The best laid plans

Even though I try very hard to plan out the week, sometimes it just needs to be adapted.  When I planned the week I didn’t realize that I had platform tennis from 6 – 7:15 and Keith had his platform tennis from 7:45 – 9:00.  That makes it tricky to eat together.  I also planned the steaks for tomorrow thinking that would make Samantha happy.  I forgot she is spending the night with her cousins and won’t be home for dinner.

So…

I wanted a dinner for tonight that was easy to serve at separate times and we might as well have something tomorrow that Samantha doesn’t like.  I decided to do make-ahead Coquilles St. Jacques for tonight (it sounds complicated but it isn’t).  We’ll move the crabcakes to tomorrow night and save the steaks (which are frozen anyway) for another night.  Here is the recipe for the scallops:

Coquilles St. Jacques (serves 2)

  • 3 TB butter
  • olive oil
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2/3 cup of seafood stock
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 2 – 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 package cremini mushrooms, cleaned (throw away stems) and sliced
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 2 TB minced parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 3/4 lbs scallops, rinsed, dried and cut in quarters

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt 2 TB butter over medium heat and whisk in flour, stirring constantly.  Slowly add seafood stock, whisking as you go.  Then add half and half and curry powder.  Stir over low heat.  Cream sauce should be thick but if it gets too thick, add more liquid (either seafood stock or half and half.)

(You can either do the next step concurrently with the first step if you are pressed for time like I was or do them separately.)  Melt remaining TB of butter and about 1 TB olive oil in another pan.  Saute scallops over medium heat until soft – about 3 minutes.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook  for about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add Cognac and increase heat so the alcohol cooks off.  Reduce heat and combine with cream sauce.  Add scallops to mixture, stir well to combine and divide among gratin dishes.

Mix panko, parsley and cheese in a small bowl and pour in about 1 TB of olive oil.  Sprinkle mixture evenly on top of gratins and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.  Serve hot.  (You can make ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve.)

scallops

Company dinner

We had friends over for dinner last night.  We had been meaning to get together and finally got it on the books as a result of a Words with Friends word.  I scored the word Coquilles and got a ton of points.  Martha responded that she hadn’t had Coquilles St. Jacques for ages.  That cinched it – we scheduled dinner and I made Coquilles St. Jacques as the first course.  For the entree – slow roasted beef tenderloin with oven roasted asparagus.  For dessert, strawberries with balsamic vinegar.  If it sounds weird, go ahead and try it anyway – they were out of this world!  Here are the recipes:

Coquilles St. Jacques (serves 4 as appetizer)

  • 3 TB butter
  • olive oil
  • 1TB flour
  • 1/3 cup of seafood stock
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 – 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 2 TB minced parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 6 scallops, rinsed, dried and cut in quarters

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt 1 TB butter over medium heat and whisk in flour, stirring constantly.  Slowly add seafood stock, whisking as you go.  Then add half and half and curry powder.  Stir over low heat.  Cream sauce should be thick but if it gets too thick, add more liquid (either seafood stock or half and half.)

(You can either do the next step concurrently with the first step if you are pressed for time like I was or do them separately.)  Melt remaining TB of butter and about 1 TB olive oil in another pan.  Saute shallots over medium heat until soft – about 3 minutes.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook  for about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add Cognac and increase heat so the alcohol cooks off.  Reduce heat and combine with cream sauce.  Add scallops to mixture, stir well to combine and divide among gratin dishes.

Mix panko, parsley and cheese in a small bowl and pour in about 1 TB of olive oil.  Sprinkle mixture evenly on top of gratins and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.  Serve hot.

Beef Tenderloin 

We always used to cook tenderloin at high heat until we discovered this slow-roasted technique.  Meat is moist and tender.

  • 1 beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • coarsely ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 275.  Brush filet with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Check temperature – when a thermometer registers 125, your meat is rare.  If you want medium rare, cook to 135.  Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil.  Let rest for about 20 minutes and then carve and serve with sauce of your choice.  Our friends wanted to know how the beef had been cooked – it is so consistently rare throughout, they thought we had cooked it sous vide.

Mustard Horseradish sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 TB Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 TB whole-grain mustard
  • 1 TB horseradish
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Whisk together to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Asparagus

  • Asparagus (tough ends broken off)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese

While salmon rests, turn oven up to 450.  Spread asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 5 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Balsamic strawberries

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 5 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • sprinkle fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Let sit in a glass bowl covered.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Anniversary update

Thursday was our 15th wedding anniversary.  To celebrate I wanted to cook Keith a special dinner.  He loves scallops so I made Coquilles St. Jacques inspired by the recipe in Ina Garten’s newest Barefoot Contessa cookbook Make it Ahead.  I was in a bit of a hurry, since it was Thursday night so I wasn’t overly precise about my measurements and it was still delicious so don’t fret over quantities.  The sauce is so good that a roll or French bread to dip into it is really worth the calories!

Coquilles St. Jacques (serves 2)

  • 3 TB butter
  • olive oil
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2/3 cup of seafood stock
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 2 – 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 package cremini mushrooms, cleaned (throw away stems) and sliced
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 2 TB minced parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 3/4 lbs scallops, rinsed, dried and cut in quarters

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt 2 TB butter over medium heat and whisk in flour, stirring constantly.  Slowly add seafood stock, whisking as you go.  Then add half and half and curry powder.  Stir over low heat.  Cream sauce should be thick but if it gets too thick, add more liquid (either seafood stock or half and half.)

(You can either do the next step concurrently with the first step if you are pressed for time like I was or do them separately.)  Melt remaining TB of butter and about 1 TB olive oil in another pan.  Saute scallops over medium heat until soft – about 3 minutes.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook  for about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add Cognac and increase heat so the alcohol cooks off.  Reduce heat and combine with cream sauce.  Add scallops to mixture, stir well to combine and divide among gratin dishes.

Mix panko, parsley and cheese in a small bowl and pour in about 1 TB of olive oil.  Sprinkle mixture evenly on top of gratins and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.  Serve hot.

Ina says you can prepare the gratins ahead and refrigerate them and bake right before dinner.  Great dinner party meal!  Look how pretty it looks!

Anniversary dinner!

Anniversary dinner!

We continued the celebration last night by taking Samantha to The Milton Inn.  We hadn’t been there in years.  It is a beautiful old building and it was already decorated for Christmas.  Samantha had on a pretty new dress and looked quite sophisticated for 8.  She had a cheese plate appetizer and then cream of crab soup for dinner, followed by a trio of sorbets.  Keith had a fabulous chicken liver pate followed by Blackened Catfish Étouffée.  I started with beef tartar and then had the salmon in macadamia nut crust.  It was a lovely meal and we were so proud of how well Samantha behaved.  What a fun way to celebrate as a family and what a lovely restaurant for a special occasion.