Come sit on the terrace, won't you? I've got a couple Paradise Cocktails poured and the grill pan is getting hot. SB and I are getting ready for a fast and furious weekend of activity, but this evening is meant to be an easy affair. I've got some Hendrick's gin, some peach brandy, some stellar Mineola oranges and plenty of ice. Let's have a cool cocktail and enjoy the greenery while the scallops soak up the peppery spices. I've got a beautiful start to the latest Virtual Supper Club's BBQ themed dinner, so get ready because this month's menu is a perfect late summer treat!
August brings us around to the long, hot dog days of summer. This is a time to fire up the grill and take dinner onto the deck, patio, terrace, where ever one has a green airy space to enjoy al fresco dining. In my case, dinner moves to the back porch, where SB and I can sit over dinner and survey the long hill that is our back yard. We live in an extensively wooded area, so the mosquitoes, deer flies, and other flying pests make it imperative that we have a screened space in order to enjoy the summer weather during the evening hours. We can sit on our terrace during the sunny hours of the day and during the early evening hours, but as soon as the sun sinks low, we must move indoors, if we value our health and sanity. The bugs are INTENSE.
That being said, we managed to make a wonderful dinner this evening ... a simple salad that translated to a beautiful 'amuse bouche' for this month's Virtual Supper Club. A pan seared scallop sitting pretty ... with gorgeously fresh garden produce, a Dijon and shallot vinaigrette drizzle with crisped Prosciutto ... isn't it pretty ?
An amuse bouche is just that ... a tease for the mouth. A small morsel is made that is often a reflection of a larger dish ... or not. It is not meant to preview a dish, but to give an abbreviated experience of something a chef is 'working on' ... or a culmination of an experiment of flavours ... or a playful combination of seasonal foods. Whatever the case, it is just a trifle that is a blend of flavours, meant to pull varied food components together that tantalize the palate.
In this particular case, I used a salad recipe from the Cooking Light website to prepare a 'bite' of a salad that was posted. One bite of salad placed on an impeccable scallop shell. That is all. The bitter green leaf is brushed with the vinaigrette. The cherry tomato is thinly sliced and the cucumber slices are wafer thin. The prosciutto is crispy. The scallop is seasoned with lemon pepper and perfectly seared. A drizzle of Dijon vinaigrette and a grinding of black pepper tops it all ... two or three bites of perfection.
And then, we sip some water and the last of the paradise cocktail and move on ... the rest of this month's BBQ menu is stellar! Just look and be inspired!
Virtual Supper Club's August Back Yard BBQ Menu
Susan's Cocktail and Amuse Bouche - Paradise Cocktail and Pan Seared Scallop Bite
Shelby's Clams Casino with Pancetta
Sarah's Backyard Barbecue Ribs
Sandi's Potato Salad Bites
How's THAT for a killer dinner party al fresco ?
It amazes me how creative our members are when it comes to making dishes that match the themes chosen! This month, Sarah really inspired us to bring the best of the best!
Here are the recipes for my offerings ...
Old Mr. Boston's Paradise Cocktails for Two
1.5 oz. Hendrick's gin
2 oz. apricot brandy ( or peach!)
Juice of half an orange
orange peels and a small slice of orange
sugar rimmed, chilled cocktail glasses
Chill the cocktail glasses. Combine the gin, brandy, orange juice and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Dip the rims of the chilled glasses in sugar, and strain the cocktail into the glass. Drop the orange peel into the cocktail, place a thin orange slice on the rim of the glass and sip!
Seared Scallop Salad with Prosciutto Crisps for Two
5 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp shallots, minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 c. bitter salad greens, washed and spun in a salad spinner
2 c. cherry tomatoes, chunked
1 c. cucumber slices, sliced wafer thin
1 oz. prosciutto thinly sliced and cut into thin ribbons
10 perfect sea scallops, rinsed and dried with paper towels
3/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper
Making the Dish:
1. Mix the cider vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil with a whisk and set it aside.
2. Place the prepared scallops on a plate and season with the lemon pepper. Set aside..
3. Arrange the bitter greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers on two large dinner plates and chill in the fridge.
4. Crisp the Prosciutto ribbons and a few drops of olive oil in a small fry pan over high heat, tossing until browned and crunchy. Remove the bits to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
5. Heat a grill pan or a BBQ to high heat. Brush the scallops with the remaining olive oil and grill for 2 minutes on each side without moving or touching the scallops once they are placed on the pan or grill.
Place, grill, turn, grill. Time closely. Remove to a plate and build the salad.
6. Drizzle the salads with most of the vinaigrette.
7. Place the scallops on the salad.
8. Sprinkle over the prosciutto crisps.
9. Drizzle the last of the vinaigrette and sprinkle on freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt.
NOTE: For an amuse bouche, select a small presentation plate, shell, spoon, etc. Arrange a couple bitter green leaves on the presentation venue. Brush with some vinaigrette. Arrange two cucumber slices, a tomato slice, and a scallop. Drizzle with a bit of the vinaigrette. Arrange a few prosciutto crisps atop the scallop and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Present with a glass of crisp, cold Sauvignon blanc.