This year we’ll be in Paris to ring in 2015, but, rather than dine out in one of the city’s restaurants, we’ll be cooking a meal with our friends, Harriet and Philippe, who live there. Our hosts have decided that after marathon Christmas entertaining, we should follow a simpler philosophy of “buy some, make some” for this special night. And, happily, that’s especially easy to do in France.
Harriet’s local boucher displays gorgeous fowl, completely stuffed and oven ready, which she buys and roasts along with chestnuts and vegetables. Our pals love to purchase oysters, a French tradition at this time of year, and a cache of delectable cheeses. I’ll order a dessert from one of my favorite patisseries, and will volunteer to bring champagne and appetizers.
For openers I have in mind sea scallop and fennel tartlets that are uncomplicated, but still chic. They are prepared with purchased fillo (phyllo) shells that are filled with sautéed fennel, then topped with a thin sautéed scallop slice. Garnishes include a dollop of Parmesan and lemon crème fraîche, plus a sprinkle of tarragon. These starters, which can be assembled an hour ahead, are delicious served with flutes of bubbly!
Bonne Année and Happy 2015 to all. May your year be filled with good things to eat and to share with others!Print This Recipe
Scallop and Fennel Tartlets with Parmesan Crème Fraîche
Parmesan Crème Fraîche and Garnish
1/2 cup crème fraîche
4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
15 mini-fillo shells, defrosted according to package directions (see note)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 1/2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped fennel (from one medium fennel bulb: see note)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds (see note)
8 small to medium sea scallops (7 to 8 oz), side muscles removed, and scallops
1. For the Parmesan Crème Fraîche, place the crème fraîche in a medium bowl, and gradually whisk in the Parmesan. The mixture will be thick and slightly lumpy—that’s okay. Whisk in the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. (This mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate until needed.)
2. For the tartlets, arrange a rack at center position, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the fillo (phyllo) cups on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter, and brush the shells lightly inside and out with it. Bake for 3 minutes to crisp lightly. Remove and set aside.
3. In a medium large, heavy skillet over medium heat, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the canola oil until hot. Add the chopped fennel and sauté, stirring, until it is lightly browned and softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Season the fennel with salt and pepper, and remove from the pan.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat and when cool enough, wipe it out with paper towels.
Combine the fennel seeds with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and set aside. Place the skillet back over medium heat, and add remaining canola oil and butter. When hot, pat the scallops dry with paper towels and add them to the pan. Sauté until golden browned on both sides, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Season with the fennel seed mixture and remove from the pan.
5. Divide the fennel evenly among the fillo (phyllo) cups, and top each with a scallop slice. You'll have one slice left over! Enjoy it yourself! (The tartlets can be prepared 1 hour ahead to this point. Cover with plastic and leave at cool room temperature.)
6. Bake tartlets on the baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven until warmed through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove, arrange them on a platter, and top each with a teaspoon of the crème fraîche and a sprinkle of tarragon. You may have some crème fraîche left over. Serve warm. Makes 15 tartlets.
Note: Athens Foods sells packages of 15 mini-fillo shells. They are available in many supermarkets.
Note: To prepare the fennel, trim and discard the stem with the feathery fronds from the bulb. Halve bulb lengthwise and then cut out and discard the tough triangular core from each half. Chop finely.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014