Grilled Sea Scallops with Mina Harissa-Butter Carrots

RECIPE: Grilled Sea Scallops with Honey-Harissa Carrots

Scallops with Red Harissa CarrotsComfort food.  Indeed, I find comfort in almost all foods.  But I always say comfort food is the food of memory—of childhood holidays and snowy nights and starry summer evenings.

It’s funny.  I, like so many people, have a mixed bag of a heritage.  Sometimes I get stressed just deciding which comfort food I really need to de-stress.  I think that might be the New York in me.  Am I in need of a big bagel, poppy seeds spraying everywhere, to feel better?  Try finding that where I live in London…

Or my maman’s pistou made from basil she picked up at the Woodstock farm stand, puddling over Fairway’s cheese ravioli?  Or her salted roast whole duck?  Or her bubbling, blipping potatoes au gratin?

I love those things, and I reach for them often, but truth be told, sometimes all I want is my Moroccan fix, grace à my mémé, with her green olive stew and messy couscouses and sauces that I can spend an entire baguette wiping up.  Sometimes homesick means missing her giant spread of salads that I attack within five minutes of walking through her door.  Sometimes, I just need a kick up the fill-in-the-blank instead of the fatty blandness of so many other comforts.  There’s nothing to clear your head like harissa.  You can take the girl out of Morocco—by a couple generations—but I guess you can never really get the Morocco out of the girl.

I’m sure many of you know harissa, but if you don’t, it’s a Moroccan condiment, a punchy pepper and spice paste made from chilies and olive oil and garlic and the usual heady secret blend of Moroccan spices.  (Little known fact: my great-grandfather ran an olive, pickle, and spice shop in Casa.  My hero!)  Harissa has a pungency that other hot sauces can only dream about and sniff at from the other side of the hot sauce aisle.  For years I was reduced to trafficking it from Paris in little tubes that I would hoard in the butter section of my fridge.  Not expensive, just impossible to find outside of the former French empire.  And irreplaceable.

So when harissa entrepreneur Mina asked if she could send me a few jars of her classic red and new green harissas, I thought, yes!  This is what the American (and now British) public needs!  Easy and consistent access to jars of harissa that, frankly, don’t look a little bit suspect and have the ingredients list in our alphabet.  Shortly thereafter, I saw a headline proclaiming harissa to be this year’s sriracha.  Finally!  For a harissa evangelist, I felt the satisfaction of the mounting ‘I told you so’ building at the back of my throat.  I smiled smugly.

Harrisa Carrot Scallops 2I brought the jars to maman’s house a few weeks ago, when I knew Mémé would be visiting.  I love riling up her sense of dominance in the kitchen.  This is the woman who once didn’t tell me the secret to her famed Moroccan salmon was preserved lemons because, well, that was the secret!  So she tends to be hyper-critical of my new-fangled Moroccan concoctions—in a loving way of course.

I made a two-course meal.  We always finish Moroccan nights with fresh fruit, so that doesn’t count.  The first was Grilled Sea Scallops with Honey-Harissa Carrots.  I love seafood with Moroccan flavors.  The sweet delicacy of the fish may seem too demure to match the heat and spice of a harissa, for example, but the pairing is actually the perfect balance.  Another thing to try: fried calamari dusted with ras-el-hanout and doused in citrus.  It’s incredible.

I took a cheat and bought matchstick carrots at the supermarket.  I cooked them in just a little too much butter just to soften them slightly, and then I stirred in the harissa and a little bit of honey to balance the heat and accentuate the sweetness of the carrots into the butter to create a sauce.  The harissa turns the butter lava red, and the pungency finds its vehicle to spread itself through all the carrots, and in the end, the nooks and crannies of the scallops.  Harissa butter is to die for.

I top the carrots with simply grilled scallops and toast pine nuts.  Serve it with some kind of vehicle for dredging up that butter—for us, it’s baguette.

Mémé actually said, “Kerry, this is delicious.”  She ate every bite.  In true Moroccan fashion, she wiped the harissa butter from the plate with the baguette.  Mina, I owe you one! You are my preserved lemons!

The recipe for the Lamb Shank Mechoui with Green Harissa Slaw and Citrus Couscous will be on the blog later this week!  Bon app!

 

Mina Harissa

Thank you, Mina, for the harissa!

Grilled Sea Scallops with Honey-Harissa Carrots
serves 4 to start

Scallops with Red Harissa CarrotsINGREDIENTS

  • 8 large sea scallops, patted dry on paper towel
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup julienned or shredded carrots
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Mina red harissa
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

METHOD

Preheat a grill pan on the stove.  Rub the scallops light with olive oil, and sear 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until firm and opaque in the center.

Meanwhile, in a smallish nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the carrots.  Season with salt.  In just 1 to 2 minutes, they should slightly soften and lighten.  You want them still slightly crisp, so at that point, shut off the heat, and stir in the Mina red harissa and honey.  Spread the carrots and their honey-harissa butter on a serving dish, either individual plates or a platter, top with the grilled scallops and finally pine nuts.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, Fish, For a Crowd, Individual, Main Courses, Recipes
 

Double-Pea Lunch

RECIPE: Warm Pea Shoot Salad and Smashed Peas on Toast

Peas Two WaysIt’s a bank holiday here in London–also known as Monday off.  It’s so like the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks.  You know it’s coming, but that still doesn’t take away from the surprising sense of cherish you have for it.  The sun is shining, I’m just back from yoga, and I feel like something virtuous but interesting–and fresh!  Spring has been so long in coming this year, that I want to taste it at every possible opportunity.

I ransacked my freezer, where I always keep a bag of peas.  But, as it’s spring, I also ordered a bag of pea shoots in this week’s shop.  I love the French trope of doing something two ways.  On many a haute cuisine menu you’ll see salmon two ways, asparagus two ways, or tomatoes two ways.  So, why not peas two ways?  And using both the pea itself and the sprout, I feel like this is a timely riff on vegetarian nose-to-tail cooking.  Who knew lunch by myself could be so cuilnarily political!?

I whiz up the peas with basil, pine nuts, lemon zest, Pecorino, and olive oil for a light, creamy, bright kind of pea pesto that I slather on grilled bread.  And on the side, a lightly wilted pea shoot salad.  Both get a last minute spritz of lemon for a little jolt.  Sweet peas.  Bitter pea shoots.  I devoured it.

Warm Pea Shoot Salad and Smashed Peas on Toast
serves 2 to 3

Peas Two WaysINGREDIENTS

Warm Pea Shoot Salad

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced or grated (optional)
  • 2 2.5-oz bags of pea shoots
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Smashed Peas on Toast

  • 6 thick slices of good country bread—I prefer pain au levain
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 ounce Pecorino cheese, roughly crumbled by hand
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 lemon cheeks, for serving

METHOD

In a small skillet, the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, if using, and 15 seconds later, add the pea shoots, salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat, and toss until wilted.  Add the lemon zest, toss, and set aside.

Set the bread on a grill or in the toasted to char lightly.  Meanwhile, combine the peas, basil, Pecorino, pine nuts, lemon zest, olive oil, and salt and pepper in the food processor.  Whiz until nearly smooth, but still with a big of texture.  Smear the smashed peas thickly on the charred bread, squirt with lemon, and eat NOW!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bread & Butter, Cheap, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

Maille’s Honey Balsamic Dijon Charbroiled Flank Steak with Rosemary

RECIPE: Honey Balsamic Dijon Charbroiled Flank Steak with Rosemary

Honey Balsamic Dijon Bavette 2My mother and step-father rent a little place in the south of France for a few weeks more summers than not, and Mr. English and I make a point to save up our vacation to spend it there with them.  While we have officially stationed ourselves in one Provence or Riviera town or another, wherever our rental may be, these annually anticipated days are filled with wanderlust as we shuttle en famille between seaside towns and mountain perches, eschewing the glamorous hotspots for a daily search for traditional local eateries.  That is how we discovered bavette at one such establishment called Coquelicot somewhere in the vicinity of Cap d’Antibes or Juan les Pins.

Bavette is what we call flank steak, which after filet is my favorite cut for steak.  I love it spice-crusted and grilled in tacos.  Or marinated and seared.  Or, as it is here, flavored and broiled.  It’s quick and easy, but tender and flavorful, and blessedly inexpensive.

In France, it is found in simple restaurants served with caramelized shallots and a haystack of salty, crispy frites that luxuriate in the onion jus.  I like it better when it’s good and flavored up with bold tastes.

Honey Balsamic Dijon Bavette 1Maille mustard, which I’ve touted on this site as being our ‘family’ mustard many times, have recently given me access to the breadth of their mustard library, and I think my favorite, aside from the classics, has to be the honey balsamic Dijon.  It’s a ‘black’ mustard that has the sweetness and spice of their top-notch honey mustard, but with the thick tang of balsamic built in, and a stunning color.  Here, it forms the base of a thick marinade-crust that goes on our bavette, along with wholegrain mustard, fresh rosemary (rosemary and mustard are like Frog and Toad—a wonderfully gentle but symbiotic relationship), and garlic.  Then, just ten minutes under the broiler, a sharp knife, and a drizzle of really great, thick balsamic, and you have this French-Italian hybrid steak that’s perfect with grilled vegetables or sandwiches between some pillowy slices of focaccia.

Mr. English shamelessly put away the whole thing in less than the time it took to cool.  Bon app!

P.S. A great thing to do is to save a spoonful of marinade and toss it with a bunch of thick asparagus.  While the steak is resting, throw the asparagus under the broiler for five minutes for the perfect side dish.

Honey Balsamic Dijon Asparagus

Il n’y a que Maille qui m’aille…

Maille_Honey Dijon with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Small

Honey Balsamic Dijon Charbroiled Flank Steak with Rosemary
serves 2 to 4

Honey Balsamic Dijon Bavette 2INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons Maille balsamic honey Dijon mustard, courtesy of Maille
  • 1 tablespoon Maille wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced or grated
  • 1-pound flank steak / bavette
  • Salt and pepper
  • Good, aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

METHOD

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic.  Spoon it into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and add the steak.  Massage the marinade all over the meat, and then leave in the fridge for a minimum of two hours up to overnight.

Position the rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the broiler.  To speed cleanup, I line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil, and then cut a piece of parchment just large enough to go under the steak to place on the foil.  But you can skip the lining step.  Place the marinated steak on the baking sheet and season both sides very well with salt and pepper.  Broil 4 to 5 minutes on each side for a medium steak.  Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice against the grain.  I go for thick slices if I’m serving it as a steak, and thin if I’m serving it as a sandwich.  Drizzle with good, thick, aged balsamic vinegar (just a bit) and garnish with fresh rosemary.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes
 

It’s Been Sweet

DailyCandy LogoI just wanted to take a moment to say thank you and goodbye to DailyCandy, closing down today after fourteen years of filling our inbox with local antidotes to ennui.

When I was twenty-three and just a few months out of college, they offered me my first freelance writing job.  Having a big name on my resume gave me my start, and what I remember most about my early twenties was a roaring wish that someone would give me a chance.  DailyCandy and my fabulous editor Jeralyn, who you can now find at Fathom, did.  I wrote a handful of stories for the New York edition, and then years later, they featured this blog and my recipes for Croque Monsieur, Strawberry Ice Cream Profiterole Sundaes, and Frozen Kir Royale on the Everywhere edition.

I know I speak for many when I say that not only was DC a fun little sweet to get in your inbox, but it allowed so many of us to get our work out to those who, hopefully, wanted to find it.  It gave the first spark to my career, great experience, fun projects, and friends that I have nearly a decade later.  Nothing gold can stay, all good things must come to an end, and all that.  But from me, a humble thanks.

Here, some links to my original stories, and following, the videos for the recipes featured for Bastille Day.  Bon app.  Merci et adieu!

Kick It

The Chocolate Manifesto

Seeing Green

Modern Marvel

Croque Monsieurs

Strawberry Ice Cream Profiterole Sundaes

Frozen Kir Royale

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French Revolution’s Très Cool Frozen Kir Royales for DailyCandy

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French Revolution’s Killer Croque Monsieurs for DailyCandy

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French Revolution’s Strawberry Ice Cream Profiterole Sundaes for DailyCandy

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