Then I watched this guy Jacques Pepin carve out & re-build a roast chicken in a few easy yet deliberate cuts, then make decorative mushrooms & olive rabbits with a paring knife, and finally slap together a delicious unpretentious appetizer in under 15 minutes flat. He was like a walking culinary encyclopedia of technique.
I realized that I could learn something from this guy; knife techniques, tricks of the trade, revealed flavor combinations, and essential how-to's of cooking...he was old school but reminded me of a professor the way he approached his 'lessons'. Here's the link to THE book on cooking if you're like me...an interested observer & home cook.
I was browsing in the Philadelphia Free Library the other day and saw Jacques had come out with a follow-up to his 'Fast Food' series More Fast Food My Way.
The series is built to appeal to those people too smart to fall for Rachel Ray's schlock but who know they are seriously lacking inspiration and need to spice up their drop-of-the-hat, guests-popped-by or clear-out-your-pantry repertoires.
I spotted a dish I wanted to try out using none other than a favorite ingredient on Top Chef...seared scallops. (If you've been following the show, you'll know that Top Scallop Jamie seems to be the chef that can't leave the scallop behind, compulsively cooking them up in every challenge).
We started with another little recipe in Jacques book, Goat Cheese Toasts. Make sure you use good quality bread here...this baguette was from Metropolitan Bakery in Reading Terminal Market.
I highlighted the one thing that caught my eye about this...using a vegetable peeler to get a paper-thin sliver of garlic to press into the cheese...cool way to impart a kiss of garlic.
Preheat the broiler. Cut as many 1/4-inch slices from a baguette as you need for serving. Arrange the slices side by side on a baking sheet. Cut enough 1/4-inch-thick slices from a tubelike container of goat cheese (dental floss is good for slicing the cheese) for each of the bread rounds. Press a slice of cheese on each slice of bread, taking care to cover the entire surface of the bread so it doesn't burn under the broiler. Sprinkle a small amount of herbes de Provence on each toast and a bit of freshly ground black pepper. Using a vegetable peeler, remove thin slices from a large peeled garlic clove and press 1 sliver in the center of the cheese on each toast. Sprinkle each toast with a few drops of olive oil. Slide the toasts under the broiler, so they are 4 to 5 inches from the heat source, for about 2 minutes, or until the tops are bubbly, hot, and lightly browned. Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.The dish that interested me the most was a Seared Scallop with a Grenobloise sauce. I'd never heard of this sauce, but I noticed the recipe called for wedges of lemon flesh or supremes...we'd just used clementine supremes for a scallop salad, so this seemed to me to be the next step.
I've never had Grenobloise sauce, but the main elements seem to be:
Here's how the prep went down
- Made bread cubes (1/2 inch)...rolled in oil and then crisped in 350 oven till crunchy, not brown
- supremed out the lemons...here's a vid on that, but once you've seen it down once, you get it.
- Heat some butter and then sautee mushrooms...leave it going while you do the scallops
- Next sear your seasoned (S&P) scallops in some peanut or olive oil
- Plate the scallop, sprinkle on a fair amount of bread-cubes, capers & lemon pieces
- Pull your butter & mushrooms when the butter starts to brown and spoon it over the scallop salad.