Seared sea scallops in duxelles and pink champagne sabayon

First prepare my duxelles recipe.

Then prepare sabayon, your favourite way. I prefer to use a bain marie. Preheat the broiler. Place the oven rack in second top position.
In sizzling butter in a stainless-steel sauté pan, perfectly sear three scallops per person. Turn only once. Sprinkle with just a pinch of thyme. The scallop edges should turn a very fine beautiful golden colour. They take just minutes to cook. Absolutely do not overcook.

Story continues below

Deglaze the pan with a little pink champagne. (I use pink sparkling French Royal de Neuville.) Add the sizzling butter pan juices to the ready sabayon.
Assemble: Using large coquilles, place the shells on a bed of coarse sea salt to stabilize (coarse pickling salt will do since the salt won’t come in contact with the food) on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Carefully spoon a little prepared duxelles into each shell. Spritz with a little pink champagne and a pinch of salt and pepper. (Use ground pink peppercorns if available.)
Add a few tablespoons of pink champagne sabayon. Position three seared sea scallops in each shell.
Place the salt sheet holding the coquilles under the preheated broiler oven just for a few minutes and serve immediately.


Substitute cognac Asbach Uralt for the champagne for a different but most amazing taste.

For an equally delightful offering, you could change up the whole presentation and instead use another of my “shell-a-brate” recipes, served on a large coquille, also placed under the piping hot broiler for just seconds.

My ultimate shrimp in garlic cognac cream

In sizzling unsalted butter, sauté slivered paper-thin garlic slices; about a half cup. That’s a sizeable amount of garlic, but you read it right.

Turn the heat down because you want to keep the garlic white. Sauté until the texture is nearly mashable. Sprinkle with a pinch (just a pinch, not more) of ground cloves, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of paprika, a little bit of thyme and a little salt and pepper.

Add a little more butter and the shrimp that are still in their shells. 27-30 size. Or as many as you like.

Be careful that the sauté pan is still very hot but not browning. The shrimp will cook in just a couple of minutes; turn only once immediately when the first side turns pink. Shrimp is fully cooked when opaque. Absolutely do not ever overcook. The shrimp will get rubbery.

Remove the pan contents and deglaze the sauté pan with a generous splash of Asbach Uralt cognac. The bouquet will erupt and fill your kitchen with the most amazing perfume.

Now add to the very hot pan, a cup of half-and-half cream (or more if you have doubled the shrimp quantity). Let the cream scald and reduce. The thickened cream will take on the wonderful colour of the cognac as well as the fragrance.

Put the shrimp back into the sauté pan and tumble to coat in the amazing sauce.

Using a rubber spatula, wipe the sauce and the lightly coated shrimp completely from the pan into a just right-size serving bowl.

You can serve immediately or at room temperature or even cold the next day. The sauce will congeal overnight as it continues to thicken.

An unspeakable treat. I often refer to this as my “house-selling shrimp dish.” I sometimes surprised a neighbour with a pretty glass covered bowl of this quick and easily made recipe. Add a few slices of homemade grilled garlic bread. Great nibbles after work while they barbecue their steaks.

Agents will remind sellers not to offend sensitive noses of maybe-buyers by cooking, especially cabbage or fish, when their house is on the market. When I was selling, I did not take my own advice, as I have mentioned in some posted REM comments over the years. I opened my windows while having appointments and let the mouth-watering vapours waft through the area.

After only a couple of appointments, an offer appeared, along with comments like one Sabine in Kitchener area recently so kindly made: “What time is dinner tonight?”

Total time in the kitchen less than a half hour. And you can’t buy or order in this kind of goodness. Really! Try it for yourself. Serve alone or with plain instant one-minute basmati buttered rice. You’ll make the neighbours’ mouths water. Or serve the shrimp alongside your steak as a very special surf and turf. Surprise yourself!

A tall cool glass of Winzertanz pairs wonderfully. Enjoy!

If you have leftover sauce, don’t toss it. Refrigerated, the sauce will keep for a couple of days, covered in a glass container. Use it to tumble over cooked pasta or rice, with added seared fresh sea scallops. Mouth-watering good leftovers.

Or put a small puddle of the leftover sauce on an oversized dinner plate and position fresh deep-fried homemade crab cakes strategically. Drizzle just a little sauce over each crab cake. Top with shards of fresh Parmesan cheese, using your vegetable peeler or kase scharfe.

Decorate the plate with a sprig of fresh basil leaves. Dress with lemon quarters to be squeezed when desired.


If you love crushed or flaked fresh coconut, lightly brown it in a single layer, in just a tiny bit of sizzling unsalted butter (in a nearly dry very hot sauté pan). Sprinkle the crispy coconut over the cognac creamed shrimp just when ready to serve. Do not stir.

Another alternate: prepare your favourite salmon steak and during the last minute of sautéing or roasting or grilling, add a little of the leftover cognac sauce. (You could use on any fish.)

As I’ve said countless times… nothing goes to waste in my kitchen.

Note: A reader used leftover shrimp sauce on an oven-roasted Atlantic salmon steak, just in the last seconds in the oven. Really delicious!

At the table: With either recipe, offer a tuile or two. Prepare a Parmesan tuile or perhaps a ground almond tuile. There are loads of recipes for these simple, tasty creations.

Prepare the table placing a large folded heavyweight cotton tea towel in the centre where you can place a large (hot water) heated serving platter or two upon which to place the broiler hot coquilles. In the kitchen, arrange the coquilles on a bed of coarse salt on the large hot platter for presentation as a table centre piece.

Prepare each place setting with a large charger plate on a cloth covered tabletop or on a placemat, topped with a plain oversized serving plate with a folded-square cloth napkin on each, ready to receive a very hot coquille. Place a seafood fork or pie fork at each place setting, along with a soup spoon to enjoy the sauce and drippings. Place a tuile or two at the edge of each plate.

Pink champagne royal cocktail – my very own

Here’s a nice pairing to serve: my very own martini creation, using either matching Royal de Neuville or Asbach Uralt cognac, depending on which you used in your recipe choice.

In a cold metal cocktail shaker, pour in a half cup of Asbach Uralt cognac.

Add a half cup of cold sugar syrup made using 50:50 sugar and water dissolved over medium heat and cooled. (Use to marinate fresh sliced peaches.) Then add a half cup of liquid from the sugar marinated peaches. (Or you could use the brandy marinating jus from your jar of black mission figs instead). Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a pinch of salt. Add a full cup of ice cubes.

Shake vigorously for a half minute.

Pour into stemmed champagne flutes that have been cooled; about three-quarters full. Fill the flute right to the top with my favourite bubbly, sparkling French pink champagne, Royal de Neuville. Park a tiny slice of fresh peach on the rim of the glass. Sip this delicate creation. It’s a pink thing!

This is a perfect pairing with a slice of homemade wonderful cream genoise or a slice of fresh peach fruit pastry tart.

Hint: Don’t have a cocktail shaker? Use a tightly covered screw-top large glass mason jar.

Any of these recipes using the coquilles as a serving vessel could be switched up using any seafood: crab, lobster or a seafood mix of your favourites, still using the duxelles and savoury sabayon.

For an entree you could consider crab cakes, or wonderful two-bite-size cakes made using mixed seafood, sizzling hot, reheated just when ready to serve. They are simply made, even the day before. Offer on a plate with individual seafood savoury crème brûlée, or an individual seafood panna cotta (set in a shot glass), drizzled with homemade lobster oil. Provide a serving bowl that can be passed at the table, with fresh lemon and lime wedges. And another bowl with mixed lemon lime zest with a tiny serving (espresso) spoon. And yet another bowl with mixed citrus segments having freshly cut them from between the fruit membranes. (you might add segments of grapefruit if no one is taking certain prescription medicines; some Rx forbid taking with grapefruit of any kind.)

And yet another table topper: a silver serving serving bowl of homemade candied citrus rind from your pantry sugar jar. Place a glass bowl inside the silver bowl to keep citrus at bay from direct acidic contact. Diners can choose at will how much of each or all, if they prefer.

You could fill half avocado shells (or hollow out a papaya) with avocado seafood salad on a bed of shredded romaine and iceberg lettuce mix or use mesclun; (spritz the greens with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil 30:70), as part of your entree. For this course, a nice accompaniment is a Canadian Bloody Caesar.

A real “shell-a-bration” of a unique kind. Tell your guests to bring a big appetite and be prepared to indulge over a few hours of at-table enjoyment and be sure to forewarn them dinner is all seafood.

© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. You could even add my “Jerk Butter Coins” to the Garlic Cognac Sauce if you wish … for a completely different dish.

    “Jerk Compound Butter”

    Sauté in sizzling unsalted butter, a tablespoon each of minced white onion, garlic clove, and celery. Add a minced scotch bonnet or a small jalapeño pepper. Stir in a half teaspoon of tomato paste (not sauce).

    Grill a thick slice of fresh pineapple, both sides. Mince in your kitchen machine and stir into sizzling sauté pan.
    Salt and fresh ground pepper, a pinch of ground cloves and nutmeg. Squeeze just a little fresh lemon juice and a pinch of lemon zest.

    Let come to room temperature, add a tablespoon of minced fresh parsley, and mix into three quarters pound of cool mashed unsalted butter.

    On cling wrap, shape the butter into a log about an inch in diameter. Freeze but not rock hard. Slice into half inch coins. Rewrap and freeze solid. You can knock off coins as needed, always at the ready. (See my Jerk Butter Chicken recipe.)

    “My Special Jerk Chicken and Bratwurst”

    (See my Jerk Compound Butter recipe.)

    Using boneless skinless chicken thighs or whatever chicken pieces you prefer, sear in my jerk compound unsalted butter. Don’t cook.

    Tip the seared jerk chicken pieces into an oven-roasting pan placed on middle oven rack in preheated oven 325 F. Do not cover. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sweet paprika, a pinch of thyme and crush just a little homemade dried deep-fried fresh sage if you have it in your pantry. If you enjoy rosemary add just a little. Sprinkle a most tiny pinch of ground cloves. And add a little homemade golden oven-roasted garlic from your sterilized glass refrigerated jar. Deglaze the stovetop pan with Royal Ruby Porto, scraping any stuck on bits. Add to roasting pan.

    Allow to roast about a half hour. The chicken pieces will make their own jus. Remove the pan from the oven and drop in a dozen Jerk Compound Butter frozen coins. They will melt in the hot Jerk Chicken jus.

    While the Jerk Chicken is slow roasting, prepare my buttered sugared fresh carrots. Just when ready to serve, add the carrots to the chicken roasting pan.

    Add several simmered in a pot of chicken stock, large Bratwurst in their skins. Poke a few tiny fork holes in the sausage so they don’t explode. Using tongs sear the simmered Bratwurst in hot Jerk Butter and add to the oven roasting Jerk chicken pieces and continue to roast for another fifteen minutes to marry the flavours. Reduce a cup of Royal Ruby Porto by a third and stir into the Jerk Chicken sauce.

    Present the Jerk Chicken with Bratwurst and carrots family-style in a covered heated glass insert chafing dish to retain heat. The Jerk chicken will melt in your mouth. Serve with quick cook basmati rice.

    ALTERNATE: You could reduce two cups of half and half cream in the pan used for searing the sausage, till thickened a little and add to the roasting pan sauce. This cream version is fabulous served over my whipped mashed potatoes or over my Faux Aligot.

    © Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston – Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas – Good Food Made Better Adding Spirits

    Oh to smell the ocean; it smells nothing like the Lakes, no matter which one. If you have never experienced salt water air, maybe one day visit the east or west coast of Canada or the upper East Coast of United States, New England.

    Big difference between salt water and fresh and equally difference seafood flavours. I’m prone to seafood rather than fresh water fish. I don’t care for trout no matter how gourmet it is prepared. But large mouth bass is one of my favourites, nonetheless.

    I’m not a fan of tuna but salmon always is a treat, even a tinned salmon in a sandwich. I guess you could call me a fussy eater to some degree. Tinned salmon is a good example: for me “only” Wild Pacific Red Salmon. And I find East Coast Salmon too mild, although it is wonderful. Just my personal choice to have West Coast or Alaska.

    But speaking of salmon, frozen Norwegian Steelhead Is always in my freezer; it thaws quickly, packed in paper thin slices, easy to work with and has a multitude of uses in my no-cooking needed segment of my kitchen repertoire. I call it instant gourmet. And perfect Hors d’ouvres.

    Although the east coast Canadian and upper New England waters are cold, in certain seasons the waters are warmer by definition. In warmer weather avoid buying cod. It lives nearer the surface and by the time it arrives inland no matter how cold it is kept, you might find it crawling with massive amounts of little white worms, the same colour as the fish. They crawl out onto the butcher wrap paper.

    This advice came from an old fish monger in Toronto years ago when I had an amazing experience that I immediately questioned. I never bought cod again. I was advised not to buy it in summer weather. Of course I questioned why it is sold then in hot summer months.

    It’s often difficult to get fresh ocean fish in shops in the Great Lakes mapping areas. Fish shops should never smell like fish, oddly enough, and fresh fish should not smell fishy either. Always ask your fish monger or fish counter person in grocery store fish departments to let you smell before buying. Any fishy smell, decline to purchase. It’s not fresh.

    Here is one of my favourite original recipes from ages ago, amended, modified, updated for my new manuscript, and you are sure to enjoy it. Maybe in these times of stress if you are able to get out for groceries, treat yourself.


    Bay Scallops in Bacardi Black Rum (Puerto Rican) and French St. Germain Sauce

    Sear bay scallops in sizzling unsalted butter on medium high heat in a stainless steel sauté pan, for only one minute and turn using a malleable fish spatula to sauté the other side of each small scallop. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced fresh parsley, basil, mint and lemon thyme, a little of your refrigerated golden oven-roasted garlic purée. A sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

    Squeeze just a little fresh squeezed lime juice and remove scallops from the sauté pan. Increase heat and watch carefully to bring a cup of half and half cream to a scald. Reduce by half. Add a jigger of Black Rum and a little French St. Germain cordial. The cream should coat the back of a steel spoon. The cream will continue to reduce in its own heat. Return the scallops to the thickened cream in the sauté pan. Stir gently to cover each scallop thoroughly.

    When ready to serve, add a little fresh herbs to the bay scallops in cream sauce and cover with toasted homemade coarse breadcrumbs mixed half and half with toasted shredded unsweetened coconut. Rum and coconut are great flavour pals.

    If you have homemade mixed candied citrus rinds in your pantry sugar jar, mince and add to the breadcrumbs coconut mix.

    Serve a large scoop of the scallops in the thickened sauce in a muffin tin size lacy cheese Tuille with shredded arugula as a base.

    A few sugared grapefruit or sweet orange segments cut from between the membranes makes a pretty plate.

    If you can locate finger limes, open and top the filled Tuilles with the faux caviar pearls. They come in white, pink and various hues. A great table conversation starter. In spring the potted plants are available sometimes at Sheridan Nurseries. Maybe ask your green grocer if they carry the finger limes.

    You might want to sprinkle a little hand-cultured Atlantic Ocean Amagansett Sea Salt just when ready to bite into each small Tuille. Offer in a salt cellar for those who wish to try this fragile magic natural crunch.

    This filling is nice in a ready made puff pastry vol-au-vent ready to eat, in your storage container for an instant gourmet treat.

    Alternatively you might like to serve the bay scallops in my cognac garlic cream sauce at my shrimps recipe.

    © Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston – Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas

  3. Beyond the sea:
    Maybe a “Seafood
    (even at home) . . .

    An ideal presentation for a not so ordinary everyday plate of pure delight…

    Using your favourite crepe batter, make a very large crepe, very paper thin, in the widest low-side pan you have. Brush the medium-hot pan with clarified butter so your crepe will not stick.

    Slide a small ladle of crepe batter into the hot pan and swirl.

    Turn off the heat. And lift the pan off the burner. The edge of the crepe might look a little lacy. Careful. You don’t want burnt edges. Using a rubber spatula, fold the barely cooked crepe (it will continue to cook in its own heat) in half while still in the pan, and add two strategically placed frozen lobster compound butter coins, knocked off your frozen log.

    The compound butter coins will begin to melt right away. And you can see the cut bit chunks of lobster. Fold again so you have a pie shaped crepe layered wedge. Slide the crepe onto a waiting warm plate.

    Mound a large ladle of my hot Cognac cream shrimp recipe onto the crepe:

    Spritz with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and sprinkle a little fresh lemon zest. Decorate with a celery “flower” on the side, made by slicing into fine cuts, one end of a 3″-4″ stick celery stalk and resting in ice cube water briefly. Pat dry using paper towel. The split end of the celery stalk will curl making the celery look like an op-art flower.

    ALTERNATE: If you have black mission figs marinating in your cognac jar, choose a firm fresh fig that hasn’t been a long time in the jar, and crosscut it, not cutting all the way through and gently pry it open to look like a flower. Position the figgy flower off to the side of the crepe plate, on a cup shaped iceberg lettuce leaf or on a generous Boston Bibb buttery leaf. Drizzle the flower with a little congealed figgy jus.

    What a beautiful presentation, and it tastes amazing.

    ALTERNATE: You could fill your giant crepe with the mixture in my “Dine in Tails” lobster tails recipe:

    Drizzle either crepe combination with freshly made savoury French Creme Anglaise. Perhaps stir in a splash of Pernod or Green Chartreuse.

    A true gourmet delight. A meal to remember, indeed. Everything can be made ahead and transported in a cold cooler box – and yes, you can take it on the yacht, and assemble there. You might even have a single burner gas-fired countertop unit to warm a sauté pan. If you are docked and feel safe, you can even flambé your crepe in the heated pan.

    Here is an interesting yachtsman link:
    (Always plan ahead and safety first…)

    NOTE: You could put a tiny spoon of such a seafood mixture on blinis or blintzes, as a different but equally pleasing taste treat. See:

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here