Where on earth to begin?! I knew the last two weeks of school would be insane, but the reality was so much more out of control than I could ever have guessed by looking at my scary to-do list. Let’s see, my mother in law arrived on Monday to kick off the festivities, and immediately found herself sucked into the miasma that is “our daughter is graduating to middle school, we’re leaving for America in two weeks and my husband just got a job.” I realize that I could write an entire blog post on the complications of any one of these little details, but such is life that I will barely be able to touch on them all, just to have a record of our lives, and then I’ll have to move on to the next bit of insanity. First off I must tell you of my very successful first time cooking “pork belly,” an inauspiciously named ingredient that results, nevertheless, in the glorious dish of what is essentially boneless pork ribs. Try it: it costs next to nothing and cooks itself. And it’s RICH, as you can see.
What part of living blissfully in New York and owning an art gallery didn’t work for me? Well, the part that was transferred to London with my husband’s job… Nine years later, here we are, and I am deliriously content to live in the second greatest city in the world (first? second?), cooking, eating, bellringing, watching our remarkable daughter bring herself up in style, and describing it all here, for posterity.
And now the cookbook is here, available in the UK so far and the US very soon! To get your own copy of “tonight at 7.30: one family’s life at the table,” click here.
Coquilles St. Jacques au gratin
(serves four as a starter)
1 dozen fresh scallops
1 cup white wine (or dry Vermouth)
1 tbsp Madeira wine
dash cayenne pepper
3 tbsps butter
2 tbsps flour
2 shallots, finely minced
1 handful curly parsley, finely minced
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly
salt and pepper
fresh soft breadcrumbs
grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
If you’ve got your scallops on the shell, as I did (first time! scary), carefully remove the red roe and the membrane that connects it to the scallop. Remove the tough muscle that clings to the outside of the scallop, too. Is it all nice and smooth and white and clean? Wash and rinse and lay the scallops on paper towels, then scrub out four of the shells and rub with butter.
Pour the wine and Madeira in a small saucepan, dust with cayenne and bring to a simmer. Place scallops in the saucepan and simmer (don’t boil!) for five minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and cut each scallop in half, and place six halves in each scallop shell. Add the flour, butter, shallot and parsley to the saucepan and whisk until mixed, then add the egg yolk. Pour this mixture over the scallops and top with breadcrumbs…read the rest of this recipe