scallops with herb butter; tomatoes, cress; mustard greens


almost over the top, at least by my measure


I rarely include a cream sauce in any of my cooking, and in fact the finishing touch on these scallops was not actually a cream sauce, but a ‘composed butter’ which included fish juices, herbs and wild garlic, a small remainder from this earlier meal, kept frozen in a ramekin until now.

The picture above is very unlike the usual images of pan-grilled scallops found on this blog (this one is my favorite), which are frankly more to my taste, but I couldn’t resist pursuing the experiment this time.

I’ve had the small ramekin on my mind for two weeks, hoping to arrange a perfect [second] marriage for it.  I’m more familiar with composed butters as a final touch for grilled steaks, a device I’ve only encountered in Julia Childs books; I was afraid that matching this one up with shellfish might be too much of a stretch, but the result was delicious.

The plans for virtually every element of this meal came together only at the last moment – in fact only while I was actually already cooking – and that included the treatment of the scallops.

Mildly-aromatic ‘wild garlic’ came into play twice during the preparation of this dinner, as a finish for the tomatoes, and as an important element in the herb butter spread on top of the scallops. I’ll think of this tiny (actually, at least partially domesticated) plant as my first 2016 ‘find’ in the Greenmarket.  It’s tasty, attractive, pretty versatile, and keeps pretty well. It’s also the harbinger of a growing season which is actually heralded by the first appearance of ramps, which, while definitely wild, have become a fixture, a tradition, for both the farmers and their happy city customers.


  • ten sea scallops from P.E. & D. D. Seafood, washed, rinsed and dried very thoroughly, generously seasoned with salt and pepper, pan grilled a minute or so on each side, finished on the plates with a squeeze of juice from a local lemon grown by Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, drizzled with a little olive oil, and spread with a preserved butter which included tilefish juices combined wild garlic from Lani’s Farm, fresh parsley (Eataly), thyme (Forager’s), lovage (Two Guys from Woodbridge), sage (Eataly), and oregano (Stoke’s Farm)
  • eight Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved, sautéed in a little olive oil until beginning to soften, seasoned with salt and pepper, removed and placed on a bed of tiny, only slightly-peppery cress, “a basal rosette of baby-arugula-like winter cress”, according to the grower/seller, Lani’s Farm (and in fact also basically ‘wild’?), then 8 or 10 finely-chopped wild garlic plants, also from Lani’s Farm (including bulbs, white and green stems) immediately tossed into the still-warm pan in which the tomatoes had cooked, stirred a few seconds, the garlic and tomato juices poured on top of the tomatoes themselves
  • red mustard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in a little oil which had already warmed 1 halved clove of bruised garlic from John D. Madura Farm, seasoned with salt and pepper, finished with a drizzle of oil
  • the wine was a California (Clarksburg) white, Akiyoshi Reserve Chardonnay Clarksburg 2014
  • the music was a number of works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, beginning with his ‘Mavis in Las Vegas‘, and the other entertaining pieces on this recording, and ending with his very serious last symphony, Symphony No. 10 (“Alla ricerca di Borromini”), which includes a sonnet to and text of by Francesco Borromini, and poetry by Giacomo Leopardi