RECIPE: Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratinéed Scallops)

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This past weekend my friends hosted a “French Feast New Year’s Party”; I was invited to join my friend Jo in her kitchen as her “sous chef’ to prepare dinner for 18 people!  She found the recipe for this wonderful Jacques Pepin’s classic French recipe from Saveur online; we prepared this dish as an appetizer, with help from others for plating and serving. It was excellent team work; for a while it felt as if we were working in a restaurant kitchen…enjoy (OO).

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

8 oz button mushrooms (minced), 3 small shallots (minced), 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 Tablespoons parsley (minced), 1 Tablespoon minced tarragon (plus 6 whole leaves to garnish), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; 3/4 cup dry vermouth, 1 bay leaf, 6 large sea scallops, 2 Tablespoons flour, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2/3 cup grated Gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


To prepare the duxelles:

Heat mushrooms, 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 2/3 of the shallots in a saucepan over medium heat, cook until mixture forms a loose paste, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Stir parsley and minced tarragon into mixture, season with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

Bring remaining shallots, vermouth, bay leaf, salt and 3/4 cup of water to boil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops and lightly poach until barely tender, less than 2 minutes.  Remove scallops from cooking liquid and set aside.

– To prepare the sauce:

Continue to boil cooking liquid until reduced to 1/2 cup (it takes approximately 10 minutes), strain the liquid.

Heat remaining butter in a different sauce pan over medium heat; add flour, cook until smooth (approximately 2 minutes).

Whisk in reduced cooking liquid and cream; cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Add cheese, juice, salt and pepper.

– To assemble the dish:

Heat broiler to high, place rack at the top.

Dividing the mushroom mixture among the dishes.

Place 6 shallow gratin dishes on baking sheet, divide mushroom mixture evenly.

Place scallop over mushroom mixture; divide sauce over scallops.

Broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes, garnish each with tarragon leaf.


– We used 2 scallops per serving, we were unable to find sea scallops and luckily found these wonderful frozen ones from Hokkaido (**They are sashimi grade, purchased from Golden Summit Frozen Seafood in Richmond, BC).

– The mushroom duxelle can be prepared one day ahead (we did and store in tightly sealed container).

– I’ve broken down the steps according to how we prepared the dish; we have used a lighter cream instead of heavy cream.

Here’s the original link:

If you follow the link, you’ll be able to find 150 classic recipes from around the world, featured in Saveur’s special 150th issue.

RECIPE: Poached Sea Bass with Tomato and Saffron Broth

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I love the combination of tomatoes and saffron; this recipe is adapted from the January 2014 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine which emphasized on healthy eating and offered many new fish recipes. I have made slight modifications: I used sea bass instead of cod, added organic chicken broth and onions for more flavour, and increased the quantity of the poaching liquid.  The fish was served with wild rice blend which was so flavourful when eaten together with the sauce; for a moment, it felt as if I was having a “fish only – deconstructed” paella…Enjoy (OO)!

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

1 to 2 Tablespoon olive oil, 3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced; 1 medium onion, sliced, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 28 oz can organic whole peeled tomatoes, drained; 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/2 cup low sodium organic chicken stock (store-bought or homemade), 2-3 bay leaves, pinch of saffron threads, 4  4 to 5 ounce sea bass (fish size approximate), white pepper, kosher salt and black pepper to taste, chopped parsley as garnish (optional)


– Heat oil in dutch oven (or pot with lid) over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and crushed pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until fragrant (garlic should not take on any colour), about 3 minutes.  Do not burn!

– Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them, wine, bay leaves, saffron and chicken stock (or water).

– Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors meld, 25 – 30 minutes, season with kosher salt and pepper.

– Reduce heat to medium low, pat dry the sea bass with paper towel, season with salt and white pepper; place in poaching liquid.  Cover and cook at a bare simmer until sea bass is opaque throughout and begin to flake, 8 – 10 minutes (*Note – thicker pieces will take longer to cook).

– Gently transfer sea bass to shallow bowl and spoon poaching liquid over, serve on bed of wild rice.


– The original recipe uses cod; other suggestions – black bass or flounder fillets.

– Saffron can be overpowering; adjust accordingly.  For Non-meat eaters (pescatarians), omit the low-sodium chicken broth and use water instead. As always, adjust the seasoning according to your dietary needs and taste.

– I cooked the wild rice separately, we prefer either Nuworld Wholesome Wild Rice Blend (Costco or Price Smart) or Lundberg Wild Blend (Choices, East West Market (on Main Street) in Vancouver, BC or Whole Foods (various locations)).

RECIPE: Zucchini Ribbons


A simple and easy way to prepare zucchini; instead of pasta, I recently served this with Tomato glazed meatloaves (see other recipe posting).  

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 medium size zucchini, kosher salt and pepper to taste


– Using a vegetable peeler, from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice the zucchini into ribbons.

– Place ribbons in a covered microwave safe dish

– Nuked them high for two minutes

– Drained the excess liquid (if any), and toss with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Notes: An old fashion vegetable peeler or mandoline works.  To turn zucchini into “spaghetti” style noodles, you will need a spiral slicer.  Enjoy the zucchini ribbons raw as a salad!  Enjoy (OO).

RECIPE: Tomato glazed “meatloaves” with zucchini “noodles” and garlic mashed potatoes


The recipe is adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen’s “Tomato glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes“; I’ve changed things up a bit by mixing different meats for the meatballs, and served them with zucchini “noodles”; I’ve also doubled the quantity of the glaze.  The results? A wholesome and hearty meal…a bit nostalgic..a perfect Sunday evening dinner.


Glaze: 6 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 cup tomato paste, 4 Tablespoons cider vinegar, 3 teaspoons honey, 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, kosher salt to taste (**I’ve doubled most of the ingredients from the original recipe, we love sauce!)


2 slices sandwich bread (I’ve used approximately 2 ounces of organic bread crumbs), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1 medium onion (finely chopped), 1 medium stalk celery (finely chopped), 1 medium carrot (peeled and finely chopped), olive oil (for cooking), 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for vegetables, freshly ground black pepper, 1 pound extra lean ground beef, 1/2 pound ground pork, 1/2 pound ground veal, 1 to 2 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup milk (I’ve used almond milk), 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, 2 large eggs


To make the glaze: Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, let it simmer and whisk constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, set aside.

To make the meatballs:

 – Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

– Tear the bread into chunks then blend it, in a food processor, into breadcrumbs.  Place breadcrumbs into large bowl.

– Add onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the food processor, pulse it until they are finely chopped.

– Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Once skillet is hot, coat the bottom with olive oil, heat for a minute then add the finely chopped vegetables.  Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to brown (not burn), about 10 to 15 minutes.

– Add the cooked vegetables to large bowl with bread crumbs, then add the remaining ingredients.  Hand mix the ingredients together, then form the mixture into twelve 3-inch meatballs, each will weigh about 4 ounces.

– Space the meatballs in a baking dish so they are not touching.  Drizzle or brush each meatball with a teaspoon or so of the tomato glaze.


– Bake the meatballs until cooked through, for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.  By using an instant thermometer inserted into the centre of the meatball, a cooked meatball will register 160 to 165 degrees.

– Adjust the oven temperature to 400 degrees and let the meatballs “brown” for approximately 5 minutes

– To serve: Serve with remaining glaze on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and zucchini “noodles” on the side.

***Ms. Deb Perelman served the meatballs with her brown butter mashed potatoes; I’ve made my own version with way less butter, almond milk (instead of buttermilk) and added garlic. Recipe for the simple zucchini noodles posted separately.

Notes: Always remember to cook ground meats thoroughly!  I opted to “brown” the meatballs for an extra 5 minutes and it was a perfect finish. Adjust the breadcrumbs and quantity of milk according to need, the meatloaf mixture should feel “moist”, not runny;  adjust the seasoning according to your taste and dietary needs.  Enjoy!