Friday, February 13, 2015

9 Days of Valentine's: Part 5...

For Day 5 of our celebration we went French once again with another recipe from Annie and Dan Shannon’s book “Betty Goes Vegan” This time I picked the Coquilles St. Jacques which sounded both fancy and interesting to me. I’ve never had Coquilles St. Jacques before - vegan or otherwise - in fact I’d never even heard of it until I picked up this book. Most likely this is due to the fact that most of my life I had a strong aversion to seafood and even after I grew to like some sea-dwelling creatures I never liked Scallops.

Coquilles St. Jacques in the pan before transfer
into the tart pans

The recipe that The Shannon’s use in their book is one made famous by Julia Child, but what The Shannon’s don’t tell you is that Coquilles St. Jacques is really just French for Scallops. In fact, it’s a very particular kind of scallop not the actual name of a specific dish, and so if you went to France and ordered Coquilles St. Jacques what you’d eventually end up getting would probably not be this exact dish - unless you could specify in French how you wished your scallops to be prepared - but I digress. Coquilles St. Jacques Scallops are popular in France as well as Spain and there are many ways to prepare them, though this recipe - thanks to Betty Crocker and Julia Child - seems to be the most common preparation in North America.

Fresh from the Broiler 

The Shannon’s version of the dish includes hearts of palm, artichoke, mushroom, red onion, and vegan shrimp - I used Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Prawns - sauteed in butter. White Wine, Herbs de Province, lemon juice, parsley and a few other seasonings are thrown in to simmer, and then the whole thing is scooped into individual tart pans, topped with breadcrumbs and vegan mozzarella and broiled just long enough to melt the cheese and toast the bread. It looks fancy, and sounds like a lot of work but really this was a super quick and easy dish. Now, I’m not exactly sure why the Shannon’s used vegan shrimp rather then vegan scallops in the recipe considering Coquilles St. Jacques literally means Scallop of Saint James, but my guess is it’s possible that their book was written - and published - before Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Scallops were on the market, or before they were widely available. Had I known prior to writing this post that scallops were supposed to be used in the non-vegan dish, I might have replaced the vegan shrimp with vegan scallops. In fact, I might just make it again with that switch in mind, anyhow, Sophie’s Kitchen Prawns were nevertheless a good fit here. They had the texture of shrimp, a subtle flavor that reminded me of actual shrimp and the whole dish tasted great together.

Because one can’t survive on Seafood Tarts alone, I also made a side of Potato Gratin Dauphinois from Robin Robertson’s book “Vegan Without Boarders” This is basically your standard gratin - or scalloped potatoes for you North Americans, - made with a home-made cashew cream, vegan sour cream, and vegan cream cheese. There is absolutely nothing healthy about it, it is rich beyond belief but it is oh so good! Possibly one of the best gratin’s I’ve made. Sprinkled with a little sliced green onion this made the perfect accompaniment to our Coquilles.

Then, for the Coup de Grace I made the decadently delicious and super easy Molton Chocolate Cake from Joy, Angel and Jorge’s book “Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Café” This recipe was also suppose to include a raspberry coulis but as I said to my husband ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’ and so I sliced some fresh berries instead. The cake is a pretty standard chocolate cake, the batter you pour into some greased muffin cups then you stuff about a tablespoon of chocolate chips into the middle and bake for 20 minutes until the cake is mostly cooked through but the middle is still soft. Flip the cakes out, and serve with berries or coulis. The minute you cut into your little cake all that ooey-gooey chocolate from inside comes drizzling out, making every bite heavenly. Though this particular cake doesn’t have a European element, it was featured in the books Valentine’s Day Chapter and so that was good enough for me.

Check back tomorrow, we’re going Italian yet again!

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