Scallops with Cauliflower Purée and Truffle Oil and Partridges with Rosti and Mushrooms

Posted By Stephen

The title makes this meal sound rather like something from a good brasserie menu. However, this would have been a brasserie with Basil Fawlty at the helm as it turned out. Let’s start with the scallops. Both because we had them as a starter and also for reasons which will become clear later.

We thought that cauliflower purée would go well with scallops, so started with this. We followed this recipe, which worked to some degree but our Magimix Mini (aka Tragimix) gave up half way through as it usually does, so it wasn’t really puréed enough. Thinking about it now, we should have tried using our stick blender on it at that point, or strained it to get it finer, but we didn’t. It tasted okay though, but could have done with more seasoning (again, hindsight).

The scallops themselves we seared quickly in a hot pan and then served on top of a blob of the purée, drizzled with a dash of white truffle oil. The truffle oil and the seared scallops went well together, as did the cauliflower purée but the purée didn’t have as much flavour as we’d have liked. And of course it wasn’t properly puréed either. We had planned to top the scallops with some crispy deep-fried onion strings, but forgot about these until the last minute and then in my rush to get them done on time, turned up the heat too far and burned them, so we left them out.

Anyway, that was the successful part of the meal.

For the partridge, I paged various cookbooks and when I found a picture of a roast partridge with mushrooms in Gary Rhodes’s New British Classics, I decided on that without really paying much attention to the recipe. Or to anything else as it turns out; I spent more time writing wine tasting notes and generally being spaced out than doing much to assist poor Kerri with the cooking.

Because of our previous success with rösti, we planned to make them to go with the partridge too. However, we overcooked the potato while parboiling it and it became more of a mashed potato cake than a rösti.

The partridges needed to be browned before being roasted. The recipe suggested doing the browning in a roasting dish and then just transferring the whole dish to the oven when it was done. Sounds simple. Except the roasting dish that we used was rather thin, with the result that the birds browned very unevenly and parts were burnt whereas others were raw. To our detriment, we didn’t really notice this at the time due to various other goings-on which included Kerri burning her fingers on a hot saucepan that I’d left lying around. We managed to hide enough burnt bits for the above photograph at least.

The mushrooms needed Madeira which we didn’t have, so we used a mixture of Sherry and red wine instead. This may have been fine, but we don’t really know because again, we didn’t pay attention and they turned out badly; forgot to add stock to the sauce and also didn’t cook the wine out enough. Not very tasty.

So the scallops were good and my rösti was good (Kerri’s strangely seemed to have raw bits in it despite the fact that the potatoes had been overcooked; might have been glassy bits rather than raw) but the rest was pretty much disastrous. Hopefully that means we’ve got all of our culinary disasters out of the way for a while though.

Oct 19th, 2008

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