Many individuals have a basic culinary knowledge, but the food pairing can be difficult... what flavors work well together? What textures compliment a dish, as opposed to overpowering? When do you stop adding ingredients to a plate?
Trust me when I say that you must at some point try the following:
Seared scallop with mushroom horseradish truffle duxelle, Dijon rosemary sabayon and arugula oil
Scallops - easy. Season with salt, black pepper and a few drop of lemon juice, then sear in almond oil. Done.
Mushroom-truffle duxelle. There were beautiful organic white button mushrooms on sale and I could not pass up their price. While button mushrooms do not exactly scream "I have the best flavor in the world!" when cooked by their lonesome, I decided to add some finesse and dress them up to impress. Think Pretty Lady... from drab to sophisticated by simply rubbing away the dirt, then adding key ingredients. I sauteed in almond oil, then added a touch of Pino Noir and chicken stock to deglaze the pan. A dusting of herbs de Provence, squeeze of lemon juice, dollop of horseradish and pinch of cayenne pepper added the necessary flavors to enhance the once pitiful mushrooms. The ultimate enhancement? A few drops of truffle oil. Done.
Dijon-rosemary sabayon. Since scallops are a delicate mollusk to enjoy, they should be paired with a light sauce... an essence, if you will. The sauce is not meant to be the featured item on the plate, but only present to add a discrete (yet necessary) element. After cooking my sabayon, ( http://sophisticatedsavories.blogspot.com/2014/01/savory-sabayon.html ), I simply seasoned with cayenne pepper, freshly chopped rosemary, a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard and black pepper. The Dijon and rosemary worked perfectly with the truffled horseradish mushroom duxelle. Done.
I have also been experimenting with making my own herb-infused oils. Ergo, arugula oil not only provides a subtle nutty flavor, but a vibrant forest-green hue to capture your focus and draw you to the plate. Rather than overpowering the plate with a fire-engine red cherry tomato, I opted for the yellow counterpart. Why? The yellow adds a pop of delicate color that is not as harsh as red. If I used red, then the eye would be drawn immediately to the red tomato, as opposed to the seared scallop. And it may have resembled Christmas a little too much with the green arugula oil. Done.
Finishing touches? A few light micro-greens to top the scallop.
While upon first glance, the plate may seem simple. Yet, once tasted, your palate is able to discern and enjoy the multitude of flavors dancing and flowing together. Not overly-complicated, yet composed in nature. It just... works.
"Child, you have to learn to see things in the right proportions. Learn to see great things great and small things small." - Corrie ten Boom