the autumn leaf

October 3rd, 2010

This time last week I was sitting in the kitchen devilishly determining how to spend a half day off, the first in ages, and decided that the best use of these few hours was to do nothing, not one thing, nada.  But first a quick walk out to the garden to pick a ripe tomato and start the day off properly with a TLC BLT.

All of a sudden an enormous roar sounded and flaming chunks began falling into the kitchen hearth.  I ran to the third floor and the roar increased threefold and through cracks in the massive central chimney I could spy a raging inferno.  Stumbling back down to the second floor, I called 9-1-1.

I imagine that everyone has idly wondered what they would take with them in the event of a home evacuation, but no amount of imagining ever proves true.  I’d been told to leave the house immediately and so I didn’t stop to grab my wallet or laptop, nor the car keys or the photo albums.  I didn’t even pause long enough to comb my hair or change out of pajamas and sweater.  Instead I lingered long enough to neaten the kitchen.

Six fire trucks and an army of volunteer firemen working feverishly for three hours kept the house on its febrile legs with no structural damage.  Sadly, it was the kitchen that took the biggest hit, with a river of sooty water washing through it.  Later that evening, with eyes like zombies, the two stray cats and I snuggled into bed and watched the same Perry Mason episode over and over again until dawn.

The cats remained spooked the next day, as did I.  After the flood cleaning crew had left, I heard something drop from the chimney and land with a small crackling sound.  Jumping with alarm, I turned and saw a lone autumn leaf that had drifted down all forty feet of chimney, lying curled and dry in the hearth.  That’s when the tear ducts finally opened and the recent hell acknowledged, choked on and finally swallowed.

The big clean up continues and once the kitchen was scrubbed and dried, something special and especially soothing was in order.  Sautéed scallops, shrimp and crab, perhaps, nestled in a vegetable and herb bisque sounded just the ticket, and like a much-needed hug, it was.

Seafood Pan Roast

Related Recipes

Seafood Pan Roast with Vegetable Bisque Chantilly

For four to six servings:

Bisque Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped tomato
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups bottled clam juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Sippets Ingredient:

  • Good quality home-style bread, crusts removed, cut into 12 sticks (1/2”x1/2”x4”)

Chantilly Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon cognac
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • smoked paprika (for garnish)

Pan Roast Ingredients:

  • 20 sea scallops, muscles removed, patted dry
  • 20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Bisque:  Melt butter in a very large skillet and add carrots, onion, celery and tomato.  Sauté over medium-high heat until lightly caramelized.  While vegetables cook, bring clam juice, chicken stock and cognac to a boil in a large soup pot.  Stir in vegetables, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.  Reduce heat and stir in the cream, tarragon and spices.  Keep warm but not boiling, stirring occasionally.

For the Sippets:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast sippets for 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning them at the halfway point.  Let cool on a rack until ready to serve.

For the Chantilly:  Whip the cream to firm peaks.  Add the sour cream, cognac and salt and continue whipping until combined.  Set aside.

For the Pan Roast:  Melt 3 tablespoons butter with the olive oil in a very large skillet.  Season scallops with salt and pepper and place in skillet over medium high heat.  Sear until lightly caramelized.  Melt 2 tablespoons in a medium skillet and add shrimp over medium high heat.  Sear until lightly caramelized.  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small skillet and add crab over medium high heat.  Sear until lightly caramelized.

Assembly:  Divide scallops and shrimp amongst warm soup plates. Ladle enough bisque into bowls to come halfway up the seafood.  Top with the crab, a dollop of chantilly and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.  Suspend two sippets between crab and each soup plate edge.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.