The Nomad: Scallop Seared with Parsnips and Grapes


Parsnips and scallops are a delicious match. The coolest thing about this recipe from The Nomad Cookbook is the various ways it uses parsnips. I am especially fond of the cooking method and result of the “pressed parsnip planks” (say that ten time real fast!). I will be using that again for sure. Other than sweet nutty parsnips and shellfish we also have grapes for acidity, freshness and texture. It’s a winning combination fit for a nice quiet dinner.

Parsnip Planks2

Parsnip Planks5

So let’s start with those pressed parsnips planks I liked so much. They are very easy to make. I just tossed 4 parsnips with salt and oil and put them side by side on a parchment lined baking sheet. I topped them with another parchment piece and another baking sheet then weighed them down with a heavy cast iron skillet. After baking them at 350 F for 1.5 hours they are tender, caramelized and flattened. Their texture after the pressed-bake is dense and soft. I cut those into even rectangular planks and before serving I seared them on the skin sides to crisp the skin and add more texture and flavor.

Parsnip Grape Puree

Parsnip Grape Puree2

The base for the scallops and vegetables is more parsnip. This one is a puree made from parsnips, sliced and sauteed in butter and cooked in milk until soft. The parsnips are strained and blended with more butter, green gapes and a splash of the cooking milk to get a smooth puree. The mixture is seasoned with white verjus (tart grape juice basically). To get a very smooth puree I passed it through a strainer and kept it warm.

I like the process that Chef Humm uses in Eleven Madison Park books and in the Nomad book to make seafood stocks. He sautees aromatics (fennel, shallots, celery,..) in oil till soft, adds white wine and allows it to reduce well. This is pretty traditional. Then he covers the seafood and aromatics with ice instead of water. I had never seen this before. The ice gently melts, extracts the flavor from the seafood and simmers for no more than 30 minutes. Done. For this recipe I am supposed to use lobster stock to make lobster nage.

Fish Stock

Not sure how to exactly define the French sauce category of nage. It really sounds cool and smooth and classy. Best way to think of it is an enriched stock made creamy with butter. In this case, I made fish stock (no lobster shells lying around) with red snapper carcasses using the Humm method. I strained it and “nage-ed” it by reducing it and emulsifying it with butter. Then I blended it with green grapes, a little lemon juice, and Xanthan gum. It got strained and resulted in a lovely rich seafood nage.


Grapes feature yet again here. This time demi-dehydrated grapes. Green and red grapes are steeped in hot simple syrup for 5 minutes. They are then dehydrated in a 175 F oven until “wrinkled on the outside but still juicy”.  This took much longer than the 2 hours the recipe recommends, more like 4 hours.



What the hell is parsnip bark and why do we want it here? Well, first roast yet more parsnips -not pressed this time-  until very soft. Then carefully remove the skin in big chunks. That skin is the “bark” and after frying in oil and seasoning with salt it is crispy delicious stuff perfect for adding another dimension of texture to the dish. The problem is we kept snacking on them until we had almost none to actually put on the damn plate!


Parsnip Skin

The scallops are probably the easiest part here, brined (I posted about this a couple times), sliced and seared in oil. A couple of more components include sliced raw red and green grapes tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette and paper thin slices of raw parsnip. The parsnip sliced are soaked in ice water until they curl up and look pretty.


To serve it, I put a thick smear of the parsnip puree on the plate and arrange a couple of parsnip planks on top. Next go the scallops, grapes, parsnip slices and the warm nage.










John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski – 2017) B+

He’s back and it’s still fun. I saw this pretty much back to back after the first one. It’s a similar formula but digs a bit deeper into the world of Wick and the assassins “community”. We learn a little bit how things work in this crazy over the top world and about the cool Continental Hotel. Yes, we also have excellent choreography and over the top violence filmed well. We even see how he dispatches three men with one pencil!

John Wick (Chad Stahelski – 2014) B

I caught up with this franchise finally. It’s a well choreographed violent action movie. His, Wick’s played by the cool Keanu Reeves, wife is dead then they kill his damn puppy and steel his muscle car, these Russian criminals. They just did not know they are fucking with THE John Wick. Apparently everyone knows this crazy skilled assassin as we are constantly reminded, that he sows terror in the hearts of his targets, that he once killed three men with a pencil….yes, fun.

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman – 1975) A-

A mouthful of a movie title and it is a wonder to watch if one is into watching long, meticulously scripted, low on plot (very low on plot) art house flicks. Due to its construction, it is easy to divide up into a couple of watching sessions. It chronicles a few days, and labels them, Day 2, Day 3 of the titular character. Living at this address in Brussels, it seems like a nice neighborhood and a decent place to live. She is a widow with a son in high school (or maybe college). That’s about it. We watch her doing chores, all her chores, in real time practically. She cooks, she shops for groceries, she cleans, she polishes her son’s shoes, she has sex every so often for money…She does have a few conversations with that son and they do go on walks every evening to somewhere. The conversations do not matter at all, they say nothing. We are here simply to observe. This is the ultimate dreary exercise in voyeurism on one hand and an unpolished look at a woman’s slice of life. It really lulled me into keeping up with it, appreciating the craft of the long single scripted takes until the shocking finale that came out of nowhere. This is one of those films that are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but it worked very well for me.

Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer – 2018) B+

It’s the music, some of the music, that I sort of grew up with. I forgot how much Queen I listened to in high school. Those final 20 minutes as well were so darn good. Technically amazing and the performance of Rami Malek was excellent. Other than that it is a by the numbers movie, one that I quiet liked.

Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami – 1997) B+

He drives around the outskirts and slums of Teharn, Iran looking for a guy to help him out. At first the implication is that he is looking for sexual favors. At least that’s what it seems from the first conversation in his Range Rover with a worker. Then it becomes clearer what this sad man is looking for. He wants to commit suicide and is looking for someone to make sure he is buried. The film is a series of philosophical conversations, mostly in the Range Rover that he drives around and various men including a Seminarian, a soldier and a taxidermist. It’s droning at times as each conversation goes around the reasoning and morality of suicide. I did like some of the pace and the style of the back and forth between the characters.

Avengers: Endgame (Anthony and Joe Russo – 2019) A+

Yes, this deserves the top grade. It’s not a perfect movie but this is not about one “superhero” movie. This is about the emotional, fun, sad, amazing, spectacular last 10 years (or so) of my life that MCU made ever slightly better. The fact that they pulled it off with this so “right” capper is a wonderful improbability. At 3 hours and some, it takes us on a journey for those characters who I’ve known so well to try and fix what happened in the previous film. These do not feel like flat characters in fantasy movie but flawed interesting real people (and raccoons and green aliens, trees, and gods…). Is time travel involved? sure…Does it 100% make sense? Well, of course it does not. It does do that very well though and has fun with it. That time travel gives us some awesome and sweet character moments. Beyond the fights and CGI, this one paces slowly and give these people time to breath and interact. We get well executed and touching family moments. Each character has an arc that I will not go into but I loved all of them, from Thor’s to Cap to the one who started it all – Iron Man. When we hear those words, “I am Iron Man”, towards the end of the film it really hit home and underscored the long fun journey of this series.