January. It definitely has its unique vibe. Part of it feels like the month of repentance - ate too much, drank too much, spent too much. And part of it feels like the beginning of the new and improved you - resolutions, abstinence and a clean slate.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum on any given January day, and now that everyone’s calendar is wide open, why not host a casual healthy dinner party? It will check boxes on both sides of the spectrum and make you feel like an accomplished host. Check! More getting together with friends. Check! Healthier eating. Check!
Healthy can come in a number of forms but for this menu here’s what I’ve concentrated on - less food, the option of alcohol or not, and nothing too fatty. Simple and just enough. I’ve forgone any appetizer. Do we really need more food? And I’d recommend serving as many roast veggies as you care to cook with the scallops. For dessert, if the fruit just isn’t cutting it, you can find the pavlova recipe from the October 2018 cover shot on my social channels. Your call.
Kombucha Martini (Virgin or not)
I’m fully on the Kombucha wagon for a number of reasons. It tastes great, the sugar is low and it makes you feel like you are having an adult drink even if you omit the vodka.
My go-to favorite is Tea-Biotics. Too many good flavors to mention, and if you haven’t been to their tap room, make it a must for 2019.
- 3 oz. pineapple infused vodka. (Straight vodka will work too.)
- 1.5 oz. Watermelon Hibiscus kombucha or one-part Beach Life from Tea-Biotics
Shake with ice and pour into a chilled glass.
I infused a pineapple vodka for 14 days. It’s really simple. Just cut a whole pineapple into large chunks and pour over enough vodka to submerge the fruit. Cover it and leave it alone. It doesn’t have to be in the fridge.
It’s really that simple, no other flavors required. You may omit the vodka, but still shake the Kombucha and pour over ice and serve in a fancy glass. It gives it a nice foam and a sense of occasion.
Garnish with a skewer of fruit - just like the photo!
Tarragon Seared Scallops with Celery Root Purée
For the Purée:
- 6 Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 celery roots - they are brown and kind of hairy looking with a mild celery flavor.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp. butter
Peel potatoes and celery roots and dice into about 1-inch pieces.
Cook potatoes in pot of salted water until easily mashed.
In another pot, cover diced celery root with milk and 1 tsp. salt and poach until tender.
When potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash. (I highly recommend getting a ricer for this. You won’t overwork the gluten and they’ll be fluffy.)
When the celery root is tender, blend it with the poaching liquid. (Stick blenders or immersion blenders are really convenient and up to this job.) When it’s smooth, fold into mashed potatoes and add 2 tbsp. butter. Check seasonings and keep warm. If you don’t want the butter, just omit. It will still be delicious without.
For the Scallops:
- 2 tbsp. light olive oil
- 18 scallops - dried on paper towel in the fridge overnight
- 2 lemons
- Splash of white wine - about 1/4 cup
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
- 3 Tbsp. butter
The only way to get crispy scallops is to dry them out and cook them in a hot pan. You may have to change the paper towel if it gets saturated.
Heat a large frying pan on the stove.
When hot add oil.
Then add the dried seasoned scallops. When they get crispy, turn them over. This will be a matter of minutes, so stick with them.
Once you turn them, give them another minute or two then add the juice of one lemon and the wine. Turn your heat down to a simmer. Add the tarragon and butter just before serving.
If you want to do the fancy lemons like the photo, just thinly slice your other lemon, and fry in a hot dry pan. No oil. Don’t put the slices in until the pan is hot. A minute or two each side and they’ll be done.
Roasted cauliflower and parsnips
Cut a whole cauliflower head into florets. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Roast in a 400-degree oven until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Peel parsnips and cut lengthwise into quarters or eighths.
Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven with the cauliflower. Use separate sheet pans, so you can pull one if it cooks faster than the other vegetables.
Any veggie tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted in a high oven won’t go wrong. So simple and so good.
Fresh Fruit with Basil and Mint Sugar
- 1/8 cup fresh basil
- 1/8 cup fresh mint
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Pulse in a blender until green.
Plate up a fresh fruit platter. Whatever you fancy and whatever looks good when you’re at the store. Serve the herb sugar on the side. A little goes a long way.
Or Pavlova recipe at TrinaKahl.com