Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Scallops My Way - With Beurre Monté.

This meal is basic and simple.  Scallops.  Rice.  Spinach and mushrooms.  Parmesan crisps.  Some pineapple was thrown in.  There was some orange zest involved.  Some toasted sesame seeds.  A splash of sherry.  Parsley and cilantro from the garden.  And a new sauce I found out about.  The sauce is called beurre monté and it’s an emulsified butter sauce.  I’ll show you the technique, then you can build upon it, tweaking it here and there, customizing it, making it sweet or savory, and go on your own merry little way.  And this sauce would be lovely on any type of fish, shrimp, oysters, pasta, chicken, pork,  filet mignon, or even potatoes. Or you can go in a sweet direction and use it on a dessert.  Beurre monté is nothing if not versatile.

 When I’m putting a meal together, I have three things I want to incorporate – foremost is taste, then color, and texture, and I have the trio showcased with this entrée.  Seared scallops with pineapple-enhanced pan juices are the stars of this meal.  My sides are a fruity rice dish which has been soaking up orange juice, a sautéed mushroom and spinach dish with an Asian accent to provide some delicious color, and Parmesan crisps which lend the perfect texture. 

 I’ve added a twist to my scallops in the form of beurre monté.  Beurre monté is a French term for “mounted butter,” meaning “to mount” the dish, or top it off, or finish it, with butter.  But not just any butter. It’s melted butter that’s emulsified.

 Think about it this way - anything you’d dip in melted butter would be better with beurre monté.  Melted butter is wonderful, but it slips right off your food.  Beurre monté, however, caresses your food.  Because of the emulsification factor, it luxuriously clings to and coats your food.  Bottom line:  it adds richness, polish, elegance, and flavor to your dish.

 Now, let’s get started.  Instructions are in order of preparation.

 For the rice:

 (2 servings)
½ cup rice
1 ¼ cups fresh orange juice

I used jasmine rice.  Basmati is another option.  Both are aromatic, long-grained rices.  Jasmine is typically more floral and sweet, while basmati tends to have a nutty flavor and aroma.

Cook according to directions, except not.  Generally, rice instructions will tell you to bring your water to a boil and then stir in the rice.  Like I said before, I’m always thinking about taste, and water has no taste.  Sometimes, I use beef broth or chicken broth for my cooking liquid for rice, but today I wanted to complement those scallops, so I went with fresh orange juice for my liquid.  I squeezed a few oranges until I had a heaping cup of liquid, then added in about a ½ tsp of kosher salt and ½ cup of the jasmine rice.  Cooked it low and slow until the rice was just done, then I added in a heaping tablespoon of unsalted butter, tasted it (It was perfect.), then covered it, and set it aside.

 For the Parmesan Crisps:

Use a good quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  I look for the DOP label, meaning Denominazione di Origine Protetta, translated as “protected designation of origin.”  DOP is a legal designation which guarantees the cheese comes from the correct region of Italy (Emilia Romagna) and has been produced by trained artisans using centuries-old techniques with only local ingredients and traditional methods which are mandated and monitored by the European Union.

 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and finely grate circles of cheese, 2-3 inches in diameter and between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick.  Bake at 400° 4-5 minutes, until cheese is golden, rotating pan halfway through.  Let cool before removing from baking sheet.   

 While the oven is still hot, now’s a good time to toast the sesame seeds for the spinach dish.  Just spread them thinly on a baking sheet and toast until lightly brown.








 For the spinach dish:

 ½ tsp sesame oil
2 TB unsalted butter
12 mushrooms, sliced
Fresh spinach, stemmed - approximately 2 yepsens.  In case you didn’t know, a yepsen is a unit of measurement.  It’s the amount that can be held in 2 hands cupped together.
1 TB Soy sauce
1 TB Mirin (Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking wine made from rice, similar to sake, but with a higher sugar content and lower alcoholic content.)
1-2 TB sesame seeds

Pour sesame oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat, swirl it around and add a tablespoon of butter, heating until melted.  Add in the sliced mushrooms and sauté until nicely browned.  Add  another tablespoon butter and drop in the spinach, stirring until it just barely starts to wilt.  Sprinkle in a tablespoon each of soy sauce and mirin. Toss, cover, and remove from heat.

 Now for the beurre monté:
 1 ½ TB lime juice
½ stick unsalted butter, cut into pats
½ tsp sugar
Sriracha sauce
Gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)

Whenever I can, I like to offer a new technique for you to try out.  Today, it’s beurre monté.

 First, a little chemistry. A stick of butter in its solid state is a semi-solid emulsion made of approximately 82% butter fat, 16% water, and 2% milk solids.  It’s fat with tiny droplets of water suspended throughout.  When we heat butter, the butter melts and the components separate.  Beurre monté is a method of heating, and melting, butter, while maintaining the emulsification. It’s water, with tiny droplets of fat suspended throughout.

 Beurre monté  is simply butter gradually whisked into water until the mixture thickens, or emulsifies. What you end up with is a silky, creamy workhorse of a sauce. This technique is a valuable tool to have in your culinary belt.  Once you get the basic method down, you’ll find that this sauce is quite versatile.  Experiment!  Additional ingredients, sweet or savory, can be incorporated to add aromatic flavorings. 

 The basic ratio is 3 parts water to 8 parts butter.  Since I’m into a fruity component with this meal, what with orange juice in the rice and pineapple in the pan juices of the scallops, I decided to use lime juice instead of water.

 In a small sauce pan, heat 1 ½ tablespoons lime juice to a gentle simmer.  Have ½ stick of chilled, unsalted butter cut into 6-8 pats.  Over low heat, whisk butter into lime juice, one pat at a time, until it melts.  Add the butter slowly and whisk vigorously for 20-30 seconds after each addition, incorporating the butter and establishing the emulsion. You want your temperature between 180° and 190°.  Don’t let the mixture boil; the emulsion will break.

  Once you’ve created your basic emulsion, you can then season it to complement whatever you’re serving.  I added ½ teaspoon sugar for a hint of sweetness along with a few squirts of sriracha sauce and a couple shakes of gochugaru for a little heat.  Keep warm while you prepare the scallops.


 For the scallops:

 Cooking oil and butter
12 large sea scallops
Lawry’s seasoned pepper
1 small can of pineapple chunks and juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
Dry sherry
Parsley, and optional cilantro chopped
Orange zest, minced

 To prepare the scallops, first remove that tough, chewy little muscle, called the "foot," on the side. It pulls off easily with your fingers.  Rinse scallops and pat them completely dry with paper towels.  Give them a light shake of Lawry’s seasoned pepper.  Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with a thin film of peanut oil to 375°.  Add in a tablespoon of butter and swirl to melt. Using a fine mesh sieve, very lightly dust the scallops with cornstarch right before searing.   Place scallops in one at a time, not crowding the pan.  Cook for about 1 ½ minutes on the first side and a minute on the second side.  Remove from pan to warm platter.  Reduce heat, add in minced garlic, and sauté for about 20 seconds.  Don’t burn garlic.  It gets very bitter.  Pour in the can of pineapple chunks with juice and a splash of sherry, stirring and scraping up all the goodie bits in the bottom of the pan.  That’s where the flavor is.  Let the juices reduce a bit, intensifying those flavors, then remove from heat.


To serve:

Spoon rice onto your dish and enhance with pineapple pan juices.  Nestle the spinach and mushrooms and sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds.  Plate the scallops and cascade that silky beurre monté over top.  Speckle with the orange zest and parsley.  And have a delightful meal.


Now, some step-by-steps, in case you need/like the visuals:


Little rounds of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bake until golden.
Toast the 
sesame seeds.

of spinach.

A little sesame oil and butter in medium hot skillet.
Sauté the mushrooms.

Add another plunk of butter.  Add in spinach.
Soy sauce and mirin.  A few tosses.

Just let it barely wilt, then cover and set aside.


the scallops.
See that
little muscle?

Just pull it off.

Then rinse
and pat 
completely dry.


While the scallops were drying, I made the beurre monté.

Beurre monté:








Bring lime juice just to a simmer.
Lower heat.
Whisk in one pat of butter at a time.

Keep whisking until butter is melted and incorporated and forms  an emulsion.

Then add in
the next pat.

And there you have
an emulsion
of melted butter.
Ready for seasoning.

Sriracha sauce.











Now, the scallops:

Use a heavy-bottomed skillet. Pour in a thin film of oil, then a tablespoon of butter.  Medium high heat.

I like to season with Lawry's seasoned pepper.
Give the scallops a light dusting of cornstarch right before searing.

 Place in scallops one at a time.

Turn at  1 1/2 minutes.  
Cook about 1 more minute.
Remove from pan.
Reduce heat.

Add in garlic.

Pineapple chunks.

Pineapple juice.

Sherry or white wine.

Let those juices reduce a bit and concentrate the flavors.

 And plate:

Spoon that
silky goodness
over top
the scallops.

More on beurre monté:

  Once you get your basic emulsion established, then you can season the base to complement whatever you’re cooking.  For these particular scallops, I gave it sugar for a hint of sweetness along with sriracha sauce and gochugaru (chili flakes) for a little heat.  Depending on your what you’re cooking, use your imagination here and consider a range of seasonings.  You could add savoriness by using a stock instead of water.  You could experiment with different herbs.  Think about asparagus with a Dijon mustard flavored beurre monté.  You could use wine or sherry instead of water.  You could  accent with jams, jellies, or preserves or even some type of booze - liqueurs come to mind here - peach schnapps, amaretto, Kahlua.  Think about dessert - crèpes, pound cake, or angel food cake with fresh fruit, whipped cream, and a customized beurre monté.  Be creative.  The possibilities are endless.
I there's any leftover beurre monté  (unlikely, but possible), put itin a small container, refrigerate, then use later as you would a stick of butter.  It won't be in that creamy emulsified state, (It will melt when you heat it.) but it's still good eatin's!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Rosie Sears Scallops. With Citrus. And Rice.

What a simple, quick, delicious meal.
Scallops and citrus.
Rice and citrus.
Here's my game plan
I had a blend of Texmati (whatever that is), white, brown, and red rices.  I had it in mind that I was going to sear the scallops then clean up the goodie bits in the pan with citrus juices and make a nice reduction enriched with butter, so I decided to enhance the rice with citrus to complement the scallops.

So, let's start on the rice.
juice of 2-3 oranges
juice of 1-2 limes
some zest of both
(You want about 1 1/4 cups juice.)
Combine the orange and lime juices in a small pan.  Add in about 1/2 cup rice and a bit of kosher salt.  Slow simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is ready.  Add in a big plop of butter.  Taste test.  Maybe more salt.  Cover.
For the scallops.
Remove that little tough tag on the side of the scallops.  Feed it to your cat or throw it away.
Rinse the scallops, drain, and pat dry with paper towels.
Using a small sifter or fine mesh sieve, lightly sprinkle some corn starch over the scallops.  Maybe some Lawry's pepper.

1 pound scallops (Large sea scallops.  I don't bother with the small bay scallops.)
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small can pineapple chunks with juice
2 TB diced onion
2 TB diced red pepper

Heat up a heavy skillet to medium high with a thin film of oil in it.  375° - 400°.  Place scallops in hot oil.  Do not crowd the pan.  Resist the urge to push the scallops around.  Leave 'em be!  Cook first side about 1 1/2 minutes.  Once the first side is seared, it releases easily from the pan. Turn scallops over and sear the second side.  About another minute.  Remove scallops from pan.  Add a pat of butter, let it sizzle, then add onion and pepper.  Stir for about 20-30 seconds, then pour in citrus juices and pineapple chunks, stirring to scrape up all the goodie bits.  That's where the flavor is.  Reduce the liquid a bit and whisk in butter, a pat at a time, to enrich the sauce. Maybe 3 tablespoons - depends on how much liquid is in the pan.  Pour sauce over scallops and rice.

Sprinkle on some parsley.


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Rosie Makes Grasshopper Pie.


Celebrate The π-rish

I’m killing three birds with one pie this month.  I’m celebrating Pi Day (3/14), St. Patrick’s Day (3/17), and the Spring Solstice (3/19) with – what else? – PIE.  We’re having Pie for Pi Day.  Specifically, we’re having Grasshopper Pie.  It’s green and slightly boozy so that takes care of St. Patrick’s Day.  And I’m paying homage to the season with this green pie as a symbol of verdancy and as a nod to the springtime hatching of grasshoppers.  I’ve got all my bases covered with Grasshopper Pie.


 Grasshopper Pie has a rich chocolate base made from chocolate cookies mixed with melted butter.  I’m using Oreos, so you know we’re off to a good start.  You can use your basic Oreo or you can complement the filling flavors by using Oreo Mint cookies.  It’s up to you.  The smooth and creamy filling is easy and no-bake.  Marshmallows are melted with milk, crème de menthe is added to provide the distinct flavor and the green color, and then whipped cream is folded in to provide a light, airy finish.  The grasshoppers themselves add a delightful crunch and a certain je ne sais quoi.  I’m kidding, no grasshoppers were involved in this pie.  I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.


 The name “Grasshopper,” however, and the inspiration for this pie, comes from the Grasshopper cocktail, made popular back in 1920s New Orleans.  The drink itself was invented at a 1918 cocktail competition in New York City by New Orleans restaurateur, Philibert Guichet, whose family owned the French Quarter restaurant Tujague’s. The drink, made of cream, crème de menthe, and crème de cacao, won second place, and Guichet proudly brought the drink, named the “Grasshopper” for its luminous green color, back to New Orleans, where it became one of the signature drinks of Tujague’s. When Prohibition lifted, the drink’s popularity spread across the South, and as people became enamoured of that distinctive chocolate-mint flavor combination, the after-dinner cocktail inspired the pie which shares its name.  The Grasshopper Pie became quite in-demand during the mid-1900s when chiffon pies became all the rage.  My particular version is mousse-like, fluffy, and creamy.  It uses no gelatin or eggs, it’s easy to make, and it needs no baking.  It’s minty-cool, refreshing, chocolatey, a tad boozy, highly satisfying, and delicious!


  Grasshopper Pie

 Cookie Crumb Crust

 1 1-lb. package Oreo Mint Crème cookies (36 cookies)
6 TB unsalted butter, melted
Pulse Oreos, including the cream filling, in food processor into a fine crumb.  Pour in melted butter and process until well-combined.

Press crumbs evenly onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment-lined bottom and buttered sides.


 1 10 oz. package marshmallows (46 large)
¾ cup 2% milk
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup + 2 TB crème de menthe
¼ cup crème de cacao 
 2 cups heavy cream
24 bright green, plump, juicy grasshoppers *See Rosie Note below
8 drops green food coloring

 Rosie Note:  I told you I was messin’ with you about the grasshoppers.  Weren’t you paying attention?No grasshoppers were harmed in the making of this pie.

  You’re going to be whipping heavy cream to fold into the marshmallow mixture, so before I start, I take my beaters and a glass bowl and set them in the freezer.  You’ll get better volume when both the beaters and the bowl are cold. 

 In a medium sauce pan, combine marshmallows, milk, and heavy cream over medium low heat, stirring until marshmallows are melted.  (Notice I’m using 2% milk and heavy cream here.  You could substitute with whole milk, or a combination of a less fat milk, and more heavy cream.  I tend to go heavy on the cream, appreciating the fat content.) Pour mixture into a large bowl and set aside to cool.

 When cool, stir in the crème de menthe and the crème de cacao.

 Whip 2 cups cream until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold whipped cream into the marshmallow mixture until just combined, along with 8-10 drops of the food coloring.  Pick out the hue of green you like. 

Pour filling into the cookie crumb crust, smoothing top, and place in freezer.

 When you’re ready to serve, run a knife or offset spatula along the sides of the crumb crust and release the springform pan.  Use the parchment paper to pull the pie off the bottom of the pan and onto a serving platter. 

 Let the decorating begin!

I like lots of whipped cream, so I beat 2 cups of heavy cream in an ice-cold glass bowl until soft peaks formed.  Then I gradually whipped in ¼ cup sugar and 1 TB pure vanilla extract.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  I snipped the corner off a zip-lock bag and stuck in a decorative piping tip, then transferred the whipped cream to the bag.  Squeeze the whipped cream out however you like to decorate the pie.  You can use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls from a bar of dark chocolate and sprinkle on top.  You could also use some green sugar sprinkles. If you want to continue the chocolate/mint theme, chopped-up Andes Mints would work nicely, too

  Happy Pi Day!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  And Happy Spring!


 Now for the step-by-steps

I used a 9-inch springform pan.  Buttered the sides and placed parchment paper in the bottom so the pie can be easily removed to a serving plate.

Process oreos with butter. 
 Fine crumb.

Spread crumbs evenly.
Bottom and sides.

Start on filling.  Melt marshmallows in milk.

You want it nice and smooth.  No lumps.
Let it cool to room temp.

When marshmallow mixture is cool, stir in crème de menthe.

I just like the color here.

Stir in the crème de cacao.  Crème de cacao is a sweet chocolate liqueur.  The crème part doesn't mean it has any cream in it.  It simply means it's a liqueur with a high sugar content.

When I went to the liquor store, I picked up the only thing I saw, which was dark crème de cacao.

After the fact, I looked up crème de cacao and found out there are two types - white, or clear, crème de cacao and dark crème de cacao.  According to my research, i.e. Google, the white crème de cacao is sweet with a delicate chocolate flavor and vanilla notes and the dark is sweet with a bolder, richer, dark chocolate flavor.  The white, or clear, crème de cacao lacks cocoa solids, so it doesn't have as much of a chocolate flavor as the dark crème de cacao.  The difference is in the production, or distillation.  The white is flavored with a distillate of cacao beans, while the dark liqueur is extracted by percolation of cacao beans.  You could use either in the grasshopper pie, but I'll go with more chocolate flavor given the choice.  And the brown color did not affect the lovely green color from the crème de menthe.

Next, I'm ready to whip the cream.
The bowl and the beaters have been sitting in the freezer while I've been working on everything else.
Whenever you're beating cream, have the beaters and the bowl ice cold.  
Makes for more volume in the whipped cream.

(Rosie Note:  Whenever you're beating eggs, say for a soufflé, you want them at room temperature.  You'll get better volume from the eggs.)

Whip the heavy cream until you get stiff peaks.

Whipped cream on the left.  Marshmallow mixture on the right.

Gently fold whipped cream into marshmallow mixture.

The whipped cream is pretty well incorporated, but I want it greener.

So I added 8-10 drops of green food coloring.
Add a few drops.
Fold in.
Check color.
Keep adding food coloring until you get the color you like.

Filling ready to go into Oreo crust.

Plop it in.

Smooth out the top.

Into the freezer.

I left it, covered, overnight, before running a knife around the outside
 and releasing the springform pan.
Transfer to a serving platter.
Since I'm celebrating pi day, I cut out a pi template and shaved some dark chocolate 
to make a pi symbol.

For more decorations, you can use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate curls.

I wanted/needed more whipped cream, so I beat 2 cups of heavy cream with 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla.  Scoop it into a zip lock back with a pastry tip and commence to decorating.

Add a little sprig of mint for the pretty.