Spring in coastal Georgia brings with it lots of new ideas and fresh beginnings. As the water in southern part of the Intracoastal Waterway begins to warm, seafood becomes bountiful and we get the most fresh that the ocean has to offer. With our unseasonably warm weather, produce is also arriving earlier than usual and able to be incorporated in dishes. That is why I combine three of my favorite things, scallops, corn and celery leaves into a great appetizer that can be used to liven up any party. Now, celery leaves are typically discarded and just thrown away. They actually pack a good amount of flavor and make a nice decoration for this plate. Here is a recipe for "Peppered scallops with corn pudding, crispy ham & celery leaf."
Serves 4 people
12 fresh sea scallops
3 tbs olive oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 corn on the cob
1 pt heavy cream
1 small red pepper, cut into chunks
1 small sweet white onion, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp Lawry's seasoned salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Virginia ham, diced into small cubes
12 picked celery leaves, taken from the inside of a celery heart
First, start by making the corn pudding. Cut the corn kernels off the cob. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a moderate boil over medium heat, and let cook, stirring occasionally until the cream has reduced to about 1/3 it's original volume. Remove from stove, puree in blender, strain out all the solids with a fine mesh strainer back into the pot, leaving nothing but the thick liquid in your pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
Toss ham into a dry saute pan and fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until crispy. Set to the side and keep warm.
Heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to ripple. Season scallops with salt and pepper and let sear for 3 minutes on each side, until you get a nice golden crust. Once the scallops are well seared and cooked, remove from the pan and let sit on a towel-lined plate for 30 seconds to remove excess oil and moisture.Assemble by placing a spoonful of pudding on platter, topping with scallop, sprinkling with the ham and then topping it all with a celery leaf. You may also drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil around the platter. Serve hot and enjoy!