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8 sea scallops, cut into 1/4 -inch dice

About 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons snipped chives

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons chopped chervil

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots or Spanish onion and cook about 1 minute. Add the celeriac cubes, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the celeriac is tender. Add the celery, stirring to combine, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sherry and cook, scraping to loosen any cooked bits from the bottom of the pan. When the sherry has almost completely evaporated, add enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has reduced by half. Add the cream, and when it has heated through and starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.

Using either a food processor or an immersion blender, process the soup, working in batches if necessary, adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and blending until incorporated. Add more stock as necessary to keep the soup smooth. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the soup into a large saucepan. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Set aside.

Have ready a bowl of ice water for the quail eggs.

Place a medium pan with 1 or 2 inches of water over medium heat. When the water is hot, place the quail eggs in a mesh basket or vegetable steamer and lower into the pan. After 2 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice water. Let them sit in the ice water for 5 minutes to stop their cooking. Drain, carefully peel the eggs and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the diced scallops with a few drops of truffle oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Distribute the scallops evenly among individual shallow soup bowls.

In the same medium bowl, combine the chives, parsley and chervil with a few more drops of truffle oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the herb mixture evenly among the bowls, making a small heap on top of the scallops.

Place 1 peeled quail egg on top of each pile of herbs.

Heat the soup in the saucepan over medium-high to high heat, so that the soup comes to a boil, adding more chicken stock if necessary. Ladle over the scallops, herbs and quail egg in each bowl. The heat of the soup will cook the scallops and rewarm the quail eggs. Serve immediately.

Per serving (using low-sodium chicken stock): 502 calories, 11 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 40 g fat, 158 mg cholesterol, 17 g saturated fat, 452 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Michael Taylor; e-mail questions tofood@washpost.com

Roasted Baby Beets With Passion Fruit Gelee and Horseradish

4 to 6 appetizer servings

Aimed at the cook looking for a challenge, this sophisticated dish has beautiful, jewel-like colors. Disposable plastic gloves come in handy when it comes time to peel the roasted beets. Recipe from chef Tony Conte at the Oval Room.

For the passion fruit gelee:

1 envelope (1 scant tablespoon) plain powdered gelatin

2 tablespoons cool water

1 cup frozen passion fruit puree or pulp,* thawed (may substitute passion fruit nectar or juice)

For the vinaigrette:

4 shallots, minced

1/2 red Thai chili pepper (bird chili pepper), seeded and minced

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Salt

Ground white pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the beets:

1 bunch each red, golden and candy-stripe (chioggia) baby beets, trimmed and scrubbed

About 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup water

Salt

Ground white pepper

12 medium sprigs thyme

6 medium sprigs sage

1-inch piece horseradish, freshly grated, for garnish

For the passion fruit gelee: Have ready an ungreased 8-inch square or round baking pan.

Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the cool water in a medium bowl, stir and let stand for 10 minutes to soften. Place the bowl over a pot of barely boiling water on medium heat and stir until the gelatin has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium pan over medium heat, heat the passion fruit puree or pulp, taking care not to caramelize the fruit sugars. Add the dissolved gelatin, stirring until combined. Transfer to the baking pan, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until it is firm. Cut into a small dice and store, refrigerated, in a covered container.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the shallots, chili pepper, thyme, balsamic and red wine vinegars. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Let the ingredients sit for 30 minutes, then whisk in the olive oil and adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

For the beets: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready 3 shallow baking pans. Place the beets in three small bowls, keeping each color of beet in a separate bowl.

In a separate small bowl, combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, water, salt and white pepper to taste. Divide the mixture, and the thyme and sage sprigs, among the three bowls of beets and toss to coat evenly. Place the beets (still separated by color) in a single layer in the 3 pans, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and roast for 35 to 45 minutes until tender. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and quarter the beets (discarding the herbs). Place the colors in 3 separate containers and set aside to come to room temperature.

To assemble, place 5 pieces of each color of beet on individual plates (for a total of 10 to 15 pieces per plate). Spoon the vinaigrette over the beets. Sprinkle the diced passion fruit gelee over each serving. Using a microplaner or the smallest holes of a box grater, grate a sparse dusting of tiny flecks of fresh horseradish over the beets and the gelee. Season with salt, white pepper and olive oil. Serve immediately.

*NOTE : Frozen passion fruit pulp is available at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores.

Per serving (based on 6): 284 calories, 3 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 24 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 171 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Jane Touzalin; e-mail questions tofood@washpost.com


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