08 March, 2008

Scallops Three Ways: and one triumph

















Well, Friday night saw us sans Fifi as she went swanning off to see "Much Ado About Nothing" with Julia's family so, naturally I took the opportunity to cook something she doesn't like. Now I know, normal women would take the opportunity to go OUT to dinner, but honestly, restaurant prices are so astronomical in this adopted town of mine that it's a bit of a buzzkill, frankly, getting the bill. Whereas for around 25 pounds for even the most expensive ingredients, I can cook something really delicious, and anyway it's fun to experiment. I must say, however, that the things she doesn't like are dwindling to pretty much: seafood. No shrimp, no crabmeat, no scallops or lobster or mussels. Which limits the choices. That being said...

I'd had my gentle mandate from my beloved about his wish for "scallops three ways," and whereas two of the ways were old, tried and true ways I led you to at the end of my last post (with a creme fraiche and single malt Scotch sauce, and the ever-delicious Coquilles Saint Jacques Gratinee), I decided to go all out on the third and try to recreate the fabulous starter at my new favourite restaurant, Angelus near Avery's stable. The lunch we had there the day we got her school results will go down in my memory as one of the most delicious and celebratory meals ever. Yum yum. And you know what? My attempt was more than successful! I added beetroot because I love it. And it was all a lovely combination, plus I had a really playful time getting the presentation just right, and making it really pretty. I wish I had taken a photo but I did not. Next time!

Warm Scallop Salad with Beetroot and Charlotte Potatoes
(serves two as a starter)


1 tbsp gentle-flavoured oil (not olive)
6 extra-large king scallops, roe removed
2 large beetroots, roasted and peeled
2-3 Charlotte potatoes, peeled and steamed
2 handfuls fresh rocket

dressing for rocket: (shake this up in a jar)
3 parts olive oil to 1 part white wine vinegar
dash lemon juice
salt and fresh pepper

sauce for scallops: (you can whisk this in a teacup)
2 tbsps butter, melted
good pinch Aleppo pepper flakes

handful chives, snipped

Get a heavy skillet very hot and add the oil. When the oil is hot, place the scallops in carefully. Let cook until browned on one side (about 2 minutes) then turn carefully and brown the other side for 2 minutes. Remove from skillet to a waiting cutting board and slice them each in half from side to side (not from top to bottom, if that makes sense). Now for the assembly.

If you are lucky enough to have a little metal ring about the size of a scallop, get it out of that drawer where you threw it and wash it. Then press it down on the peeled beetroots and peeled potatoes to make cylinders of them (you can save the rest of the beets and potatoes, cut them up and toss them with a little dressing for a salad next day). Slice the cylinders of beetroot and potato until you have 12 slices of each. Divide up all your sliced things between the two plates. Now, you can choose: either stack them on top of each other in four piles, or layer them around the edge of a white plate. Then place a handful of dressed rocket in the center of each plate and drizzle the melted butter and Aleppo pepper over the scallops, beets and potatoes. Scatter the snipped chives over all and VOILA!

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I am a huge fan of this lovely salad now. It has everything: red, green, white, soft scallops, crunchy rocket, refreshing beet, relaxing potato. The peppery butter (or is it buttery pepper?) goes beautifully with the salad dressing, so every bite is a perfect combination of sweet, spicy gorgeousness. And did you know how good all these ingredients are for you? Well, you know beetroot is a superfood, and scallops themselves are a dream as far as nutrition goes; low in all the bad stuff and high in the good.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the nice Indian chicken dish I made last night, with mushrooms and cashews and yogurt. But right now I have three filthy, cold, wet and hungry little equestrians in my sitting room demanding popcorn. I must fly. Enjoy your Sunday!

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