I have finished the book for the book club I have recently joined so now I can allow myself to write. For those of you that are interested, the book is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and it weaves a beautiful tale. I wish that I could write so beautifully that the words bring you in.
In the meantime I will stick to making food. On Saturday, when making my menu for the week I knew that I wanted scallops for Sunday dinner. When I skimmed my saved recipes for ideas I noticed one for scallops with a blood orange sauce; citrus and scallops are perfect match. Although I frequently use lemons, blood oranges are still around at the grocery store.
The most important thing when cooking scallops is ensure that they are dry so that they brown rather than simmer, so after I rinse them and remove the side muscle, I dry them on paper towels and then I replace the paper towels and flip them over so that the other side is also dry. I always season them with salt and pepper before I cook them.
In addition to this I also did all of my prep work and measuring for this meal in advance, once you start cooking it only takes 10 minutes so it is much easier to have all of your ingredients ready. I also had all of my dessert ingredients ready, but since it also only took 10 minutes to cook, I didn’t bake it until after we had all eaten and cleaned up the kitchen; I’ll get to that after the meal.
For the scallops the prep also included chopping the shallot and squeezing the oranges (they were small so I ended up using 2). I rinsed the beans, measured my couscous and water, and minced a handful of mint.
When I was ready to cook, I started the water for the couscous first with a bit of butter and salt while I heated my cast iron skillet for the scallops and my skillet for the green beans. When the water boiled, I added the couscous and reduced it to a simmer and put the green beans in my skillet with a bit of tangerine olive oil, salt, and pepper over medium high heat.
Once the cast iron was hot I set in the scallops, it’s important not to move them while they cook, they should take about 3 minutes to get that nice brown color; in the meantime I stirred the beans to make sure that none overcooked.
After flipping the scallops and letting them cook 2 more minutes I set them aside and added the additional butter and shallots to the pan. While this shallots softened I turned off the heat on the beans and couscous and stirred the mint into the couscous.
Dessert was just as simple. Before dinner I set the butter and chocolate in my double boiler on the stove, I didn’t heat it, but with the other cooking going on they softened well. I also prepped my ramekins measured my sugar, broke the eggs into my mixer bowl, and measured the remaining ingredients into a small bowl so that I could add it to the mixer when the time came.
- 1½ lb. sea scallops, side muscles removed
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped (~¼ cup)
- 1-2 blood oranges, squeezed to yield at least ¼ cup juice
Pat the scallops dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. of the butter and the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the foam from the butter subsides.
Add the scallops and cook, undisturbed, until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the second side until browned and just barely firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter to the skillet. Add the shallot and a touch of salt; cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the scallops drizzled with the sauce and sprinkled with a little black pepper.
Chili-spiced Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
- Butter for greasing ramekins
- Regular or dark cocoa powder (for dusting ramekins)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces dark chocolate
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- Pinch of cayenne
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Butter four 4-ounce ramekins and lightly dust the inside of each ramekin with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess; set aside.
Place the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, melt over hot water until almost completely melted. Stir until the chocolate is smooth.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until light and thick. Slowly add butter mixture to mixer; add flour, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne, and mix until well combined. Divide batter between prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until sides are set and center is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand about 1 minute. Invert each mold onto a plate and let stand for about 10 seconds. Gently tap the tops of ramekins and carefully lift to remove. Serve with ice cream if desired and berries.