Scallops

My son Jack Martin Gilligan, was born July 14th 2008, Bastille Day - he isn't French although he does own a beret, and it is Jack not Jacques! In his honor we will be cooking Coquilles St. Jacques, although this is named after St. James not St. Jack who wasn't a Saint in the true meaning of the word but he did manage the Ireland football team in the World Cup! Here are a few other things you may not know about Coquilles St. Jacques: - The scallop shell was the symbol of the crusaders of the Order of Saint James. (Santiago in Spanish and St. Jacques in French). - Supposedly his intervention saved the life of a drowning knight. The story goes that as the boat carrying the body of St. James (St. Jacques, en Franais), a fisherman who became an apostle, was approaching the coast of Spain, a horse suddenly raced into the water, taking the horseman with it to certain death. But instead of drowning, they were miraculously raised to the surface, covered in scallop shells. - Saint James was the brother of John, and one of the 12 Apostles. - Scallops were named Coquilles St. Jacques in St. James honor, as was the dish. Coquilles St. Jacques means "shells of St. James." - One legend of the Way of St. James holds that the route was seen as a sort of fertility pilgrimage, undertaken when a young couple desired to bear offspring. The scallop shell is believed to have originally been carried therefore by pagans as a symbol of fertility. - Many paintings of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and fertility, included a scallop shell in the painting to identify her. This is evident in Botticelli's classically inspired The Birth of Venus (which has even been nicknamed "Venus on the half-shell"). - The U.S. state of New York made the Atlantic bay scallop its state shell in 1988. COQUILLES ST. JACQUES One of the cool things about knowing Chefs is the tricks of the trade that they let you in on, one of them being the way to clean fish and butcher meat, or in this case open scallops. And here's how you do it (no step-by-step pics, maybe next time!): hold the scallop shell horizontally in your left hand, flat side up, round edge facing you. Insert the end of a round-tipped knife in the opening to the right of the shell, and work the knife toward you, rotating it on itself to open the two halves just enough for you to slip the meaty tip of your left thumb in the gap, and maintain it open. This is when you start to feel how very much alive the scallop is, as it struggles with all its might to keep that trapdoor shut. Thankfully you are the mightiest of the two, this is what we call an ecosystem. Using the dull edge of the knife blade, scrape the inside of the top shell in short movements going away from you. At one point you will feel the scallop surrender, and the top shell will open gloriously. Discard it. Place your left thumb firmly on the scallop muscle. Still holding the knife in your right hand, insert the tip of the knife carefully beneath the grey-black lump that's just above the muscle. Hold the lump gently between the knife and your right thumb, lift it up, and pull toward you. As you pull, you will feel a layer of skin peel off the scallop muscle, and the innards (barbes, literally "beards," in French) will also come off cleanly. This leaves you with just the edible muscle sitting queenly on its soft pink shell - but still somewhat gritty with sand, which you can rinse off under cold running water. Now you are ready to cook. I was going to do the classic St. Jacques with the cream and cheese, but I think that's a bit heavy for the summer so we will bake them with puff pastry and some sweet wine. INGREDIENTS 1 carrot, cut into julienne strips 1 leek, cut into julienne strips butter Sauternes or other dessert wine a small bunch of tarragon , chopped small bunch of chervil , chopped 4 large scallops (1 per person), sliced in half horizontally 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry METHOD Heat the oven to 350F. Fry the vegetables gently in a little butter until they are beginning to soften, then add a splash of Sauternes - just enough to create some steam. Allow to cool. Put a generous amount of the vegetables and a few of the chopped herbs in the base of the concave shell. Now place the scallop slices on top (laying the slices side by side). Put another layer of vegetables and herbs on top. Add a few drops of Sauternes. Lightly butter the inside of the top shells and put them back in position. Use a long finger-width of puff pastry to wrap right around the shell and seal the edges together. Put the scallop shells on a baking sheet in the oven for about 8 minutes. Open the scallops at the table. AND FINALLY... Two Scallops were sunbathing on the beach. The girl Scallop suggested that the boy Scallop go get them an ice cream cone. Having purchased two cones, Mr. Scallop made his way back to the beach, deciding on the way to eat his ice cream. By the time he had finished the ice cream, he realized that his girlfriend's had started to melt all down his claw, so he licked it up and ended up eating it too. When he arrived back at the beach Ms. Scallop exclaimed "Where's my ice cream cone?" "Well," he said. "I decided to eat mine, then yours melted so I ate that too." She was incensed and cried "You shellfish bastard!" OK, that was really bad, but frankly, Scallop, I don't give a Clam! (sorry) CHEF GILLIGAN