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Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Lighter Side

I'm not much of a dieter. I'm more of a full fat, whole milk, cream, and butter kind of guy. That being said, after the onslaught of holiday glazed hams, roasted turkeys, rich gravies, creamy dips, chips, cheese plates, cocktails, candies, and layered cakes ended, Michael and I both were ready to step back and take a little break.

With a work event on the horizon (involving confection ovens, steam pots, old electric burners, limited storage space, ordering, prepping, cooking, and service),  I knew I wanted to keep things uncomplicated here at home.

Simple and light, baked scallop prosciutto cups topped with crab-flecked hollandaise on top of asparagus ribbons were a welcome respite from the rich holiday madness.

Better yet, I barely cooked anything  at all.

After cutting the tough woody ends from 10 asparagus spears, I shaved them into ribbons with a vegetable peeler before tossing them into a bowl with julienned red bell peppers.

Although I adore hollandaise, I'm not a hollandaise snob. Oh sure, I could have used a double boiler and a whisk to conjuer up a classic real hollandaise sauce, but I didn't. Blender hollandaise  was quicker and lowered the odds for producing a broken mangled sauce.

I blended two large egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. With the motor running,  I streamed 2 1/2 sticks  (1 1/4 cups) of warmed melted unsalted butter into the mix until the sauce emulsified before gently  adding 1/2 cup of flaked  bluefin crabmeat.  A light handed finish of salt, white pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice sealed the deal.

After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, I draped paper thin sheets of prosciutto into 6 compartments of a non-stick miniature muffin pan, allowing the delicate translucent fatty parts to rim the top edges.  I nudged 6 large dry-packed sea scallops into each prosciutto cup, seasoned them with cracked pepper, and slid them into the oven to bake for 12 minutes.

That was it. Booya!

Just before pulling the scallops from the oven, I tossed the asparagus and julienned peppers with fresh lemon juice, salt, and cracked black pepper.  After swirling the ribbons into large pasta bowls, I nestled the steaming scallop/prosciutto cups around the chilled tangled asparagus.  I suppose I could have drizzled the crabby hollandaise over the scallops. I didn't drizzle. Nope.  I filled them like gilded chalices until the lemony sauce spilled over the crisped cups and dripped down the sides. Drinkable overindulgence. Snipped chives, minced red bell peppers, and course cracked pepper finished them off.

The prosciutto crackled around the tender scallops, searing the sweet flesh with subtle saltiness from the cured ham. While bits of flaked crab streamed through the hollandaise as it pooled and puddled under the crisp delicate asparagus, sharp acidity from the lemon vinaigrette balanced the buttery richness.

Bright asparagus ribbons.
Lemony hollandasie.
Bite-sized  scallop poppers.

Perfect for our brief stroll on the lighter side.

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