THE BLOG
11/10/2010 11:02 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Saul's Scallops from the Brooklyn Cookbook

A few weeks ago, our friends over at William Morrow, the publishing house that is putting our BGSK baby on the shelf, sent us each a copy of The New Brooklyn Cookbook.

Being staunch home cooks, neither of us had been to many of the restaurants featured within its pages (though Cara's attendance, being a Brooklynite and all, far exceeded mine). We were torn between plunging head first into some of the recipes, and going to get our fix at the restaurants themselves. Luckily, I had the option to do both in the weeks that followed.

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Cara and I were guests on Cathy Erway's radio show Let's Eat In (listen here!), which was recorded in Heritage Farm's studio in the backyard of Roberta's. We had a hard time answering some of Cathy's questions on air, mainly because our mouths were full of pizza.

The next day, I was whisked away on a date to the cozy, romantic Vinegar Hill House -- exactly what you want out of a neighborhood restaurant. The steaming hot skillet of cast iron chicken won my heart. Or perhaps it was the person I was sharing it with.

I thought this would surely be the first recipe I turned to from the book -- it's fairly uncomplicated, and just the kind of comfort dish I would want to make at home. But an opportunity arose a week later to make something more involved.

I recently began working as a private chef, making a fairly formal three-course meal one night a week for my client, an 81-year-old woman who loves good food, in restaurants and at home. For her most recent meal, I settled on the beautifully orchestrated scallop dish from Saul Restaurant, with a few minor alterations to suit her dietary restrictions.

Perhaps I didn't do this dish justice with all my modifications, but the combination of ingredients that ended up on my plate were absolutely delicious nonetheless. I put the original chorizo as optional for non meat-eaters, or anyone just trying to save a couple bucks on this menu -- I didn't use it this time. The dish did not suffer without it, but I cannot attest to the transcendent nature of the chorizo when properly applied. Also, currants were not available at my local Whole Foods, so I used golden raisins instead.

We don't make a whole lot of restaurant-style recipes in our small kitchens. But when we turn to slightly more complicated plates for catering events, we love dishes that have multiple elements, all of which are fairly simple individually and can be made far in advance. Don't let the ingredient list intimidate you -- these scallops, as well as many of the recipes in The New Brooklyn Cookbook, are perfect examples of this philosophy.

-- Phoebe Lapine of Big Girls, Small Kitchen

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Scallops with White Bean Puree, Kale, and Pinenuts

Adapted From The New Brooklyn Cookbook/Saul Restaurant

Makes 6 servings

Perhaps I didn't do this dish justice with all my modifications, but the combination of ingredients that ended up on my plate were absolutely delicious nonetheless. I put the original chorizo as optional for non meat-eaters, or anyone just trying to save a couple bucks on this menu -- I didn't use it this time. The dish did not suffer without it, but I cannot attest to the transcendent nature of the chorizo when properly applied. Also, currants were not available at my local Whole Foods, so I used golden raisins instead.

For the topping:

¼ cup currants (or golden raisins)
6 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped shallots
½ cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon thyme leaves

For the kale & scallops:

1 bunch Tuscan kale (3/4 pound), ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped
¼ cup shallots
24 large sea scallops (about 2 pounds), tough muscle removed
½ pound chorizo, cut on the bias into 1/8 inch slices (optional)
2 cups white bean puree (recipe follows)

Make the topping: Soak the currants or raisins in hot water for 20 minutes. In the meantime, in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, drain the currants or raisins and add them to the pan along with the pinenuts, lemon zest, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and thyme. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to cool at room temperature. (Can be made hours in advance).

Make the kale: Fill a medium saucepan or Dutch oven with salted water and bring to a boil. Blanch the kale for 2 minutes, drain in a colander, and rinse with cold water until cool. Squeeze out any extra moisture, and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the saucepan and set it over medium heat. Sauté the shallots until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the kale and cook for an additional 2 minutes, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, set aside. (Can be made hours in advance).

About 10 minutes before service, make the scallops: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan over high heat. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, and the butter is frothy but not beginning to brown, add the scallops. Sear without touching for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Flip them and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the sides have become nearly opaque. Remove to a plate.

Add the chorizo, if using, to the pan and heat through for 1-2 minutes.

To plate: Spread ¼ - ½ cup of warm white bean puree on each plate, place 4 scallops on top, arrange the kale between the scallops, and top them with the pine nut topping and slices of warm chorizo.

White Bean Puree
Makes 2-3 cups

1 cup dried white beans
¼ cup olive oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 medium Spanish onion diced
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with room temperature water by 2 inches. Soak at room temperature overnight.

Drain the beans and add them to a medium saucepan or Dutch oven with the olive oil, garlic, celery, onion, bay leaf, and salt. Cover with water by 3-inches (you can also use veggie stock for more flavor) and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Remove the bay leaf, drain the beans, and reserve the cooking liquid. Puree the beans in a food processor with ¾ cup of the cooking liquid (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your machine). The puree should be the consistency of a thick milkshake. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as necessary. (Can be make 1-2 days in advance).

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