If they're cooking too fast, turn the heat down a bit. Flip and cook 3 more minutes, or until done. Remove scallops from pan.

Pour a splash of vermouth or white wine in the pan and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the bits. When it's thickened a bit, add a splash of chicken stock or pasta water. Pour the sauce into a small bowl and set aside.

Add remaining 1/2 T. EVOO and saute garlic for about 30 seconds. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Add sun-dried tomatoes. By now your pasta should be done. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta and the sauce to the pan and mix it all together until it's nice and hot. If you're a hedonist, add a pat of butter.

Pour the pasta, vegetables and sauce into a serving bowl. Top with the scallops. Enjoy.

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