Pan Seared Shrimp and Scallops with Apricot Cream Sauce

My friend, Thomas from Norway, made a variation of this dish for me when I nearly froze to death visited Oslo a few years ago.  He used scallops and dried apricots (I’m assuming that apricots do not grow in Norway).  It was delicious!  So I keep making it, and changing it up a bit here and there.  This time I added the shrimp, as it is summertime on the Texas Gulf Coast and the shrimp are fresh and plentiful!

I decided to use fresh apricots.  The fresh apricots at the market looked so good!  I just had to have some.  🙂

Pan seared shellfish is always a winner in my book.  I used a little thyme infused olive oil.  Be sure not to brown them, not cook them all the way though, as you’ll be finishing them in the sauce.

I did the shrimp separately, as you want to gently turn the scallops, but you can stir the shrimp.

Mmmmmm.  Yummy!  😛  I love shrimp!

Remove scallops and shrimp to a plate.  I used the leftover juices in the pan to stir fry/steam some asparagus while preparing the sauce.

Just toss it for a minute or so in the hot pan, cover and remove from heat.  By the time the sauce is done, so is the asparagus.

For the sauce, I used a larger pan on low heat.  Start by melting the cream cheese (the variety of which is your choice entirely), adding a little white wine to thin the melting cheese.  I used about 1/4 cup wine for a 8 oz. block of mascarpone.  When the cheese is melted, add the diced apricots.

Let the sauce simmer just slightly, stirring until all the lumps are incorporated.  Not the apricot lumps.  They will stay lumpy.  The sauce will take on a gorgeous pale apricot color from the juice.

Add the shrimp and scallops with any drippings from the plate, and let them finish cooking.  Since they were only pan seared, they should need another 5 minutes or so to be completely cooked.  That gives them time to soak up the apricot flavor of the sauce.  🙂

I made some quinoa with shitake mushrooms to go with this saucy seafood dish.  Pasta and rice are also good choices, as you want something to soak up the extra sauce.  It’s so good, you’ll want to lick the plate if there’s no other way to eat it!

I added some sprigs of fresh thyme just before serving.  Just because it looks pretty.  I already had the flavor it the shrimp and scallops from the oil, but more thyme never hurts!  And black pepper of course.

The presentation looks suitably upscale also.  I’m making myself hungry again.  😀

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

Well, here it is.  The end to my 4-day diet plan!  Actually, I don’t think that a slice of this cake last night totally blew me off the scales, out through the roof, lodging helplessly in the neighbor’s tree with the kat.  It is scrumptious, and light, in a hot and summery sort of way!  A fun twist on the upside-down cake.

You’ll need a 9-10″ springform pan.  And some other stuff…you probably have all of it on hand!

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the pan, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, then butter the parchment also.  Mmmmm.  Butter.  😀  Actually, I think I went a bit overboard with the butter!  If it’s possible to go overboard with butter…

Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

Arrange berries in a single layer in the bottom of the pan, and evenly sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.  I used frozen berries, 😦  (because I had bought them to make this cake a couple of weeks ago, and then didn’t, so I threw the blackberries into a zip-lock and into the freezer).  Fresh berries would be better I think.  Next time I’m trying raspberries!

Sift 2 1/3 cups cake flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda, then set aside.  Use an electric mixer to cream together 3/4 cup butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar at medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides a couple of times during this process so it’s evenly blended!

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.  Add 2tsp vanilla extract and 1 1/2 tsp orange zest.  The batter will look almost like it’s separating, but it’s fine.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture, and the 1 cup buttermilk, alternating to begin and end with flour.

Pour the batter, which will be thick and creamy (yum) over the berries in the pan, smoothing out the top.  You’ll be able to see tiny flecks of the orange zest.

Bake until golden, about 1 hour, 25 minutes.  cool on a wire rack about 15 minutes, then slide a thin, sharp knife around the edges.  I have a non-stick springform pan, so I used the little plastic scraper that came with my tiny food processor so I wouldn’t scratch the pan.  It worked great!

Remove the pan sides.

Invert the cake onto a plate, peeling off the parchment gently.

Dust with powered sugar, and allow to finish cooling.

Eat!  A nice, big piece…because it’s too good for a tiny sliver.

Oh the goodness!!!  And it’s pretty, too.  😀  Kitchen Kat was helping, as usual.  From his vantage point in the middle of the floor.  He wonders why I step on him constantly…


Yesterday, as I settled in with my pint jar of iced coffee (awesome idea and recipe at Pioneer Woman), preparing to send all three of the boys off to the Galleria and a day of ice skating so that I could share the deliciousness of Peanut Butter Cookies, there was a knock at the door.  Of course, it was Mum, here to get said boys for the day’s adventure.

Hubby, upon learning that ice skating was on the schedule, had earlier catapulted himself out of bed to dig his ice skates out of the garage.  Because all Texans own ice skates.  That’s just how we roll. 😛

She said, “Oh, why don’t you come with us?  We’re lunching at Brennon’s.”  No arm twisting necessary!  Brennan’s???  FREE???  So I threw on a relatively presentable outfit, hair still in ponytail (unbrushed), no makeup (a.k.a. warpaint), and off we went.

Lunch was fabulous, and was accompanied by mimosas, my current favorite girly drink.  Mum had Grilled Shrimp with Cheesy Grits, Hubby had the Pecan Crusted fish, and the boys and I all had the Filet with Lump Crab.  Excuse me while I get a tissue…I’m drooling again.   😛  We finished up with Lemon Meringue Pie with Blueberry Coulis, Bananas Foster, and of course, coffee.

Mum wouldn’t let me take pictures of the food.  😦

Then we headed to the Galleria for some icy goodness, which turned out to be considerable warmer than usual.

Is it just me, or have you noticed that the malls, movie theaters, etc. seem to be warmer this year?  Like, I can watch a movie and don’t need a parka to be comfortable, warm?  Maybe I’m having hot flashes…

A great time was had by all involved.

Now, a picture of Kitchen Kat, because it’s so much more fun to type when you’re in front of the monitor!

He doesn’t like the flash.  😦  But he does seem to like iced coffee.  😛