What’s old is new again. My cookbook, Cooking at Cooktique (Doubleday) is slated to become an e-book. I was so pleased when my agent made arrangements for this to happen, as the book, published in 1985, is
Reading every word of text and through every recipe to make whatever adjustments are needed to update, I was elated to find so much material that works for today’s cooking and dining pleasure. Cooktique is the school and cook shop I founded in 1976. Opening chapters include the basics from stocks to demi-glace. The soup chapter followed with such currently familiar recipes as herb butternut squash bisque, carrot soup with orange juice, curry and crème fraiche, Tuscan bean soup, and on to salads boasting endive and grapefruit salad with mustard vinaigrette, radicchio, leek and chevre salad, mesclun salad with poached egg – hey this was 1985! I could go on and on, and when I ran across carrot and parsnip puree, I happened to have purchased a bunch of gorgeous sea scallops. I seared the scallops and served them over the vegetable puree for dinner and my husband asked why we couldn’t get anything like this in a restaurant. I completely forgot about spinach fettuccine with scallops and basil cream sauce – when I ran into it, the reason I bought the scallops in the first place. Oh my, did we eat well that night too.
Sea scallops are one of the jewels of our local seas. Get to your nearest and dearest East End fishmonger and treat yourself to one or both of the following recipes. You’ll be glad you did.
SCALLOPS ON BED OF PARSNIP AND CARROT PUREE
Local sweet scallops with farm fresh parsnip and carrot puree yielded this irresistible dish.
Serves 4 as main course or 6 as first course
For the puree
3 large parsnips, trimmed and peeled
3 to 4 medium carrots trimmed and peeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
For the scallops
Flour to dust scallops
16 to 18 large ‘dry’ sea scallops, side muscle removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Chopped Parsley or thinly sliced chives for garnish
1. Cut parsnips and carrots in half lengthwise then into one-inch pieces and put into a saucepan. Add cold water to cover with salt and several grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 8 to 10 minutes until tender. Be careful not to overcook.
2. Drain and refresh vegetables under a spray of cool water and pat dry in a clean kitchen towel. Pass vegetables through a food mill or puree in a food processor or blender. Can be prepared up to one day ahead and refrigerated in a suitable container. When ready to serve transfer to a saucepan, add crème fraiche or cream and nutmeg and stir to mix. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally while scallops cook. Taste for salt and pepper.
3. Rinse and dry scallops well with paper towel. Dust scallops with flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat butter over low heat in a sturdy non-stick skillet, when butter foam subsides, allow pan to heat up over medium heat another minute or so for a good hot sear, and put the scallops in the hot pan to sear for 1 1/2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other side until golden brown, Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
4. Divide the vegetable puree on 4 to 6 plates and top with 3 to 4 scallops, depending whether first or main course. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives and serve.
SPINACH FETTUCINE WITH SCALLOPS AND BASIL SAUCE
Serves 4 to 5
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 pound large sea scallops, side muscle removed, and sliced in half crosswise
1 cup fish or chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne
Sprigs basil leaves for garnish, optional
For the pasta
1 pound imported spinach fettuccine
2 tablespoons kosher salt for the pasta water
1. In a 12-inch sturdy, non-stick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add shallots and sauté briefly until tender. Add remaining butter and when butter foam subsides, add the scallops. Sauté over medium-high heat, for about 1 minute each side. Transfer scallops to a side dish and put the broth and cream into the skillet the scallops cooked in. Cook liquids at a brisk simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper; remove from heat. Taste to correct seasoning as necessary.
2. Bring 5 to 6 quarts water to a rolling boil and add salt. Put in the fettuccine all at once, stirring quickly to separate strands. Cover pot and bring the water back to an immediate boil and uncover pot. Dry pasta will cook in about 9 to 12 minutes. Ladle about 1/4 cup pasta water into the sauce. Drain pasta immediately and transfer to a warm serving platter.
3. Meanwhile, warm the sauce over low heat and just before the pasta is cooked, return scallops and accumulated juices to the skillet. Add basil and stir to mix. Transfer the scallop/basil sauce to the pasta, toss to incorporate the mixture and garnish the platter with fresh basil leaves, if desired.