A delicious starter of pan seared scallops, served with a creamy celeriac puree, the crunch of smoked bacon and the freshness of cucumber and apple. A perfect start to any dinner party.
At this time of year Michelle and I start thinking a lot about food, even more than we usually do! It’s hard to imagine that we can talk more about food, but somehow we do! There are plenty of resources out there to tell you how to cook the perfect Christmas roast and what sides to pair it with. We are taking a different approach with our Christmas posts this year.
Over the next 3 weeks we are going to share our recipes for our special festive menu. Those meals we have over the festive period where we want to spend a bit more time to produce a lovely dinner. Whether it’s an intimate meal for two or a small dinner party with family and friends, the dishes work well together. We begin with our starter this week and follow with the main course and dessert over the following weeks.
First up our delicious starter, a scallop dish that we are serving with a creamy celeriac puree. We are also adding a touch of smoked bacon along with the freshness of apple. Finally topping off with some dill pickled cucumber to add some sharpness to the finished dish.
I am very lucky as I have a friend who dives and generously shares with me hand-dived scallops. Delivered fresh to my door, I shuck them myself, I’m getting quick adept at it! My kids are always fascinated and want to get stuck in and help. I either eat them fresh within a day or freeze them straight away. My last gift of scallops arrived Sunday past and are already frozen ready to make this starter on Christmas Day. Much to the distress of my eldest daughter who would’ve liked them cooked and devoured immediately.
I have been out for dinner and afterwards had a nightcap at my friend’s house. Her husband is very good at pan frying these for us as a rather special late night snack. Cooked simply in butter with a little seasoning they are beautifully sweet and honestly need little else. In fact eating these scallops has spoilt me a little for eating scallops elsewhere, it’s hard to beat the freshness.
A simple starter of pan friend scallops, simply seasoned and served on a creamy celeriac mash. Alongside crispy shards of bacon, dill pickled cucumber, apple crisps and watercress.
- 12 scallops
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- salt & pepper
- 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon grilled flat and cut into shards
- 1 apple thinly sliced
- handful of watercress
- sprig fresh dill
- 1 whole cucumber
- 150 ml white wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp caster sugar
- 3 sprigs fresh dill
- 1/2 celeriac peel and diced
- 1 clove garlic leave skin on
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 50 ml double cream
- 50 ml whole milk
- salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 sprigs fresh dill leaves finely chopped
- pinch of caster sugar
- salt & pepper
- 1 crisp eating apple
Pare the cucumber into thin ribbons along the length, using a potato peeler. Place the ribbons in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover with ice cold water. Set aside for an hour to draw out excess water.
After an hour drain thoroughly and wash off any residual salt. Place the ribbons on kitchen paper and dry completely.
Meanwhile place the vinegar, sugar and dill into a saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Place the cucumber ribbons in a plastic container with a tight sealing lid. Pour over the pickling liquor and stir to combine. Allow to cool completely, then cover with lid and place in the fridge for a minimum of two hours but ideally 2 days.
Place the diced celeriac in a saucepan, along with the garlic, rosemary, cream and milk. Simmer gently over a low heat until the celeriac is soft, approximately 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and strain off the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside for later.
Add the cooked celeriac to the cooking liquid. Remove the garlic and squeeze out half the garlic into the cooking liquor, Discard the remaining garlic along with the rosemary.
Take the celeriac and blitz to a smooth puree using a stick blender. Then pass the puree through a fine sieve to remove any lumps, ensuring a smooth puree. [At this stage you can allow it to cool and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.]
When ready to serve place the puree into a saucepan, heat gently and stir thoroughly.
Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine, check the seasoning and set aside until serving. [The vinaigrette benefits from being made 2 days in advance to intensify the dill.]
Slice the apple thinly using a mandolin. Lay the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in an oven at 120CFan for 30 minutes then remove from oven, place on a wire rack and leave to cool and crisp.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and add the sunflower oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper on both sides. Place in the frying pan and sear the scallops for 1 minutes each side. Do not move the scallops around the pan, turn once golden on the bottom.
Once golden on both sides, remove the scallops from the pan and drain on some kitchen paper. Place the scallops on top of the warm celeriac puree.
Arrange the pickled cucumber, crispy bacon, apple slices, watercress and dill fronds on the plate around the scallops. Drizzle over some dill vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
There are a number of elements to the dish however the pickled cucumber and dill vinaigrette benefit from being made a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge.
The celeriac puree can also be made in advance and also freezes well. The portion can be doubled up and half of it placed in the freezer for use at a later date.