(Vicki James) George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” I agree! There is no better way to celebrate the day devoted to Love than preparing a delicious repast for your loved one. Preparing a meal is an act love in and of itself. It requires you to think about the preferences of the one you love. It requires you to spend time finding the perfect recipe and shopping for the ingredients. You have to part with your hard-earned cash at the grocery store since you are probably going to make something special. Last but not least, you make the food itself, with loving hands and a generous heart, the best seasoning of all.
While you might be tempted to make reservations rather than recipes on a busy weeknight, this scrumptious dinner will be more delicious and less stressful that a going to a crowded restaurant, waiting a long time for service and eating something that is, well, nice, but not really special. The recipe I am going to share is simple and quick, yet elegant and impressive. You can make it in the time you would spend waiting for the server to bring you a drink. Even with the pricey ingredients, you will spend less money. Yes, I’m serious!
I’m delighted to share this recipe because it’s one that went missing for a long time. It first appeared in Bon Appetit about 20 years ago. It can no longer be found on the Epicurious website. Nevertheless, I continued to search the web after I realized I had lost my copy of the magazine that originally contained it, hoping it might resurface sometime. I recently hit pay dirt when I ran across a version on the internet that was pretty close to what I remembered. I tweaked it a fraction and here it is:
Glazed Garlic Scallops with Champagne Sauce. The recipe I found serves 4, but I scaled it down for a Valentine’s Day menu for 2. You will have too much sauce, but as they say, too much of a good thing is wonderful! You can probably cut the sauce ingredients in half, but that would require figuring out an eight of a cup, and a sixth of a cup. If you decide to make less, you can probably eyeball the proper amount of each ingredient, but for the purposes of the blog, I decided not to do that as it might get confusing. So, if you want to serve this for 2 additional guests, double the number of scallops and you will still have enough sauce.
4 tablespoons butter
10 sea scallops
10 garlic cloves (peeled and boiled for 5 minutes, and halved when cool)
¼ cup minced shallots
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup maple syrup
½ cup champagne (Buy a good brut. Even if the bottle says “dry”, Brut is always drier. The champagne needs to be dry to offset the other sweet ingredients. Since you will have plenty left over to drink with the meal, buy something decent. Any good sparkling dry white wine will work. No need to spring for a bottle of vintage champagne)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A squeeze of fresh lemon
Before I provide the directions, I want to say a few words about preparing perfect scallops. The ones I purchased were beautiful wild caught sea scallops, deserving of the respect that comes from meticulous preparation. So, first dry each individual scallop carefully with paper towels. Place each scallop on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt. Place the scallops to air dry in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This will help you get a lovely golden sear on the scallops, which will not happen if they are wet.
Now, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of butter. Do not let the butter burn, but when it starts to brown, add the scallops to the pan. Cook them for approximately three minutes per side. Be careful to cook them all the way through, but not long enough to toughen them. Remove the scallops to a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.
Add the boiled garlic and shallots to the pan and sauté about two minutes or until the shallots are soft. Add the apple juice and maple syrup. Increase heat to a boil and cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half.
Add the champagne. Continue to cook until it is reduced by half and the sauce thickens.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining two tablespoons of butter.
Plate 5 scallops over rice and pour sauce on top. Garnish with chives and lemon zest. Give the plate a little squeeze of lemon. The sweet, rich sauce needs the hint of brightness the lemon provides.
Present the plate to your sweetie. Have smelling salts handy to revive them when they swoon. Pour the champagne. Enjoy a restaurant quality meal that will surely fan the flames of love!
“Cooking is one of the strongest ceremonies for life. When recipes are put together, the kitchen is a chemical laboratory involving air, fire, water and the earth. This is what gives value to humans and elevates their spiritual qualities. If you take a frozen box and stick it in the microwave, you become connected to the factory.”
“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”
― Mark Twain