Thursday, March 30, 2017

Seared Sea Scallop and Peperoni Bagna Cauda Stuffed Portobello with Scallion Threads

     A Rich Tasting Antipasti!
     The word "Antipasti" basically refers to an appetizer that is served before pasta during a traditional Italian four course dining event.  Antipasti items are also popular light lunch items, especially at cafés that promote a business lunch for office workers that have limited break time.      
     When large Portobello Mushrooms first hit the American fine dining restaurant scene back in the early 1990's, it seemed like every chef offered a Stuffed Portobello or a Chargrilled Portobello as a special du jour.  Some Portobello presentations were more refined than others back in those days, but for the most part, creating an appealing flavor combination was most important.  Traditional Italian food items paired with Portobello seemed to sell best back in those days.
     Removing the stem and gills is necessary for any large Portobello Mushroom presentation.  For a refined presentation, the Portobello should be peeled.  For a casual café style presentation, the brown Portobello skin can be left intact, because the color brown classically suggests rich flavor.
     Gratin style Portobello stuffings were common back in the 1990's, but this style of stuffed Portobello was a bit too heavy to be served as an appetizer.  In Florida, seafood stuffed Portobello were popular, especially if the stuffing was made with crab or shrimp, but more often than not, the seafood stuffing was bound with a cream sauce, so it was a bit heavy on the tummy too.
     Emulsion sauces like Beurre Blanc yielded a lighter stuffed Portobello, but when the French health cuisine trend first began in the late 1990's, butter sauces became less popular.  Health minded customers preferred olive oil or grape seed oil back in those days, so Aioli Sauces soon took the place of butter sauces and cream sauces for appetizer items.
     Italian Bagna Cauda is a classic Italian appetizer that has an emulsified olive oil garlic sauce that can be made a few different ways.  Reducing cream with olive oil, anchovies and garlic, then pureeing the mixture is one way that Bagna Cauda can be made.  This style of Bagna Cauda tastes rich, yet because it contains a high proportion of olive oil it still appeals to health conscious guests.  The light anchovy flavor of Bagna Cauda also fits in with recent umami flavor trends.  A roasted large Portobello stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper Bagna Cauda (Peperoni Bagna Cauda) and a large sea scallop proverbially covers all of the bases!

     Roasted Red Bell Pepper Preparation (Peperoni):
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup. 
     Step 1:  Select 1 medium large red bell pepper.
     There are two ways to roast a red bell pepper for making Peperoni.  Use either of these options:
     • The red bell pepper can be roasted over an open flame till the skin turns black.  
     • The second method involves brushing the red bell peppers with olive oil then roasting them in a 350ºF oven till black highlights appear on the pepper skin.  
     Step 2:  Peel the blackened skin off of the roasted red pepper under cold running water.
     Step 3:  Split the pepper open.
     Remove the pulp and seeds under cold running water.
     Step 4:  Trim the stem off the stem cap.
      Pat the cleaned roasted red bell pepper dry with a pastry towel.
     Step 5:  Cut the roasted red bell pepper lengthwise into 1/4" wide strips.
     Place the peppers in a container.
     Pour a few drops of olive oil over the pepper strips.
     The chill the roasted red bell pepper strips till they are needed.

     This recipe yields 1 crouton medallion.
     Use a 3" steel ring mold to cut a slice of whole grain wheat bread into a medallion shape.
     Place the the bread medallion on a roasting pan.
     Bake the crouton in a 325ºF oven till it is toasted golden brown.
     Set the crouton aside.

     Roasted Scallion Threads:
     This recipe yields 1 or 2 garnish portions.
     Step 1:  Cut 1 or 2 scallions into 3 1/2" to 4" lengths.  (3 or 4 pieces is plenty)
     Cut the scallion pieces into long thin julienne strips.  (1/16" wide strips)
     Step 2:  Place the scallion strips in a small mixing bowl.
     Drizzle a few drops of blended olive oil over the scallion strips.
     Toss the scallion strips and oil together till the strips are coated.
     Step 3:  Spread the scallion strips on a small roasting pan.
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the thin scallion strips are caramelized and crisp.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Set the pan aside, so the delicate Roasted Scallion Threads are not damaged.
     Peperoni Bagna Cauda:
     This recipe yields about 3/4 cup.  (2 petite portions)
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of good olive oil.
     Add 5 whole garlic cloves that are partially crushed.
     Gently sauté till the garlic is a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 teaspoon of Anchovy Paste.
     Add 2/3 cup of cream.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency.  (Whisk the sauce often, so the cream and oil combines.)
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Use an emersion blender (or regular blender) to puree and emulsify the sauce.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of Roasted Red Bell Pepper Strips to the Bagna Cauda Sauce in the sauce pot.
     *Keep the sauce pot warm on a stove top till later in the recipe when the Portobello and Scallop finish cooking.
     Step 5:  When the mushroom and scallop are ready, place the sauce pot of Bagna Cauda Sauce over very low heat.
     Gently warm the Peperoni Bagna Cauda.
     Roasted Portobello:
     This recipe yields 1 large roasted Portobello Mushroom.
     Peeling the mushroom is an option.
     *The Portobello and Sea Scallop should be cooked at the same time.
     Step 1:  Pop the stem off of a large Portobello Mushroom that is about 5" to 6" in diameter.
     Carefully use a spoon to scrape the gills off of the mushroom.
     Step 2:  Lightly brush the mushroom cap with olive oil.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Place the prepared Portobello on a roasting pan, so the scraped gill side is facing up.
     Place the pan in a 325ºFº oven.
     Roast till the Portobello is tender.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the Roasted Portobello warm on a stove top.

     Seared Sea Scallop:
     This recipe yields 1 large Sea Scallop.
     Step 1:  Select 1 large Sea Scallop that weighs 3 to 3 1/2 ounces.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Place the Sea Scallop in the pan.
     Sear the Sea Scallop till it is golden brown on both sides and it is about halfway cooked.  
     Step 3:  Place the sauté pan with the sea scallop in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the Sea Scallop is a medium/medium well finish temperature.
     Keep the seared sea scallop warm on a stove top.

     Seared Sea Scallop and Peperoni Bagna Cauda Stuffed Portobello with Scallion Threads:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer portion.
     Step 1:  Set the pan with the Roasted Portobello on a countertop.
     Place about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of the Peperoni Bagna Cauda on the Roasted Portobello Mushroom.
     Place the Seared Sea Scallop on the Peperoni Bagna Cauda.
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven for 1 minute to reheat the appetizer.
     Step 2:  Place the crouton on the center of a plate.
     Remove the Scallop and Peperoni Bagna Cauda Stuffed Portobello pan from the oven.
     Use a spatula to place the stuffed mushroom on top of the crouton.
     Step 3:  Place 1 small portion of the Roasted Scallion Threads on the scallop.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of minced Italian Parsley on the plate.
     This is a very nice tasting antipasti!

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