Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cauliflower Soup with Seared Sea Scallops

My friend Cherrie and I went to yet another cooking class this week. You'd think we'd get tired of doing this, but no. We went further afield than usual (about 1 1/2 hours away, to San Diego). Where there's a cooking school and cookware store called Great News. It's in Pacific Beach, about 2 miles from I-5. We drove south, stopping in Oceanside for lunch and to watch the wind and the waves, then shopped at a fabulous meat market called Tip Top Meats (that also has the glorious sausages, and tons of imported grocery items from Greece, Scandinavia, Germany - it's introduced as a German meat market). Spent 45 minutes wandering the aisles and buying some fresh sausages (those wonderful Nuremburger ones, like we had IN Nuremburg last month). Check this link to information about Tip Top Meats .

Then we went further south to Little Italy (very near downtown San Diego) and shopped at Mona Lisa, a very old-school kind of Italian delicatessen. Oh, the wonderful aromas from cheeses and salamis. An Italian friend of ours who lives in Fallbrook, says he does all of his Italian foodstuffs shopping at this market (and restaurant). Lots of Italian wine you don't find even in wine stores. Fresh vegetables too, including really large fennel bulbs and cardoons. A small gem of a store. I bought some pasta, some fresh Italian sausages (with cheese and their own herb mixture) and some herby olives.

The class, titled "Entertaining with Style," was taught by one of Cherrie's and my favorite teachers, Phillis Carey. She lives in San Diego, but commutes to Orange County to teach occasional classes, which is how we learned about her. She's very fun, witty, cute, and is a fantastic cook. An author of several cookbooks too. Phillis recognizes us now, we've been to so many of her classes. Great News is her favorite teaching venue, and I certainly can understand why: a gorgeous designer kitchen with a prep counter that must be 18 feet long, all granite. Lovely facility. We had time to shop before in their incredible store - it has more merchandise than nearly any cookware store I've ever been in, and at intermission. You get a 10% discount on purchased items if you attend a class.

So, this was the first course of our 4-course meal - soup, salad, entree [and sides] and dessert. It was a delicious evening, and contained recipes I will make. Maybe every one of them. So, on to soup. This is very, very simple to make, although it does require a few steps:
  • create the soup (stock, cream, onion, cauliflower, garlic)
  • blanche the leeks
  • saute the scallops
  • chop the chives
But, these are not hard, not a one of them. I'll be making this soup soon. My DH really likes scallops, although you undoubtedly could substitute shrimp. Or ham, Phillis suggested, instead of the scallop. I did learn a bit about a muscle attachment on a scallop - called the "foot." I am certain I've had scallops that still had this muscle (where the scallop itself attaches itself to its shell) still attached. It's very chewy, so Phillis showed us how to find it and remove it. You run your finger around the outside edge of the scallop until you find a slight nub - it will usually open to a small flap. That's it - and you use a sharp knife to remove it (and discard). Don't dig into the scallop flesh much - just remove the nub portion. Go for it:

Cauliflower Soup with Seared Sea Scallops
Recipe: Phillis Carey, author, cooking instructor
Servings: 6
3 tablespoons canola oil -- divided use
1 cup onion -- chopped
1 clove garlic -- minced
1 head cauliflower -- about 3 3/4 cups
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whipping cream coarse sea salt to taste white pepper to taste
1 whole leek
6 whole sea scallops -- "foot" removed, patted dry
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons chives -- minced
1. Heat 2 T. of oil in heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute about 4 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue cooking until onion is soft. Do not burn the garlic. Add cauliflower, broth and cream. Bring soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, partly cover it and simmer gently until cauliflower is tender, about 18 minutes. Puree soup in small batches in blender (don't overfill, or it will blow the lid off the blender), until smooth. Return soup to same saucepan, season with salt and pepper. Can be made one day ahead to this point. Cover and chill. Rewarm before serving.
2. Cut and thoroughly wash the leek, discarding all but the white and just a little bit of the green. Cut leek into 1/8 inch slices. Blanch the leek in a small saucepan of boiling water, about one minute. Drain. Place a small mound of leek in each wide, flattish soup bowl (not white, preferably). The scallop will sit on top of this mound.
3. Heat remaining 1 T. of oil in a medium, nonstick skillet over high heat. Sprinkle scallops with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Sear until brown and JUST opaque in the center, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Immediately place the scallop on top of the leek mound and ladle the hot soup AROUND the scallop (not on). Sprinkle the soup with chives and serve.
NOTES : If you don't know how to find the "foot" on the scallop, feel around the outside edge until you find a little bump or edge that sticks out (this is the part that attaches to the shell). It's a firmer kind of muscle meat and should be removed. Use a knife to cut it and discard.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 306 Calories; 30g Fat (82.2% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 85mg Cholesterol; 57mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 6 Fat.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.

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