It is the time of the year for
many of our food traditions to be celebrated. And
boy do we!
From the candy on Halloween, through the Turkey centered
orgy of Thanksgiving to our "Orgy Bowl" in late January.
Get a grip on your belt, "Little Santas", because
today we're talking about cake. A French cake called
Buche de Nöel.
When I was in the infancy of my quest for culinary
knowledge I turned first to the French for information.
One of the masters in my self-constructed cookbook
college was the Parisian pastry chef, Gaston Lenotre.
I still have the book. The dust cover gone long ago
and the binding is held together, (barely!), with
Scotch tape. But the gold lettering on the deep red
background still beckons me.
The life of this "Sultan of Sweet" began in Normandy.
He loved sculpting and pastry early on. He used both
skills in making his cake.
The first time I tried to make it was when I was the
Chef of a restaurant back in Key West called "Chez
Nancy". Nancy was an unapologetic Francophile who
found everything non-French, in terms of food and
wine, to be a silly effort.
To please her, I made the cake...or tried to.
Buche means "log" in French. Gaston has several
in his book; au cafe, au chocolat, aux maroons,
Each is built on the foundation of a jelly roll cake.
I was able to make the roll and the mousse. But the
little meringue snowmen and mushrooms looked pretty
ridiculous. Nancy never saw them! I decided to concentrate
on another holiday food to give her I knew I could
Happy Feasting, Everybody! It's back the to treadmills
in February isn't it just after Valentine's Day!?!?!
Diver Harvested Sea Scallops
would you rather be taken?
Hand picked by an admiring, understanding and appreciative
lover or picked up by two metallic hands, possibly
getting crushed and broken in the process. Well that
is what faces a scallop. We purchase hand-picked "diver
scallops" from a small firm in Maine as opposed to
those poor, ravaged, dredged scallops that are bloated
with water, not their own sweetness.
Scallop season just opened for the sea harvested varieties
and man am I gonna have my share of them this season.
I love our local shellfish but there are a few items
out elsewhere in the world that, as a lover of great
food, I must have and sea scallops are high on that
The cooking of sea scallops separates the men from
boys in my estimation. Any chef can get them in and
put them on a menu, but the real ability is presenting
them to the scallop's best advantage.
The key is to cook them with suddenness and to be
mindful of what is the top and bottom and what are
their sides. You must turn the scallops not roll them.
Pick them up and turn them so that their luxurious
juices are kept inside until you bite them. Oh I'm
so glad I live on a planet that has scallops! And
present them simply. No huge involved recipes are
needed here. It's like a number of things in Mother
Nature's repertoire of purity. Leave it pure. Focus
on the wine, which should be of the highest quality,
spare no expense. Perhaps a warm black truffle vinaigrette,
mashed potatoes, truffles and Puligny Montrachet.
Diver Harvested Sea Scallops. Dive in!