You know, I’ve never thought of myself as a lucky person. I mean, I’ve never won any kind of prize. Never won even a small lottery prize, never won anything from Publisher’s clearing house. Never even won at bingo. Once in the Netherlands I held 20% of the tickets for a raffle that had 25 prizes, and I STILL didn’t win anything.
I don’t care. I may not have Lotto luck, but I have Life luck. I found my soul mate, I’ve always found work that interested me, and I have friends who I treasure. One of those, my friend Françoise, invited us to a large house party on New Years Day. The party was at a gite (a sort of large self-catering cottage) in the Ardennes near here. The other members of the party were about 20 friends of Françoise and her husband Jean-Claude. These friends-of-friends live in Brittany, and they normally meet Françoise and Jean-Claude twice a year: in the Loire valley where they meet to buy their wine, and over New Year’s. They came with food and wine and high spirits. They came in a van with a trailer attached to hold the food and the pots and pans. Maybe some clothes too (some of them were very chic). They’ve been doing this for 20 years. We were very pleased to have been invited.
The day began (for us) with lunch. In grand Belgian tradition, we ate sauerkraut with two kinds of sausages and ham. And mashed potatoes. And some strong mustard. And lots of wine, of course, for those who still had a head for it after the night before. We put coins underneath our plates to ensure prosperity in the new year.
It was a wonderful day. Lots of stories--the kind that only old friends can tell about each other, lots of jokes, lots of laughter. The Belgians told French jokes, the French told Belgian jokes, and Dan and I told English speaker jokes.
There was lots of wonderful conversation and wonderful food and we hated it when we had to leave. But leave we had to, and after all the good-byes and thanks were said we headed towards our car. WAIT! we heard, and when we looked around there was one of our new friends coming towards us with a bag of something. It turned out to be scallops. A lot of them. For us, since we wouldn’t be there for dinner. Life luck!
These scallops came from Brittany, fresh frozen and brought carefully in the van or the trailer (I’m not sure which), still frozen. They had been slowly thawed in the cold air outside, protected from marauding cats. And now they were on the way home with us.
Since they had been frozen, I had to use them quickly. There were a lot of them. So Saturday was scallop day at our house. I wanted to see how many ways I could prepare scallops in one day. So look for some scallop recipes coming your way.
Who needs Lotto luck, eh?
This recipe would make a nice appetizer. In fact, it DID make a nice appetizer. I used canned chickpeas, because for some reason the dried ones aren’t available in my supermarket right now. They were fine here.
This recipe might look familiar to you. It’s basically this soup with less liquid in it. The extra liquid then becomes a sauce to drizzle over it all at the end.
Scallops and Chickpea Puree
1 can chick peas
4-5 sage leaves
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 bay leaves
1 small shallot, chopped fine
1 dried hot pepper
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine or tart apple juice
4 large scallops
chopped parsley to serve
- Heat the chick peas with the sage leaves in a pan.
- In a small skillet, heat the oil and add the bay leaves and the shallot. Crumble the hot pepper over it. Cook over medium heat till the shallots are soft and translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and the white wine or apple juice and cook on high heat till the liquid is almost all gone.
- Remove the bay leaves and scrape the contents of the skillet into the beans, and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
- Pour the beans and the liquid into a tall, narrow container, then pour off about 1/2 cup of the liquid and some of the chickpeas. Liquify the rest of the chickpeas and the liquid. You want something with the consistency of thick mashed potatoes. Or hummus.
- Rinse and pat dry the scallops. They need to be dry or they won’t sear properly. Without cleaning the skillet (you want that skim of infused oil that’s still in there), put it back on the heat and turn the heat up high. When the pan is hothot, cook the scallops for about 2 minutes on each side. If you overcook them, you’ll have chewing gum.
- To serve, put some of the puree on a serving dish, add a scallop and a chick pea. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, spoon some of the reserved liquid over it, and serve while hot. Or you can take a lot of photos of it and eat it cold like we did. But I think hot is better.
Enough for 4.
- This would also make a nice verrine.
- This puree also makes a nice spicy dip for chips or veggies.
- If you do as I do and crumble the hot pepper with your fingers into the hot oil, be sure that you don’t wipe your eyes afterwards. The oils from the pepper will be on your fingers. It’s no use trying to wash it off--it’s not water soluble. It’s oil soluble, so the easiest way to get it off your fingers is to pour a little oil over your fingers and rub the oil into them well. Then rinse, and pour some dish soap directly on your fingers and rub them again. Rinse well. Now you can rub your eyes.