If you have been following me for a while on Instagram or on this blog, you will know i ADORE Coquilles Saint Jacques and I bought myself this 200-page book featuring about 100 different recipes from the master of the genre: Jean-Pierre Crouzil, a Chef and restaurateur at L'Ecrin de Plancouët, a small village of 2500 souls, 26 kms from Saint-Malo. Originally a bar-tabac-PMU, the restaurant wins a first Michelin star in 1988 and another one in 1996...
So, I decided to cook this recipe for our 29th anniversary and decided to replace the rhubarb by figs that are currently in season and quite inexpensive (A whole tray of 24 figs for A$18...).
For the scallops, we cannot find fresh big ones here, at least not for the man in the street or the home cook. I used to buy frozen ones from Canada (Many a chef here use them...) but I have found a new supplier of Japanese sashimi scallops which have being frozen for transport, but have been thawed on the day. They are extremely costly at A$3.50 each but they are absolutely stunning! I bought nine and sliced them in half to make eighteen.
But first, we need to make the fig jam, the main ingredient of the dish.
Use a dozen figs, cut the top and bottom and then quarter them. I a small pan, add extra virgin olive oil (in my case Robusta from Alto Olives), some Pepe Saya butter (the recipe calls for 60 grams, but I used far less...
You will need cardamon, cinnamon, pepper, mint and my secret ingredient a fig and coriander mustard from Maille.
Once the olive oil and the butter have mixed, then add the figs and all the ingredients but the mint and the Champagne. stir often until the figs are melted to a jam consistency. Then add the mint and half a glass of Champagne. Keep plenty to drink with your meal...
During that time, cut rings of puff pastry with a 12cm metal ring. I would recommend you either make your own or buy some pre made by a reputable company like Maggie Beer here in Australia. I had some more ordinary one in stock, so I used that, but it would help to use a better one...
Then half the scallops and start assembling the dish inside the ring, starting with the scallops at the bottom, then the jam after you left it cool down, so it doesn't cook the scallops, then cover with the pastry... Place into an oven proof dish using a wide blade, then remove the ring once in place. Repeat.
Cook in the oven for 8 minutes and rest for four. Then return on the serving plate (that is the tricky bit....) add fresh figs cut in half and some fresh mint on top et voilà. Pour the Champagne and enjoy!
If I were to make this recipe again, I would change the process slightly.
I would pre cook the pastry, and quickly cook the scallops in a pan with some honey in the pan, to caramelise them on both sides. I would then assemble each plate in a ring directly starting by the pastry at the bottom, then the fig jam, then the scallops and lime, them the fresh figs and the mint. I would be more visually appealing and the scallops would be more interesting. But don't get me wrong, it was scrumptious as it!
I have hinted above that there might be a better way to cook and assemble the various elements of this recipe. I had the opportunity to try this recently, so here it is!
First, use a good quality puff pastry or make your own. I have used Careme, or you could use Maggie Beer if you are in Australia. I am not sure what is available in America or elsewhere. Cut a 12 cm round piece per person and precook it/them on its/their own until golden and puffed. Reserve.
Scallop the scallops as previous instructions, reserve. Prepare the figs or rhubarb compote in the same manner and keep warm in the pot.
Once ready, cook the scallops in a pan with olive oil, butter and some cane sugar powder to help caramelise the scallops. Make sure they are cooked through and golden on both sides. Turn the heat off but keep them in the pan until you are ready to assemble.
8Then get your rings, place the ring in the middle of thriving plate, place the puff pastry at the bottom, add enough compote to cover most of it, and place 9 slices of scallops in circle on top, add mint or coriander to finish. Remove ring. Repeat and serve quickly so it keeps warm. Bon appétit!
It all started there decades ago: We were driving back from Salon de Provence where we had spent sometime with my maternal grandparents and we were heading home which was in Tours at that time. There is a big obstacle in the way, a very wide mountain range called Le Massif Central - The Central Range could be a translation. There was no freeway at the time and only a road on each side of the Rhone river, one called the Nationale 7, now doubled by the A& freeway and the Nationale 6 on the west side of the Rhone. We drove down via Roanne and the N7, but on the way back, the traffic was horrendous with trucks and other vacationists, so Dad decided to go via the N6 instead and rather that heading to Roanne again, he decided to explore another route...
Once he was on that road and Mum had calmed down a little about the change of plan(!) he stopped to look at a map (a real one, no iPhone then...) and decided we could reach the charming Lamastre in time for dinner. He then checked the Michelin guide and decided that we would stay and eat dinner at the Hotel du Midi. There was obviously no telephone nearby to reserve and we went on the odd chance that we would find a room and a table...And we did!
And what a dinner we had! I can't recall what we had as a starter, but we surely had one, and then we had the specialty of the region: Poulet aux morilles et à la crème - We probably had some cheese but I certainly remember the dessert: Fresh raspberries with guess what? More crème fruit!. Mum and Dad obviously enjoyed some wine, but again nat the time it was beyond my care!
So when my children asked me what I would like them to cook for my birthday dinner last night, I thought it would be nice to try to make that recipe as a tribute to my late father, but also because I knew I could get some beautiful morilles (morels) from my friends at Commissary Kitchen...
In essence, the recipe is a glorified Chicken Fricassée with lots of shallots and garlic, as well as plenty butter and cream and a good dose of Chardonnay. It was cooked in the versatile Australian frying pan, which is conveniently located under a good light, so we could easily record the process for your benefit! So here it is without further delay...
My Birthday Dinner - Ceviche of scallops for starters!
My Birthday Dinner - Poulet aux Morilles - Chicken fricassee with Morels
My Birthday Dinner - Fromage et Dessert!
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading through my birthday celebrations....But there is more cooking on the way as I got a new set of "casseroles" as a present and I have been recently appointed as the exclusive Architectural Sales representative for a new brand of kitchen appliances from Italy!
Food is all about celebration and connections really, so apart from the exchange of gifts, a tradition anchored in the night of times (dans la nuit des temps...), a birthday would not be complete without the partaking of a nice meal, in this case dinner.
Our boy is away in the Alps riding mountain bikes in Les Gets and off to Castiglioncello in Italy next week, so it is only the three of us.
As you may recall from my last post, we had bought zucchini flowers, goat cheese and scallops from the markets today and I had bought some magret de canard yesterday to recreate a dish that I sampled recently in Melbourne at the Waterfront in Southbank - a very nice place indeed, although you will find a collection of bad reviews for it.
Let's say that I sat at the bar and watched the kitchen buzz, which I really enjoy, and I could not fault any of the dishes being prepared, plated up and served. My meal came quickly enough, the service was attentive and the maitre d knowledgeable about the wine list.
Anyway, moving on to my own kitchen, I prepared baked zucchini with ricotta filling and pecorino as per Carmel's Kitchen recipe (Zav's wife...) and here it is:
Remove the pistils from the flowers and fill with ricotta
Spray olive oil in a baking tray, lay the flowers into tray, season and sprinkle with grated pecorino
Bake for 15mn in oven at 180 degrees Celsius
Serve as an entree.
For the main course, I prepared scallops with duck magret, asparagus and endives.
This is not difficult to prepare, but difficult to serve hot and still rose for the duck, and warm for the scallops...
So, here we go:
Braise the endives until transparent but not fully cooked to keep them almost crunchy.
I achieve that in a pan with a little olive oil, the endives shredded, seasoned and covering the pan with a lid on low heat for 15/20mn. Keep warm in a bowl.
In the same pan, cook the small asparagus and the duck sliced in 3mm thick morsels.
Warm your oven to 120 degrees, place your plates on different trays for 10mn until lukewarm
Plate up the endives in the middle, the aspatragus next to the duck slices and leave enough space in between for the scallops. Put back in the oven after covering with aluminium foil or baking paper to prevent the duck to dry.
Go and enjoy your entree with your guests and a glass of wine.
Then, pan fry the scallops in a large pan with olive oil and some butter, as you want them to cook in a similar way.
30 seconds on one side until brown, then turn them over for another 30 seconds.
Sprinkle with the juice of half a kaffir lime to deglaze the pan.
Remove plates from the oven, plate up the scallops, and serve immediately...yum!
Serve with your favourite Chardonnay and enjoy with no moderation, you are done for the day!
Serve goat cheese with nuts and raisins bread to finish. And enjoy the company of your happy guests:
Happy Birthday, Trish!
It does not really look like a lime, it does not really smell like a lime, and it is more famous for its leaves than its fruit...I am talking about the kaffir lime. see more information on its origin and use here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaffir_lime
Until today, I had never seen one in the flesh, only used the leaves and had no idea what it would look, taste, smell like, until I found some at the fruit & veg shop at the Sydney Fish Market this morning. So I bought some for the modest sum of $2.95, less than a cup of coffee, and certainly more exotic!
When opened, it has a pungent smell, and half of a lime was enough to give an interesting twist to my scallops. But that's a story for my next post...
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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