Thinking ahead to Sunday
I'm starting to plan Sunday's dinner. I want to make scallops with
vanilla-verjus beurre blanc and a summer vegetable gratin. (The recipes are
given below.) What else would be good with this meal, if some of the diners
are trying to cut carbs? Maybe a cold carrot-ginger soup? A bowl of radishes
with coarse salt? Celery Victor?
Here are the recipes:
Caramelized Day Boat Scallops with Verjus-Vanilla Beurre Blanc
(from Saveur Magazine Fall 2004)
2 pounds day-boat scallops
Sprinkle scallops with salt and sear in hot, almost smoking, sauté pan until
golden brown on each side, approximately 2 minutes on each side. Serve with
verjus-vanilla beurre blanc.
Verjus-Vanilla Beurre Blanc:
1-1/2 sticks butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup verjus
1 ounce heavy cream
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small non-reactive saucepan, add
shallots, scraped seeds from vanilla bean, vanilla bean pod and saffron.
Sweat over very low heat for 1 minute.
Add verjus and reduce by half to approximately 1/4 cup. Cut remaining butter
into small pieces and whisk into sauce over low flame. When butter is just
completely melted, remove from heat immediately and strain through fine
sieve. Whisk cream in and season with salt and white pepper to taste. Use
immediately or hold in prewarmed thermos up to one hour ahead.
Summer Vegetable Gratin
The success of this recipe depends on good-quality produce. Buy zucchini and
summer squash of roughly the same diameter. While we like the visual
contrast zucchini and summer squash bring to the dish, you can also use just
one or the other. A similarly sized broiler-safe gratin dish can be
substituted for the 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Serve the gratin alongside
grilled fish or meat and accompanied by bread to soak up any flavorful
Serves 6-8 as a side or 4 as a light main dish
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick
slices (see note)
1 pound summer squash (yellow), ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into
2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (3 to 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin pole to pole (about 3
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Brush 13- by 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.
2. Toss zucchini and summer squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt in large
bowl; transfer to colander set over bowl. Let stand until zucchini and
squash release at least 3 tablespoons of liquid, about 45 minutes. Arrange
slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper
towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.
3. Place tomato slices in single layer on double layer paper towels and
sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place second
double layer paper towels on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry
4. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium
heat until shimmering. Add onions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4
teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and
dark golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set onions aside.
5. Combine garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and
thyme in small bowl. In large bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash in half
of oil mixture, then arrange in greased baking dish. Arrange caramelized
onions in even layer over squash. Slightly overlap tomato slices in single
layer on top of onions. Spoon remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over
tomatoes. Bake until vegetables are tender and tomatoes are starting to
brown on edges, 40 to 45 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, process bread in food processor until finely ground, about 10
seconds. (You should have about 1 cup crumbs.) Combine bread crumbs,
remaining tablespoon oil, Parmesan, and shallots in medium bowl. Remove
baking dish from oven and increase heat to 450 degrees. Sprinkle bread-crumb
mixture evenly on top of tomatoes. Bake gratin until bubbling and cheese is
lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and let sit at room
temperature 10 minutes before serving.