Clang, clang, clang went the faucet…

We hadn’t finished preparing our second course of a 4 course French meal when a loud clanging noise caused me to jump.  I was walking away from the sink, having just rinsed my hands, when it happened.  I turned back to see the faucet handle lying in the sink.  Great!  I reached over and replaced the handle, something I would do a dozen times during the evening until I wised up and left it on the counter. 

The faucet handle in my kitchen undoubtedly gets more use than the average household.  Under examination, the bolt that holds the handle to the stem of the faucet was cut cleanly in two, leaving half of the bolt still in the stem with nothing left to latch onto.  It made me wonder just how many times I had pushed the handle back and forth, on and off, hot and cold.  One too many, I suppose.

Of course every time the faucet fell into the sink, the participants laughed a bit.  As the number of times it fell increased, so did the volume of the laughter.  That was just a bit more motivation to give up my effort. 

So the following days were to busy to get to the plumber’s supply store, and forget about finding what you need at Lowe’s.  Sure, you can buy a whole new outfit, which may be exactly what we end up doing if tomorrow’s trip doesn’t net me the result I need.   But for now, Tony and I have settled on the versatility of a common household tool to fill in. 

New Style Faucet Handle

New Style Faucet Handle

Who knows, what with the current state of the economy, this might be the next cool thing to do.

Once I got over myself and finished cooking and serving the meal, it seemed like the faucet was small potatoes – thanks mostly to a new dishwasher which was going to have to work overtime to get everything done. 

The Classic French Seafood class ended with rave reviews.  It’s hard to say what dish was the favored, but we’ll start with the simplist.  A Shrimp and Mushroom Gratin.  I’ll post later with a wonderful Mocha Roulade and perhaps the Crab and Breadcrumb stuffed Trout, but for now, we’ll begin at the beginning.

I was inspired by the title of this dish in my Secrets of the Great French Restaurants cookbook, (Louisette Bertholle) and I glanced over the ingredient list.  I decided to sort of ‘take it from there’ as I put together this dish in class.  It was, after all, a kind of ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ day. 

I had identified the ingredients as similar to a NT Times recipe I had made numerous times, Scalloped Scallops.  I figured that I couldn’t go too far wrong in following my instincts to put the ingredients together in similar fashion.  I served the gratin in scallop shells for the convenience of single serving portion control; you could certainly use a shallow gratin dish for main dish service.

Shrimp and Mushroom Gratin

24 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry

2 cups quartered mushrooms


olive oil

salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne to taste

1 large shallot, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 Tbls flour

2-3 oz dry white wine

heavy cream, perhaps 1/3 cup

2 ounces grated Gruyere cheese

Heat about 1 Tbls of olive oil and 1 Tlbs of butter in a saute pan.  Saute 1/2 of the mushrooms with a bit of salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown.  Remove to a plate.  Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, keeping the heat rather high, but not so much so that the pan smokes. 

Add a bit more butter and olive oil and saute the shrimp until they are just beginning to turn pink.  Add to the mushrooms on the plate.  Add the shallot to the pan with a bit more butter, if needed and cook until softened.  Add the garlic and flour.  Stir for about a minute to allow the flour to cook, then add the wine.  Reduce until very thick.  Pour in the cream and heat to a bubble.  Taste for seasoning, adding a few gratings of nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne.  Return the mushrooms and shrimp to the pan and stir until the shrimp are barely done, about 1 minute.  Heat the broiler to high.

Divide the shrimp equally between the scallop shells or gratin dishes and sprinkle with the cheese.  Broil about 2-3 minutes, watching closely, until bubbly and slightly browned.  Remove and serve immediately.  Makes 8 appetizer portions.



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