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Eat like the 1 percent

. . . but on a 99-percenter’s budget
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  December 7, 2011

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April, June, November, and everything in between

Notes from a Maine Kitchen: Seasonally Inspired Recipes ($27.95), by veteran cookbook author Kathy Gunst, takes the reader through 12 months of the year, sharing stories and seasonal recipes along the way. In April, Gunst writes about fresh eggs and wild ramps, which she claims "can dress up even the most basic food." Come July, she muses on summer rental-house cooking, offering recipes for grilled fish and blueberry pie. For fall, we have an account of mushroom foraging combined with instructions on how to make a woodsy roasted wild-mushroom soup (I made it; it's delicious) and potato pancakes. During early winter months, Gunst suggests we make a winter salad of balsamic-glazed turnips and baby greens, or how about some pan-fried, cornmeal-coated Maine smelts - simple enough to make right there in your smelt shack. Gunst's is the type of book that makes any cook excited for a year spent in cozy Maine kitchens.

Sautéed Scallops with Parsnip Puree

The natural sweetness in parsnips pairs beautifully with sweet Maine scallops. A simple sauce is made by deglazing the sauté pan with garlic, white wine, and a touch of butter and chives. | Serves 4

For the parsnip puree
2 pounds young, thin parsnips, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
11/2 tablespoons créme fraîche, or sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated orange zest, optional

For the scallops
1 pound sea scallops
1 cup flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon minced fresh chives

To make the puree (which can happen several hours ahead of time), bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the parsnips and cook over high heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a small sharp knife. Drain. Place the parsnips back in the pot and, using a potato masher, mash them until soft and somewhat smooth (parsnips won't get as smooth as potatoes do). Add the crème fraîche, butter, salt, pepper, and orange zest, if using, to taste.

Use a paper towel to dry the scallops. Place the flour on a large plate and season, liberally, with the salt and pepper. Coat the scallops lightly on both sides.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil and butter over moderately-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds; do not let it brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic from the oil and set off to the side. Add the scallops, being careful not to crowd the skillet and making sure they don't touch each other. Let cook for 2 minutes over high heat without touching them - they won't brown properly if you move them around or constantly check on them. Gently flip the scallops over and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the size. They should be a gorgeous golden-brown color. Remove to a serving plate and keep in the warm oven while you finish the sauce.

Add the wine to the hot skillet and let it simmer down over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until thickened and reduced. Add the butter, salt, and a sprinkle of pepper and the reserved garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle the chives into the sauce.

Place some parsnip puree in the center of a warm dinner plate, surround with the scallops, and spoon the sauce on top.

 

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