Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale

My copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. One and Vol II have been sitting on the shelf, waiting patiently for years for me to cook from them. I’ve referred to The French Laundry Cookbook as kitchen scripture belonging on a pedestal, but I think I had mentally placed Mastering the Art on an even higher perch. A month or so ago, I read My Life in France which tells the story of the making of Vol I. The hard work and dedication involved in creating that book, not to mention the patience with getting it published, was staggering. This book contains the first published recipes for hollandaise, mayonnaise, and beurre blanc. No one had written them down for the home cook before. Reading about Julia’s life was just a treat, and after finishing that book I had to finally crack open Mastering the Art. You may have heard about a little movie that’s coming soon to every theater near you, Julie and Julia. With news of that popping up everywhere, and with Bastille Day this week, I was inspired to prepare some French cuisine. I chose a couple recipes that seemed pretty straightforward for my first time with this book, and scallops gratineed with wine, garlic, and herbs was one of them.

Now that I’ve actually cooked from this book, I realize how well-written the recipes are. I appreciated how the ingredients are grouped for each step of the preparation. Rather than looking back to the top of the page for the quantity of an ingredient, it’s right there next to the instruction for using it. I should point out that although I have the utmost respect for the book, I of course made a change to the dish. The scallops were supposed to have been cut into one-quarter inch thick slices. I couldn’t do it. I love a nice, tall, plump scallop like nothing else, and I left them full-sized. Other than that, I followed the instructions nearly exactly and resisted the urge to garnish with some parsley or something at the end. I cooked minced onion in butter and added shallot and garlic and then set it aside. I seared the (whole, unsliced) scallops but removed them from the pan to prevent over-cooking. They were to have remained in the pan while the sauce was prepared. I made the sauce with white wine, half of a bay leaf, and some thyme and added the reserved, cooked onion mixture. I returned the scallops to the pan, topped them with grated Swiss (Gruyere) cheese and pieces of butter, and gratineed them under the broiler.

To sum up the flavors, there was butter, onion, shallot, garlic, butter, scallops, wine, herbs, butter, and a little cheese. Delicious. It was somewhat rich, but I kept the portions small and served a simple salad on the side. The sauce was nicely put together, and the intention of pre-cooking the onion mixture was, I believe, to prevent the scallops from cooking too long in the sauce. I have a thing about scallops and wanted to completely avoid an over-cooked situation; hence, I didn’t cook them in the sauce and waited to put them back in the pan before broiling. The cheese and butter topping was extravagant both in taste and calorie-count, but I’m so glad to have followed the instructions for that. This dish was just a pleasure to experience. I think that Julia Child might have known a thing or two about cooking, and I’ll be learning more from her and both volumes of the book.




36 comments:

  1. o. my. gawd. those look amazing! you have inspired me to dust off my mom's hand-me-down copy of vol. 1 and go for it!

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  2. Seriously? I've died and gone to heaven.

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  3. Yikes what gorgeous scallops you have made...I was thinking of throwing them into a green curry, but now I want this...

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  4. LOL...I think Julia Child did know a thing or two about cooking...these look so good and to gratinee them is what puts them over the top...the sear is beautiful!

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  5. Is that cheese melting or am I the one who is melting by looking at these heavenly scallops?

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  6. I read my Life in France, too, and saw the labor and love she put into the cookbook. These look incredible - rich and so delicious!

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  7. I learned how to cook from Julia Child Vol. 1 and 2 and they are never-fail recipes. Those scallops are first rate.

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  8. Wow, those scallops look aboslutely perfect! I'm so excited about the movie!

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  9. Oh what deliciously plump, juicy scallops! That closeup made my heart beat so fast! :)

    I'm really looking forward to seeing Julie and Julia too :)

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  10. The sear on the scallops is picture-perfect. And the butter and cheese over the top of them? Whoa! Talk about gilding the lily. I just want to sop up the sauce with some good crusty bread, too.

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  11. Mmmhhh, that looks delicious! A wonderful dish!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  12. Ther scallops dish looks yummie, you can even serve them as appetizers!

    I have bread recipes from Julia Child!

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  13. Looks so mouth-watering! Simple awesome!!

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  14. Delicious!!!!
    I can believe it, I thought I am the only one who didn't touch that book. I actually have both vol.1 and 2. Also have her other book, The way To cook. I used the latest more.

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  15. oh they look stunning! I'm not much of a scallop fan, but these I'll pop into my mouth by the dozens! I love how brown and seared the exteriors are, with the melted gruyere cheese!

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  16. Oh my lord. Talk about food porn. Rock on.

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  17. i've never liked scallops. however, i've never had them topped with copious cheese and butter. that might solve all my issues. :)

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  18. scallops are one of my favorite seafood of all time. I've never had them with melted cheese, sounds amazing.

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  19. Oh, I had this dish on Tuesday for Bastille Day. Incredible.

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  20. this is a perfect yummy dish.. love the close up :)

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  21. Seems my first comment didn't succeed. The dish sounds amazing and I am also looking forward to seeing Julie and Julia.

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  22. I love St Jacques!!!!!Can't wait to see the movie soon too!

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  23. We can say nothing different than what has already been said other than...ditto!

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  24. I'm with you I could not have quartered those scallops, this dish looks and sounds amazing and I love the backstory you added.

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  25. It's gorgeous! Love the melted cheese on top.

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  26. Julia is just so important to American cuisine. Even though she was the French cook she really brought awareness of fine cooking to the home cook. She was a neighbor of ours here n Montecito and we would see her in the markets and around town. She never failed to wave and smile and chat while fondling produce. ;D

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  27. So I gather there is some butter in this dish. I think next time I go home I will have to "borrow" my moms really old copy of this. I guess it will become something of a family heirloom.

    These scallops looks great, good call on keeping them whole.

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  28. Thank you for this recipe. I had a similar one years ago and could not find it. This is one on my favorites. Thanks again.

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  29. Beautiful scallops! Scallops can be tricky, so even though we love them, we don't make them often. I'll definitely try this recipe. I love Julia Child and can't wait to see the movie.

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  30. This recipe may be my downfall.

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  31. Will I ever achieve such perfectly seared scallops? They are gorgeous - you've done Julia proud! 8-)

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  32. fantastic sear on those scallops! great stuff.

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  33. Couldn't agree more about JC's writing...her recipes are SO easy to follow! I think that woman could have made rocket science easy. The scallops look divine, and I'm with you--I wouldn't have cut them either!

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  34. This looks delightfully decadent with all that butter and cheese, and I always think it is great to have a little of all the real stuff than a lot of a lot of un-real stuff! Your side salad sounds perfect with this and it all looks like a very special treat! Lovely.

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  35. I am not a seafood fan but these look absolutely amazing! I just joined MTAFC and went through the whole book this weekend. With the exception of a handful of recipes, I am really quite surprised and how straightforward they really are. I just made my first recipe and can't wait to get it on my blog :)

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