The review: Seared scallops with broccoli, cauliflower, and potato salad

Yesterday was grocery shopping day. It took me forever to make the list because I haven’t done any shopping to speak of since Christmas Eve. When I said I was taking a break from menu planning, I wasn’t kidding. It may also have taken me forever to make my list because I got a little distracted reading one of my cookbooks, La Bouche Creole by Leon E. Soniat, Jr., while I was supposed to be making my list.

Everyone in my family, whether or not they cook, owns this cookbook. It is referred to simply as “Soniat” and is used by cooks in my family like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking is used to make beef bourguignon by the rest of the world. Soniat is the source for gumbo and jambalaya, for veal medallions and crawfish etouffée. It is also a very funny read. Yesterday’s gem was this:

“Mamere used to say, ‘Heaven sent us meat but the devil provided the cooks,’ which was her way of showing disdain for some cooks who, as she termed it, didn’t have enough sense to stay out of the kitchen.”

I actually laughed out loud when I read this because I am pretty sure that I am just the type of person to whom Mamere was referring. Some people are just natural cooks. You can learn to cook, to be sure, but you and I both know the difference. Some of us are just never going to be Julia Child. I am one of those people. But in no way does that prevent me from continuing on with the adventure in food that we have begun in my house. In fact, it is rather freeing. I don’t have to be perfect at cooking. And I can try new things because there is no real standard to which I am being held as a chef.

So let’s move on to last night's dinner. We had seared scallops, the recipe for which I found while wasting time on Pinterest. We also had a salad of potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli (insalata saporita di patate, cavolfiore i broccoli) via the January issue of La Cucina Italiana (page 26). The flavor of the scallops was excellent. Unfortunately, they were overdone and not seared to perfection like the lovely photos on the original blog. My husband (a natural cook, bless his heart) said that my pan wasn’t hot enough. I wanted to punch him for back seat driving my dinner until I remembered Mamere. No matter. I’ll try again. And you should try these instructions for scallops too because the sauce was awesome. Go ahead. Give it a whirl. Worst case scenario? You learn something new about cooking.

As for the “salad”, it was light and not over salted, despite including both capers and olives. The combination of vegetables was a good pairing with the scallops. Do yourself a favor and pick up this month’s issue of La Cucina Italiana. We are going to cook some things from it over the next few weeks in honor of the fact that this month’s issue is the last to be printed in the United States. I am so bummed to lose this magazine as a source for great experiments.

And while we are on the subject of learning and experimentation, let’s not judge too harshly the photography here. I’m working on it. I’m still dreaming a way into the Sweet Paul Makerie if only for the food styling class. Just remember these photos when I’m amazing. And remember that there are people out there that take boring or blurry photos but we sure eat good food and have fun while we do it.