Dining With “The Tiger”

I thought this would be fun to share this morning!

The other evening I had my monthly book club. This month we read John Vaillant’s The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (well, actually, I only made it to page 60). We decided the theme for dinner would be food related to the tiger and his menacing trek in Russia, near the China border. The main dish was a delicious, just-right spicy rice noodle and pork stir fry that I’m still dreaming about, made by my friend Deb, and my assignment was appetizers. Instead of the location, I opted for the colors of the cat: orange, black, white, and red (for the obvious). After much consideration, this is what I made.

Orange Crudités with Black Olive Tapenade
This is basically the olive vinaigrette I make in this recipe. In a blender or with a mortar and pestle (I chose the latter, but that’s only because my beloved Oster is no longer with us, and I don’t like his replacement. A mortar and pestle make it more “rustic”; in other words, more chunky than if you used a blender.). Take about half a cup of black Kalamata olives, a couple of garlic cloves, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, a little bit of roasted red peppers. Blend or grind all the ingredients together until it forms a somewhat thin paste. Place in a small bowl and surround it with the tiger’s orange stripes—orange pepper slices and baby carrots!

Smoked Salmon with Fresh Radishes
On a serving platter, add thinly sliced radishes and top them with a tiny piece of smoked salmon. In a small bowl, take some low-fat sour cream and snipped chives, about 2 tablespoons or so, and mix. Add a dime-size dollop of the sour cream mixture atop each radish. If you’re feeling really artistic, arranged chive spears on each hors d’oeuvre!

Have you ever had a themed dinner? What did you make?

Scallops with Tomatoes and Olive Vinaigrette

I’ve been making this dish since the late 1990s, and to give proper credit, it originally appeared in the Food Section of the Burlington Free Press, our local daily newspaper. It is so delicious and flavorful and easy to make for a work night supper. I’ve adapted the ingredients through the years, but whenever it’s a special occasion or scallops are on sale, this is what I make and it always gets rave reviews!

Scallops with Warm Tomatoes and Olive Vinaigrette
1 pound sea scallops
4-6 Roma tomatoes (I’ve tried this with other tomatoes, and Romas are definitely the best, other tomatoes tend to get too mushy when cooked)
About 4 cups mesclun mix

Olive Vinaigrette
1/4-1/2 cup Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons, red wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons, Dijon mustard
Squeeze or two of fresh lemon

1. Place all vinaigrette ingredients in blender and whisk until mixed. (Since my blender is on the fritz, everything can also be blended with a large-sized mortar and pestle.)
2. In a warm skillet (I use non-stick) with a tiny bit of olive oil, add scallops and cook until done. This will take about 3-4 minutes, be sure not to over cook or they will be tough and rubbery. When scallops are done, set aside in another bowl.
3. In the still warm skillet, add a little more olive oil and add tomatoes, sauté until warm.
4. In a salad bowl or plate, add mesclun mix. Top with scallops, tomatoes, and vinaigrette.