One of my favorite inventive dishes from our trip to Italy was the eel ice cream at Don Alfonso. There it was served with rose-flavored pasta, but I thought it would also work very well with beets. Eel is most easily available here in smoked form, and since I figured that the smokiness would add a nice additional dimension, that is what I used. But fillets of steamed eel could also be used. This eel ice cream is quite easy to make (I am not claiming that it is the same as at Don Alfonso, but it certainly turned out as delicious as I remembered). The creamy and smoky eel ice cream works very well with the earthy and crisp beets. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you could even just skip that step and just chill it in the refrigerator. Even at refrigerator temperature, the eel ‘mousse’ is already quite solid and has a pleasing texture. This would be a great appetizer for your Christmas menu, as it is elegant, special, can be made in advance, and requires ingredients that can be purchased well in advance.
For 6 servings
200 grams (7 oz) smoked eel fillets (or steamed eel fillets), chopped
250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream (30% fat or more)
1/2 tsp salt
30 grams (1 oz) skim milk powder
3 egg yolks
500 grams (1.1 lbs) cooked beets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the chopped eel, heavy cream, egg yolks, skim milk powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and freshly ground black pepper in a saucepan.
Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.
Heat the mixture to 85C/185F over medium heat, while stirring constantly. Turn off the heat as soon as the temperature is reached.
Quickly chill the mixture by putting the saucepan in cold water and stirring. Replace the water with cold water if needed.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator.
Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker if available, otherwise you can skip this step.
Slice the beets and then use a cookie cutter to make nice even slices. (Reserve the trimmings for another use.) Season the beets with a bit of salt.
Serve a scoop of eel ice cream per person with the beet slices for garnish.
This is very nice with a rose (pink) champagne. The bubbles clean the palate from the ice cream.
This bacon-wrapped scallop with pumpkin would be a great alternative appetizer for your christmas dinner, because it is delicious, looks great, and is quite easy to prepare. Only a few ingredients are needed to make a fantastic dish. Scallops and bacon are friends, so bacon-wrapped scallops are a classic. The trick is to cook them such that the bacon is slightly crispy without overcooking the scallop. This is achieved by precooking the bacon. Together they work well with pumpkin because both pumpkin and scallops are sweet. To add some crunch, breadcrumbs flavored with anchovies, garlic, and rosemary are added. Those flavors work well with both pumpkin and scallops.