Wednesday, February 16, 2011

recipe: pan seared scallops with leek and tarragon creme

It’s official, February is my least favourite month.  I know it’s ridiculous for me to be mad at the snow – but I am.  My husband has been less than enthusiastic as well, but at least he has an excuse – we have a corner lot complete with sidewalks, and he does all the shoveling. 

However, I am trying quite hard to be grateful on the days when the sun shines, and to remember that February must have a least a few positive qualities.  Well, we’re now 12 days into February, and I can only think of two:

Valentine’s Day.  I cherish the homemade cards that David makes for me and let’s not forget that Valentine’s Day means that we can eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner guilt-free.

The Academy Awards.  I love the Oscars!  Apparently I’m not alone, as an estimated 40 million viewers tune in to watch.  I’m not sure what I like better – the actual awards or seeing what everyone is wearing on the red carpet.  At my house, Oscar night always involves a bottle of bubbly, and of course, plenty of delicious, rich food (because when there’s this much snow on the ground, it’s hard to believe that swimsuit season will ever return).  Oh, and there are also the snide remarks from my husband who instead of watching the show, invariably chooses to work in his office just within earshot of the tv.

This year, I’ll be making these delicious scallops in a leek and tarragon cream sauce.  The credit goes to Trish Magwood.  I learned to make these while working at her cooking school/café/retail shop/catering business in Toronto called Dish Cooking Studio.  I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to serve them – they’re wonderful with frisée greens (as per the recipe) but they’re also delicious tossed with fresh pasta or on a baguette as a bruschetta.  If you’re hosting an Academy Awards party, you can serve individual scallops with a dollop of sauce on porcelain, Asian spoons, or endive leaves.

pan seared scallops with leek & tarragon crème (serves 6)


§         3 (three) large or 5 (five) small scallops per person
§         2 (two) tablespoons vegetable oil
§         1 (one) tablespoon butter
§         1 (one) tablespoon olive oil
§         4 (four) shallots, sliced
§         2 (two) leeks, white part only, sliced
§         3 (three) cloves garlic, minced
§         1 (one) cup white wine
§         1/2 (one-half) cup 35% cream
§         2 (two) tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
§         1 (one) bunch fresh tarragon
§         frisée greens for garnish
§         1 (one) baguette
§         1/4 (one-quarter) cup olive oil
§         salt and pepper


1.       In a large heavy skillet, heat vegetable oil until almost smoking.  Pat scallops dry with paper towel, then season scallops with salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Pan sear on each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden.  Remove scallops. (note: do not crowd the pan with too many scallops – you will need to sear in batches).
2.       To the pan, add butter and a dash of olive oil.  Sauté shallots and leeks until fragrant, about 6 minutes.  Add minced garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
3.       Add white wine, scraping up any stuck bits.  Add cream and cook, reducing liquid to about half.  Finish with parmesan and freshly chopped tarragon leaves.  Season again with salt and pepper.
4.       Lightly toss frisée with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
5.       Place greens in center of plate, top with cooked scallops.  Drizzle with tarragon crème and garnish with 2 crostini per person.
Note – if you like a lot of sauce (or plan to serve the scallops with pasta) then double the sauce component.

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