Frenchie and the Vegetarian Scallops

14 May

Je suis désolé.

I feel this new post and recipe are long overdue and I thank you for your tweets and emails asking me when Frenchie and the Yankee would be back and if I was taking a break.

The truth is I have been involved in a new project taking pictures for a client who hired my services to update their website.

A first for me! And an exciting first I should add.

I can’t let you know quite yet what it is for and who it is, but once the pictures are visible online, you will be the first to know.

For now, I can only show you a bit of the fun I’ve been involved with for the past couple of weeks with this collage below.

These are some of the pictures from the project – products hidden, of course.

At the same time, I have been furiously planning a vacation coming up which will take me from the Napa and San Francisco area to the Costa Blanca of Spain from Alicante to Barcelona.

It’s wedding season and these are 2 weddings I am very much looking forward to attend.

While I know San Francisco very well, it will be my first trip to Napa as well as Spain – I’m not counting the one day spent in Figueres when I was 12.

So if you have any tips, tricks, addresses and unknown places from the majority of tourists to share with me, please feel free to include something in the comments section.

I am all ears and welcome any suggestions.

When my friends “A. and B.” asked me to stop by so I could see how their new twins have grown since the last time I visited, I did not expect for them to introduce me to trumpet mushrooms.

Cooking and eating them was that much fun.

And with several vegetarian out-of-town guests coming my way, I knew the next recipe must be a vegetarian recipe.

Trumpet mushrooms are also known as King Trumpet or French Horn.

En français, des pleurotes.

And what better way to serve them to vegetarians as “fake scallops” with a lemon caper cream.

The aromatic bitter hints from the ajwain seeds (also known as carom seeds) mixed with the gomasio and nutmeg add an extra layer of flavor to the dish.

A bit crunchy and eye-catching with the black spots on top.

And since one of my favorite thing to do is to pan-sear scallops with vanilla, it only made sense to include nutmeg in this recipe pairing deliciously with the mushrooms.

It took me a while to be happy with the cream sauce.

Too much of, too little of etc.

The final result is a perfect combination of shallots and capers with a seasoned lemony and creamy finish.

A new favorite.

And the texture… just like scallops!

I promise a full report on California and Spain with pictures and new food inspirations.

A bientôt !

Pan-Seared Trumpet Mushroom with Mace Brown Butter Lemon Caper Cream

1 teaspoon of ajwain seeds (replace with dry parsley or thyme if necessary)

1 teaspoon of black gomasio (as in black sesame seeds and sea salt)

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

3 Tbsp (42.5 g) of butter

1 Tbsp of whole mace

1 big shallot – finely chopped

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup (50 ml) of dry white wine

1 Tbsp of capers – roughly chopped

2 Tbsp of Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon of Szechuan peppercorns (replace with black peppercorns if necessary) – crushed with a pestle and mortar

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

3-4 Tbsp of olive oil

3-4 medium trumpet mushroom – cut 3/4 in. (1.9 cm) thick

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon of lime zest

First, start by making the topping. In a medium pan, dry roast the ajwain seeds on high heat for 2 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the gomasio, ground nutmeg and the roasted ajwain seeds. Set aside.

Prepare the brown butter ahead as well.

Melt 2 Tbsp (28 g) of the butter – set aside the remaining 1 Tbsp (14.5 g) for now – in a small sauce pan. When the butter is almost melted, add the mace and continue to melt the butter until it turns light brown and the mace starts to make a bit of noise as it gets softer.

Pour the mace brown butter in a small bowl and set aside. Let the mace release its flavor for at least 30 minutes in the brown butter.

In the same medium pan used to roast the ajwain seeds, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp (14.5 g) of butter.

Add the chopped shallot and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and the wine. Continue cooking for 4 minutes while gently mixing the sauce in the pan.

Add the capers and keep cooking for another 1 minute. Keep stirring.

When the sauce is done, set aside in a medium bowl.

To finish preparing the mace brown butter lemon caper cream, pour the mace brown butter through a strainer in the medium bowl with the lemon caper sauce to remove the mace pieces. Mix well.

Add the Greek yogurt, the ground Szechuan peppers as well as the sea salt and stir.

Pour the olive oil over the mushroom in a big bowl and mix well with your hands. They need to be well coated and absorb the oil.

Warm a big pan on high heat. When smoke comes out of the pan and when it’s really hot, set the mushroom discs in the pan. Allow to sear for 2 minutes.

Flip the discs and continue searing for another 2 minutes.

When ready, serve the “vegetarian scallops” aka trumpet mushrooms on top of a dollop of the sauce, or next to the sauce.

Sprinkle the slices of mushroom with the gomasio mix and a bit of lime zest.


9 Responses to “Frenchie and the Vegetarian Scallops”

  1. nadia May 14, 2012 at 9:46 AM #

    they look so good, i must try them. How exciting about your project and holiday plans.


  2. ameliaschaffner May 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM #

    welcome back, David: and congrats on your assignment, sounds wonderful. I am also going to the west coast (driving down from Seattle to LA) this summer, so we should definitively share tips offline. I too have been super busy at work and posting more sporadically, mostly my photo Fridays. Hope you have a lovely summer!


  3. frugalfeeding May 14, 2012 at 12:22 PM #

    Stunning photographs – those scallops are exceedingly pretty!


    • David Santori May 14, 2012 at 2:02 PM #

      Thank you all for the nice feedback.
      @ Nadia – I am beyond excited! I’m thrilled.
      @ Amelia – I can let you know what I do in Napa
      @ Frugal Feeding – thank you so much!


  4. Conor Bofin May 14, 2012 at 3:19 PM #

    Excellent post. I love the photography. Truly elegant. When in Spain, if you get an opportunity to visit the south, you have to try to get a reservation for lunch at
    Consorcio Escuela de Hostelería de Benalmádena. This is a catering school. My parents in law live in the region and I have had the pleasure of eating there three times over the years. It is truly awesome. Booking months in advance are advised. The website is


  5. Donna A. May 14, 2012 at 5:05 PM #

    Love this idea – It looks like the real deal! I have quite a few vegetarian friends, and this would make for some fun conversation. Just the other night I hosted a vegetarian Italian dinner, where the main entree was a Balsamic-Glazed Mozzarella-Stuffed Grilled Portobello – the size of two palms! I served them with steak knives – ha!

    Thanks again for another thoughtful and whimsical recipe.


    • David Santori May 14, 2012 at 5:09 PM #

      @ Conor – Thank you for the recommendation. Malaga will be a bit far from where I am but it is good info to know for next time.
      @ Donna – I like the steak knives idea for the giant Portobello. Funny!


  6. AF May 15, 2012 at 9:42 AM #

    Gorgeous pictures as always. It is no surprise that someone snapped you up to shoot some photos for their website! Have a wonderful time in the west coast and in Spain. I’m sure your friends are very touched that you are traveling so far to be a part of their special day. Enjoy the food and weather in Napa!


  7. Jamie May 27, 2012 at 6:06 AM #

    First, congratulations on the photo job! I know how super exciting that is! And beautiful photos! But I am amazed and impressed by your beautiful dish and using pleurottes like scallops. And what a dish!


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