Friday, July 07, 2006

Nix on the Big Ol' Plate of Same

Meal planning. Feh.
I like food, and it's fun to pull something together with ingredients I happen to have in the house.
I also like to prowl the farmers market and impulsively grab seasonal items that catch my fancy. Which often results in having to pull something together with ingredients I happen to have in the house.
But every now and then there's an "occasion." A holiday, an anniversary, company coming over... For some dumb reason, those occasions always seem to make me concoct a meal that's just another big ol' plate of same: mouthful after mouthful of today's chef's special.
Slabs of meat, for example. Vats of stew. Piles of pasta.
It's a trap. I'll be trying to think up a nice meal, and for some reason one particular item takes over. Dominates. Hogs the plate. Mouthful after mouthful.
We weren't going to let that happen for our recent anniversary dinner. We not only didn't want another Plate of Same, we also didn't want the pressure of dreaming up whatever special Plate of Same would serve as a celebratory meal. Of cooking it perfectly. Getting it to the table on time. Unenjoying it.
So we decided to have lots of plates of little things. We would let them come out of the kitchen in any order. We would eat them whenever we felt like it. We would have a small bite or two, and then move on to the next taste. When we felt like it.
One of our favorite little bites, pictured here, was some pan-fried scallops topped with a pesto of chives, cilantro and walnuts. We ate them just-warm. I would have liked a runnier dressing, maybe with a squeeze of lemon (mental note for next time), but there they were: Just a few. Casual but snazzy. Eat until happy, and then think about the next course.


Glenna said...

Yes! Love the concept. I'm an hors d'oeuvres girl from years back so I applaud you for having fun and for letting it be a relaxing evening. The scallops look fabulous!

Kevin said...

That sounds like fun. One of my favorite picnics is sometning like that, a basket full of bites of my favorite foods.

Greg said...

Outstanding!! Nuff said.

Catherine said...

OMG- chive pesto (epiphany!)

Alice Q said...

Mmmmm. I can never get scallops right - yours look perfect!

cookiecrumb said...

A "dinner" of small bites is so festive. You'd think it would be more work, but it was less stressful. Of course, the fancy cake from the pasticceria helped a bit.
(And, Alice: It was my first time cooking scallops, so, *beginner's luck*!)

Dagny said...

That's why I love tapas restaurants. It all looks delicious, especially the scallops. I had to just stare at the photo for a couple of minutes before I could actually read the post.

Stacie said...

Yum! I love little bites, tapas are one of my faves...

mrs d said...

I'm trying and failing in the scallop jealousy department. Damn, they look good.

Sculpin said...

Another chive pesto epiphany! I'm up to my keister in chives in the garden and haven't known how to use them beyond sprinkling chopped chives on potatoes. Yay!

What's that tasty-looking little thing on the spoon there?

cookiecrumb said...

Yeah, chive pesto is great. I'm not a fan of basil (blasphemer!), so cilantro works for me.
The spoons! Glad you asked. It was a funny idea: Grated radish of a rather hottish variety, topped with sour cream and a sliced jalapeno (dusted with smoked hot pepper). One tidy mouthful, and a shocking, creamy/cool/hot bite it was.