Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Féte de la Coquille - Scallop Festival

The north coast of Brittany is world famous for its beauty and the seafood which is harvested and sold throughout France and indeed the world over. Whilst the oysters from Cancale are well known, the scallops from this region are also truly amazing and so we decided to make a short trip up the coast to check out the Scallop festival at the little port of Erquy. We took our new puppy Scoobeaudoo with us as he needed a good workout! 

Erquy Harbour

Selling scallops at 4 euros per kilo

Cleaning the scallops

Preparing the scallops

The scallops taste so good you can eat them raw if you so desired!

Scallops served with spinach in a curry Sauternes sauce


Scallops with spinach served in their shells with a curry Sauternes sauce in one of the most memorable starter dishes you can have at French Dining School! I have never heard so many wows and OMG's one students taste this dish. This is particularly so when students go through the full process of preparing the scallops from their raw pre-shelled state to the final finish and serving.


Three scallops per person (for starter dish).

50g spinach leaves

Sauternes sauce
Half teaspoon mild yellow curry
1 small chopped shallot onion
10cl Sauternes wine
10cl of cream/creme fraiche
250g unsalted butter
Salt & Pepper to taste


Open the scallop shells removing the coral and all connecting tissue. Clean the scallop and set aside. Clean the shells thoroughly and set aside. Fry scallops quickly on a hot pan in clarified butter or on the grill for one minute, They are better undercooked than overdone.

Making the sauce:
Melt a teaspoon of butter in a pan and fry the curry and onion for one minute. Add the Sauternes and let it reduce to half. Whisk in the rest of the butter and add the cream. Don't let it boil. Flavour with salt and pepper. Strain the sauce and serve with the scallops,

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Tossing the salt

All chefs need to be able to toss the pan contents without spilling the beans. At French Dining School we have found the best way to develop this skill is to refer to the ancient Romans who loved to toss their salt! Here we have some of our students practising this ancient art on a beautiful Autumn morning in our courtyard:

Monday, 12 October 2015


Tomatoes taste great this time of year and so here is a last of the summer vine soup which is guaranteed to blow your taste buds right into the stratosphere without costing the earth!

You will need:

10 big ripe tomatoes de seeded and chopped 
1 clove garlic 
1 red onion chopped 
1 cucumber chopped
1 sweet red pepper de seeded and chopped 
2 celery stalks chopped
Tbsp chopped fresh chives to serve
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Lemon juice to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
6 drops of Tabasco 

Combine all ingredients and blend to desired consistency. Place in non metal non reactive storage container. Cover tight and refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight. Serve ice cold with fresh chives and a few drops of olive oil on top. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Pumpkin Soup

Despite the lovely summer weather, the leaves are on the turn and the evenings are drawing in. The farmers around here are competing with each other over the size of their pumpkins and there is no shortage of the bulbous gourds all over the place, Fortunately pumpkins are very versatile and there is no shortage of recipes available for the adventurous chef. If you tire of pumpkin soup you can make pumpkin bread, or pumpkin ice cream or roast pumpkin or curry pumpkin and there is a whole range of stews and other dishes available. Even pumpkin wine was a great option when I was a student! 

Today we are focusing on pumpkin soup for six persons so here are your ingredients:

600g pumpkin peeled and de-seeded and cut into cubes
25g butter
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 large onion peeled and chopped
1 lr chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Dash of lemon juice
100ml fresh milk
150ml of dry white wine.


Glaze the onions in a pan so they are soft. Add the diced pumpkin, white wine and chicken stock. Boil the ingredients till soft.  Blend the vegetables and stock. Flavour with salt, pepper, lemon juice. Add milk to get the right consistency. Strain and whisk a little butter in the soup before serving. Serve with bread croutons and if desired/optional a drizzle of basil oil.