I get impatient for new seasons. Spring is almost here (technically it starts next week), but if you ask me, we are in Spring. The weather has got a wee bit better, the days seem longer. Season changes are always exciting as a cook. Each visit to the farmers market yields new finds , and new ideas for recipes.
Of course, I want all of the great spring produce now, and that isn’t going to happen! I wanted to create something spring-like, but which still had winter undertones.
A lot of this actually just comes down to presentation. If the plating is a little more delicate then it hints towards the freshness of spring and summer.
This dish is really a classic example. We have a lot of winter ingredients going on here, however it still seems light, and a decent nod towards spring. Course, that delicate little rosemary flower perched on top of the scallops helps a great deal. We have a triffid of a rosemary bush in the backyard, that we never water, never feed anything, but yet keeps growing out of control. At the moment it is covered with these delicate little flowers, which makes me happy. Spring is here, the rosemary bush says so.
This was really a rather simple dish to put together. The scallops are very quickly pan-seared. You don’t want to overcook scallops – they end up tougher than old boots. The kale was a great little find at the farmers market. This Russian kale isn’t as bitter as some, and has a really great leaf shape. Something different I thought. I just quickly seared this in a little olive oil, butter and garlic. The result was fantastic. Slightly crispy from the butter, yet slightly soft like properly cooked kale. Magic. The beets are great too. Just these tiny little things picked up at Full Circle Farms, simply roasted in a little olive oil, water and fresh thyme. The thyme taste in the end is really subtle – just a little hint of flavor. You can roast beets a ton of different ways – this is how I like to do it. Heck, I have even heard of people roasting beets in red-wine… Sounds pretty good to me!
And the emullsion.. er, don’t worry I haven’t gone all 1990s on you.. This just seemed like a good idea. The dish needed a little something, a strong flavor that would cut through some of the sweetness, but yet not too overpowering. This is just a mixture of white wine vinegar, egg yolk (raw) butter, and a little creamed horseradish. The art here is to not add too much horseradish as to overpower all the delicate flavors in the dish.
This really topped off a great Sunday. We finally broke the bikes out, and rode from Freemont to the farmers market in Ballard. There is a great little trail along the river there, which is far enough away from cars as to not have to worry about the little one. So, how did we take a 14th month old on a bike? Good question! We picked up this absolutely amazing infant bike seat when we were in Holland for my twin brothers wedding. Course, Holland has all the cool bike stuff – but I reckon with some hunting, you could find the seat here. Drake absolutely loves it, we love it, and it produced one absolutely stellar Sunday. Here is the link to the bike seat: BoBike Mini Bike Seat
Pan Seared Scallops, roasted beets, Russian Kale, horseradish emulsion and roasted potatoes
3/4lb of large scallops
1 head of kale – I used Russian – thinly sliced. Thick stalks removed.
2 handfuls of beets – choose any color you want!
1 teaspoon of creamed horseradish
2 tablespoons of butter (emulsion) – melted
2 really fresh egg yolks
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon butter (cooking)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 small handful of rosemary leaves – chopped
handful of fingerling potatoes – gently washed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. Wash the worst of the dirt off the beets. Put them whole, in a roasting dish. Add a good splash of water, and a glug of olive oil. Put in the thyme sprigs. Toss to combine. The water should easily cover the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover the pan with foil, and put in the oven to roast. These will take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour to roast, depending on their size. They are done when I knife can be passed through them easily.
Make sure your potatoes are roughly all the same size. If they aren’t, cut some in half to better even out the sizes. This will obviously help them all cook more evenly. Put these in a medium saucepan, cover with water. Bung them on a high heat, with the lid on. Get the water boiling. Simmer these for about 10 minutes, until almost completely cooked. Whilst these are boiling away, get a small roasting pan in the oven to preheat. When the potatoes are done, remove the roasting pan from the oven, and add a little oil to it, along with rosemary leaves. Drain the potatoes and add them to the roasting pan. Sprinkle with a little salt, and toss to combine all the great flavors.
It should start smelling fantastic. Return the pan to the oven, and roast for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown. About half way through their cooking, give em a little toss again, just to help them brown evenly. For roasting potatoes I actually like to use a thick, heavy saute pan – I find I get much better browning with it.
When the beets are done, remove them from the oven. When cool enough to touch take one in you hand and rub all over with a paper towel. This will remove the skin. Repeat for all the beets. Your hands will turn red/purple. Deal with it! Slice these into 1/4″ slices.
Lets get the kale cooking. In a large saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the pan is hot add the garlic and the kale. Saute for about 5 minutes until cooked through, and slightly crunchy. When cooking, make sure you move the kale quite a bit, we want to stop it from burning – and make sure it cooks evenly.
In a large non-stick pan, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil. When the pan is nice and hot, put in the scallops, flat side down. Make sure you don’t crowd the pan, otherwise they won’t brown properly. Let them cook for just a couple of minutes on one side, then flip them over to cook the other side. When done, let them drain on a paper towel, and cover with foil to keep warm.
And finally.. the emulsion. You want to make this right at the end of cooking. In a blender, add in the egg yolks, white wine vinegar and creamed horseradish. Add the butter, and blend until combined and smooth.
And finally.. plating!! Put half of the slices of beets in the center of a plate. Top with half of the kale, and then half of the scallops. Add a little emulsion around the outside – this is pretty rich, so a little goes a long way. Repeat for the second plate.