Sticky Ginger Cake with its clementine glaze is perfect with a cup of tea. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I’ve been reading up on the Nordic tradition of “hygge,” a Danish-Norwegian word that translates as “a feeling of coziness.” It’s also about “taking pleasure in the simple things in life.” And there’s really nothing simpler than a supper of scallops and freshly pickled vegetables to brighten a long winter’s night. Now that the holiday decorations have been stowed away and the festivities are over, it’s time to turn the volume down, snuggle in and contemplate our blessings.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Seared scallops are a favorite of mine and it’s a plus that they are so readily available just a short distance from my kitchen here at the cove. I often have a pound or two in my freezer and consider them to be a staple that I can’t do without. If you don’t have any bacon fat handy, butter will do. However, the bacon fat makes them even tastier, as you can imagine.

In the summer months, I often serve the scallops on top of a green salad, but in the winter, I make crunchy pickled vegetables to have alongside. Slice the vegetables super-thin with a sharp knife or mandolin then experiment with different types of vinegars. You’ll find yourself using these instructions often so you can have a jar of pickled something-or-other in the fridge at all times.

As you’ve probably guessed from previous recipes I’ve shared, I do love dark, gingery desserts with their spicy warming quality. Another staple in my kitchen is a gallon jug of blackstrap molasses purchased once a year at the Mennonite store when I go visit mom in upstate New York. This particular loaf cake is incredibly moist and especially flavorful with its adornment of citrus glaze. It makes a satisfying ending to your scallop supper and is also just the thing to go along with a bracing cup of afternoon tea –just before naptime.

Pan-Seared Scallops
1 pound fresh diver scallops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon bacon fat
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh parsley

Be sure the scallops are very dry by patting them with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add the bacon fat to coat the bottom of the skillet then add the scallops in a single layer, allowing them to sear for 3 minutes without moving them.

Carefully turn the scallops over and sear another 3 minutes. Set them on serving plates. Quickly add butter, wine and lemon juice to the pan to deglaze and make a sauce. Pour sauce over scallops and garnish with parsley. Yield: 2 servings

Quick Pickles
1 1/4 cups white wine vinegar
3/4 cup superfine sugar
12 ounces cucumber, rhubarb, fennel, beets, cabbage or carrots, very thinly julienned, or whole blackberries

Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves completely. (Do not boil.) Thinly slice vegetables into ribbons, but if using berries, leave them whole.

Cool liquid to room temperature, add vegetables and allow to soak for one hour. Vegetables pickled this way should be eaten the same day. Yield: 2 servings

Sticky Ginger Cake
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup whole wheat or oat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Melt butter, sugar and molasses in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir and remove from heat. Cool slightly before adding buttermilk and eggs.

Sift together dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add to the mixture in the saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Pour batter into the loaf pan to half-full (any leftover batter can be made into a mini loaf) and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes. Tent with foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the loaf has risen and firm to the touch. Test with a skewer and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Place the loaf on a wire rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Pierce the top of the cake in several places with a skewer and pour the glaze over the top.

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Zest and juice of 1-2 clementines
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup pistachios

Stir together confectioners’ sugar and juice, adding more sugar or juice to achieve a consistency similar to thick cream.
Garnish cake with pomegranate and pistachios before serving. Yield: 8-10 servings

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