Category Archives: Seafood

>Whisk Wednesdays: Coquilles Saint Jacques Dieppoise


We looked high and low, but to no avail. This city does have any mussels. I had never heard of such a thing and just added it to the ever growing list of disappointments since the relocation. Being that there is not a “mussel substitute” I decided to add more of the sea creatures I did have on hand and will try this again once mussels can be found.

To any French-speakers out there: does “coquilles” translate to scallops or food served in a scallop shell? Inquiring minds mind want to know…

I knew shrimp and scallops cook rather fast, but my excitement faded when reading things like “…another saucepan”. It just couldn’t be a Le Cordon Bleu recipe without filling the dishwasher.

Coquilles Saint Jacques Dieppoise
(Scallops with Mussels and Shrimp in Cream Sauce)

* Mussels
* Butter
* Shallots
* Dry White Wine
* Parsley
* Salt & Pepper
* Mushrooms
* Shrimp
* Sea Scallops
* Crème Fraîche or Heavy Cream

My Notes:
→ The biggest challenge I had was getting the recipe down to a single serving; I think I ended up with more sauce than was necessary, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about too much cream sauce.
→ Pleasantly surprised by how few pans were actually used (I suppose this is all relative).
→ You’ll have to wait for the official tasting results to come from Matt; will update that later tonight.
→ As the hubster is a parsley-lovin’ freak, I dredged the shrimp in finely chopped parsley before cooking and added extra amounts of the green stuff in nearly every step.

The complete recipe can be found on page 78 of Le Cordon Bleu at Home. Please see how the other Whiskers did by checking the blog roll. Whisk Wednesdays is the brainchild of Shari, author of Whisk: A Food Blog. Please contact Shari for information on joining us every week.


Posted by on 8 April 2009 in Cooking, Seafood, Whisk Wednesdays


>Whisk Wednesdays Rewind: Merlans Colbert

> This recipe is a bit bittersweet for me. Before I became a vegetarian, fish ‘n chips was one of my all-time favorite dishes. Easy to make and allowing for variety with the breading and/or batter, this is right up there with mashed potatoes and mac ‘n cheese on the list of great comfort foods.

Or maybe I’m just romanticizing the dish; during my first solo trip to London I sought out a local greasy spoon and tried to hide my excitement. Was it going to come with copious amounts of house-made tartar sauce? Wrapped in newspaper? Lemon? Vinegar?

No to all of the above. I was served tough as leather over-fried something sitting in a vat of oil. I ate every bite and promptly hurled it all back up in the loo.

The recipe in the book includes making your own mayonnaise for the tartar sauce. I am fearful of consuming raw eggs and decided on using store-bought mayo as well as making my own.

The cats were able to rouse themselves from their perma-nap state once the fish came out. I nearly called in a Priest to perform an exorcism on Lily (pictured right displaying her “crazy eye”); never thought I would be that afraid of a 12-pound fur ball.

Merlans Colert (Deep-Fried Whiting with Tartar Sauce):
* Egg Yolks
* Dijon Mustard
* Salt & Pepper
* Vegetable Oil
* White-Wine Vinegar
* Gherkins
* Capers
* Onions
* Parsley
* Chives
* Hard-Boiled Egg Yolks

Anglaise Breading:
* Flour
* Eggs
* Vegetable Oil
* Water
* Salt & Pepper
* Bread Crumbs

* Whiting or Trout
* Bread Crumbs
* Lemons
* Oil for Frying

My Notes:
→ The store-bought mayonnaise cum tartar sauce was good, but could not hold a candle to the sauce from the fresh made mayonnaise. Wow.
→ Quickly getting over the weirdness of eating raw eggs, I think I will be making a lot of my own mayonnaise in the future (I already make my own vegan mayonnaise, why not this?)
→ Cod was subbed for trout.
→ I need more practice with my breading skills. I really try to keep a “wet” and “dry” hand, but it never turns out as pretty as I hope for. The breading also doesn’t seem to stay on very well. Shari gave a great tip about letting the breading stay on the fish for a bit to help dry it out; I’ll be doing this next time.
→ I served my fish up with hand-cut chips in newspaper (the business section – no need to upset myself any further with the reading of our plummeting stock market)
→ Wondering what my other favorite Colbert thinks about all of this

This recipe can be found on page 290 of Le Cordon Bleu at Home. For information on joining Whisk Wednesdays, please contact Sheri and visit the other Whiskers to see how they fared.


>Whisk Wednesdays Rewind: Sole Belle Meunière

>Greetings from the dead! Did you think I forgot about my commitment to my favorite Canadian, Shari? This is going to be the first in my weekend blogging marathon.

Shall we begin?

The recipe for Sole Belle Meunière (or Pan-Fried Sole with Nut-Brown Butter and Mushrooms) read nice and easy and was made of shockingly few ingredients. It also allowed for the opportunity to purchase a whole fish and prepare it myself. Or cheat and buy fillets.

I’m proud to say I bought the whole fish and was happy with this decision. Directions on how to clean the fish are included in the book and are very simple to follow. An extra-sharp knife will be your best friend if you go this route.

My mushrooms cooked up quickly and I’m not sure if there is anything better than a brown butter sauce. I love the way my kitchen smells when I’m cooking with lemon and am happy to give-in to a guilty pleasure: lemon rinds in the garbage disposal.

Sole Belle Meunière:
* Lemons
* Sole
* Vegetable Oil
* Butter
* Mushrooms
* Flour
* Salt & Pepper
* Parsley

My Notes:
→ Tilapia was substituted for Sole.
→ I added some finely diced chili peppers in the pan while cooking the mushrooms for a little extra kick.
→ So, so easy! This can become “go-to” dinner without any hesitation.
→ Buy the whole fish. It’s the little accomplishments that bring the biggest smiles.

Good to be back everyone and I want to extend my heartfelt thanks for all of the congratulatory messages and well wishes on my recent marriage; more to come on that!

For information on how to join Whisk Wednesdays, please visit here.

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Posted by on 31 October 2008 in Cooking, Seafood, Whisk Wednesdays


>Whisk Wednesdays: Bisque de Langoustines

>My apologies for the extremely late post. It was made a week ago and I started to write it out, but was quickly distracted with the packing and cleaning of the house in preparation of our 2,771 mile move on August 1.

A likely excuse.

Now, sitting in this hotel room, I realize I failed to note a few of the necessities of the recipe – you know, like how to cook the bisque. The cookbook is currently in a box on an East-bound truck, so there won’t be a lot of, shall we say, “focus” on the directions.

Also, I won’t be cooking with Whisk Wednesdays for at least two weeks, but as soon as we’re settled into the new place, I’ll catch up!

Check back for road trip updates and photos.

The translation of Bisque de Langoustines is Langoustine Bisque. Not a great deal of help is you do not know what a langoustine is. From what I can gather, a langoustine is a Norwegian Lobster; slimmer and lighter in color than the stereotypical lobster. Being from Europe, a Langoustine is found in the Atlantic Ocean, so I would have to settle for something else in my ocean.

I could only come across live lobsters and knew that I would not be able to plunge one of them into boiling water. Yes, I am one of those people. Yet, a few weeks ago I was able to wave and say “Au revoir!” to a few pounds of mussels. I think it has something to do with eyes.

This should be a good time for me to address a few nasty comments that have come my way and that I will continue to delete. Seems there are individuals out there that doubt my vegetarianism. I have presented quite a dichotomy: I do not eat meat, but I will cook and serve it. Let it be known: my decision to not eat meat is a personal one and I find it appalling that people can make snap judgments based on what I ingest. In regards to my apparent “lack of ethics” – the meat I do purchase is provided by humane farmers with reliable backgrounds. The animals are treated very well, are vegetarian fed, are not subjected to any growth hormones, but do receive weekly Thai massages and get rocked to sleep in a cradle while lullabies are sung every night. I take great pride in the food I serve to my friends and family and am fortunate to be in a position where I can afford an organic lifestyle. I would never push a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle upon anyone and it is infuriating to see others with such a hostile agenda.

Enough of that serious-talk! Cooking is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable activity – dare I say craft? Back to the grocery store:

I decided on some fresh prawns.

Upon reviewing the recipe, a few things stood out: the coronary-inducing amount of butter and enough wine and cognac to sterilize surgical instruments. It was going to be a hell of a bisque.

Bisque de Langoustines:
Unshelled langoustines or Shrimp
12 tbsp unsalted butter
Shallots; finely chopped
Leek whites; finely chopped
Carrot; finely diced
Fresh Tarragon; chopped
Parsley; chopped
White wine
Tomato Paste
Salt & Pepper
Crème Fraîche/Heavy Cream
Rice Flour
Parchment Paper

As mentioned above, I didn’t write down the directions and since I made the soup over a week ago, things are a little fuzzy. All I know is that I found a reason to whip out the crème brûlée torch to set some cognac on fire. I let out a rather maniacal laugh and while waving the torch over my head shouting, “I have made FIRE!” (think Tom Hanks from Castaway), causing my neighbor to stick his head over the fence. His eyes ran over the open bottles of cognac and wine, went up my arm to the still-lit torch and then asked if everything was ok. I assured him I was fine and extended an invitation for him to come over and set some booze on fire. He accepted.

We proceeded to drink Spanish coffees and pulverize shrimp in the blender. I had a bit of trouble keeping the mousseline together, so I refrigerated the shrimp Slurpee for a bit and had better results. At this point the cats began pacing in the kitchen and started to look a bit “twitchy”.

At some point I simmered the two-spooned quenelles and was actually worried that I wouldn’t be able to serve this dish. Matt finds bisques too “heavy” and is not a fan of anise (which the tarragon reminded me of). However, my neighbor and his partner couldn’t get enough.

And, it doesn’t get much better than that.

To read a much more cohesive and comprehensive recipe and instructions, please visit Shari, she can also tell you how to join Whisk Wednesdays. To see how the other members fared, click here and check the blogroll on the left.

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Posted by on 31 July 2008 in Cats, Cooking, Seafood, Soup, Whisk Wednesdays


>Whisk Wednesdays: Billy Bi aux Paillettés

>As mentioned yesterday, I have joined two online cooking blog communities. Whisk: A Food Blog is the second site and every Wednesday a group of people will make the same dish from Le Cordon Bleu at Home. French food and cooking is quite unfamiliar to me as this particular cuisine isn’t known for its vegetarian-friendly fare, but I am up to the challenge. It also helps that Matt will eat, or at least try, anything I place in front of him. I’m also pleased whenever I get to cook with wine; somehow a glass ends up right next to the stove top.

Even though I do not eat seafood, I know I will be able to serve the best of it by living in the Pacific Northwest. However, mussels worried me just a bit. In my meat eating days I could not stand anything of the bivalve mollusk variety and never learned to cook them.

Henry, Fierce Defender of Halleck Street, has placed his head in the tote bag I brought the mussels home in. When he comes out for air his face is smeared with his own saliva and he is grunting in a tone that I haven’t heard since the great Crab Cake Disaster of 2006. It’s only a matter of time before he leaps into the sink, so I better get cracking on this soup.

Without further ado, Billy Bi aux Paillettés (or Mussel Soup with Cheese Straws for those who did any and everything to avoid taking French in school).

Before prepping everything, I took care of a vital step by popping open that bottle of white, only to have the bottom of the damn corkscrew break off and stay affixed to the bottle. Never fear. The smooth plastic was actually quite form fitting to ones lips. I believe French cooking just obtained a new fan.

Billy Bi:
2 pounds mussels
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups water
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chives, chopped

* In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat
* Add shallots and cook until soft
* Add wine, water and celery; bring to a boil

While this was heating up, I cleaned the mussels by removing any barnacles and cutting the beards. I let them soak is a large container in the sink with the faucet running into it.

* Add mussels to the boiling pot until the shells open

At this point, it should be noted that I did feel a guilty sting. I was about to send these little guys, who up until this morning were enjoying a pleasant life of sleeping, to their deaths. I assured them it was a noble way to go: butter and cream.

If we could all be so lucky.

* Once the shells open, remove mussels and set aside
* Strain liquid well (remove all traces of sand) and return to the pan
* Remove mussels from shells and put half into the pan
* Bring to a boil and reduce the heat
* Cook until liquid measure about 6 cups
* Strain the liquid again and squeeze every last drop out of those mussels
* Discard crushed mussels
* Heat remaining butter over medium heat and whisk in flour: cook for a few minutes
* Add strained cooking liquid and whisk well: cook for 20 minutes
* Add cream and bring to a boil
* Remove from heat and add the mussels
* Wait 5 minutes for mussels to adjust to temperature
* Serve and garnish with chives

My notes:
→ I made the soup way in advance and added the cream and mussels once the dinner guests finished their salads so everything would be fresh and hot.
→ I was surprised at how easy this soup was to make; I had it stuck in my head that I could never make a French dish because of all the daunting steps.
→ That being said, the dish does require some time and clean-up. I have the luxury of being jobless, so I was able to clean everything up before the guests arrived.
→ This dish could use some salt. Granted, I did not taste anything, but I did add some salt during the cooking process and my official taste tester stated it as well.
→ Next time I plan on looking for smaller mussels to (hopefully) obtain more meat. Seems most of the weight was attributed to really large shells and not a lot of meat.
→ When discarding the crushed mussels, I should have just tossed them into the cats’ food bowl. This would have avoided the garbage can catastrophe carried out by Henry, Fierce Defender of Halleck Street and Lily, the Aloof Princess. I just followed the coffee ground foot prints to find the two of them fighting over the last bit of tissue.

While the various pots and utensils were being cleaned in the dishwasher, I got started on one of the most delicious combinations I’ve ever heard: pastry puff and cheese.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 – 3/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
14 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Pastry puff is a lot like making your own pasta:

* Mix the flours well
* Make a mound on your work surface and make a well in the center
* Add salt, 2/3 cup water and the melted butter to the well
* Gradually mix the flour in with the liquids by “pulling” into the center
* Add the remaining water if dough is dry
* Roll into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes

Leave it to the French to have intricate instructions about incorporating the remaining butter. I’m sure there is an official culinary reason for it, but I just gently kneaded in butter.

* Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick and a little larger (in length and width) than your baking sheet
* Drape dough over baking sheet and trim to fit
* Brush with egg and prick surface with fork (all over)
* Sprinkle with cheese; press into dough
* Refrigerate for 20 minutes
* Cut into strips (1/2 inch x 3 inch)
* Bake at 450ºF for 15 minutes and cool on a rack

My notes:
→ I failed to read the part about cutting the dough into 1/2″ x 3″ strips. I made my cuts a lot longer and rolled them up and gave them a twist before baking.
→ Along with the Parmesan, I added grated Gruyère. Let it be known: you can never have too much cheese.

I apologize for the lack of photographs of the prepared meal. Two of the dinner guests were four year old twin girls (I made them chicken fingers and tater tots), so I was distracted and didn’t even think about taking some pictures until dessert was served.

Just an excuse to make it again.

To find out how everyone did, click here.


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