It has been a week since Curt and I were shopping and cleaning and prepping for our Foodie Group dinner. But last Saturday did finally arrive. There were a few minor blips like forgetting the salad forks (my husband suddenly turned into Emily Post as the salad was served) and not spreading the vegetables out on the dinner plates (that remaining empty area next to the potatoes looked like we missed something). But everything tasted good and there was a lot of lively conservation and laughter, so I think it was a success.
We got so caught up in the cooking and plating and serving that I didn’t take any pictures but here is my table setting. It was fun having the dinner on Valentine’s Day.
The salad was very good, the potatoes were interesting, the carrots and beets could have been more attractive though they tasted good, the meat was fine but not special and maybe a little overdone. I could have had a 2nd and a 3rd of dessert but restrained myself. But in my opinion, the star of the evening was the chowder. Curt based the chowder on an escargot/mushroom appetizer he had at Le Petit Chatelet when we were in Paris. This restaurant is right next to the famous “Shakespeare and Company Bookstore.” You can get a glimpse of it in the last seconds of Woody Allen’s movie, “Midnight in Paris.”
In Paris, Curt’s soup/chowder appetizer arrived with a puff pastry on top and was quite amazing. Hidden under the puff pastry crust was a rich escargot and mushroom chowder.
We tried doing the puff pastry top but that was pretty much a failure so our version had puff pastry croutons instead. And since snails are not a widely shared taste treat in our group, Curt used side-stripe shrimp and sea scallops instead. It was truly wonderful. Sorry about the lack of photo but here is the recipe we served.
Seafood & Wild Mushroom Chowder after le Petit Chatelet
1 quart corn stock
Mushrooms: 1/2 c. Chanterelle, 1/4 c. Morel,
3/4 c. Chicken of the Woods, 3/4 c. Brown Beech – all cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large shallot, minced
4 large sea scallops, quartered
12 small shrimp, we used side stripe
1 c. heavy cream
3 c. seafood stock (Swanson’s or homemade)
2 T. flour
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 dash hot pepper sauce, like Frank’s
Saute chanterelles in 2 T olive oil till tender, add 2 T. flour and cook to make roux. Add 1 T. butter & remaining mushrooms and saffron. Cook I minute, stirring. Add corn & seafood stock. Stir to incorporate roux. Simmer 20 minutes. (to this point all can be done ahead)
Add scallops, shrimp & hot pepper sauce, cook 5 minutes.
Add cream & 1 T. butter, bring to a light simmer.
Serve with puff pastry croutons & a drizzle of shellfish oil.
For croutons, just buy a commercial puff pastry. Cut dough into 3/4 inch squares and bake according to directions on the box.
Shellfish oil is made by combining a pile of shrimp, lobster. or crab shells in a sauce pan with 1/2 C. grape seed or canola oil, 1Tbs. tomato paste and 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika. Saute for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until cool. Strain out the shell bits and reserve the oil for garnish on chowder or soup.
Note: We had corn stock that we made at the end of last summer from fresh corn cobs after we cut off the corn kernels for freezing.
Hope your Valentine’s Day was as fun as ours. ♥