Seared sea scallops in duxelles and pink champagne sabayon
First prepare my duxelles recipe.
Then prepare sabayon, your favourite way. I prefer to use a bain marie. Preheat the broiler. Place the oven rack in second top position.
In sizzling butter in a stainless-steel sauté pan, perfectly sear three scallops per person. Turn only once. Sprinkle with just a pinch of thyme. The scallop edges should turn a very fine beautiful golden colour. They take just minutes to cook. Absolutely do not overcook.
Deglaze the pan with a little pink champagne. (I use pink sparkling French Royal de Neuville.) Add the sizzling butter pan juices to the ready sabayon.
Assemble: Using large coquilles, place the shells on a bed of coarse sea salt to stabilize (coarse pickling salt will do since the salt won’t come in contact with the food) on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Carefully spoon a little prepared duxelles into each shell. Spritz with a little pink champagne and a pinch of salt and pepper. (Use ground pink peppercorns if available.)
Add a few tablespoons of pink champagne sabayon. Position three seared sea scallops in each shell.
Place the salt sheet holding the coquilles under the preheated broiler oven just for a few minutes and serve immediately.
Substitute cognac Asbach Uralt for the champagne for a different but most amazing taste.
For an equally delightful offering, you could change up the whole presentation and instead use another of my “shell-a-brate” recipes, served on a large coquille, also placed under the piping hot broiler for just seconds.
My ultimate shrimp in garlic cognac cream
In sizzling unsalted butter, sauté slivered paper-thin garlic slices; about a half cup. That’s a sizeable amount of garlic, but you read it right.
Turn the heat down because you want to keep the garlic white. Sauté until the texture is nearly mashable. Sprinkle with a pinch (just a pinch, not more) of ground cloves, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of paprika, a little bit of thyme and a little salt and pepper.
Add a little more butter and the shrimp that are still in their shells. 27-30 size. Or as many as you like.
Be careful that the sauté pan is still very hot but not browning. The shrimp will cook in just a couple of minutes; turn only once immediately when the first side turns pink. Shrimp is fully cooked when opaque. Absolutely do not ever overcook. The shrimp will get rubbery.
Remove the pan contents and deglaze the sauté pan with a generous splash of Asbach Uralt cognac. The bouquet will erupt and fill your kitchen with the most amazing perfume.
Now add to the very hot pan, a cup of half-and-half cream (or more if you have doubled the shrimp quantity). Let the cream scald and reduce. The thickened cream will take on the wonderful colour of the cognac as well as the fragrance.
Put the shrimp back into the sauté pan and tumble to coat in the amazing sauce.
Using a rubber spatula, wipe the sauce and the lightly coated shrimp completely from the pan into a just right-size serving bowl.
You can serve immediately or at room temperature or even cold the next day. The sauce will congeal overnight as it continues to thicken.
An unspeakable treat. I often refer to this as my “house-selling shrimp dish.” I sometimes surprised a neighbour with a pretty glass covered bowl of this quick and easily made recipe. Add a few slices of homemade grilled garlic bread. Great nibbles after work while they barbecue their steaks.
Agents will remind sellers not to offend sensitive noses of maybe-buyers by cooking, especially cabbage or fish, when their house is on the market. When I was selling, I did not take my own advice, as I have mentioned in some posted REM comments over the years. I opened my windows while having appointments and let the mouth-watering vapours waft through the area.
After only a couple of appointments, an offer appeared, along with comments like one Sabine in Kitchener area recently so kindly made: “What time is dinner tonight?”
Total time in the kitchen less than a half hour. And you can’t buy or order in this kind of goodness. Really! Try it for yourself. Serve alone or with plain instant one-minute basmati buttered rice. You’ll make the neighbours’ mouths water. Or serve the shrimp alongside your steak as a very special surf and turf. Surprise yourself!
A tall cool glass of Winzertanz pairs wonderfully. Enjoy!
If you have leftover sauce, don’t toss it. Refrigerated, the sauce will keep for a couple of days, covered in a glass container. Use it to tumble over cooked pasta or rice, with added seared fresh sea scallops. Mouth-watering good leftovers.
Or put a small puddle of the leftover sauce on an oversized dinner plate and position fresh deep-fried homemade crab cakes strategically. Drizzle just a little sauce over each crab cake. Top with shards of fresh Parmesan cheese, using your vegetable peeler or kase scharfe.
Decorate the plate with a sprig of fresh basil leaves. Dress with lemon quarters to be squeezed when desired.
If you love crushed or flaked fresh coconut, lightly brown it in a single layer, in just a tiny bit of sizzling unsalted butter (in a nearly dry very hot sauté pan). Sprinkle the crispy coconut over the cognac creamed shrimp just when ready to serve. Do not stir.
Another alternate: prepare your favourite salmon steak and during the last minute of sautéing or roasting or grilling, add a little of the leftover cognac sauce. (You could use on any fish.)
As I’ve said countless times… nothing goes to waste in my kitchen.
Note: A reader used leftover shrimp sauce on an oven-roasted Atlantic salmon steak, just in the last seconds in the oven. Really delicious!
At the table: With either recipe, offer a tuile or two. Prepare a Parmesan tuile or perhaps a ground almond tuile. There are loads of recipes for these simple, tasty creations.
Prepare the table placing a large folded heavyweight cotton tea towel in the centre where you can place a large (hot water) heated serving platter or two upon which to place the broiler hot coquilles. In the kitchen, arrange the coquilles on a bed of coarse salt on the large hot platter for presentation as a table centre piece.
Prepare each place setting with a large charger plate on a cloth covered tabletop or on a placemat, topped with a plain oversized serving plate with a folded-square cloth napkin on each, ready to receive a very hot coquille. Place a seafood fork or pie fork at each place setting, along with a soup spoon to enjoy the sauce and drippings. Place a tuile or two at the edge of each plate.
Pink champagne royal cocktail – my very own
Here’s a nice pairing to serve: my very own martini creation, using either matching Royal de Neuville or Asbach Uralt cognac, depending on which you used in your recipe choice.
In a cold metal cocktail shaker, pour in a half cup of Asbach Uralt cognac.
Add a half cup of cold sugar syrup made using 50:50 sugar and water dissolved over medium heat and cooled. (Use to marinate fresh sliced peaches.) Then add a half cup of liquid from the sugar marinated peaches. (Or you could use the brandy marinating jus from your jar of black mission figs instead). Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a pinch of salt. Add a full cup of ice cubes.
Shake vigorously for a half minute.
Pour into stemmed champagne flutes that have been cooled; about three-quarters full. Fill the flute right to the top with my favourite bubbly, sparkling French pink champagne, Royal de Neuville. Park a tiny slice of fresh peach on the rim of the glass. Sip this delicate creation. It’s a pink thing!
This is a perfect pairing with a slice of homemade wonderful cream genoise or a slice of fresh peach fruit pastry tart.
Hint: Don’t have a cocktail shaker? Use a tightly covered screw-top large glass mason jar.
Any of these recipes using the coquilles as a serving vessel could be switched up using any seafood: crab, lobster or a seafood mix of your favourites, still using the duxelles and savoury sabayon.
For an entree you could consider crab cakes, or wonderful two-bite-size cakes made using mixed seafood, sizzling hot, reheated just when ready to serve. They are simply made, even the day before. Offer on a plate with individual seafood savoury crème brûlée, or an individual seafood panna cotta (set in a shot glass), drizzled with homemade lobster oil. Provide a serving bowl that can be passed at the table, with fresh lemon and lime wedges. And another bowl with mixed lemon lime zest with a tiny serving (espresso) spoon. And yet another bowl with mixed citrus segments having freshly cut them from between the fruit membranes. (you might add segments of grapefruit if no one is taking certain prescription medicines; some Rx forbid taking with grapefruit of any kind.)
And yet another table topper: a silver serving serving bowl of homemade candied citrus rind from your pantry sugar jar. Place a glass bowl inside the silver bowl to keep citrus at bay from direct acidic contact. Diners can choose at will how much of each or all, if they prefer.
You could fill half avocado shells (or hollow out a papaya) with avocado seafood salad on a bed of shredded romaine and iceberg lettuce mix or use mesclun; (spritz the greens with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil 30:70), as part of your entree. For this course, a nice accompaniment is a Canadian Bloody Caesar.
A real “shell-a-bration” of a unique kind. Tell your guests to bring a big appetite and be prepared to indulge over a few hours of at-table enjoyment and be sure to forewarn them dinner is all seafood.
© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience