That bully Life finally caught up with me last week. And dammit, just when I thought I'd finally outrun it.
After three months in the clouds of post-wedding travel and parties, I suddenly found myself on the pendulum swing down, flying reluctantly towards reality, and smacking face-first into a stack of unpaid bills and a formidable mound of laundry. Add to that a brutal deadline at work, a messy house, and the six pounds I've gained that keep me from wearing my favorite jeans, and I had myself a perfect recipe for a foul mood.
My face-plant into the real world left me a little off-kilter (I may have even scowled a little), but I washed and folded the 472 loads of laundry, sent off the bills, put in some extra hours at work, and herded the dust bunnies, and next thing I knew, I was feeling a little better. The scowl faded, and I started to remember how cute my dog is and how lucky I am to have such a spectacular husband. Pretty soon I was smiling again, happy in my real life, laundry and all. It feels good to have my feet on the ground again, and to find myself walking around in a pretty decent pair of shoes.
So, here I am, back in real life. I see you're here too, so at least I'm in good company.
But my favorite jeans still don't fit.
So, I made myself a light and satisfying grilled scallop ceviche, and suddenly I'm smiling even bigger and thinking about all the early morning jogs I'll get in next week before work.
Okay, maybe the early-morning jogging thing might not happen. But this ceviche is a good start: a refreshing and bright welcome back to the real world, which it turns out, is really quite delicious.
Now, this recipe is technically not a ceviche, since the scallops are fully cooked...
But its got all the goodness of a true ceviche: sweet seafood with tart lime and a little spice and crunch. Perfect antidote for a warm day or a hot temper.
A bit about the orange supremes called for in this recipe: If you've never supremed an orange, it's basically the process of cutting a citrus fruit into segments to remove the skin, pith, membranes, and seeds so that you're left with the perfect wedges of juicy flesh.
It's not hard to do, and it gets even easier with each try. If you've never done it, here's a video to help. It's a great technique to have, especially if you're like me and crave fennel and grapefruit salads on a weekly basis.
So, fellow inhabitants of the real world, thanks for waiting for me while I was up in the clouds. It was nice up there, but now that I'm back, I think I like it better down here, where there are husbands and puppy dogs to greet you after a bad day. Sweet always tastes better when you've got a little sour to go with it.
Grilled Scallop "Ceviche"
Adapted from Gourmet
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops (about 20), tough ligament removed from side of each if attached
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 navel orange
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 seedless cucumber (the plastic-wrapped kind), halved lengthwise, cored*, and thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh jalapeño chile, without seeds
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Special equipment: 5 metal or wooden skewers (if using wooden, first soak in water 30 minutes so they don't burn)
Toss scallops with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then thread 4 scallops onto each skewer.
Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over high heat.
Oil grill rack, then grill scallops, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool slightly.
While scallops cool, cut peel, including white pith, from orange with a sharp paring knife, then cut segments free from membranes. Coarsely chop enough segments to measure 1/4 cup and transfer to a large bowl (reserve remaining orange for another use). Stir in lime juice, cucumber, shallot, jalapeño (to taste), and remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
When scallops are cool enough to handle, halve each crosswise (quarter if large), then add to cucumber mixture, tossing to combine. Marinate, covered and chilled, until cold, at least 1 hour, but not more than three, or the cucumbers start to lose their crunch and the scallops break down a bit. Just before serving, stir in cilantro.*To core the cucumber, I scrape out the slimy center with a small melon baller or grapefruit spoon. Just a regular spoon with a good edge will work fine, too.