Character Dinners: Kester’s Late-night Rendezvous

For all his faults – which are significant, Kester Hugo has a refined palette. I imagine him planning a late-night dinner with a co-conspirator or a would-be lover. And since he is originally from Roanaan’s seaside capitol, Bindenhaal, he has a great fondness for seafood. Here’s a potential menu for an elegant cretin’s midnight rendezvous.

Appetizer – Seared Scallops with Warm Radicchio and Pancetta (recipe by Ivy Manning from Fine Cooking)

INGREDIENTS

1 large head radicchio (about 14 oz.)

2 Tbs. cider vinegar

2 tsp. granulated sugar

12 large all-natural “dry” scallops, side muscles removed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 oz. pancetta, cut into small dice

Olive oil, as needed

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced through the root end

1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary

1 large clove garlic, chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. Remove the outer leaves from the radicchio and cut the head in half through the root end. Cut each half into 4 wedges through the root end and remove the white core.

2. In a small bowl, stir the vinegar and sugar until dissolved.

3. Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat until hot. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 3 Tbs. of the fat (if you have less than 3 Tbs., add olive oil to make up the difference).

4. Put the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and sear until golden-brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook on the second side until they feel firm when pressed, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate, cover, and keep warm.

5. Add the onion and rosemary to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 seconds. Add the radicchio and pancetta, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing gently and occasionally, until the radicchio is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the vinegar mixture over the radicchio. Toss to combine. Serve with the scallops.

 

 

Main Course – Linguine ai Frutti di Mare (recipe by Lesley Porcelli on Epicurious.com)

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

Red pepper flakes

1/2 cup dry white wine

12 Manila or littleneck clams

10 ounces linguine

3/4 cup tomato sauce

12 black mussels

8 shrimp, shelled (tail intact) and deveined

4 sea scallops, quartered

5 ounces calamari, cut into thin rings

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS
1. Boil water in a large pot.

2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook garlic until it sizzles. Add red pepper flakes to taste; cook 1 minute. Add wine and clams; cover. Raise heat to medium-high; cook 5 minutes.

3. Add linguine to boiling water. Cook until al dente.

4. Uncover sauté pan; simmer 1 minute more. Add tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add rest of seafood. Cook, stirring, until clams and mussels open, about 3 minutes. Toss with linguine. Add parsley; toss. Divide among 4 bowls. Serve with warm crusty bread!

 

Dessert – Raspberry Curd Tart (Recipe by Tutti Dolci)

INGREDIENTS

Raspberry Curd
  • 3 cups raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp Meyer lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, diced
Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and finely ground
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter
Topping
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • Lemon peel curls, if desired

DIRECTIONS

1. For the raspberry curd, combine raspberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil (about 5 minutes); reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Place in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids.

2. Wipe pan clean and return strained mixture to pan. Whisk together egg yolks and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Stir yolk mixture into raspberry mixture; bring to a boil over medium-low heat (about 5 minutes). Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat (the mixture should coat the back of a spoon). Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Place curd into a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Chill curd in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or up to 1 1/2 weeks.

3. For the crust, preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 14-inch rectangular removable-bottom tart pan with nonstick spray. Whisk together flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cook butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, about 6 minutes. Add brown butter to flour mixture and stir until incorporated; press mixture in the bottom and up the sides of prepared tart pan. Bake for 24 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. If baking the crust a day ahead of assembling the tart, carefully cover with foil to store overnight.

4. To assemble tart, spoon raspberry curd into cooled tart shell and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Arrange raspberries over filling in a decorative pattern. Chill in the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.

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