Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Galloping Gourmet, TV Cooking Lessons and Coquiles St. Jacques, Seafood Comfort Food 101.

When I was very young I can remember watching a number of programs which were pivotal in my early education about food and cooking. First of course was the French Chef with Julia Child. And secondly was Graham Kerr the Galloping Gourmet!

Food TV back in those days was anything but the slick prefab, over produced shows one finds on today's Food Network. In fact they were really do it yourself slap together shows which operated mostly on the prose or personality of the person in front of the camera.

No one was more of a personality than Graham Kerr. He was loved by many fans and hated by many in the food industry for exactly the same reason. His outlandish antics, on camera drinking, and his cavalier approach to fine cuisine got him raved or reviled. Whether you liked him or not you had to admit that he was a showman. Many critics pointed to the lack of culinary depth or even his rather casual approach to dishes they deemed as sacred cows in the cooking arena. If there was a use for clarified butter he would find it that was for sure! His connecting places, particularly one's he had traveled to, with dishes he would showcase was both cutting edge and clever. He was the original food network cooking and travel show. He granted his American audience a peek into the culinary traditions  from the European continent to South America and beyond.

A few years ago as the the fledgling Cooking Channel was launched I again got to enjoy a brief period of reruns of the Galloping Gourmet on television. It reinforced all my memories about this show. It was such a time piece in terms of set, production, decor and clothing. The design elements alone were so period. The colors and wallpaper used in the set, the furniture,  and even the suits he wore all evoked faded memories from my early childhood. I remembered adults dressing and places and homes looking  like the set and costuming of the show. However it was the show's content that talked mostly about where we are as a culture now compared to those " good ole days" broadcasts.

Today as Americans are bombarded in the media by endless slick, over produced, formula driven shows or publications one forgets the simpler past. Today's shows, tried out in market test groups or tied to cyclical trends, are crafted to create a buzz and evoke interest amongst a population now well exposed to cuisines from every nook and cranny of the globe

Back then Graham Kerr did not have that media advantage. In fact if anything he relied upon his charm, wit, foreign background and culinary knowledge to inform and expose cuisines new to the once insular US. population. A nation informed mostly by regional and immigrant cuisine exposure. A nation which after the second world was finally accepting and embracing international identity and was hungry for broader knowledge of the world they now felt connected to.

That's what made the Galloping gourmet such a great show for folks back then. It took them places they had never been and opened their minds to new things. Just as shows today continue to try and find the newest food trends and most interesting chefs dishes.

So one of the recipes that I love from the original Galloping Gourmet show is Mr. Kerr's version of Coquiles St. Jacques, a French scallop dish, which I have had many times in it's more traditional form. He adds potatoes to this dish which is traditionally made with just scallops and a sauce.

Now I grew up with my Mother's recipe for this dish from the "The Sunset for Entertaining Cookbook" printed in 1968. Yes, Surprise! I love old recipes from old cook books as well as the new ones from today's cookbooks. When I was growing up my Grandmother or my Mother would occasionally make these for a dinner party and less occasionally for a family meal. They used scallop baking shells which look like large flat shells but take the place of using a ramekin of small baking dish. They always looked so elegant and amazing I thought as a small boy. Bubbly with seafood, wine, cream, mushrooms and cheese. Hot right from the oven and sprinkled with chopped parsley and ready to bring to the table.

When I found Mr. Kerr's recipe I loved it because it takes these little babies and pushes them right through the roof with the addition of a velvety mashed potato blanket for the scallops. It sort of takes this dish and turns it into perfect cold weather comfort food, well more than sort of. With the addition of the potatoes it is sort of like a scallops shepherds pie. Which is a little English twist on a very French dish! Way to go Mr. Kerr!! So here is the recipe. Give it a try next time you want to make some winter comfort food. Yum!
Enjoy Ya'll!

4 to 5 good sized yukon gold potatoes cut ( about 2 lbs.)
2 tablespoons cream
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound sea scallops ( large )
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 pound sliced white mushrooms
2 tablespoon chopped shallot or white onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup grated cheese ( parmesan or Gruyere any strong hard cheese

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and while warm mash with the cream butter and salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs and the paprika. Hold warm on the side.

In a large frying pan heat the stock and the wine till almost boiling, add the scallops and cook for about 3 to 5 mins depending on the size don't over cook or the scallops will be rubbery. Remove and hold on the side.

In a pot melt the butter add the flour and cook about 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the poaching liquid stirring in the add the milk and then bring to a boil, reduce heat and and simmer till the sauce thickens about 10 to 15 mins.

In the frying pan add the onions and cook till soft, add the mushrooms lemon juice and paprika and cook till soft then add the mixture to the sauce.

In 4 individual gratin dishes (or in a medium casserole dish if you don't have small dishes)  divide the scallops and the divide the sauce over them. Cover each with the potatoes and then top with the cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake in the oven at 350 for 8 mins then turn on the broiler and broil till the tops are browned and golden. Serve immediately!  



  1. I remember watching Julia Child when she first appeared on PBS in the early 60s -- she definitely was my first food influence. She taught me that food could have flavor! I've seen the Graham Kerr shows, at least a few of them. But missed this one. Really interesting take -- kind of the meat and potatoes version of Coquiles St. Jacques. Looks pretty good! Thanks for this.

  2. You're welcome, I love retro foods and I love this dish, this version is a little bit over the top but still very good. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi, Nice post. Chef Graham Kerr, famous for his show "The Galloping Gourmet," this show is very nice . It has many information about modern food making with gourmet products. sonomafarm
    Thanks for this post.