Friday, March 21, 2014
FFwD - Scallop and onion tartes fines
Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is “Scallop and onion tartes fines” – puff pastry tarts topped with caramely slow-cooked onions and slices of sweet-briny scallops.
Around here scallops are called “Jakobsmuscheln” and the French call them “coquilles saint-jacques” – both names translate to “James mussels”, making reference to the fact that the scallop shell is the traditional emblem of Saint James, and is popular with pilgrims on the Way of Saint James to the apostle's shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain). Medieval Christians making the pilgrimage to his shrine often wore a scallop shell symbol on their hat or clothes. What a nice name for such a delicious shellfish.
During our recent trip to Antwerp, Belgium, we visited a beautifully renovated Chapel and marveled at this colorful church window with a picture of Saint James wearing a cloak adorned with two Saint James mussel shells.
Onto today´s interesting recipe, which was inspired by puff pastry tarts served at Yves Camborde´s world-famous Paris bistro "Le Comptoir".
There are a number of different elements to these tarts that are best served while still warm.
To make the base for these tarts, you start off by cutting circles from ready-made puff pastry and baking them in the oven for about 15 minutes with a baking sheet to weigh them down. Dorie´s recipe calls for circles with about six inches in diameter, I went with three inches and served these tarts as appetizers.
For the topping you cook some bacon until it is crisp and then cut it into slices or cubes. Then you caramelize some onions (I used French shallots instead) for about twenty minutes and add the bacon to the onions. You top the puff-pastry rounds with the onion mixture and arrange thinly sliced scallops on top. Add some freshly ground black pepper, sprinkle with some lovely sea salt, and drizzle with some really good-quality olive oil. Leave the tarts for three to four minutes in the oven – just long enough to warm the scallops.
Scallops are an expensive but delicious shellfish with a delicate taste, available in a range of sizes. Scallops have two fan-shaped shells which contain rounds of firm white flesh, sometimes with the edible cream and orange coral (or roe) attached. Scallops can be steamed, fried or grilled but should be cooked gently and only for a very short time or their delicate flavor and texture will be spoiled. Take care not to over-cook them, they should be served as soon as they are firm and opaque. So the short time that these tarts stay in the oven is just perfect, five minutes were just enough to warm the scaollops in the most gentle of ways and bring out their natural salty-sweetness.
We all really liked this recipe – young taste testers included. The combination of the sweet caramelized shallots, the saltiness of the bacon, the crispy puff-pastry base and the tender slices of scallops were absolutely delicious – certainly a recipe worth making again.
To see how much the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed today´s recipe, please click here.
If you happen to own Dorie Greenspan´s book “Around my French Table”, you will find the recipe for “Scallop and onion tartes fines” on pages 168-69.