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Scallop and Artichoke Flowers

These are so good and not terribly difficult.  Read the recipe from beginning to end at least
once before you start.  Good luck, I think you and your guests will really enjoy this.

You will need a 4-inch diameter cookie cutter or you can use a tuna can with both sides
cut out.  You will also need kitchen parchment paper.

4 large artichokes
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 large can artichoke bottoms (or a pkg. of frozen artichoke bottoms)
1 cup water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tsp. crushed black peppercorns
1 pinch of dried thyme
1 Tbsp. chopped shallot
1/2 cup olive oil

24 large scallops (about 2 lbs.) Cut horizontally into 1/4 inch slices**
1 lb. plum tomatoes
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh basil chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1/2 cup white wine
2 more Tbsp. fresh basil chopped
chopped chives

Cook the artichokes in boiling water until soft, about 15 minutes. Reserve the artichoke cooking water. 
Reserve 80 large artichoke leaves (you need 10 for each serving). Put the artichoke leaves in water
with some lemon juice and set aside. The rest of the artichoke can be saved for another
use.  Do this a day ahead.

Put one cup of the reserved artichoke water in a saucepan with 1/2 cup white wine vinegar,
the crushed peppercorns and the thyme.  Bring to a boil, cover and let it cook for 5 minutes.
Uncover, reduce heat  and simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 10 minutes).
Strain the liquid through a sieve into a small bowl.  Mix in the shallots.   Gradually mix in 1/3
cup of olive oil.  Cover the dressing.  This should also be done a day ahead.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.   Slightly oil the parchment with olive oil.
Place the 4-inch cookie cutter or tuna can on the parchment.  Put one scallop slice in the
middle and surround it with slices of scallop that overlap slightly, so it will look like
a flower.  Repeat this until you have 8 flowers.  If you need more than one cookie
sheet that is OK, but it is better to fit them all on one.  Cover the scallop flowers and keep
them in the refrigerator until you are ready for them.

Seed and chop the tomatoes.  Cut zucchini and summer squash into a small dice.  Drain
the can of artichoke bottoms and cut them into a small dice. (This can be done the day
ahead, just keep each vegetable in a separate baggie in the refrigerator.) Heat oil in a heavy
skillet over medium heat.  Add basil (2 Tbsp.) and garlic and sauté one minute.   Reduce heat
to medium low. Add diced vegetables and cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 6
minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spoon a Tbsp. of   wine over each scallop flower.  Season with salt.
Bake until scallops are cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Meanwhile reheat the reserved
artichoke leaves in a pot of boiling water.  Rewarm the diced vegetables if necessary.
Mix in 2 more Tbsp. of basil into the vegetable mixture.  For each serving:   Place your
4 inch cookie cutter in the center of the plate you will be serving the fish course.
Spoon about a fourth a cup of vegetables in the center of the cookie cutter and spread it
out and tamp it down a little.  Repeat this with the remaining 7 plates.  Slide a metal
spatula under the scallop flowers and place it on top of the vegetables.  Repeat 7 times.
Arrange artichoke leaves in a flower pattern around the scallop and vegetable flowers on
all 8 plates. (Actually this consists of just putting the wide part toward the center and the
thinner part toward the outside of the plate.) Spoon re-warmed dressing over the top of
the scallops and artichoke leaves and sprinkle with chives.

Wow you are done.
***This is easier to do if the scallops are partially frozen.

Feel free to change the vegetable mixture if you like.  Also if scallops are too expensive
or unavailable in your area, just put a pair of poached jumbo shrimp on the top of
the vegetable mixture.  You can also get your artichoke hearts for the vegetable mixture
from the fresh artichokes, but I find this too much work with a recipe that is already fairly
involved.  I love to serve these on bright yellow salad plates, it really adds to the
presentation. - SALE

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