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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mini curried squash soup, unique garnishes

a 3 oz. portion of spicy curried butternut squash soup with creme fraiche
garnished with toasted coconut, chopped cashews, dried pomegranate arils

As I tinker with my table setting ideas for our holiday parties
here’s what’s been playing on the stereo:

This year’s Christmas Compilation is a mix of classic and contemporary.

Play List
Dean Martin – A Marshmallow World
Rod Stewart & Dolly Parton – Baby It’s Cold Outside
Bing Crosby – It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas
The Christmas Party Singers – Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord
Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
Elvis Presley – Blue Christmas
Jimmy Buffett – Mele Kalikimaka
Barbra Steisand – Jingle Bells?
The Carpenters – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Andy Williams – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick
Frank Sinatra – White Christmas
U2 – Christmas, Baby Please Come Home
Louis Armstrong – Winter Wonderland
The Carpenters – Merry Christmas Darling
Elvis Presley – Here Comes Santa Claus
Stevie Nicks – Silent Night
The Carpenters – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Johnny Mathis with the Percy Faith Orchestra – Sleigh Ride
Jimmy Buffett – Christmas in the Caribbean
Burl Ives – Holly Jolly Christmas

What are you listening to as you bake cookies, trim your tree, and plan your holiday menus?

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A Peachy Dessert

Fresh Local Peaches
Puff Pastry Filled with Peach Jam and Brie
A Drizzle of Honey
Whipped Crème Fraîche

We made this dessert when I was in Chicago visiting my family. We were shopping at Whole Foods Market and asked the produce manager what his favorite fruit was that day. He said, “Local Illinois Peaches.” So that is what we bought and how this dessert came to be.
Initially we were going to grill or sauté the peaches in butter with sugar, but they tasted so delightful as is, we decided to leave them as nature intended. What shall we serve to complement these beauties? Last month I made a Baked Brie in Fillo with Preserves, that became the inspiration here. Tangy whipped crème fraîche would provide the perfect balance to the sweet fruit.
The photo above is of my neighbor’s peach tree here in Los Angeles. They told me to help myself. YAY! More peachy desserts are on the way! And a big thank you to my generous neighbors!

Cut puff pastry sheets into squares. Fill each square with a generous spoonful of peach jam and a piece of brie. Fold the corners together. Brush the pastry with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until puffed and golden brown.

Slice the peaches and arrange on the plates. Place warm puff pastry in the center, drizzle with honey then top with whipped crème fraîche.
A Splendid and Easy Peachy Dessert!