Showing posts with label Grand Central Market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grand Central Market. Show all posts

Friday, May 15, 2015

Scallops with Ginger-Soy Aioli

by Sheila Connolly

You know you’re a foodie when the first thing you do when visiting the country’s great cities is find a market.

I just came back from a conference/research trip (the MWA Edgar Awards, Malice Domestic, and an upper-crust party in Philadelphia) that took twelve days and covered multiple states. I’m not complaining (except for the humongous suitcase that I came to hate and would gladly have tossed under a train), although I think I left my brain somewhere along the way. But worth it!

Grand Central Market

The first stop was New York, where the conference hotel sat literally atop Grand Central Station. While I had taken trains in and out of there in the past, I never realized there were other parts of the station I knew nothing about. Thanks to a friend who dragged me off to lunch, I discovered the Market and the Food Court. Oh joy.

I ended in Philadelphia, where I used to work. The first thing I did (after checking into my hotel and getting rid of that suitcase) was to head straight to the Reading Terminal Market and eat a cheese steak at the Down Home Diner. The market has been around for well over a century and has an amazing array of foods. I try to stop in every time I’m in town to buy mushrooms (did I mention that Pennsylvania is the mushroom capital of the world?) that I can’t get anywhere else. Chanterelles (you don’t want to know how much they cost), hen of the woods, beech mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, trumpet mushrooms—I snagged them all, and this week my husband and I are eating a lot of mushroom recipes (starting with a lovely risotto…).

Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market
Mushrooms--yes, I bought them all

But the recipe I wanted to share came from my hotel in Philadelphia, Morris House. A colleague alerted me to its existence a few years ago. It’s a tiny place (15 rooms) in an 18th century house in center city, close to all the historic monuments I want to visit. It has been lovingly restored, and each room is different. Where else can you find a real fire burning in the fireplace in the breakfast room?

It also has a restaurant called M. In last year’s book in the Museum Mysteries series, Razing the Dead, I set a romantic scene there, between my protagonist Nell Pratt and her FBI whatever-he-is James Morrison. Nell is sure he’s trying to break off their relationship (she was wrong). For details you’ll have to read Razing the Dead and the forthcoming Privy to the Dead.

I ate at the restaurant in honor of Nell and James. In the kitchen the woman chef called out orders to the kitchen staff, and I was reminded of Gordon Ramsay. I like to know how things work, including kitchens. Gordon came to mind again when I ordered the scallops (if the show Hell’s Kitchen is any indication, Gordon doesn’t think anyone in the world can cook scallops right).

I’m getting to the food, really. After all this, I’m giving you a quick and simple recipe.

Scallops with Ginger-Soy Aioli

I wish I could tell you that I went to the kitchen and demanded this recipe after the first bite, but I managed to restrain myself.

1/2 cup mayonnaise (if you’re a purist you can make your own—I used Hellman’s)
3 Tblsp soy sauce
1 Tblsp coarsely grated fresh ginger
1 Tblsp fresh chives, diced finely
Juice of half a small lemon

Simple, isn’t it? Just mix them together and you’re good to go. One piece of advice: taste as you add the ingredients. The amounts are suggestions, and you can tweak them as you like. You could also add garlic (with restraint!), or cayenne (just a dash) or horseradish (a pinch).

The aioli--looks so innocent, doesn't it?

Sauté your scallops briefly in butter, with the aioli on the side for dunking. Serve immediately with salad greens lightly tossed with vinaigrette. I found that the scallops are the perfect complement to the aioli, because their sweetness cuts the tartness just a bit. But you can use any white fish. Heck, use the stuff as a marinade for chicken—it’s that good.

Look, Gordon--I can cook scallops!

BTW, for a cheese course I ordered unpasteurized sheep cheese (which the menu described as “musty”), which came paired with a dollop of butterscotch sauce. I know, it sounds crazy—but the combination worked. That invisible chef has a wonderful sense for flavors.

Privy to the Dead (Museum Mystery #6), coming June 2nd!

Nell Pratt, president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society, has something to smile about thanks to a generous donation from a major Philadelphia developer who’s willing to help update their museum. But renovations have barely begun when a man is struck by a car in front of the building and killed.

The victim is a construction worker who found a curious metal object while excavating an old privy in the museum’s basement. Nell thinks the death is somehow connected to the Society, and her suspicions are confirmed when an antiques expert reveals a link between the objects from the cellar and a fellow staff member’s family.

Now Nell must unearth a mystery with ties to the past and the present. Because when someone is willing to kill over scrap metal, there’s no telling what they’ll do next…

Available now for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.