I readily admit that my blogging efforts have been an epic fail of late. The only excuse I can offer is that this term in school has been particularly composition heavy and when writing for school not much else gets written. I have struggled to write as much as a post it note recently! It does not help that, for a variety of reasons, I have felt kind of down in the dumps lately. You would think that cooking would make that all better but ironically the opposite happens. I do not cook when I am blue. Perhaps it is the utter lack of inspiration?
As my ten week term in school draws to a close I can see the light at the end of this term’s tunnel! I am taking next term off to (finally) take the vacation my father got for me on my nnth (I am actually 29, forever!) birthday. So a much needed adventure is coming my way and I will be blogging about it as I go. A month or so of touring Europe (mostly Italy, I think) with my best friend Amanda (yes we are both Amanda’s), hopefully a visit or two with some really great friends of mine, culinary explorations abound, and I should be feeling all kinds of perky when I return to the US of A. Words do not even express my excitement when I think of the potential here! I have only been to the United Kingdom in the past and I love, love, loved it! London has to be one of my favorite cities on earth! I cannot wait to see more of the continent and share it with all of you! There is the small matter of surviving without my precious Griffin, but as they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Right?
So because of my serious lack of cooking lately I have been collecting recipes from friends and I literally have a file folder bursting at the seams of blogging ideas! The first “guest recipe” comes from my beautiful and great friend J~ and involves one of my favorite (easy) foods to impress with. Scallops! They are rich and buttery and should never, ever be rubbery! Go fresh with scallops avoid the bag of frozen scallops at the local Sam’s Club. Make sure that you rinse them and remove their “necks” (the little piece that makes them uneven circles, it comes off really easily) and always, ALWAYS pat them dry with paper towels before cooking.
The secret to a great seared scallop is to leave them alone! Do not whatsoever touch them until it is time to flip over the scallop. You will know their level of doneness by looking at the side of the scallop, when it is half way opaque then you may flip them. The bottom of the scallop when you flip it over should be this beautiful caramelized crust! It takes about two minutes on each size, but that is dependent on the size of your scallop! Watch them, but as I said avoid the urge to peek the searing process takes time. Also it is very important to make sure your pan is HOT. When I say hot I do not mean you pat your scallops dry and turn on the burner. No! Turn on the burner as you are rinsing the scallops and allow the oil to heat a bit, not smoking, but close. It is the heat that gives you the lovely sear. J~’s recipe is beautiful and would be lovely to really impress or just when you want something different than the usual mid-week ho hum chicken or tuna mac. Everyone does that, don’t feel ashamed. Without further ado J~’s recipe in her own words!
For the Tomato-Butter-Leek Sauce:
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots (my grocery store was out so I used sweet onions)
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 leeks, white part only, sliced
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 small tomatoes, diced
I also added some salt, to taste, but the recipe did not call for it.
For the scallops:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Seasoned bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (J~ skipped this, but you could use a splash of lemon juice if you do not feel comfortable with the zester)
1. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, vinegar, shallots, bay leaf and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until reduced by half.
2. Add the cream and leeks and cook for 3-5 minutes more, or until the leeks are nearly tender.
3. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, and stir until smooth. Add the tomato and cook for one minute. Reduce heat to low to keep sauce warm.
4. Preheat the broiler.
5. In a large ovenproof skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat (stove top). Add the scallops and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until opaque.
6. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and lemon zest and place under broiler, 4 inches from the heat source for 2-3 minutes, or until the crumbs are lightly browned.
7. Serve scallops with sauce.