Assignment 14: St Pierre et Miquelon

St P and M

Location: Two small French islands off the coast of eastern Canada
Population: 6000
Capital: St Pierre
Geography: Rocky
Language: French
Signature flavours: Seafood, pastry, apple, butter, cream

The Menu

We debated whether to have St Pierre and Miquelon on our list in the first place, given its size, but decided that its unique history and geography — two small islands governed by France, but located just 25 kilometres from Newfoundland — made it worth researching. I’m glad we did. What I found was a culinary hybrid of traditional French cooking and maritime ingredients. What I didn’t find was an abundance of recipes. In fact, I struggled to find a single one. Dismayed, I reached out to the St Pierre & Miquelon tourism board, and explained, in the best French I could muster, what I was looking for. They responded a couple of days later with a link to a food blog run by a local. One section of the blog is devoted to the recipes of St Pierre & Miquelon, and I used this almost exclusively.

Homard Belle Vue (Beautiful View Lobster): I made a dressed-down version of this recipe, serving baked lobster tails with butter alongside the rest of the meal.

Prep and cooking time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: 2/5

filling
Caramelized apples fraternizing with scallops and shallots

Vol-au-Vent de Royale de Miquelon: Royale, a local scallop, served with shallot, cream, and caramelized apples in vol-au-vents — buttery pastry cups.

Prep and cooking time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: 3/5

cherries
Cherries thawing before baking

Clafoutis: A classic French dessert — a golden brown tart studded with juicy cherries.

Prep and cooking time: 60 minutes
Difficulty: 2/5

The Shopping List

I found some excellent seafood at Toronto’s St Lawrence Market, including bay scallops and lobster tails. Lobster is very expensive in Toronto, and while whole lobsters were going at almost $20 a pop, the tails were just about half that. Though they had been previously frozen, their flavour was still very good.

lobs

The Meal

My French is just good enough to follow a recipe, but apparently not good enough to make sense of French measurements. I made the clafoutis twice, once with an enormous amount of milk, and the second time with the proper amount. The tart looked beautiful right out of the oven: golden on top and dimpled with purple cherries. It did fall (deflate), which the recipe predicted it would once it cooled, but it didn’t affect the flavour — the sweet, eggy cake, and tart cherries were delicious.

clafoutis
Clafoutis

The lobster was far easier than I expected. Having relegated lobster, in my mind, to haute cuisine, I had always assumed it would be difficult. Not so at all: I merely cracked the tail open and pulled the meat out to rest on top of the shell. After being brushed with butter, the tails baked for just 15 minutes. Simple, but absolutely a highlight, the tails yielded rich, juicy meat. We even fed a few tiny pieces to our animals (Anouk, cat; Abby, cat; Plum, dog), but in retrospect are somewhat concerned that once you go lobster, you never go back (to kibble).

full meal

The vol-au-vents were my pride and joy on that table. To be honest, I was never 100 percent assured that royale was a scallop. Scallops and apples? Really? Information was scarce, and I harboured insecurities about the recipe right up until I tasted it. But the tarts were lovely, with a sweet and savoury filling in a buttery crust.

vol

Links
http://recitalculinaire.fr/2012/11/08/article-vol-au-vent-de-royale-de-miquelon-au-carolans-et-aux-pommes-ca/
http://www.cuisineaz.com/recettes/clafoutis-aux-cerises-congelees-80668.aspx
http://recitalculinaire.fr/2010/12/08/article-homard-belle-vue-62608465/

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.

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