Scallop Tomato Gratin

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In 2010, I accompanied my daughter to New York City for her interview at Sotheby’s. It was a mandatory part of the application process, which she obviously aced because she was soon after accepted to the London Sotheby’s master’s program.

My daughter didn’t need me with her in NYC, but because she had been feverishly finalizing her first master’s degree thesis, she hadn’t really taken the time to think about interview clothes, or get herself emotionally prepared. That’s where Moms come in handy.

Thanks to my wonderful travel agent, I made reservations at the The Surrey hotel. Her recommendations are always fabulous, and this hotel was perfect for us. It’s a boutique hotel, just 1 block off of Central Park. Still lots of honking outside throughout the night but, well, it is New York. But the hotel was lovely and had the best staff. They even had a bottle of champagne chilling in the room after my daughter’s interview.

But the wonderfulness didn’t end there. Turns out, Café Boulud is right next door to The Surrey; they even provide the room service. We went for lunch one day, and were so impressed, that we went for dinner on another night. (My daughter and I also went to Le Bernardin one night, so we didn’t suffer in the dining department. Again, that’s what Moms are for!)

Every one knows of Daniel Boulud, but this was a first for me dining at one of his many establishments. The food, wine, and the service were all top notch at Cafe Boulud. And the best part? After the meal, you’re brought warm Madeleines, along with the check, of course.

So it was because of our experience that I bought his Cafe Boulud cookbook – one for myself and one for my daughter. It was published in 1999.

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It’s a very interesting cookbook, because it’s organized differently from the traditional sets of chapters. The book is divided into four parts:

La Tradition, the traditional dishes of French cooking
La Saison, the seasonal specialties of the market
Le Voyage, dishes from lands far and near
Le Potager, vegetarian dishes that celebrate the bounty of the garden

Within each chapter are subchapters including soups, small dishes, lunches, main courses, etc. It makes it a little more difficult to look for recipes in the normal way, but it still works. I’ve made quite a few recipes already, and have many more marked.

I chose to post about the scallop and tomato grain for its simplicity. As I’ve mentioned before, simple food can be the best food – as long as it’s made with the highest quality and freshest ingredients.

This recipe allows the bay scallops and tomatoes to shine. And as my tomatoes have begun to ripen, this is the perfect recipe to try! It’s in the Le Voyage chapter, for its Italian style. He recommends a Pinot Grigio as a pairing, and I concur!

For this recipe you need to have peeled tomatoes. The way I peel potatoes is to boil them in water for about 30 seconds. If the skins don’t split, then use a tip of a knife to pierce the skin for easy removal.

Bay Scallop and Tomato Gratin
from Café Boulud Cookbook

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
6 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
3 sprigs basil, leaves only, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled, split, germ removed, and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/4 pounds bay scallops
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

Toss together the bread crumbs, half of the parsley, the thyme, basil, and three quarters of the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.


Preheat the broiler. Butter six shallow gratin dishes (The dishes should be only about 1″ deep and about 6″ in diameter.)

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Pat the scallops dry, then season them with salt and pepper and slip them into the pan. (Do this in batches if necessary.) Cook, turning the scallops as needed, until they’re golden on both sides, 2 minutes.

Toss in the diced tomatoes along with the remaining parsley and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more, to cook off some of the tomato juice.


Divide the scallop mixture evenly among the gratin dishes and sprinkle an equal amount of the seasoned bread crumbs over each dish. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each gratin and slide the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes – watch them closely – or until the tops are golden brown.

To serve: The herb-crusted scallops should be served in their gratin dishes, so place the hot dishes on heatproof dinner plates, and rush the gratins to the table.

On a side note, my daughter and I went to Bar Boulud in London, and we weren’t impressed. Maybe they had a bad night. But if you’re ever in NYC, check out Café Boulud!

verdict: As much as I’m a devotee of white pepper, I felt like it was too strong of a flavor for this scallop dish. Otherwise, the dish was fantastic!

Baked Mozzarella

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If you have been reading my blog, you know that I love baked brie – of any kind. I’ve posted on two savority varieties, my tomatillo-sauce topped baked brie and a baked brie with sautéed mushrooms.

So this recipe, although not about brie, really caught my attention. First, it is all about hot cheese. Secondly, the topping is very different than anything I’ve ever seen, which made making this recipe even more tempting. Third, it’s about hot cheese.

The recipe comes from this cookbook, Barbecue, with an unknown publishing date. I bought it in London, and it was printed in the UK.

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So you think this recipe would be about meat, but in the last chapter, entitled The Bits on the Side,” I found the recipe I’m making today, which Mr. Reynaud calls “Crumbed Mozzarella.” The reason being, the mozzarella is covered with a mixture of ground pistachios and bread crumbs. Interesting, yes?!!!

I just knew I had to make it. I’ve only made one other recipe from this book, called surf and turf, which were kabobs, and so far, so good. But this recipe was really odd, which forced me to prepare the mozzarella differently. I didn’t, however, mess with the ingredients.
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Baked Crumbed Mozzarella
adapted from Barbecue and Grill

1 – 8 ounce mozzarella ball
1 ounce pistachios
2 teaspoons bread crumbs
Big pinch of thyme
A few grindings of black pepper
1 egg
Olive oil (optional)
Salt (optional)

Remove the mozzarella from the plastic and let it sit on paper towels to dry off.
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Meanwhile, weigh the pistachios.
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Add the bread crumbs, black pepper and thyme.
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Place everything in a food processor and process until almost fine; I like a little texture.

Place the mixture on a plate and set aside.
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Break the egg into a medium bowl, large enough to fit the mozzarella, and set aside.

Get out a small plate and have handy.

Dip the mozzarella in the egg.
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Then place it on the pistachio-bread crumb mixture. Turn the mozzarella around to coat on all sides.
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Then place the mozzarella on the small plate and place the plate in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Get out a skillet that is well seasoned. Heat it over medium heat. Add the mozzarella ball, and begin to brown it on all sides, although you might do a better job than I did. It was supposed to be done on a hot plate, whatever that is, for a total of 7-8 minutes. The browning process, which Mr. Reynaud simply refers to as cooking of the mozzarella ball, I think is also supposed to cook the egg and create a seal for the cheese.
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Right before serving, I gently heated the mozzarella in its serving bowl in the microwave.

Then I served the hot mozzarella with crostini.

note: Mr. Reynaud’s recipe called for 3 mozzarella balls, of undisclosed size, and I just wanted to use one. But I thought it was a poorly written recipe to not have included the weight of the cheese balls. There were other problems as well… But I still love this cookbook!

verdict: The flavors are fabulous! However, I think I’d prefer to chop up fresh mozzarella, place it in an oven-proof shallow baking dish, Top the cheese with pistachio mixture, and bake it. That way, there is more pistachio to mozzarella ratio. Because I find melted mozzarella quite rubbery. I prefer baked brie and camembert…

How to make Bread Crumbs

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There is a post tomorrow for a recipe that required me to remove the crusts off a whole loaf of bread slices. After cooking for so many years, well over 30 since marrying, I have plenty of habits. One of my habits, which results from years of cooking during our “lean” times, is that nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. It is a good habit.

So without thinking about it, I immediately placed the bread crusts on a jelly-roll pan and turned on the oven. Even though it had nothing to do with the recipe I was creating. Why? Home made bread crumbs. Why not?!!

First of all, you’ve already purchased the bread, and it’s so easy to create instant bread crumbs that are essentially free! Don’t purchase bread crumbs ever!!! The companies that sell them won’t be happy with me, but I find it really silly, personally, to purchase items like bread crumbs and croutons.

So I’m helping you with this little trick, if you don’t know it already, that works with any kind of bread. It doesn’t have to be crusts, either. It can be any stale bread, whole-grain or not, the ends of loaves, or the crusts. The only other thing I do with leftover bread is to feed the birds, but the onslaught of feral cats have unfortunately chased them off. So bread crumbs it is.

Bread Crumbs

Stale bread slices, loaf ends, or bread crusts

Turn your oven on to 200 degrees Farenheit.

Place your bread pieces, without much overlap, onto a jelly-roll pan. Break up any bigger pieces. Place the pan in the oven. They will probably be toasted within an hour. If you need to, turn the pieces around halfway through.

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Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread pieces cool.

Then place as much as you should of the toasted bread in your food processor. Pulse away until you get the consistency of crumbs that you like.

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That’s it.
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Store them in a bag in the refrigerator until use. They also freeze beautifully.

note: If you wish to toast the bread more, adjust your oven higher, but be careful about burning. This is also an opportunity to season your bread crumbs, like with paprika, or with dried herbs.