How to add a much-needed fancy flourish to the end of a stressful week:
Take a pound of sea scallops. Admire them, all pink and opalescent and serene. They’re not freaked out, so why should you be?
Rinse the scallops, then get them as close to bone-dry as you can. Get some oil sizzling–almost smoking–hot in a skillet, and add the scallops in a single layer. Jump back quickly to avoid getting hit by the spatter.
When the scallops are golden and starting to crisp on the bottom, turn them over. Enjoy the resulting little burst of fragrance, caramel-dark and inflected with ocean.
Give the scallops another minute to get a little color on their dimply bottoms. When they bounce back just a little in the middle with the touch of a finger, pull them out of the pan and let them rest.
Meanwhile, mince three cloves of garlic and a handful of parsley leaves. Toss them into the golden slick in the bottom of the pan, and stir them around for a minute or two. Then, crack open one of those tiny bottles of white wine, the kind that comes in four-packs at the store. Pour in about three-quarters of the bottle. Save the rest to drink. You earned it, dammit.
Let the sauce bubble until it’s reduced down to a thick, almost syrupy glaze–a nut-brown shadow of its former self. Taste continuously, even greedily. It might not even need salt.
Toss the scallops in the warm sauce, then call three other people to the dinner table. Make sure they’re people who will kick up a big fuss over this elegant, stunningly simple dish. Because this is an ego boost on a plate.
Eat. Smile. Relax. Be a little smug. You gourmet chef, you.