Monday, April 5, 2010

Celebration Dinner

Scallops with red potatoes and asparagus

Whose celebration dinner ? My daughter turned 1 on Tuesday and as tradition will have it we had a special meal that night. For now we choose the menu but in a few years she will be choosing it and if she's like my 3yr old it will comprise of pizza or fries so for now we enjoy the fact that we have right of choice.

Another tradition (yes, we have several) is that for all of our special occasions the champagne of choice is Veuve Cliquot. For both kids their birth was celebrated by a bottle of 1996 Veuve Cliquot Grande Dame (a special millésime champagne that is only made from select years). Our meal this year was accompanied by the yellow label (ordinary if you can call it that). We had canapés as an appetizer and then for the main course we had pan seared scallops (noix saint jacques) served with garlic red potatoes and  asparagus. After having made her birthday cake and the decorations that went with it, I sought comfort in an easy dish and of course where possible integrating the fresh spring produce.

I have to say I was quite pleased with it as was the 3yr old and the hubby however I think the drink that was served with it helped improve any flavors that may have been off :)

If you are interested in making it here's the receipe

For 4 servings
Preparation time 15 mins
Active time :10 mins

  • 20 scallops (noix saint jacques)
  • 6 medium sized red potatoes 
  • 1 box of green asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic- minced finely
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt & pepper
  • fleur de sel (if not regular salt will do)

Wash potatoes and pat dry, slice into think rounds and place in a steamer for about 20mins (depending on size). I like to slice it before as the skins are easier to peel off and the potatoes hold their shape better.

Prepare asparagus by cutting off ends and with a vegetable peeler trim the stems so that the tough outer green shell is gone.
Again, I prefer to steam my asparagus as opposed to boiling as the steaming holds in that bright green color. I steam for 5-8mins as we like them al dente.

The asparagus and potatoes can be done earlier in the day and put aside.

The scallops need to be done right before serving. I can't stress enough how important it is to make sure that the scallops are dry and that there is little or no humidity on them, this is what gives you that golden crust any water left on the scallops will end up steaming them instead. I use a non stick pan but a cast iron will work beautifully as well ( just be careful of the hot spots). I don't salt and pepper the scallops before as the salt will draw out water from the scallops.

For this dish you either use very low heat and cook for a longer period of time or you use very high heat and in that case the cooking time is literally 3-5mins. Place 1tablespoon of butter in skillet and once it starts to bubble add the scallops, be careful not to overcrowd the pan. I choose to cook mine over high heat so once that starts to cook I start on the rest of the dish.

In a separate pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter and once it bubbles add the garlic and sauté until fragrant ( I think this has to be one of my favorite smells), at that point add the potatoes to the pan and cook until heated through (if you cooked them earlier) if not just cook them enough to absorb the garlic butter, at this point add salt and pepper to taste.

Now should be time to turn the scallops, notice that how there is no liquid in the pan ? This is what you are looking for. Turn the scallops over and you'll see their perfect golden crusts. Now add the asparagus to the potatoes and cook until heated and coated with the garlic butter. Turn the heat off the scallops as you complete the rest of the dish. Add the cream to the potatoes and asparagus and cook 1 minute remove from heat.

How you plate this dish is up to you, however I like to place the potatoes first and then add the asparagus after followed by the scallops (as seen in the photo). Notice how I did not add any salt to the scallops ? Once you plate the dish, sprinkle the scallops with fleur de sel or freshly ground Himalayan salt ( I happened to have on hand).

Serve immediately ! We served the dish with  Champagne, but a dry Riesling or a Bourgogne would work really well.

If you do make it, let me know how it came out.

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