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Scallop Amuse Bouche with Star Anise, Leeks and Persimmon

Scallop Amuse Bouche with Star Anise, Leeks and Persimmon

Sometimes I can be slow on the uptake, but I've finally caught on to the replacement of "canapé" and "hors d'oeuvre" with amuse bouche in our food language. Getting with the program, we will now call the food I always think of as "befores" by a new name. Amuse the mouth. It does have a lighter, more fun sound than the older names, and I'm okay with it as long as I can just keep on putting tasty little bits on crackers and cucumber slices, among other things.

This little mouth amuser came about as a result of a little playing with food in the kitchen. I had planned a dinner at home but in the morning I got a call from Kit and Carrie, our beloved neighbors, asking us to come by for a homey supper of leftover pot roast. (Even simple suppers are elegant in their beautiful house and this one was no exception, with a crisp knot of vinegared cucumbers, beautiful oven-roasted potatoes, brilliant buttered and herbed carrots and Carrie's cheesy pan-roasted Brussels sprouts to accompany the main event.) "Bring something to have with drinks," Carrie suggested in answer to my "What can we bring?"

The image of Béa's stylish "Scallop Horseradish Finger Food"  (on her stylish blog, La Tartine Gourmande) was fresh in my mind as I thought about what to do with the scallops I had on hand and surveyed what else was rattling around the refrigerator asking to be used up. The idea of a seared scallop, sitting on a bed of leeks braised in an orange-anise flavored broth, all on a homemade cracker, and topped with a little persimmon purée quickly took form. Of course, like Béa, I couldn't keep from throwing on a couple of strands of something -- lemon zest in my case -- just to add some line and another color to the composition.

The combination of flavors in this little bite -- orange, anise, the faint sharpness of Parmigiano Reggiano, the scallop itself and the persimmon purée -- was a complex little series of surprises, and I think we all felt that this was in fact a good amusement for the mouth and start to the meal.

Scallop Amuse Bouche with Star Anise, Leeks and Persimmon

Serves 4.

For the crackers:

1/4 C Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
1/2 C Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
6 T flour
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 T cold butter
1 T cold orange juice

Stir together the cheeses, the flour and the zest. Cut the butter into bits add to the bowl. With a pastry blender blend in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add juice and stir with a fork until it starts to form a dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead quickly until the dough is just combined. Roll into a 1-1/2" diameter log and wrap tightly in waxed paper. Chill the wrapped dough, at least an hour, until firm. 

Slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Bake on a baking sheet in a preheated 375º oven until the edges start to brown, about 10 minutes.  Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before serving.

For the scallop topping:

4" section of leek, white or tender green part only
1 star anise
4 pieces of orange peel
2 T water
1 T olive oil
1 T orange juice
8 very fresh diver scallops
1/2 persimmon, cored and peeled
lemon juice to taste
1/2 tsp lemon zest
salt, hot sauce to taste

Clean the leek and cut into very fine 4" threads. Cook slowly in a covered saucepan about 20 minutes with the anise, orange peel, water, olive oil and orange juice until very tender. Remove from heat, drain, cool, remove and discard anise and orange peel. Season to taste with salt and hot sauce. Set aside.

Purée the persimmon in a mini-processor. Add a few drops of lemon juice to taste.

Wash and dry the scallops well. Preheat a heavy cast iron skillet about 10 minutes on low heat. Then turn heat to high for a couple of minutes, spray with cooking spray and sear the scallops on one side only for about 90 seconds, until the bottom edges start to brown and caramelize. Remove from heat and season lightly with salt.

To assemble, distribute the leek threads over 8 of the crackers, making beds for the scallops. Add scallops, seared side up, and top with a dab of the persimmon purée and the zest strands. If desired, scatter on a few grains of fleur de sel. Serve immediately.


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Wow, what a great idea! I will keep this in mind. The ingredients seem to blend so well together. Star anise! Miam! Beautiful! We seem to be getting similar scallops suppliers, nice fresh with no water scallops! East coast! ;-)

Oh another fabulous combo! I love it ... I would like to think you took inspiration for the persimmon puree from my persimmon mousse ponderings. LOL. Unfortunately this week has been hell. Just a lot of tastings and no time to cook. I cannot wait for next weekend so I can cook something for myself! I might even try this 'cos it just looks and sounds too delectable for words!

stephen, another fantastic looking dish. i like the angle of the photo.

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