Coquilles St. Jacques and Saffron Risotto, and thoughts for CHCH

by Jenn on February 22, 2011

in Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains,Seafood

Coquilles St. Jacques

I was going to write you yet another post about how I love my husband so I made him a nice dinner.  When I first told you about my Valentine’s Day food that I made for my husband, I went a little backwards and started with dessert first.  I started the day making sweet orangettes and sabayon in the morning, not even starting dinner until much closer to the time we’d actually eat.  I wanted the day to not be about stress, but just having fun.  And despite my rather emotionally raw post about Valentine’s dessert, today was going to be a bit more lighthearted.

Then, nixing that idea, since you’ve heard it from me a gazillion times already, I thought I would talk about some memories of eating scallops during my childhood.  Or maybe how much I love citrus in the Wintertime.  But I’ve already done that too, and I seriously doubt you want to read those same stories over and over again anyways.

It took me a while to come up with what to talk about, and then I realized it is because other things are pressing on my mind.  Specifically about a certain beautiful city in New Zealand that has suffered so much.  I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have two amazingly wonderful and life changing experiences in New Zealand.  I was so impressed by  friendly and upbeat nature of everyone I met, not to mention some wonderful food that certainly contributed to the charming welcoming atmosphere that is Christchurch.  Even though that was five years ago, the place won my a soft spot forever in my heart.  I cried seeing the destruction of the first quake back in September on the news, and I cried today seeing photos of the beautiful cathedral tower in shambles and learning about the unfortunate who ended up dying in the disaster.  Luckily all of my friends were out of the city at the time so are safe and sound, but that doesn’t lessen the pain for those who have to rebuild (again), or mourn their loved ones or are still looking for those who are missing.

So instead of some lengthy drivel about my life in calm and quiet (albeit a bit gray & dreary lately) Suisse, I’m dedicating this post to CHCH and sharing some of the things I love about Christchurch’s beauty.  There are great tasting scallops in NZ too, that’s enough of a connection for me at this point to the recipe at hand.  I’m not really going to talk about the scallops, other than last weekend I learned that saffron and orange work exquisitely well together (recipe below).  And y’all should make Dario’s saffron risotto, it’s perfect.

These photos are old (2005) and just are snapshots with my old point & shoot when I knew nothing about photography, but they are my memories from such an awesome little city. And even though I am thankfully not directly affected by the current status of things, I wanted to share a little of the beauty of this city as I remember it.

My heart goes out to CHCH, wishing everyone finds their loved ones, and that the city can recover and move forward.  The S. Island is a special place to me, and I look forward to the day when I again visit the city that completely enchanted me twice over – please give your thoughts to the those who are going through hardship right now.  I really do not have the appropriate words to express my deep sympathies.  I wish everyone all the best and that you all are able to stay safe.

Donations to help can be made to the Red Cross online or via the GrabOne website or to Salvation Army. More details for helping out here.

CHCH city center CHCH city center


CHCH Botanical Gardens

CHCH Botanical Gardens

CHCH city center

Coquilles St. Jacques

Also submitted to Seasonal Sundays


Saffron risotto from Dario of Food Pixels – see his site for the recipe
Coquilles St. Jacques inspired by Gourmet, March 1997

Prep Time: 5 min to juice oranges
Total Time: 30 min


  • 2 large oranges (or enough to make 2 c. fresh OJ)
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron
  • 1 zucchini
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 6 large sea scallops
  • splash white wine
  • saffron threads for garnish

1. Juice the oranges.  Add the juice to a small with saffron,  and bring to a simmer.  Let reduce until total volume is 1/2 cup.
2. Meanwhile, dice the zucchini and sprinkle with salt.
3. When the sauce is sufficiently reduced, add the diced zucchini and remove from the heat.  Pepper to taste.
4. In a large frying pan, melt 2 tbs. butter on high heat.  Sear the scallops, about 30s on each side, or just enough to cook them through and then plate them.  Then deglaze the pan with a little white wine, and add the orange sauce to the pan to incorporate the butter and flavor from the scallops.
5. Serve scallops immediately with zucchini and sauce. Garnish with saffron threads.  Serve with Dario’s risotto.




Rosa February 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Thanks for this beautiful post! Yes, the people of CHCH are in my prayers too…

That dish is absolutely lovely! A great way to show love and gratitude.



Jenn February 23, 2011 at 9:14 am

Thanks Rosa!

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle February 23, 2011 at 12:34 am

It is heartbreaking to think of the devastation so far away; I can only imagine how you must feel Jenn knowing the country and people there so the tribute is heartwarming.

I remember you making the dish…it turned out beautifully.

Jenn February 23, 2011 at 9:14 am

It is definitely heartbreaking. Thank you Barbara.

Cherine February 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

This dish looks scrumptious!

Jenn February 23, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Thanks Cherine

InTolerantChef February 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

What a tragic blow to New Zealand, Our thoughts are with them too. I’m glad your friends are safe Jenn.

Jenn February 23, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Yes, tragic indeed :(

Theresa February 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

On behalf of all us here in Christchurch, thank you so much for you prayers! I’ve been following your blog for awhile, I’m not sure if I’ve commented much though. Thanks so much for that beautiful post, it is really touching to hear of how people are thinking of us all over the world and we are all super thankful for all the aid that has come. I saw an American plane fly over our house today, delivering aid.
Thank you!

Jenn February 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Thanks Theresa – and I’m glad you are okay!! Many people are thinking of you all!

Audrey February 25, 2011 at 1:03 am

I came by through your comment on kitchn generation after seeing that you live in Switzerland. I spent some time there this fall visiting my sister, who lives near Geneva…and had the chance to experience food shopping and cooking a la Suisse. I’m going to bookmark this recipe — it has some of my favorite things in it — and spend some time looking at your photography tips, too.

Jenn February 25, 2011 at 1:24 am

Thanks so much! Life has gotten a lot easier now that I know some French, hope you enjoyed visiting Suisse! And hope you enjoy the recipe as well :)

"A to Z" - food & travel February 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I haven’t been in NZ yet, but I love this country. I was really sad seing what happened there.
Beside that, your recipe is amazing. Thanks for sharing it!

Jenn February 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Yes, it is really sad. And the aftershocks keep coming…

Ayesha Jameel February 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Your dishes look yum … loved the presentation of the food ! good work

Jenn February 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Thank you!

Michelle @ On and Off My Plate March 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm

So beautiful and I am in the mood for sweet scallops and this couldn’t be more perfect!

Jenn March 1, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Oh thank you!

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