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What to Cook: Sea Scallops with Cauliflower Purée and Capers

Sea Scallops with Cauliflower Purée and Capers

When I was working on my first book, heavily pregnant and braving the icy temperatures of New York in early March, Rica, my editor, invited me to her home for dinner. I didn’t know Rica very well yet (now I do), and so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But I did know that her husband, Cyrille, a Frenchman from Brittany, is a pedigreed chef with experience in the nest restaurants, and that they had met working together at the celebrated restaurant Daniel many years before. Let’s just say I was expecting good food. What I didn’t expect was that the food would be so good, the evening so pleasant, that I’d be asking them for permission to use one of the recipes in my next cookbook (this one) – or that we would all be cooking this dish together at my restaurant in Médoc the following August. Now I’m starting to expect many more meals together – my husband takes this one step further and is expecting their son to marry one of our many daughters. As for me, I can’t see that far into the future yet, but a wedding party of many cooks in Médoc has a nice ring to it.

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 navel orange
1 head cauliflower
90g unsalted butter
20 large sea scallops
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
80ml chicken stock
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp drained capers
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Method
Grate the zest from the orange and set the zest aside. Slice off the top and bottom of the orange with a knife and then follow the curve of the fruit to remove the peel and white pith all around. Working over a bowl, slice between the membranes to separate the orange segments. Cut each segment into a few pieces and set aside in the bowl.

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Break the cauliflower into florets. Add the florets to the boiling water and cook until tender to the point of a knife, about 10 minutes. Try not to overcook it or the purée will be gelatinous instead of smooth. Drain and then purée in a blender or food processor with 45g of the butter. Keep warm.

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat 30g of the butter with the olive oil over a high heat. When the butter starts to foam, swirl the pan constantly until the colour turns light brown. Add the scallops and sear on each side until browned and barely cooked in the centre, 3 to 4 minutes total.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to the boil over a high heat. Add the wine and continue to boil for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the remaining 15g of butter, the capers, and orange segments and any juice.

Spoon the cauliflower purée into shallow bowls or plates and top with the scallops. Spoon the caper sauce on top and around the scallops. Sprinkle the orange zest and parsley over the top. Serve immediately.

Extracted from French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson (Hardie Grant, approx €29). Photography © Oddur Thorisson.

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