April 24, 2012
Has the earth moved for you recently Dear Readers?
Well it certainly did for me a few days ago when I was rudely woken up by an earthquake!!
It was a small earthquake admittedly, but still a real one, and not at all a common occurrence around here. There was a deep rumbling, groaning, noise from the mountains that went on and on, and a bit of window rattling. BigJ and I just lay there in the dark saying 'No way! That had to be an earthquake! No, it couldn't- could it?' The cat came racing down to stare out our window, and act brave, but the dog and children slept soundly through the lot.
The cat and I were a bit twitchy for the rest of the day. Not through fear, it was just unsettling.
It wasn't until the afternoon that I really thought about it, and realised I had spent the entire day in the kitchen. Baking puddings, making veggie soups and purees, lots of stuff I'd been putting off, but obviously in my Comfort Zone. The part of the house I feel most safe and comfortable in. Maybe it's the feeling of being surrounded by fire and sharp knives, or maybe it's the feeling of warmth and scented steaminess raising from the bubbling pots, but I felt comfortable, and happy, and safe.
One of my jobs was to process a whole goodie bag of Jerusalem artichokes that my friendly local Garden Centre gave me. I had bought some to plant a while ago, but I left them a bit long and they didn't amount to anything, so the lovely people there generously gave me a full shopping bag to cook up and enjoy.
Have you tried Jerusalem Artichokes? They are rich and sweet and nutty, and make the most smooth, silky, sublime purees and soups indeed. They are a member of the sunflower family and are sometimes even known as Sunchokes. They are quite healthy but with most the carbohydrate content stored as Inulin instead of starch. This is great for blood sugar, but also means that some people have trouble digesting this food, with rather noisy side effects indeed. Beans contain a small amount of inulin, but Jerusalem Artichokes contain a LOT more... I'll leave the rest to your imagination :) When first eating these lovey tubers, it's best to start with small amounts, this will avoid any hassles or embarrassment the next day, so I decided to introduce you to a nice easy recipe that uses only a little but still showcases their deliciousness.
Seared Scallops on Jerusalem Artichoke Puree
Peel your artichokes. Pop them straight into some acidulated water to stop them turning brown
I like to double boil them. It can really help reducing any side effects. Put them into cold water then bring it to the boil.
Drain immediately, then place them into a fresh pot of cold water, and cook until nice and tender
Drain, then place them back in the hot pot on a gentle heat to steam dry a bit- but watch them and don't let them stick or burn
You can now blend them in a blender, with a stick blender, or pass them through a fine sieve for extra silkiness I like to put the puree back on the heat and while stirring, try and take out as much liquid as possible to have a really thick, rich paste.
This means I can add as much cream or butter as I want to the finished product without it being too runny
Ok, now for the scallops. Aren't these lovely ones indeed!
Pat the scallops dry, then drizzle with oil (not olive oil though or you'll smoke up your kitchen) and season with salt
Get your pan screaming hot, you want to get a good sear on these babies without letting them stew in their juices Cook for only about 30 seconds a side, you don't want these to dry out they will keep cooking off the heat while you plate up
Place a nice splodge of hot puree on serving plate, or lovely scallop shell
Nestle the scallops into the bed of yumminess, then drizzle with a little oil- I used truffle oil, just cause I could :P, then top with some thin and crispy fried Jerusalem artichoke chips for a bit of textural contrast
Oh So Good! What a lovely elegant starter for a dinner party, and a lovely way to introduce a new delicious vegetable to your guests as well, Yummo!
So Dear Readers, have you ever experienced an earthquake, and how did it make you feel?