Thanks for sharing in my asparagus cake April Fool's joke-- you can see my joke post here. Yes, I really did make an asparagus cake, with asparagus frosting, and yes, I did really eat a whole piece. :) I checked with 5-Star Foodie first to make sure she wouldn't be offended if I created an outlandish joke cake using the joust ingredients, and she was a great sport to play along!
This is my actual Royal Foodie Joust entry for April, no fooling! This month's Royal Foodie Joust, presided over as always by The Leftover Queen has been big fun!
Again, the magic ingredients are almonds, asparagus, and lemongrass.
Somehow the idea of pairing corn and asparagus came into my mind, and I decided it would be a blast to play with a combination of Old World-New World foods to create my entry. It combines Colombian arepas, which are a savory corn pancake (and my serious entry, no joke!), with Caribbean-inspired scallops, and a Catalan romesco sauce (with a twist).
Here is my original recipe for
Corn, Cheese, and Asparagus Arepas with Almond-Crusted Scallops
Mango-Lemongrass "Romesco" Sauce
Mango-Lemongrass "Romesco" Sauce
For the scallops:
8 large scallops
1/4 c. flour
1 T smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 c. ground blanched almonds
1/2 c. panko-style breadcrumbs
1 T chopped sorrel or lemon verbena
2 c. fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
3 T unsalted butter (plus more if needed)
For the Romesco Sauce:
1/3 c. blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves (I had one huge one, so that's what I used)
1 slice home-made style white bread, crusts removed
1 stalk chopped fresh lemongrass
1 large red bell pepper
1 large ripe mango
2 1/2 T white wine vinegar
1/4 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. ancho chile powder
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste
For the Arepas: (makes about 10)
1 c. yellow masa harina
1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 c. shredded sharp white cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook)
3 T melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. boiling water (plus more as needed)
1 c. frozen baby white corn kernels
blanched asparagus tips plus enough tender blanched stems to make 1 c.
unsalted butter for frying
To prepare the scallops:
Mix the flour and the smoked paprika in a bowl. Break the eggs into another bowl and salt and pepper generously. In a 3rd bowl mix the ground almonds, chopped sorrel and panko. Dip the scallops first in the flour, then the egg, and then the nut mixture. Press firmly into the nuts. Place each breaded scallop on a rack set on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the scallops in the fridge and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
To prepare the "Romesco" Sauce:
Split the red pepper in half, seed and stem. Place the pepper halves on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast under the broiler until blackened and blistered in spots. Remove the peppers from the baking sheet and place in a ziptop bag, and seal. Allow to cool inside the bag for at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers and peel. Set aside.
Place the blanched almonds, garlic, chopped lemongrass, and bread, torn into pieces, into the food processor. Process until finely ground. Add the red pepper, 1/2 of the mango, the white wine vinegar, the olive oil, the smoked paprika, the ancho chile powder, and salt and powder to taste. Puree in food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed; add the other mango half if the sauce needs more sweetness and a thinner texture.
To prepare the Arepas:
Mix the masa harina, cheese, melted butter, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add enough boiling water to make a thick batter. Add the corn kernels and aparagus pieces to the bowl and fold gently into the batter. Add more water as necessary to make a workable batter.
Heat a griddle over medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray, then add 1-2 T unsalted butter.
Spray the palms of your hands with nonstick spray. Form 1/4 c. portions of the batter into patties. Fry on the griddle in the butter, about 3 minutes per side. Place the arepas on a plate and keep warm.
To Finish the Scallops:
Remove the scallops from the fridge and place on bamboo skewers (that have been soaked in water for at least 30 min.) along with the pineapple chunks.
Add fresh butter to the griddle and cook the skewers over medium heat, about 5-6 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Press the scallops down onto the griddle with a spatula so they brown evenly.
Place 3-4 arepas on a plate. Place a scallop-pineapple skewer on top of the arepas and drizzle with the Mango-Lemongrass "Romesco" sauce.
DC's plate.... before: