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Seared Scallops with Parsnip & Apple Puree

“Frankly Scallop, I couldn’t give a clam!”

After a few winter frosts, the humble parsnip is at its best – sweet in flavour and tender in texture.  We often forgot its importance until the Christmas period, but when the time arrives they are sprouting from every supermarket, grocers and deli, golden in colour and bursting with festive flavour.  This robust seasonal root provides a beautiful balance to many savoury dishes, wholesome soups and even festive bakes, offering a sweet yet earthy flavour.

With the big day only 5 days away, it is definitely time to start thinking about your Christmas Day menu.  Although I have a real fondness for a deliciously caramelised roasted parsnip, as the perfect accompaniment to any Christmas feast, parsnips offer an abundance of flavour simply boiled and blended into a smooth puree – this is where my idea for Seared Scallops with Parsnip and Apple Puree sprung from.

With half of the preparation being cooked before hand, this super starter consists of four basic components, only two of which need to be done on the big day.  All the hard work is in the preparation, and can be served, from fridge to plate, within 5 minutes!

With the addition of tart British eating apples, this puree not only delivers in its own right, but enhances the delicately sweet flavours of the scallops.  Along with a bitter Somerset Cheddar crisp and caramelised apple to add texture, this recipe is sure to impress.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Parsnip & Apple Puree
  1. 400g Parsnip, peeled & cubed
  2. 200g Eating apples, peeled, cored & roughly diced
  3. 1 tsp Cumin
  4. 1 tsp Paprika
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper
  7. Knob of butter
  8. 100ml milk
  1. Place the parsnip in a pan, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Once the saucepan is boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow the parsnip to soften. Remove from the heat and drain when the parsnip appears soft when tested with a sharp knife.
  2. Along with the cooked parsnip, place all the ingredients – minus the milk – in a large bowl (if using a stick blender) or food processor. Roughly blend the ingredients together before slowly adding the milk to achieve the desired consistency – this should be relatively smooth, although not too loose that it no longer holds form.
  3. To gain a smoother consistency, pass through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed, otherwise server generously alongside your delicately cooked scallops and caramelised apple.
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Cheddar crisps
  1. 150g Mature Cheddar
  2. 2 tsp Plain flour
  3. 1 tsp Paprika
  1. Finely grate the cheese into a bowl before adding the other ingredients. Combine the ingredients, ensuring the flour coats the cheese and the paprika is evenly distributed.
  2. Using round, straight edged cutters, sprinkle the cheese onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, ensuring the crisps are not too close together. (To make a ring similar to the pictures, simply push the cheese to the edge making a hole in the middle – make sure the hole is rather large as the cheese will spread).
  3. Bake at 180ºc/Gas 5 for about 10minutes. The crisps are ready when the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned – keep a close eye whilst they are cooking as they burn quickly.
  4. Remove from the oven and place the crisps still on the greaseproof paper on a cooling rack. Once the crisps are cool enough to touch, carefully peel from the greaseproof, and allow to fully cool. Use straight away or store in sealed container for up to 4 days.
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Scallop & Caramelised Apple
  1. 3 Scallops (per person)
  2. Dash of oil
  3. Salt
  4. Pepper
  5. Knob of butter
  6. 1 Apple
  1. In a small pan melt the butter on a high heat. Whilst the butter is melting, peel and dice the apple into small cubes. Cook the apple in the pan still on a high heat until it caramelises and takes on a golden colour – be careful the apple does not burn, stir regularly. Set aside until you are ready to plate up.
  2. Once the apple is prepared, place a non-stick pan on a very high heat. Add a dash of oil to the pan and allow to heat for a minute, before pouring any excess oil out of the pan.
  3. Ensure the scallops are relatively dry by placing them on kitchen paper before adding to the pan. Cook on a high heat for one minute. Carefully turn the scallops once it has gained good colour, and cook for another minute before removing from the heat and serving immediately.
  4. Plate the scallops along with your previously prepared puree and crisps, and caramelised apple. Serve and enjoy.
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