Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bastille Day Rocks!

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.

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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.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I have found mashing cauliflower with a lot of butter does improve the taste immensely. I don't always sub it for mashed, but I do occasionally.

I would love some of that drink!

I can still remember my 10th grade history teacher Mr. McKiernan talking about the storming of the Bastille. He said there were only a handful of prisoners in there at the time. I can still hear him saying, "Two were insane and one was an alcoholic." Symbolism is everything!

A. said...

the food looks amazing, but who ate it all?

Sue said...

Hey Rach.
Butter really does improve things, but what I like about the parm and the little bit of cream cheese is that you don't HAVE to add butter. I guess you could also skip the cream cheese and just do butter.

Champagne in any form is delightful!

I did not know that about the Bastille. So then why do they make it such a big deal? That is a riot what your teacher said. I hope that's not a reflection of the general status of today's French population.

Ahhh A,
I prefer to keep the guest list to myself. Let's just say, lucky for me, my companion was a beer drinker, so I got all the champagne.

Anonymous said...

According to Garrison Keillor on yesterday's Writer's Almanac:

Today is Bastille Day in France, the anniversary of the day in 1789 that an angry mob of revolutionaries stormed the Bastille in Paris. The Bastille was originally built as a fortress, then used as a prison, and it often housed political prisoners who had been sent there without a trial. The French people were on the verge of revolt against the monarchy and Louis XVI, and the Bastille seemed like a good symbolic target.

For weeks the revolutionaries schemed to bring down the famous prison and liberate the inmates. Despite the best intentions of the revolutionaries, there were actually only eight prisoners there in early July. One of them was the Marquis de Sade, the writer whose behavior gave the world the word "sadism." He had been imprisoned numerous times, this time on the recommendation of his mother-in-law, who was furious that he had seduced his sister-in-law; before the Marquis came along she been destined for the religious life.

The Marquis was annoyed because the threat of revolution meant that he was not allowed to walk freely along the ramparts of the Bastille. So he converted his urine funnel into a megaphone and shouted provoking statements through the windows of his cell; he claimed that his fellow prisoners were being brutally massacred, and called on the people to come rescue them. He made it all up, but he riled up the crowd and made the guards nervous, so on July 4th they had him transferred to an insane asylum. Ten days later, hundreds of revolutionaries stormed the Bastille. The seven remaining prisoners were freed, and Governor de Launy, who was in charge of the prison, was murdered and his head was paraded around Paris on a pike.

The Marquis de Sade said: "Compare the centuries of anarchy with those of the strongest legalism in any country you like and you will see that it is only when the laws are silent that the greatest actions appear."

Sue said...

Goodness Tom!!!
Is that a lesson for our times? And why couldn't the Marquis de Sade just have good (un)clean fun without being labelled insane? Oh wait, about that urine thing...he MUST have been insane.

I need another glass of champagne. I'm not waiting for the muddling either!

Emily said...

Wow, I didn't know that about potatoes. Very interesting. I'm going to read more on that.

Happy Bastille Day! This looks like a fun little celebration. I love the blueberry cocktail. I actually have sage... I've killed all of the other herbs.

The potatoes look very pretty!

Sue said...

You, my young thing, don't have to worry about potatoes for decades.

I guess that's why I must have sage left too...because it can stand the worst of green thumbs.

Cynthia said...

I love the lighting on these photographs. I am particularly in love with the second photograph - looking down into the glass.

For the Coquilles St. Jacques - can I use shrimp or some sort of white fish?

Your meal has me hungry and the drink - thirsty.

Sue said...

Well, Cynthia, thank yourself for the lighting! I finally took a picture IN DAYLIGHT by that window that you told me to. You're a genius!

If you use any other fish or shellfish, just be sure to season it well, then go for it! But then, of course, you have to change the name of the dish or you'll have some confused diners.

Miss you!

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the feedback.

Cynthia said...

Miss you too.

terri@adailyobsession said...

this is a yum dish i've forgotten about so thanks for reminding me! btw, your photos are gorgeous:)

Sue said...

Hi Terri,
Thanks! The scallop recipe is an oldie but goodie.