Coquille St Jacques with a Truffle and Sauterne Sauce

coquille, st jacques, coquille, truffle, sauternes, cream, sauce, france, french, Good Life, magazine, recipe

Coquille St Jacques with a Truffle and Sauterne Sauce

I love scallops and will always take the opportunity to eat them whenever possible – especially with the roes, which for some reason, many people discard: what an absolute travesty!  Coquille St Jacques is traditionally a dish of scallops in their shells, topped with cheese and grilled until brown.  This is a fantastic twist on that dish with the addition of wine and truffles – although I do cheat and use my ever-faithful Cotswold Gold truffle rapeseed oil (which I’ve blogged about before) instead of actual truffles. You can also use any white wine – as long as it’s sweet!

scallops, shells, roes, coquilles st jacques

The recipe is taken from a magazine I love, The Good Life France, which is available as a paper copy as well as online. It was devised by a Countess, no less: Countess Simonof-Arpels who has a saffron farm in the Dordogne. I wrote about saffron and her farm in a recent blog post you can find here.

It’s a stunning looking dish that is deceptively simple.  You could cook it as a starter when you have friends round or as a special meal for your loved one.

The Recipe

Serves 4


3­-4 large prepared scallops per person
2 shallots
l large wine glass of Sauterne (or any dessert wine )
6-­7 dessertspoons double cream
60 g chopped truffle or a good slug of truffle oil (eg Cotswold Gold)
2 tablespoons butter (not needed if using truffle oil – see above)
Salt and black pepper (or pink peppercorns if you have them)

Wash the scallops well in cold water. Dry with a kitchen towel. Remove the roe and put to one side.

Peel and finely chop shallots. Fry with a little butter (or truffle oil – see above) until golden brown.

Add the wine and let it simmer for 1 minute then add the cream. Reduce by a third over a low heat and leave
until needed.

Take a heavy bottomed frying pan, slice scallops horizontally into 2 thinner discs. Melt the butter or heat the truffle oil and sear the scallops on each side until golden brown. Add the chopped roe then take off the heat.

Add the scallops to the prepared sauce and then add the finely chopped truffle (if using).  Reheat gently for 1­2 minutes.

Season to taste with the salt. Serve sprinkled with a grind or two of the pink peppercorns.

Serve immediately on warm plates.


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Saffron: Learn About the World’s Most Expensive Spice

saffron, crocus, harvest, harvesting, picking, Dordogne, France

Saffron: French Red Gold

Saffron is most definitely one of my favourite spices. The heady aroma as it cooks makes my mouth water.

The crimson threads are harvested from the stigma of the crocus flower. Saffron is the world’s most costly spices by weight – unsurprising as it takes it takes anything from 70,000 to 250,000 handpicked flowers to make just one pound of saffron.

Click on the link below to find out more about how it’s harvested in the French Dordogne in this article taken from The Good Life France Magazine.

saffron, spice, rare, Dordogne, crocus, France

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Music Playlist 1: Sleeptime

Sleeptime Playlist 66 Thoughts

Classical Upbringing

Music has always been a huge part of my life. My parents are/were both musicians: my mother taught music in a school as well as being a piano teacher, and she can play piano, violin and clarinet.  My late father was a church organist and choirmaster, and also a piano tuner (my brother John now runs the piano tuning business and tunes for the Birmingham Symphony Hall, amongst others).  So, I guess it’s in the genes.

True to form, I began learning the piano as a small child and had taken my grade 5 by the age of 10. I also took up the French horn, achieving grade 5 also at the age of 10, and I’ve taught myself to play the clarinet and the trumpet.

Eclectic Taste

But whilst my parents focused solely on classical music, my interest has always been much more eclectic.  One of my earliest memories is of dad bringing home a Chart Hits LP which he “won” free with oil from the local petrol station. I remember putting it on our turntable and pretending to DJ with each of the tracks. My favourite track was Substitute by Clout. Remember them?

My list of likes is incalculable: it includes:

  • 1970s: Devo, Joy Division, Cure, Magazine, Talking Heads, Bryan Ferry
  • 1980s (my era!): Heaven 17, The Jam, Duran Duran, ABC, Police, Dire Straits, Thomas Dolby, Robert Palmer, Bowie, Squeeze, Kate Bush, B52s
  • 1990s: Kasabian, Keane, Teardrop Explodes, Blue Oyster Cult, Level 42, Del Amitri
  • 2000s: Arctic Monkeys, Smoke Fairies

I’m not going any further forward chronologically because these days I seem to listen (and enjoy) practically anything. I listen to BBC 6 Music a great deal and am always following up on new bands I’ve heard there.


Lesser Known Artists

Apart from the popular artists of the last few decades, I also feel bound to mention some lesser known artists I like. These include:

Sarah McLachlan
Paula Cole
Helen Watson
Thomas Lang
kd lang
Milky Chance
Fyfe Dangerfield
Anna Calvi
Cherry Ghost
Bat for Lashes

In all honesty, this list could go on and on but enough’s enough: I need to get to the playlist!

This is the playlist we use to drift off to sleep at night. We shuffle it and put it on very low volume with a timer that switches it off after 30 minutes.

Relax and enjoy!


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