Sunday, February 15, 2015

15 February 2015

I am on my way to Detroit tonight for a client meeting, so I want be able to prepare Sunday Supper. However, I am happy to blog about a wonderful experience I had last night serving as Guest Chef for the Les Marmitons' Valentines Gala last night in Soleil. A couple of months ago, the president of the Canton chapter of Les Marmitons, Ron Laird, approached me about being their guest "celebrity" chef for the event, and I was flattered to say the least. He explained my duties would include creating a four course menu for the event and working with their members to supervise the various cooking teams. After a lot of thought, I decided on a conceptual twist on "surf and turf" with a menu entitled, "A Story about Jacques and Diane" taken from the John Mellancamp song. The "Jack" in my version, was Coquilles St-Jacques, a classic gratineed scallop dish inspired by Julia Child's version. The role of Diane was played by Steak Diane for the main course. I incorporated other subtle valentines references, such as asparagus "coupled" in prosciutto, and of course, there had to be chocolate, molten chocolate in this case!

I arrived at the Soleil Club House around 4 PM to meet with the team captains, and the Marmitons were already hard at work in the kitchen. From the beginning, I knew these guys took food seriously, and they had studied my menu and recipes very diligently. They had thoughtful questions and great suggestions since I had to scale up my typical serving sizes of two or four to fifty people! That was the most intimidating part of the process; however, the Marmitons took it all in stride and made me feel right at home in their kitchen. They kept calling me "Chef," and it took me a while to realize they were referring to me. It was humbling, charming and totally fulfilling.

Let's get one thing straight; these guys can cook! I was so impressed with their technique, knowledge and passion for excellence. During the course of the evening, I heard some great stories from a lot of the Marmitons, some involved food and others did not. The wives arrived around 6 for cocktails and wine, and things got a lot more festive at that point. The tables were decorated with flair, and everyone was so warm and welcoming. Plus, these folks at Soleil know how to have a good time! The first course, cauliflower and parmesan soup, was served around 7:25 and dessert around 9:45. At the end of the evening, Ron and the Marmitons honored me with a very nice certificate, crystal paperweight and a secret Marmiton "shot" made of five different liqueurs. I was touched by Ron's kind words and the applause and comments from the crowd. It was a very special night and one I will
never forget.

So here's to the Les Marmitons and all of the men out there who love to cook, especially for those we love on special occasions.

The Menu:

This is a Story About Jacques and Diane

Course One – Love at First Sight

Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup with Herbed Parmesan Crisp

Course Two –Only Fish in the Sea

Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratineed Scallops)

Course Three – The Main Event

Classic Steak Diane with Duchess Potatoes and Asparagus Coupled in Prosciutto

Course Four – Love Overflows

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Espresso Ice Cream

The Recipe – Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratineed Scallops)


2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops, patted dry
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc or pinot gris
1 small bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese


In a large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds; transfer mixture to a small bowl and set the pan aside.

Preheat broiler and adjust oven rack 4 inches below broiling element. Season the scallops with the salt and white pepper. Toss the scallops in the flour, shake off all the excess flour, and place the scallops on a clean plate.

Return the sauté pan to the stove, add half of the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and half of the oil, and heat over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add half of the scallops, and cook until lightly browned, stirring once, about 4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter, oil and scallops. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add the shallot-garlic mixture, white wine, bay leaf and thyme to the pan; cover and simmer until the sauce has thickened, 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, pour the sauce over the scallops and gently stir to combine.

Divide the scallops among four individual scallop serving shells or small gratin dishes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the scallops, place them on a rimmed baking sheet, and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbly, 1 1/2 minutes. Serve immediately.

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