An Elegant Little Starter: Scallop & Melted Leek Pasta

scallop, melted leek pasta, elegant first course, valentine's day appetizer

Pan-Seared Sea Scallop over Melted Leek Pasta
Lemon Creme Fraiche, Caviar, Celery & Garlic-Chive Flower Garnish

An opalescent sea scallop sits atop a dreamy melted leek angel hair pasta. Glossy black caviar and lemony cream fraiche adorn the scallop. Pretty white garlic chive blossoms and pale green celery leaves finish the dish.

These dry pack, wild caught, Atlantic sea scallops retail for well over $20/lb. U10 sea scallops are the largest available and have a sweet, rich buttery taste. They contain no preservatives or additives and will not ooze liquid during the cooking process, unlike wet scallops that have been soaked in a phosphate solution. Dry scallops caramelize naturally during cooking to a gorgeous golden brown crust. Though definitely not inexpensive, this luxurious dish can be made for just over $3 per plate by using black lumpfish caviar rather than the more extravagant sturgeon varieties. Black lumpfish caviar is clean and crunchy with a pronounced salty sea flavor.

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For Your Next Party: Sturgeon Two Ways

smoked sturgeon, purple potato, caviar
the purple course:
smoked sturgeon and transmontanus caviar

purple potato with olive oil and fleur de sel
creme fraiche, single chive, garlic flower

catering, caviar party
Sturgeon Two Ways was one of seven courses we served at the fundraising dinner for our school this weekend. Transmontanus caviar and smoked sturgeon were paired simply with purple potato, a petite dollop of creme fraiche plus the plain adornment of a single chive and a pretty garlic flower. The society garlic blossoms have a distinct garlicky flavor which pair well with savory dishes. We deemed this the “purple course.”

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Persimmon Tarte Tatin, Crème Fraîche

persimmon tarte tatin

Fuyu Persimmon Tarte Tatin

Persimmon is a most understood fruit. Those who “hate” persimmon probably do so as a result of a confusion between fuyu and hachiya varieties.

If you attempted to eat an unripe hachiya, that is certainly the cause of your disgust. An unripe hiachya is super-tannic and can taste like chalk or bark. Or worse. Its astringency makes it totally unpalatable. A fully ripe hachiya, however, has the consistency of jelly and is sweet and rich. And a ripe fuyu has a firm texture and tastes like a honey-flavored apple. Now, who “hates” that?

Persimmon has the pizzazzy color and flavor of autumn and makes a great fruit for a tarte tatin. Be sure to use fuyu persimmons and save the RIPE hachiya for something else.

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Christmas Party: Game Hen, Meyer Lemon, Fennel, Olive

Roasted Cornish Game Hen
Meyer Lemon, Fennel, Olive, Garlic
Meyer Lemon Cream Fraiche “Gravy”

Last week, looking for inspiration for the main course to be served at A Foodie Christmas Dinner Party using in-season Meyer lemons, I googled “cornish game hen meyer lemon” and discovered a fabulous yet simple recipe for a crowd by Robert Gauthier on the Los Angeles Times site here.

Since our meal was to be several courses and the fresh Cornish game hens weighed almost two pounds apiece, I had the butcher slice them lengthwise so each guest would enjoy half a hen. We slipped  thinly sliced Meyer lemon under the skin and roasted them over sliced fennel, mixed olives, thyme, garlic and more Meyer lemons. The sauce was a pan gravy with tangy creme fraiche and brightened Meyer lemon juice.

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