Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Normandy Gastronomique" & "Step-by-Step Tapas & Spanish Cookery" - for Le Tour De France (bike ride) - Warm Scallop Salad and Gazpacho

Date I made these recipes:  July 27, 2014 (The last day of Le Tour de France)

Normandy Gastronomique by Jane Sigal; Foreword by Anne Willan; Photography by Debbie Patterson

Published by:  Abbeville Press (Out of Print book)

ISBN:  1-55859-496-5

Purchased at Strand [bookstore] NYC

Recipe:  Warm Scallop Salad with Cress and Vegetables (Salade de Coquilles Saint-Jacques) – p. 36-37

Step-By-Step Tapas & Spanish Cookery

Published by:  Greenwich  Editions

ISBN:  0-86288-021-1

Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores, Richfield, MN

Recipe:  Gazpacho – p. 33

Bienvenue (Welcome) to my annual Le Tour de France recipe post!  As is usual and customary, I celebrated the end of the greatest bike race in the world by finding something French to make.  And then this year, because I have a tie-in to Spain, I threw in something Spanish as well.  "De nada." (Spanish for "You're welcome.)

Still, despite the vast collection of cookbooks of all topics and all cuisines, I was getting a little nervous about a French recipe until I happened upon the Normandy cookbook on a recent trip to the Strand (bookstore) in NYC.  I took it as a sign that I found this book during the first week of this year's tour.  Plus, the foreword was written by Anne Willan, a celebrated cookbook author whom I've met and talked to when she came to Minneapolis years ago to promote a book.

The route of the Le Tour de France changes every year and this year, it just skirted around the Normandy region of France but it was close enough to merit an inclusion.  Still, the cooking of Normandy is pretty hearty fare and I was almost in despair of finding a recipe that worked well in the summer when voila!, the very light Coquilles Saint-Jacques just leapt of the page.  Again, signs pointed to "yes."

Elsewhere in this cookbook, you'll find a lot of recipes for seafood and chicken, sometimes in cream sauce, sometimes not, duck, fresh vegetables, apples and a wonderful apple byproduct, Calvados, a most yummy apple brandy.  As tempting as all those were, I was feeling in the mood for something light and something seafood.  This recipe fits the bill and then some.

Turning our attention to Spain, here's how gazpacho fits into this picture:  in 1994, my husband and I went to Spain and stopped outside the city of Granada for the night having driven and toured the region all day long.  While eating in a small restaurant, we observed a group of Americans – about 6 or 8 in all – "practicing" their Spanish.  When one of them absolutely butchered "I want to go to the disco," I laughed and said "Where are you guys from?"  Turns out they were a group of bicyclists from Alabama, who were taking a bike tour through the Sierra Nevadas.  One of the guys in the group was a former navy guy, previously stationed in Spain, whose wife was Spanish and he led the group of bikers.  He also owned a bike shop in Alabama.  We became fast friends with the 'Bama Boys and agreed to meet the next day in the city of Granada for a group dinner. By the way, you should know that they weren't sure we were Americans because we were so quiet.  We get that a lot and consider it a compliment. 

So the next day, we had dinner and we all decided to start with gazpacho, which is pretty much the national soup of Spain.  Made up of fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic plus a few other key ingredients, it is served cold (or room temperature) and is delicious. I could eat that all day, every day in the summer.

Well, one of the guys in the 'Bama Boys was not familiar with gazpacho and when his soup was served, he took a bite and then exclaimed in his best southern accent "This soup is cold!"

I want you to know that we could have absolutely split our sides open laughing but we did not and just explained that it was meant to be served that way.  He remained skeptical whereas the rest of us polished off our portions, craving more.

And so, dear reader, that is how serving scallops and gazpacho made prefect sense to honor the tour!  Had I been thinking though, I should have made something Italian or Sicilian as the 2014 winner, Vincenzo Nibali, hails from those countries (born in Sicily, went to Italy to train).  Maybe next year.

And as per usual and customary, Andy is sad the tour is over although I don't think this year's withdrawal will be that bad, considering how we were on vacation for part of it (and on news blackout at our hotel.  I must write to them and tell them that they need a sports channel for these key events.)  This summer's weather has not been the greatest for biking around these parts but he's managed to get in some long rides and has a very long ride scheduled this coming weekend.  The landscape in southern Minnesota (outside Rochester, MN) is not exactly France or Spain (or England, where part of this year's tour took place) but it will have to do. 

A la prochain!  (Until next time)

Salade De Coquilles Saint-Jacques – serves 4 as a first course

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced

Pinch of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp sugar

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp crushed coriander seeds

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 small turnip, peeled and cut into ¼-in dice

½ red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-in dice

½ small zucchini, skin and outside flesh only, cut into ¼-in dice

2 tsp hazelnut oil

12 scallops


Garden cress, to garnish

Ann's Note:  I couldn't find hazelnut oil without driving all over town but I did have some walnut oil on hand so I used that. 

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan.  Add the onion and saut√© it until translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook it until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the cayenne, sugar, bay leaf, coriander, white wine, and stock.  Bring just to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer this court bouillon gently for 10 minutes.

Strain the court-bouillon and return it to the pan.  Add the diced turnip and a little salt and cook gently, covered, for 10-12 minutes.  Add the diced bell pepper and zucchini and continue cooking until the court-bouillon reduces to a light glaze, 5-7 minutes longer.  The vegetables should still be slightly crunchy.

Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm, then stir in the hazelnut oil.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, cayenne, or hazelnut oil until the sauce is as pungent as you like.  (The mixture should be slightly less seasoned than for traditional vegetables a la grecque.)  Keep warm.

Set a nonstick frying pan over moderate heat.  When the pan is hot, add the scallops and cook then, turning once, until they are nearly opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes.

To serve, arrange 3 scallops on each plate.  Spoon some of the tepid vegetable mixture around the scallops.  Scatter cress sparingly over the vegetables and serve immediately.

Ann's Note:  I substituted butter lettuce for the cress.  My grocery store changed ownership recently and man, they about eliminated anything interesting in the produce department so cress was off the table.  As it was, the new cashier was sadly lacking in vegetable knowledge.  She asked "What's this?" while ringing up my turnip, zucchini and butter lettuce.  Had she inquired about my tomatoes, I would have caused an incident and there would have been cleanup at register 12!

Gazpacho – Serves 4

1 ½ pound beefsteak tomatoes

½ Spanish onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 slices firm white bread, crusts removed, broken into pieces

10 fl oz (1 ¼ cups) tomato juice

3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 8 ice cubes, to serve


1 diced small red pepper, 1 diced small green pepper, 1 diced small onion, 1 chopped hard-boiled egg and croutons.

Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes.  Put in a food processor or blender with remaining soup ingredients, except ice cubes.  Mix until smooth.  Pour soup through a nylon sieve, pressing down well on contents of sieve.  If necessary, thin soup with cold water then chill well.  If you want more texture to your soup, omit the nylon sieve process.

To serve, pour soup into cold soup bowls, add ice cubs and then serve with accompaniments if desired.

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