Thursday, June 27, 2013

Recipes from French Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Guess what, another island where they eat a lot of fish. Yay.

Eh, it was actually pretty good. But these islands, you know, they really need to try chicken now and then.

In the defense of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, though, there's not a whole lot of people there writing cookbooks on local cuisine. In fact at just under 6,000 people, French Saint Pierre and Miquelon is only about four times the size of Rough and Ready, CA. So it's possible and probably even likely that there are many different local recipes for chicken, but of course I couldn't find them because I am always singing the same song about these places. La, la, la no recipes online.

Located 12 miles off the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada, French Saint Pierre and Miquelon is an archipelago consisting of eight islands, two of which have actual people living on them. These islands are the last crumbs of New France, the former colonial empire that once stretched from the gulf of Mexico to the northern tip of Newfoundland. Poor France.

St. Pierre. Photo Credit: Gord McKenna.
Saint Pierre has the dubious distinction of being the site of the one-and-only execution by guillotine ever performed in North America. Saint Pierre is evidently proud enough of this little bit of infamy that said guillotine, which had to be imported from the Caribbean of all places, now resides in a local museum. The French also made a movie about the whole sordid affair (The Widow of Saint-Pierre). Well, we all have to have our claims to fame.

Anyway as I mentioned earlier, they eat a lot of fish on Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Cod is fished in the region and is heavily eaten there, along with lobster, snow crab and mussels. So my menu is very seafood-based, and came entirely from French-language sources because that's literally all there was.

Here are the recipes:

Cod Fillet with Cream
(From Recital Culinaire)
  • 4 fresh cod fillets (or cod)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives, tarragon and parsley
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
On the side:

Salad with Crab, Apples and Oranges
(From The Workshop of Boljo)

For the salad:
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1 orange, peeled and diced
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • about 1 1/2 cups cooked crab meat
For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Now I must admit, I am not utterly convinced that this recipe comes from St. Pierre and Miquelon. It was on a French language blog authored by someone who does post recipes from the region, it was included in a link list of recipes from St. Pierre and Miquelon, but it wasn't specifically tagged as such. So the jury is out.

And for dessert:

Date Squares
(From Recital Culinaire)
  • 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 18 oz pitted dates
  • water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Starting with the dessert:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour with the baking soda, brown sugar and rolled oats.

Now add the butter and mix with your hands until you get a crumbly mixture.

Chop up the dates into a small dice and add to a saucepan with enough water to cover. Add the brown sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Remove from heat and mash. Let cool.

Butter an 8x8 inch baking pan and cover the bottom with half the dough. Now add the dates and top with the remaining dough.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top begins to turn a golden color. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the fish and place it in a buttered casserole dish. Drizzle with the wine and lemon juice and add salt and pepper.

Transfer to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer registers 100 degrees. Cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake until the thermometer reaches 145. Remove.

Meanwhile, mix the herbs with the softened butter, a little bit of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.

Drain the juices from the casserole and transfer to a small pan. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes or until reduced to about 3/4 its original volume. Remove from heat.

Add the butter and herb mixture and the cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer for 1 or 2 minutes. Pour over fish fillets and serve.

Finally, the salad:

Line the bottom of a salad bowl with the spinach. Then add a layer of tomatoes, red onion, orange pieces and apple pieces.

Top with the crab. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. That's it!

Meal from French Saint Pierre and Miquelon
What we thought: I loved the salad. Martin, not so much. He said it was just because he wasn't in the mood for crab, but whatever. I thought the crab with the fruit was a really nice combination.

The fish was good, too. Basic, but good. The original recipe said to serve it with fries, which honestly probably would have been a better fit than the salad since it was a pretty rich dish. But I'm trying to cut some calories out of my diet so I'm glad I went with the salad, though it was a bit of an odd combo.

The date squares were fabulous. So good in fact that I gave half the pan away because I was afraid that I would eat them all. Martin was quite angry with me actually. He went away on a business trip and when he came home the date squares were all gone. But yeah, they were yummy.

So that's another seafood meal done. Now it's on to … another seafood meal. Jeez.

Next week: French Wallis and Futuna

For printable versions of this week's recipes:


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