Monthly Archives: June 2010

Qualicum Sea Scallops in Brown Butter & Hazelnuts: Coquilles St. Jacques au beurre noisette et aux noisettes

What theme would you choose for creating a meal?  I always liked the idea of using coffee, chocolate, or cherries (or other items which might not start with “c”) in every course for a fun dinner party.

Returning on the Saturday morning ferry from Vancouver, I had been “off-island”, as they say here, for about 11 days.  I had not expected to see the Fishery Afloat.  This seafood boat docks right near the ferry terminal on Saturdays from late May through September.  The Fishery Afloat is based on the much bigger, Salt Spring Island, and it features – almost exclusively – local seafood from the Pacific.  After a long and difficult trip, I was happy to see the boat for the first time, buy some halibut, and discover they had the large Qualicum Beach sea scallops (many of which are larger than a golf ball).  They are quite a treat.

So our proximity to Qualicum Beach, across the Strait along Vancouver Island, made me think of creating a sort of 100-mile-diet dish.  Having made scallops in butter with hazelnut, I thought it would be good to add the twist of brown butter.  The title I gave the dish is is also a bit of a play-on-words or jeux de mots, in French, “Coquilles St. Jacques au beurre noisette et aux noisettes.”  Just to clear up confusion wrought by a Canadian celebrity chef, who once stated incorrectly that brown butter originally was related to hazelnuts as an ingredient in making the butter.  It decidedly is not.  The colour is nut-brown and the flavour may be nutty, but beurre noisette has nothing to do with hazelnuts per se.  Just in case you were wondering….

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What Would Jessie Dish? Wednesdays – Week 3: Banana Muffins

Of the Jessie recipe file, this week’s banana muffin recipe was fascinating – well, to me – for three reasons:

1.  The “recipe” just listed the ingredients, baking time, and oven temperature, so I had to create the steps, from my knowledge of baking techniques – especially muffins and quick breads.

2.   I do not remember my grandmother Jessie ever having made these, so I could not compare my version to my memory – unlike last week’s brownies.

3.  The recipe was hand-written on the reverse of a sympathy-note form card.

The last item makes me wonder if Jessie wrote this recipe down some time after the late 1960s, when my grandfather died (in his late sixties himself).  He was a very well-known sports writer – he never would have called himself a “sports journalist” in the style today – and publicity man.  Grandpa Lou (or “Gooey”, as we called him, as a childish contraction of “Grandpa Louie”, I think) was a quirky self-educated newspaperman and sports promoter In fact, a character in the play (made into a movie four times!) by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur,  The Front Page was based on him, I learned just a few years ago from my mother.

My grandfather "Gooey" is just 17 years old here.

My grandfather worked closely with Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey (I have a pocket watch from Mr. Dempsey engraved with an inscription to my grandfather on Xmas Day 1929, the day of the gift), and other high-profile boxers as well as horse-racers and many other sports figures and teams.

For instance, Joe Louis, who was one of the greatest boxers in history, received considerable yet discrete financial help from my grandfather, after Mr. Louis’s agent misappropriated or mismanaged his money.

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