SEAFOOD GRATIN

Do you have a really fond memory of food, one that stands out more than any other?  When you think about that dish, it is as if you could taste it right now?  That's how it is for me with this Seafood Gratin.
One summer, when I was fifteen years old, I got a summer job clearing tables, washing dishes in a fancy downtown restaurant.  I was a shy teenager - just looking for some summer money to buy a 10 speed bicycle. I did get my bicycle and learned I was not cut out to work in a restaurant kitchen doing dishes all day. I hated it.  Not to mention the owners weren't the nicest people.  In three months I only got one break.  Whether I worked four hours or a six hour shift.  Add to that, I was terrified of the Chef.  She was Hungarian, her name was Margarite.  I never saw her smile. She was a big, big woman.  Scary.  At least to my naive shy fifteen year old mind.
One day, near the end of summer, it happened to be a somewhat quiet lunch hour.  I was clearing a table at the far end of the restaurant, when all of a sudden I see the Chef come out of the kitchen, scanning the restaurant.  I always did my best to stay out of her way.  Suddenly she sees me, and motions me to come in the kitchen.  With shaking legs, and horror, I followed her into the kitchen where she promptly said: "Sit!" She pointed to a stool behind the main area of the kitchen.  By now I am really scared, and thinking, did I do something wrong?  She puts down a platter in front of me.  Not a plate, a platter which was loaded with the most delicious smelling food.  Then she said: "Eat!" A woman of few words and with a very heavy accent.  I began to eat this most delicious Seafood gratin - in fact - I was hoovering it down.  Half way through (it was a lot of food) she said: "Eat all!" She looked me up and down and said: "You are too skinny, Eat!"
When I was finished eating, (I still can not believe I ate the whole thing) I said thank you and told her how delicious her food was.  She said nothing, just stood looking at me.  I'm thinking "what now?"  Then finally, she speaks and says from now on, I take a 15 minute break, go to the kitchen and she will feed me!  I smiled the biggest smile I could muster, and in that moment, I saw the slightest smile on her face.  My heart melted for this big burly woman. I knew she truly was a lovely woman, someone I would never forget.
So today, Margarite, I make this in your honor and raise a glass to you!
3 cups of cooked long grain Basmati Rice
2 1/2 cups thawed baby Calico Scallops
10-12 thawed prawns, deviened, peeled, head and tail removed
Olive oil, and butter
1 leek, sliced and chopped
1 small celery stalk with leaves finely chopped
1 minced shallot
3 minced garlic cloves
4-5 chopped crimini mushrooms
2 splashes of dry white wine
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp. Dried Dill
salt and pepper
1 cup SCD cream, or regular cream
1 cup grated Swiss Gruyere Cheese
1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat up a pan on medium heat with a drizzle of Olive oil and 1 Tblsp. of butter.  Saute the mushrooms until golden, then add in the shallot, leek, and celery continuing to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in the minced garlic, Old Bay, Dill salt and pepper and saute another minute.  To the pan add in a couple of splashes of dry white wine, stirring to combine.
Turn up the heat to medium high, adding in the prawns to cook, about 1 to 2 minutes per side or until lightly pink.  Then add in the Calico scallops, sauteing another 3 minutes.

Pour in the cream, stirring and adjust for seasonings.  Simmer for two more minutes, then remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Lightly grease a casserole dish with butter, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
To the casserole dish add the cooked rice, then pour over the cream and seafood, spreading out evenly.  Top with grated Swiss Gruyere cheese, then top with the breadcrumb Parmesan mixture.
Bake for about 20 minutes, just to heat through, and melt the cheese.

Ina Gawne
author

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March 16, 2011
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