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Monday, 30 May 2011

How not to do a dinner party (and a scallop recipe)

As you may have guessed, I enjoy cooking – it’s playtime for me, but annoyingly some people seem daunted by the thought of cooking for me in return (don’t be, for the record keep it simple and wine flowing and I’m happy).

Happily though, my old boss Joe and his wife Tracey just enjoy themselves and so when they’re coming over my wife lets me play. This is the menu from a recent visit:

·         Tuna Tartar, spiked with lime zest & wasabi and dressed with a spherified mango “yolk” and toasted nori

·         Seven Seas Scallop

·         Rabbit 2 ways, confit of East Lothian bunny leg and a Wellington of rabbit loin and sweetbreads with a pearl barley spring veg risotto, feta mousse and rabbit & Madeira reduction

·         Truffled Brie

·         Grilled pineapple with lemon thyme ice-cream

Here’s the recipe for the Scallop, the name is a bit of a conceit as it started as a scallop with a carrot and cumin velouté and evolved from there:

Seven Seas Scallop

·         1 large hand dived scallop per person

·         Salmon Caviar (Keta)

·         Cox’s (or another crisp) apple

·         Chorizo (I find the Bath Pig best as it’s got amazing taste & texture)

·         Chives

And for the velouté
      ·         Fresh Carrot

·         Cumin seed

·         Cream

First, make the velouté, boil the carrots and cumin seed in unsalted water till soft, drain and reserve the water then roughly smash the carrot in the pan and add the double cream, bring to a simmer and reduce slowly – add the carrot water to help adjust for consistency, season with salt and a little champagne vinegar, blitz with an immersion blender and pass through a sieve. This can now wait until service.
Up to an hour before you plan to serve, take the scallops out of the fridge, cut the apple into small batons and put in acidulated water, cut the chorizo into 5mm cubes.

10 minutes before service, gently warm through the velouté and the chorizo.

When it’s time to serve, pan sear the (unseasoned) scallops over a decent heat to get them nice and crispy on the outside but soft and raw inside; place in a warm bowl and scatter the chorizo cubes around the scallop, pour some of the velouté over the chorizo (if you want to, kick some lecithin into the velouté, blitz it and serve it as a warm foam) then dress the plate with the apple batons, and chives before adding  a large spoonful of salmon caviar to the top of the scallop.

Enjoy.

I like my badges...

So, my regular readers might be wondering about the appearance of those badges on the right of this blog, what do they mean? Where did they come from? Who was that masked man? Etc..

Well firstly, the Staff Canteen is a truly awesome website for chefs and foodies – It started as a forum a few years ago and has evolved into an amazing resource of recipes, industry news (and gossip) and the monthly ‘featured chef’ interviews which give industry-level access into greats such as Sat Bains, Simon Rogan and Andrew Fairlie.

There are awesome competitions (I won a trip to Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles), jobs for those in the industry and insight and access to suppliers that we home cooks struggle to identify; but most of all there’s the forum, where geeks and amateurs like me are welcomed and knowledge is shared, from how to play with hydrocolloids to deep-frying béarnaise and thoughts on Masterchef and Great British Menu.

Have a look at the site, join the forum (it’s free) and get involved; you can also follow both the site and Mark who’s the guy who made it all happen on Twitter..

Onto Prepped! I’m guessing the “recipe tester” statement is pretty self-explanatory, but to explain the background.

One fine day a short while ago, the gorgeous Vanessa Kimbell decided to duck out of the rat-race and gave herself a year to follow her passion and write and publish a recipe book; she blogged her progress and, working without the budget of Big Sweary, called on other food bloggers (and tweeters) to help her (that’s where I got involved).

Happily the book has just been published and is currently enjoying a too-large (in my biased view) discount on Amazon; Prepped! itself is a treasure, it almost codifies a chef’s Mise en Place for the house, using store-cupboard ingredients and other building blocks to deliver fresh and interesting food for all the family in minimal time and with minimal hassle – great for working parents.

So, to sum up, join the Staff Canteen and buy Prepped! – or I’ll think less of you.