Food Friday: Margaret Costa’s “Four Seasons Cookery Book”

The Four Seasons Cookery Book is packed full of recipes inspired by each season, has everything you’d need to create a year full of feasts. I picked today’s recipe for two reasons. 1) It sounds delicious and comes from the “Spring” section of this book, and 2) I really enjoy the name of this recipe 🙂

About the book:
Four SeasonsFirst published in 1970 and re-issued by Grub Street for the first time in 1996, the new edition hit the bestseller lists and went on to sell over 20,000 copies. Its reappearance was praised by contemporary cookery stars like Nigel Slater, Delia Smith and Simon Hopkinson. Also in that year, Margaret Costa was honored at the prestigious Glenfiddich Awards. The book has stood the test of time and indeed many of those writers who praise her also admit that they have taken their inspiration from her wonderful writing. The book is organized according to the seasons, and within each one there are also themed chapters such as Olives, Comforting Breakfasts, or Proper Puddings. This is a modern classic which no cookery collection should be without.

This weekend is the perfect time for some Spring seafood! Make these Scalloped Scallops (gotta love that alliteration), and sit outside to eat them while enjoying the beautiful warm weather.

Scalloped Scallops

6-8 scallops (according to size)
white wine or dry cider
1 1/2 oz (40 g) butter
1 1/2 oz (40 g) flour
1/2 pint (300 ml) single cream
4 oz (115 g) peeled shrimps
salt and pepper
2-3 oz (55-85 g) soft buttered breadcrumbs

Prepare the scallops, put them in a saucepan and just cover them with a half-and-half mixture of water and white wine or cider. Bring them to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drain. Reduce the liquid by fast boiling to a scant 1/4 pint (150 ml).

Cut the white part of the scallops into 1/2 inch (10 mm) dice and the corals into 2 or 3 pieces. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the scallops and cook gently, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and gradually add the cream and the scallop liquid to make a creamy sauce. Stir in the shrimps. Season to taste. Pour into a shallow, well-buttered, fire-proof dish and top with the buttered crumbs. Bake in a fairly hot oven, Mark 6, 400 degrees F, 200 degrees C, until the crumbs are browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Serve very hot with rice. A few chopped, cooked Jerusalem artichokes can be added to the scallops and their sauce.

Some chopped button mushrooms can be added to this dish or you can flavour the sauce with cheese. (Allow 1 oz [25 g] grated cheddar, or better still, since the flavour of the scallops is so delicate, 1/2 oz [15 g] each of Parmesan and Gruyere.) You can also flavour the sauce with sherry, or you can flavour and colour it with tomato puree. There are endless possibilities.

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