By Isa Covo
The second month of 2020 is the shortest month of the year and the month of love. Valentine’s Day usually falls halfway through the month, but as this year is a leap year it is slightly askew. No matter, this is the time to strengthen our existing romantic relationships or glow with the light of new ones. Some choose this day for a marriage proposal, as Saint Valentine is purported to be the patron saint of the betrothed.
But let’s expand this to the love of our family and all our friends near and far. Let’s give them at least a thought or a phone call, or even better, when possible, find the time to meet.
February is also Black History month in the U.S. Today, I read again the famous and beautifully written and rousing I Have a Dream speech. According to witnesses, Dr. King adlibbed the portion at the very end, beginning with “I have a dream…”
We are now a different demographic society from what we were fifty-seven years ago. Since 1963, various wars and other political and economic global turmoil caused mass immigration to the U.S. from many parts of the world. Our population is now more diverse than in the past. Immigrants and/or their descendants share positions in almost every domain of our society, even though many illegal immigrants are treated as pariahs and are struggling, particularly those children who have been separated from their families and are living in unspeakable conditions. Also, unfortunately, African-Americans are still not all well-served. Racism is still directed at people of color, even though among African-Americans there has been progress; there are prominent scholars, inventors, lawyers, judges, writers, journalists, doctors, CEOs and more. In past decades that was only a dream. It was only part of Martin Luther King’s dream, which also was that we would form a coherent society where differences in origins, color, and religions would not matter, that we could all hold hands and create a better society. The election of President Obama gave some hope, yet now some individuals who cannot see the merits in each of us seem to have regressed into racism and all sorts of phobias.
It is unfortunate that a few raging voices inflame some people and groups and bring unrest and tragedy. Please let’s all unite and hold hands. We don’t have to love everyone, but we don’t have to reject, insult, or attack them because they don’t look, pray, or act like some of the rest of us.
This month, and this year, call for peace, eliminate hate, save the country and our planet. Celebrate life and LOVE.
Sea Scallops with Hazelnut Spice Scones
This elegant recipe can be served as a main course or, if halved, as an appetizer. The list of ingredients is long but the dish itself is easy to prepare. The little scones can be made a day ahead, cooled completely, and transferred to a tightly covered container. Reheat them for five minutes in a 300-degree preheated oven. Instead of hazelnuts you may use any nutmeat you prefer. I find that the hazelnuts give the scones an earthy flavor, but pistachios or walnuts work just as well. The flying fish adds color and a pleasant brininess to the dish. Flying fish is available in Asian markets. The scallops take minutes to cook after you have prepared all the ingredients.
For the scones:
- 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons toasted and peeled hazelnuts
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ tablespoons heavy cream
For the scallops:
- 16 sea scallops
- 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¼ cup dry vermouth
- ¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1½ teaspoons of flying fish for garnish
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Prepare the scones: grind the hazelnuts in a food processor or spice grinder. The nuts do not need to be ground very fine.
- In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients and the spices. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Add the egg and the cream, and with fingertips blend all ingredients together to form a soft and slightly moist dough. Flatten it into a circle. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and line it with parchment.
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of a half inch and cut into 1-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter. Gather leftover dough, roll out again, and continue this process until all the dough has been used. There should be 16 1-inch scones.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the scones are puffed and their underside is golden. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack
- While the scones are baking, wash and dry the scallops. Use a large heavy-bottomed skillet that can contain the scallops in one layer, or use two skillets. Over low heat, heat the oil and add the ginger cut into thin strips. Sweat the ginger until it becomes fragrant, remove the skillet (or skillets) from the heat and infuse the ginger another five minutes. Remove the ginger from the oil, return the skillet to the stove, and increase the heat to medium high. When the oil begins to shimmer add the well-dried scallops and brown 3 minutes on each side. Add the salt and pepper.
- While the scallops are browning, arrange four scones on each of four plates; when the scallops are ready, place one scallop on top of each scone.
- Discard the oil and deglaze the skillet with a mixture of the vermouth and stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any caramelized bits; bring to a boil over high heat and boil for two minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Spoon over the scallops.
- Sprinkle some of the flying fish on each scallop and, with any left over, add some tiny dots to the plates for garnish.
Yield: 4 first course servings or 2 as a main course.