We have celebrated 4th Advent with the Christmas celebration now upon us. The Christmas season means special food prepared at home for the family. Though our family is in Canada and far away, we shall enjoy all our traditional food as always. Christmas Eve (Heilig Abend) means Coquilles St. Jacques as well as wieners and potato salad for us. They certainly don't go together but we have compromised and do have both. First, the scallops; then after a short break, the wieners and potato salad.
The wieners are not the type one gets in North America, although they are similar. The German variety is longer, breaks off crisply when you bite into it and has a different spicing. Generally, you just hold one in your hand and dip the end into a medium or sharp mustard and take a bite. If eating at a kiosk, you will be served a Brötchen with it (a roll or bun), which is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. The wiener is not placed inside the Brötchen; both are eaten separately.
Hans demonstrates how one dips the wiener into the mustard (shown on the side of the plate). No Brötchen today for lunch.
The picture on the right shows part of the fish counter at the medium-size supermarket we shop at in Rhinau, in the Alsace.
The first time I had Coquilles St. Jacques was in Marville, France in about 1962 at a special Air Force dinner. The scallop shells were edged with pureed potatoes, slightly golden in colour, with the most delicious mixture of scallops and mushrooms in the centre, covered by a delectable sauce. I still remember that dish. A few years later, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, our next door neighbour, Sylvia May, gave me a recipe for it, one she made each year for Christmas. I made it and liked it; later, however, I found the recipe that I have been making ever since. There are faster recipes for this dish, but this is the best I've had. It is from Time-Life and The Cooking of Provincial France, a recipe book I have used many times over the years for other things as well, including roast chicken and Boeuf Bourguignon (both superb).
Discard any juice that may be under the scallops and mushrooms in the bowl. Then pour in about 2/3 of the Sauce Parisienne over the scallop mixture and stir together carefully. Spoon the mixture into the buttered shells or baking dishes. Cover the mixture with the remaining sauce and sprinkle liberally with cheese. Note: Hans likes capers in his as he says it adds flavor and a little pizzazz; they should be added to the shells along with the scallops and mushrooms before covering the mixture with the sauce and cheese. (I prefer mine the classic way, without the capers.)