Open the windows and pack away the sweaters. Spring is here!
After a cold winter of heavy rains spring has finally arrived, and I’m ready to celebrate. Everywhere I gaze, I see pale green leaves and colorful blossoms of every hue – a sign that it’s time to freshen my indoor rooms, just as Mother Nature provides a fresh canvas outdoors.
When I was growing up, my mother would say each spring, “Girls, it’s time to do our spring cleaning.” What followed was a full day of vacuuming, dusting, taking cushions outside to air, washing windows, and scrubbing everything, including porch furniture.
While I can’t say I was a very enthusiastic worker back then, the annual spring ritual has remained with me. All these years later, I still set aside a day (or more likely a week) to clean the house from top to bottom, exchange heavily-textured accent pillows and coverlets for lighter colors and fabrics, pack away hefty accessories and display ones with gorgeous spring and summer colors, and spruce up outdoor spaces. Mom would be so proud.
Spring also provides fresh inspiration for daily menus.
The markets are overflowing with just-harvested greens, tender asparagus, sweet juicy strawberries, and tantalizing lamb chops and roasts.
Seafood is a great choice too, as we favor lighter meals to coincide with more time spent outdoors – which brings up a very good point.
Take advantage of spring’s bright blue skies, soft breezes, and awakening gardens to enjoy dinner outside on the patio or on the lawn. Dining outside always makes me feel like I’m taking a mini-vacation, and who doesn’t need one of those now and then?
Whether you plan a romantic dinner-for-two or dinner with the family, enjoying it outdoors adds a refreshing respite to any weekday meal. Keep it simple by setting the table with placemats in spring hues and little pots of garden flowers destined for the garden.
My recipe for Sea Scallops with Triple Sec Orange Sauce is perfect for a springtime outdoor meal. It’s an easy dish with minimal prep that cooks in minutes, but looks and tastes like restaurant fare.
I like to serve it with fresh mango salsa and oven-roasted asparagus. The entire meal is ready in 45 minutes – ideal for a busy weekday dinner or no-fuss gathering with friends.
For additional recipes and entertaining tips from cookbook author and public television chef Christy Rost, visit christyrost.com.
Sea Scallops with Triple Sec Orange Sauce and Fresh Mango Salsa
• 1 ripe mango, rinsed and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
• 2 tablespoons red onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons green bell pepper, rinsed, seeded, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped
In a medium bowl, combine mango, onion, bell pepper, lime juice, and cilantro. Toss well, cover, and chill until ready to serve.
• 1/2 pound large sea scallops, about 10, rinsed and dried on paper towels
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/4 cup TripleSec
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat a medium skillet over medium heat, add oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the scallops and cook them 4 to 5 minutes, without stirring, until the bottoms are golden brown. Turn them over and cook 3 to 4 minutes more until they brown on the bottom and are firm to the touch.
Transfer the scallops to a platter and cover them to keep them warm.
Deglaze the pan with Triple Sec and orange juice, swirling the pan to incorporate flavor from the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, remove the pan from the heat, add the butter, and swirl gently just until the butter has melted.
To serve, divide the scallops between two plates and garnish the plate with mango salsa. Spoon the sauce over the scallops and serve.
Yield: 2 servings