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.