I think it’s perfectly okay to use the occasion of Bastille Day to indulge in the best that France has to offer – its food and drink. There are more active pursuits, of course, like marching in a parade or running in a Waiter’s Race (if you’re a waiter) or practicing pétanque, but I preferred to spend the day in the kitchen. Actually, that’s usually my favorite place, no matter which holiday I'm celebrating.
I made an Herbed Blueberry Champagne Cocktail.
For two glasses of champagne, place ¼ cup of rinsed blueberries and a couple sprigs of fresh herbs in a bowl.
Actually, many different herbs could be used. Mint would probably be the best, but any with a flowery scent are good. Lemon Balm would be lovely. Thyme is interesting. I used sage, because I had no mint handy and it had a slightly minty scent. It worked beautifully.
Muddle the blueberry with the herbs. I used a meat pounder, because I get far too little use out of it.
Put a few spoonfuls of the crushed blueberries and herbs in the bottom of each champagne glass. Pour over champagne. Garnish with some fresh blueberries and a sprig of whatever herb you used.
One caveat – Don’t muddle the herbs and blueberries until just before using. The flavor intensifies upon standing and you want just a subtle herbal tinge to the champagne.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
I also decided to make Coquilles St. Jacques. This is an old-fashioned version, which is always fantastic. But I wanted to lighten things up a bit. So instead of engulfing the scallops in a velouté sauce, I poached them and put them NUDE into the ramekins.
I covered half with mashed potatoes and half with puréed cauliflower, which is meant to be a mashed potato substitute*. It does a pretty good job, except it’s A LOT thinner and so you can’t get the usual scallops or stars out of the mixture. In fact, you’re lucky if you can get the mashed cauliflower into a piping bag at all, without it all leaking out. I did manage to get a bit of a design out of the cauliflower.
Here is the recipe for my Bastille Day Scallops.
You can also assemble them in shells, which is the classic approach, but I knew I was going to have a reheating situation, so I opted for ramekins, which could be quickly zapped.
I hope you enjoyed whatever you did (or ate) today. Vive La France! I’ll drink to that.
*I’m staying away from white potatoes, because I’m beginning to believe all those websites (that are the equivalent of 3 am infomercials), which say that nightshade vegetables are bad for bum knees. Actually, I do believe that avoiding them had gotten rid of a lot of aches and pains. And I don't really mind if it's all in my head, as long as it works.