I know, sort of an odd way to start a food blog post, but there….I've said it.
More specifically, "sexy" is what sold me on my latest cookbook acquisition (I know I didn't NEED another cookbook….don't judge me!). It took all of two minutes spent flipping through the pages of Sorella: Recipes, cocktails & true stories from our New York restaurant while I was waiting to check out of Williams-Sonoma the other day for sexy to work it's magic on me, and buy the book I did.
Sorella (which means sister in Italian) is the relatively new cookbook by Emma Hearst and Sarah Krathen, and is named after their successful NYC eatery. What makes it so sexy? Well, I'll start with the food because after all this IS a food blog I'm running here. Their Northern Italian cuisine is beautifully conceived and photographed for the book. It is simple, elegant and innovative while still being true to its Piedmont roots. There are so many winning recipes in this book that I had a hard time deciding where to start my cooking.
As for Emma and Sarah…..yup, they're sexy too. More importantly though, they are smart, talented, and driven to offer their guests not just honest and delicious food, but a service experience that is finely honed and welcoming. They are fun, energetic and focused just like their Piedmontese cuisine, and have produced a book here that I know I'm going to have a lot of fun cooking my way through.
First stop on the tour, my slight variation of their Scallops with Parsnip Purée. I stayed pretty true to the recipe changing only three things. First, where they call for candied grapefruit peel I substituted lemon because that's what I had on-hand, and rather than make the black pepper oil called for, I drizzled some chili-oil on the final plate that I already had in my fridge. Finally, I couldn't bring myself to use the 2 cups of heavy cream called for in the parsnip purée opting instead for whole milk….no harm – no foul, it was still delicious.
Cheers – Steve
Scallops with Parsnip Purée
for the black pepper oil:
- 1 cup EVOO
- 1/4 cup ground black pepper
for the candied grapefruit zest:
- 1 grapefruit, preferably organic
- 1/2 cup sugar
for the parsnip purée:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 or 3 shallots minced
- 1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- kosher salt to taste
- 2 cups heavy cream (whole milk worked wonderfully here)
for the scallops:
- 8 paper thin slices of prosciutto
- 3 or 4 medium sea scallops per person
for the black pepper oil:
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil until it is gently rippling and just barely simmering. Add the pepper and stir to mix well, keep the oil at barely a simmer for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and let the oil cool for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. Strain. (The pepper oil will keep indefinitely in an airtight container at room temperature.)
for the prosciutto:
- Heat your oven to the lowest setting it has, preferable 150℉ (65℃). Trim the excess fat off the prosciutto slices. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the slices on the paper. Place in the oven and bake slowly until very dry and crispy, about 30-45 minutes. Break the prosciutto into 2-inch shards and set aside.
for the candied peel:
- Scrub the grapefruit thoroughly. Remove the zest with a vegetable peeler, being careful to remove just the pink part and not the white pith underneath. Cut the zest into julienne. In a small saucepan, combine the zest, sugar, and 1/3 cup of water. Cook over medium heat until most of the water evaporates and the liquid is syrupy, about 7-10 minutes. The zest should become tender and a bit translucent. Remove from the heat and let cool. Set the zest aside in its syrup.
for the parsnip purée:
- In a sauté pan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and sweat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the parsnips and cook until softened, just a few minutes; do not allow them to brown. Season with salt, add the cream, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the parsnips are extremely tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process to a silky smooth purée. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
- When all of the elements are prepared and you're ready to cook the scallops pour some olive oil into a large skillet tyo cover the bottom. (Work in batches or use 2 pans if needed, you don't want to crowd the pan with scallops or they will steam and not sear.) Put the pan over high heat. Pat the scallops dry and season liberally with salt. When the oil almost begins to smoke, place the scallops in the pan. Cook until seared and golden on the first side, just a minute or two. carefully flip and sear on the second side for a minute or two longer. If you have any scallops that are especially small, then just flip them, let them sit for a second, and immediately remove them from the pan. Transfer the cooked scallops to a plate to drain.
To plate your meal:
- Make a swoosh of the parsnip purée on each dinner plate. Place the scallops in a row on top. Nestle the prosciutto shards between the scallops. Top each scallop with candied zest and drizzle the pepper oil around the plate. Serve right away.