I don’t do dinner parties very often, so sometimes it’s nice to create one for two people, as if you were feeding a crowd. Make it complete with flowers on the table, candles, themed music, wine and entertainment.
All things French recently got under my skin. I wanted a French meal with French wine and to watch a French film. Describing this to a co-worker over drinks one night, he asked, “Are you a Francophile?” After I figured out what that meant, I said no, I am not obsessed with the French. I simply like cooking with butter.
Julia Child immediately came to mind and I picked her version of scallops Provencale – gratineed with white wine, garlic and fresh herbs. I’m usually wary of shellfish cooked with cheese, but I must say this turned out perfectly splendid.
Grant got a really nice French white wine and red wine, and tuned Pandora to something you would hear in a French cafe.
Before preparing the scallops, I finished up this bizarre yeast-cake that is supposed to be like the one Amelie makes in her movie. I’ve never made a cake with yeast, I’m assuming this is a French tradition. Anyway, you essentially fold the dough over butter and sugar a bunch of times, then top it with sliced fruit (I used apples tossed with lemon juice and orange zest), and more sugar and butter.
Then you bake it and everything caramelizes and oozes together.
I must say I didn’t fancy this cake, which is why I’m not going to bother you with the recipe. The texture seemed wrong – I just didn’t get it. But the fruit was tasty.
Certainly, the star of the show was the scallop dish, as described below (note: Julia writes her ingredients as they appear in the cooking method, so notice the multiple times butter is listed):
Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale
- 1/3 c. minced yellow onions
- 1 T butter
- 1 1/2 T minced shallots
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 1/2 lb. washed scallops (we used the small guys)
- salt and pepper
- 1 c. flour in a dish
- 2 T butter
- 1 T olive oil
- 2/3 c. dry white wine plus 3 T water
- 1 bay leaf, fresh
- 1/8 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1/4 c. Swiss cheese, grated
- 2 T butter cut into pieces
Cook onions slowly in butter in small saucepan for 5 min, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in shallots and garlic, cook 1 min. Set aside.
Dry scallops and cut into 1/4 inch slices, if you don’t have the small ones. Small ones can be whole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour and shake off excess.
Saute scallops quickly in large pan, heated with 2 T butter and 1 T oil for 2 min, to brown. Work in batches, if needed.
Pour wine and water into pan with all the scallops, de-glazing with a wooden spoon. Add herbs and cooked onion mixture. Cover and let simmer for 5 min., then uncover and boil down sauce for 1 min. Check for seasoning.
Spoon scallops and sauce into a baking pan (or individual ramekins), sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter.
Run under moderate broiler 3-4 min, until heated through and cheese is lightly browned.
I complained that my scallops were a little tough, but Grant said I was crazy. One thing I WAS crazy about was this sauce! Oh my, Julia, you know how to make a great sauce. Bread is absolutely necessary to sop up all that flavor.
We finished up supper and then settled down to watch “Amelie,” of which I finished a little over half before drifting off to sleep. A satisfactory end to Frenchie day.
Enjoy your dinner parties for two (or one), friends! xoxo