'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

I know it's February but this was the dinner I made on Christmas Eve in Paris. And it is good enough to share with you anytime - in fact, it would make a great dinner for Valentine’s Day.

When we were in Paris gathering groceries at the Marché Beauvau, I came across a wonderful seafood vendor - La Marée Beauvau.

They had the most beautiful St. Jacques (scallops) I had seen; they were in their shells with their coral. That is definitely something you don't often see in my part of the United States.

Just the day before, our friend Marie-Lise told us that we should take advantage of the season when the St. Jacques are at their peak. Twist my arm!

She suggested making them with leeks, a favorite preparation of hers. We picked up ten beautiful scallops, 3 leeks, crème fraîche, a couple handfuls of mâche, and headed back to the Marais.

I wanted to make them a little special for Christmas by adding some special flavor to the leeks. I looked around the apartment...

We had a few clementines set aside for Christmas breakfast, and our landlady had a little curry powder. A little of this, a little of that.

The flavors came together beautifully, the zest of the clementines playing nicely with the curry powder. We thought it was fantastic.

You know what it was like? It was like being in Paris and having an amazing meal. It was just like that.

The wine - a 2015 Côtes de Provence white I had purchased a few days before - paired beautifully with scallops and leeks. You can read more about the pairing on the Provence WineZine.

Happy Valentine's Day! It is a day for all the people you love, and who love you back!

~ David

Seared St. Jacques with Creamy Curried Leeks

3 leeks, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and sliced
5 tablespoons butter, divided
finely grated zest of 2 clementines
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup crème fraîche
10 sea scallops, patted dry
freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, blanch the sliced leeks in salted boiling water for 1 minute; drain well.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the same saucepan over medium heat and add the leeks. Cook the leeks in the butter for 15-20 minutes, until they are very soft and beginning to break down. Add the clementine zest and curry powder, and cook a couple minutes longer to meld the flavors. Blend in the crème fraîche and remove from the heat. Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. When the butter is hot, add the scallops and sear - about two minutes each side.

While the scallops are cooking, reheat the creamy leeks. Divide the leeks between two dinner plates, top with the scallops, and serve with a lightly dressed green salad.

Serves 2.

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