Sunday, June 22

Under The Pergola I: after the beach, seared scallops for lunch

Under The Pergola
Join us for a late afternoon lunch of
seared scallops, tomato, basil and avocado salad & freshly sliced watermelon with lime.  

Today is the first of a series of posts this summer to help you entertain with ease.  Summer is here (yesterday was the first day of the season), and if you will be spending time in a summer cottage, rental, beach shack or maybe invited to a friend or family's home for a vacation, chances are you'll be setting a table outdoors, somewhere. Having just come off the beach, we prepared a light, late lunch and something easy to pull together.  I set the tables with pretty pink vintage tablecloths and mixed a variety of plates together; blue and white Spode and vintage Transferware salad plates.

These scallops are perfect for lunch or dinner...
put a nice sear on them to a golden brown so it seals in the flavor and moisture.
 I keep big bowls of lemons & limes around the house in summer for all purpose uses -- these lemons we picked off my brother's tree during our last visit to California, and weeks later they're still fresh!
if using cherry tomatoes cut them in half, 
larger tomatoes cut in quarters.  I like cherry tomatoes in yellow and red because they lots of flavor.
we set a table inside and two outside for guests to be able to choose where to sit.

Let's do it up with style this summer, serving delicious food and with a casual, yet stylish vibe, and, of course spent with people that make you happy.  To me, summer is the sweet spot, the fun times, the cherished moments you steal away, and the reason we work hard all year long in order to savor time to luxuriate in sun, the shade, by a lake, a pool, a pond, a view of the ocean (if lucky), the mountains, or even on a breezy terrace in the city.  
These Under The Pergola posts won't be long-winded with detailed recipe instructions like my Weekday Supper posts where I outline the entire recipe play-by-play, but, rather, a meal suggestion with a smattering of tips and ideas to help you quickly make it special. Doesn't have to be served under a pergola, just so happens that's where I serve my guests in summer.
Of course when serving food outside you don't want labor intensive meals, and you will want to be outside with your guests.  Today's seared scallops is about the easiest meal possible.  You do not need to be near a stove for more than a few moments (literally only a few).  Make certain to keep the stove top flame on high, sear them on both sides then add a squeeze of a 1/2 fresh lemon and a touch of cognac and cook for one minute then turn off the flame -- that's it!

Mix & match a variety of plates for a romantic looking table.  I like to use garden roses, textured place mats (these are faux shagreen in silver) and vintage plates and glassware.
 serving & table setting tips:
1. chill a couple of bottles of white wine that morning 
2. Set the table festively with some unique accessories - today I added my kid's homemade pottery on the table to hold salt, butter and layered the plates on top of dark brown bamboo chargers and textured, silver placemats.
3. I used small silver mint julep cups filled with simple cut roses and mixed potted garden flowers in terra cotta pots onto the table.
cooking & food tips:
1. Hit the fish market that day so it's fresh.  Look for clear, white-ish scallops not overly large, not too small (about the size of a quarter). Pat them very dry before searing and heat the pan hot with a touch of olive oil.  I use an old black cast iron pan because it retains the heat well and has a nice patina from using it over the years, which is great for searing meats. 
2. Cut up the watermelon in slices (kind of thin and about an inch) and squeeze fresh lime on them.  Do this an hour before guests arrive and put in the fridge to chill.  Sometimes I serve thin strips of basil on top of the watermelon for a fresh lime/basil flavor.  
3. Stop into the local farm stand for the freshest locally grown tomatoes and cut into wedges, then combine with cut avocado and basil. Don't dress the salad until right before serving.  A simple dressing of one fresh squeezed lemon, really really good olive oil, herb de provence and fresh sea salt is perfect.  
This meal is light and perfect when in summer mode!
Buon Appetite
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara