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Recipe: Cauliflower beignets with sea scallops and golden raisin purée

January 09, 2008
  • A SOPHISTICATED SIDE: Cauliflower beignets set off sauteed sea scallops and golden raisin puree spiked with three kinds of ground peppercorns.
A SOPHISTICATED SIDE: Cauliflower beignets set off sauteed sea scallops… (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: From Maze restaurant chef de cuisine Josh Emett in New York

1 cauliflower head

2 cups heavy cream

Sea salt

Finely ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon Sarawak peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

2 cups golden raisins

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for deep-frying, divided

3/4 cup semolina flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

5 ounces ( 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) beer

5 ounces ( 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Perrier

Flour for dredging the cauliflower beignets

12 scallops

1. Cut the cauliflower in half, reserving half for later use. Chop one half of the cauliflower into florets, and combine with the cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the cream begins to simmer, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and continue to cook until the cauliflower is tender and a knife pierces easily, 20 to 25 minutes. Purée the cauliflower and cream in a blender until smooth. Remove to a medium bowl, and adjust the consistency if necessary with extra cream so the purée has the consistency of a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Grind all of the peppercorns in a spice grinder or coffee mill to a fine powder. Set aside.

3. Place the raisins in a small pan with enough cold water to cover and heat over high heat until the water comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the raisins are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the water, and purée the raisins in a blender until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve. Adjust the thickness of the purée if necessary with a little water to give it the same consistency as the cauliflower purée, and season to taste with the ground peppercorns. Set aside.

4. To make the cauliflower beignets, take the remaining cauliflower half and break it down into small florets about the size of popcorn. In a small soup pot of boiling water, blanch the florets until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the florets and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well again and place in a large bowl.

5. Heat about 3 inches of olive oil in a large pot until a thermometer inserted reads 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together the semolina flour, cornstarch and curry powder. Stir in the beer and Perrier until the batter is smooth. Toss the cauliflower florets in enough flour to lightly coat, then dip them, a few at a time, in the beignet batter. Fry the battered florets 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown, making sure they do not stick together when frying. Carefully remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan. Continue until all the florets are fried.

6. Season each of the scallops with a light pinch of salt and a small grind of pepper. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan until hot, then add the scallops, a few at a time. Cook the scallops until golden and just cooked through, a couple minutes on each side.

7. To serve, place three scallops in the center of each of four plates. Run a spoonful of each of the two purées along either side of the plate. Divide the cauliflower beignets equally among the four plates. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 616 calories; 16 grams protein; 59 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 36 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 56 mg. cholesterol; 408 mg. sodium.

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