At the top end of Flinders Lane, also called the Parisian end of the Melbourne CBD, and next to Italian eatery extraordinaire Cecconi's (which we will review later...) sits pretty, sleek, and busy, Cumulus Inc, part of Andrew McConnell's empire and running morning to late, seven days a week.
My current first choice when dining on my own in Melbourne, it combines fabulous décor, ambience, gorgeous crowds and delicious food.
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!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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