2.02.2010

What's this? A seahorse-seashell party?


I spent the day by the ocean on Sunday. I live closer to an ocean now than I ever have in the past, yet I probably see it less than ever before. It’s probably because I’d rather not spend that much time in the car, in traffic. Or, perhaps because I know I have no interest in getting into the ocean. Or maybe because I have so few whole days free to meander. 

But every time I get out there there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

The salty, fresh smell in the air, the sandy breeze, the seagulls chirping and swirling around above, the laid back vibe, the cocktails… 

I don’t need to get over my irrational fear of jellyfish and get in the ocean, yet. I can appreciate it just fine from a wonky, old bar at the end of a pier with a mai tai in my hand and the sun melting into the ocean on the horizon. Watching the swells.

When I was finishing up high school and about to head off to college my dad, knowing I was interested in cooking, taught me a few basic recipes that were fairly simple, cheap and “guaranteed to wow anyone”. He taught me how to make a fabulous blanched green bean dish with only good salt, great olive oil and a squeeze of lemon (which I still make all the time, and have passed onto Heather who does the same). He taught me how to make the most decadent twice-baked potatoes with a super crispety outside and smoothest, richest insides, using 27,653 pounds of butter. He taught me building blocks, like how to make a roux for soup bases or a delicious cheese sauce to be poured over steamed broccoli. I learned to emulate his burgundy mushroom sauce served over a perfect medium-rare steak. 

And he taught me the recipe for a meal that can be made in the time that it takes for water to boil and pasta to cook. The dish’s broad strokes involve scallops and/or shrimp, white wine, garlic, a shallot and feta cheese. It’s inexpensive, fast, and everyone I have prepared it for has been tremendously impressed. And it is so easy.


My dad always told me “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. I suppose he did have a lot of (ahem) successful dates as a result of his own prowess in the kitchen. He also gave me a cookbook once in which he inscribed, “Feed someone a meal and they have a full stomach. Give someone a cookbook and they have a full stomach for life.” Ain’t he cute?

So off to college I went. And after my first year of losing 15 pounds as a result of the cafeteria’s food, my friends and I formed a food co-op. I would have been so excited to win my boyfriend’s heart through his stomach and cook all the wonderful meals I had learned, but the dude was a vegan. And so was his best friend, also in our food co-op. And his girlfriend. I believe there were about 2 or 3 vegetarians in there as well.

I honestly don’t recall any fun dishes I made during the entire 3 years of our food co-op. But I still always one-upped Frampy, who often brought a loaf of bread and pre-sliced pretend cheese (no dairy) for us to make our own sandwiches on his night to feed our gang.

Well, anyways that was ages (and ages) ago, and I have cooked for boyfriends and friends and, really, anyone who will eat my food. I don’t often teach people how to cook or even let anyone help me in the kitchen, for that matter. I like the food to magically appear before them, ready to be devoured. This dish, however, I do like to explain to my guests. The reason for this is that it is so astoundingly simple. And while I don’t often have dinners prepared for me (except in restaurants), I think everyone, especially people who claim to be unable to “boil water”, should be able to successfully execute this little gem. 


When I awoke yesterday morning my thoughts went immediately to my afternoon by the beach. I lamented not staying after the sunset to eat something beachy, yanked from the ocean. I think I was nervous that I was so unfamiliar with any of the restaurants there and didn’t want such a beautiful evening to be capped off with bad food.

So yesterday, as I filtered through the recipe box in my mind, searching for what I wished I had eaten for dinner after my day by the sea, it struck me: Dad’s Scallops & Shrimp over Linguine with Baked Feta!

So, I invited a friend over to try my dish last night. And I shared with him this recipe and technique. Perhaps he will be able to flex and make it for a date and wow her. He is, in fact, one of those people who never cooks (at least, not that I have seen) but does claim to make a mean enchilada…



Scallops & Shrimp over Linguine with Baked Feta

½ lb sea scallops
½ lb large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup of dry white wine
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 Meyer lemon
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
8 oz linguine
salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup crumbled feta

In skillet, sauté shallots and garlic in oil over medium heat. Add stock, wine, lemon juice, parsley, and cilantro. Bring to boil, add scallops first, then shrimp a couple of minutes later. Sauté until pink: about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Salt & pepper to taste.
Pour seafood sauce over linguine in a casserole dish. Crumble feta over the dish and place in oven on broil for about 5 minutes or until feta is just browned.


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