This year unfortunately I'm 1800 miles away (literally) from Mr.S. for Valentine's Day. I have to admit I'm a wee bit bummed but to be honest everyday is Valentine's Day when you're with someone you're head over heels in love with so in the long run it's no big deal. I love that we do romantic things year round instead of only on a day that Hallmark dictates that we should. One of my favorite things to do with Mr.S. is cook dinner for him. Don't get me wrong, I love cooking with him too but sometimes it's nice to spoil your partner with a fabulous meal. In fact, Julia Child once said, "I think careful cooking is love, don't you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who's close to you is about as nice a Valentine as you can give,"...that Julia, she's a wise one-- and I think she was spot on.
Anyhow, before I left for my trip I made Mr.S. this recipe for scallops with carrot puree. The puree didn't come out quite as smooth as I would have liked (I was at Mr. S's so I was using a blender to puree the carrots and it kept crapping out every 10 seconds) but it didn't matter because he looked so happy when I placed the plate of caramelized scallops before him. It sounds crazy but--- I'll take a romantic dinner on an average old Wednesday night any day over a box of chocolates or an expensive meal on February 14th.
So readers, please excuse the awful photo (I was more concerned about starting the meal then getting the perfect pic) and take the time to look over the recipe below. Then pick a night, any ol' normal night and surprise whomever you love by cooking this recipe. Light some candles, open a bottle of good wine and celebrate each other. You'll be glad you did.
Seared Scallops with Tangy Carrot Puree
1 lb. dry, large sea scallops
3 tablespoons clarified butter
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots- peeled & cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt (you can sub in sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup room temperature water
1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
3-4 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Instructions for Puree
1. Place a large steel or cast-iron skillet, over medium heat. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil across the pan. Once the oil starts to shimmer, throw in the chopped shallots. Cook your shallots for about 3-4 minutes, until they get soft.
2. Add garlic, cook until fragrant. Add carrots, salt, cayenne and water.
3. Raise heat to high and bring it all to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes.
4. Once the carrots are tender, take the skillet off the heat and allow ingredients to cool for 5 minutes.
5. Move your mixture to a blender. Add your Meyer lemon juice and blend. Then add your Greek yogurt and butter and blend. Puree until smooth but thick.
Handy Tip: When using a blender to process hot foods/liquids- slightly release one corner of the blender's lid. This will prevent the vacuum effect that results in heat explosions. To safeguard against splatter, place a towel over the top of the machine, give it a few pulses after which you can process on high speed until smooth.
6. Season to taste with salt. Set aside and keep warm.
Instructions for Scallops
1. Place scallops on a large plate. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Place a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Place a tablespoon and a half of butter on the skillet.
3. Place half of the scallops on the skillet, you want them spread apart so they have room to sear. Now here's the most important thing- don't touch them for 2 minutes. Don't nudge, peek or poke...you want to get that nice think layer of crunchy caramelization on them. At the end of 2 minutes, gently flip each scallop over and cook for another 1.5-2 minutes. Remove and place on a warmed plate.
4. Repeat with remaining butter and scallops.
5. Spoon carrot puree onto plate. Arrange the scallops on top of the puree. Pair with mixed greens salad or your favorite roasted veggies.