Saturday, December 12, 2015

Seashore Shells

Today begins this blog’s full conversion to both metric and Imperial measurement. Formerly, Id converted only the weights and volumes of certain goods, making it simpler for anyone living outside the U.S. to use one of my recipes. After nearly five years (I’m a little slow), I’ve come to feel that decision wasn’t the smartest. Ill now convert everything except street addresses, birth dates, and the hours and minutes on the clock. Whee! The sole exception will be my own birth date, which will be expressed as Urdu code. 

Dollink British and Aussie readers: I can’t cope with weighing dry goods such as flour and sugar, so you’ll just have to muddle through. Dollinks elsewhere: I’ll do my best to go back in time to convert past recipes, but can’t promise this will be quick. 

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My pal Barbara recently asked me for a seafood recipe to fill vol-au-vent cases. Vol-au-vent is a French term meaning “light as air,” and (as long as they aren’t over-baked) these light-as-air puff pastry shells are, indeed, exactly that. I’d never fuss and frustrate myself trying to make my own vol-au-vents, but I’m quite happy to make my own fillings - a simple enough job. Unless you like your puff pastry cases soggy, don’t fill them in advance. Upcoming holiday note: These shells are also excellent with chunked, leftover turkey and a handful of frozen vegetables.

Seashore Shells:

12 frozen vol-au-vents (puff pastry shells), baked as package directs
12 oz. (340 g) large, firm scallops, fresh or frozen
12 oz. (340 g) small-to-medium shrimp, fresh or frozen
1 c. (250 mL) dry white wine, divided
1/2 c. (125 mL) cold water
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 tbsp. (15 mL) butter
1/2 c. (125 g) sliced fresh mushrooms
1 green onion, diced fine
4 oz. (115 g) grated Swiss cheese
One 10 fl. oz. (285 mL) can condensed cream of shrimp or chicken soup 
1/4-to-1/2 c. (60-to-120 mL) light cream, as needed

Using a grapefruit knife or spoon, gently scrape away inner portion of baked puff pastry shells without piercing bottom or sides . Reserve tops and set shells aside. 

Simmer scallops gently in 1/2 c. wine, water, cayenne, and salt about 5 min., or until scallops are white but remain tender. Discard liquid. Quarter scallops into bite-sized pieces. 

In medium skillet, melt butter on medium-high heat until sizzling. Add mushrooms and onion; sauté until tender. Lower heat to medium. Stir in condensed soup, mixing well. When soup begins to bubble, gradully stir in cheese. Add remaining wine and cream. Gently stir scallops and shrimp into sauce, simmering 2 or 3 min., just until heated through. Spoon into baked shells, 2 vol-au-vents (puff pastry shells) per person. Finish with puff pastry tops, serving at once. Yields 6 servings.

Note: It’s always a good idea to bake a couple of extra shells, in the event that disaster strikes and one or two break. 

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