It seems to me that the Blogosphere has recently blown up, anticipating the arrival of the movie Julie & Julia (and by Blogosphere, I mean us Foodie Types. I doubt the Emo kids or Political Blogs have really jumped on the culinary arts bandwagon.) I, too, have jumped on. I bought my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking a couple of weeks ago, and was thrilled when it arrived last Saturday. I was equally as thrilled to learn that both Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table
and Helene of la Cuisine d’Helene
would be making weekly recipes out of the book as well. So, I think I am going to give it a go! It’s outside of my comfort zone, for one, but that means it’s a learning experience. I love learning…supposedly it keeps you young, but I guess I am more impressed that it gives me an edge during Jeopardy.
It is an unusual cookbook for me to love, for a couple of reasons. One, no pictures. I am a sucker for photos in a cookbook. Typically, I won’t buy one if the picture to recipe ratio displeases me. Don’t ask me why, I guess I just like to have an idea of what my finished product should look like. Second, the layout of the recipes. Instead of listing all the needed ingredients at the beginning, they are listed as you will USE them, and how you will use them. Kind of different.
While I thought the layout might be an issue for me, I have found that I really do like it. It keeps me better organized, and her descriptions are spot on. She tells you what to look for in a specific cut of beef, how chickens are split, what makes a good green bean. It is really helpful, and I appreciate the extra guidance.
For our first meal from the book, I chose food items we already had in the house since I was still under the Challenge Budget. I had a bag of Bay Scallops that needed used, so I chose the recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale. In Susan’s kitchen, once you have said that about 7 times in.a.row to your husband, it becomes ScallopsDammitwithWineandCheeseJustQuitAsking, which works just as well and tastes the same going down. To Accompany the ScallopsDammit, we had Gratin Dauphinois – Cheesy Potatoes. Both recipes were excellent, easy to put together despite their fussy French names, and a really nice way to get out of the rut of our typical everyday meals. One can only eat Hamburger Helper or Grilled Chicken so many times before needing a break. (not ME, but, well, someone, I guess.)
I was very impressed with my results if I do say so myself…it was my first time (gasp) cooking with wine. It was my first French recipe. It was my first time making cheesy potatoes from scratch. And it went QUICK. Now I am excited about making more things from the book…crepes, for one. Souffle. Nice.
So that you can try it yourself, I grabbed the recipe from BigOven
Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale
1 ½ pounds scallops (or shrimp) washed
1 ¼ C yellow onions minced (I used white, it was what I had)
6 buttered scallop shells or porcelain or pyrex shell (I skipped this part entirely)
5 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot or green onions minced
1 clove garlic minced
salt and pepper
1 c flour sifted
2/3 c dry white wine (mine wasn’t terribly dry, but it worked great)
1 ½ bay leaf
1/8 tsp. thyme
1 ¼ C swiss cheese grated ( Ihad to use Provolone.)
Cook yellow onions slowly in 1 T butter in a small sauce pan for 5 minutes, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in the shallots or onions, and garlic, and cook slowly for 1 minute more. Set aside.
Dry the scallops (or shrimp) and cut into ¼ inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper just before cooking, then roll in flour, and shake off excess flour.
Saute the scallops (or shrimp) quickly in very hot butter and oil for 2 minutes to brown them slightly.
Pour the wine into the skillet with the scallops. Add the herbs and the cooked onion mixture. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Then uncover, and if necessary boil down the sauce rapidly for a minute until it is lightly thickened. Correct seasoning, and discard bay leaf.
Spoon the scallops and sauce into the shells. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with 2 T butter cut into pieces. Just before serving, run under a moderately hot broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to heat through, and brown the cheese slightly.
One of these days I will post the recipe for the potatoes, as I know I will be making them again. Do you have a favorite recipe from the book that I should try? I would love to hear your suggestions!