September 8th, 2010

Sweet Bays

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When my mom was a little girl living on Long Island, summers meant vacationing out the island’s North Fork, on a little strip of smooth-stoned beach along Peconic Bay called Breezy Shores. Facing the waterfront were dollhouse cottages, white-washed clapboards with dark blue trim, each cottage hand built and a little different from one another.

Some had screened porches, perfect for starlit sleeping; others had small flowerbeds where scrappy rosebushes ambled up their windswept trellises; most had blue painted wood chairs, cracked and peeling, placed out front overlooking the bay.

You could see fishermen in the early morning make their stealth way in small boats, on their quest for a good catch. You could see Shelter Island and watch the ferries make their hourly chugs from the mainland and back. You could watch weather.

I know all this, because when I was a little girl living on Long Island, summers, too, meant vacationing at Breezy Shores. Often, we would stay in the same cottage that mom had. My sister and I would collect smooth stones on the strip of beach, hunt hermit crabs in little sand mounds, rig cryptic messages in bottles and clumsily launch them into the bay.

Breezy, in 1965, was not very different from Breezy in 1935.

After we moved to Nashville, visits to that charmed spot became infrequent.
I went a couple of times in my teens and later brought my daughter–ten months old at the time–for her first salt water and beach experience. Not far from Breezy we discovered a little seafood restaurant. It was near the legendary Soundview, but it was more of a shack. It might have even been called The Shack–thirty plus years ago, memory is not clear on that detail.

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No matter, the food memory is everclear! For five dollars, you could get bay scallops, sweet, small as the tip of your pinky, broiled in a buttery broth, served in an oval gratin. It came with slaw, steamed local corn on the cob, and a soft roll to mop up all that buttery broth. It was simple and fresh, gently sea-perfumed and bursting with sweetness.

I was reminded of that place, and that sumptuous dish, over the Labor Day weekend. Something about the crisp quality of the September air–at last no humidity–the end of summer conjures memories, and I saw some bay scallops, wild caught, for sale at the market.

That little seafood place doesn’t exist anymore, but miraculously, Breezy Shores does…in much the same way as it always has…and holds many stories for future posts….

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MY NORTH FORK BAY SCALLOP GRATIN
with thanks to Joseph and LeCreuset for the Enameled Fish Gratin

2 T. Butter
1/4 cup diced Onion
1 clove minced Garlic
1 T. Flour
1/2 c. White Wine
1 cup Milk
1 lb. Bay Scallops
Paprika
Chives
Salt ‘n Pepper
handful of soft Breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a gratin dish (or small casserole, baking dish) with soft butter. Place uncooked scallops in the gratin.

In a saucepan or small skillet, melt the butter. Saute onions and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add white wine, a little sea salt, a few grindings of black pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix flour into milk until well blended, and pour the slurry into the saucepan. Stir until mixed well with the wine and onions. Add snipped chives and a few pinches of paprika. Taste for seasoning. Remove from heat when slightly thickened, and pour over scallops in the gratin.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top, dust with paprika, and place into the hot oven. Bake for about 8 minutes–the top will get brown and bubbly.
Do not overcook–you want the scallops to stay tender.

Get out your best bread to mop up the rich goodness.

Serves 4

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Posted in Fish/Seafood, Recipes

19 Responses to “Sweet Bays”
  1. Katie@Cozydelicious Says:

    Oooh, this is one of my favorite dishes! When I lived in RI it was on every restaurant menu, but I haven;t had it in years. So excited to make this myself!

  2. Mary Says:

    What a lovely food memory. The recipe sounds wonderful as well. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  3. Juliana Says:

    Yummie, what a great way to serve baby scallops…looks so good…something that I’ll love to try…and soon :-)

  4. Faith Says:

    Foods that bring back memories are so special. What better way to remember something than with a completely sensory experience like eating? The scallop dish is really lovely.

  5. Nancy Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    How lovely! I can feel the sea air right from my couch in Manhattan :) This is such a wonderful recipe – I am a scallop lover, and this creamy and crisp gratin sounds like a perfect way to enjoy them. Thanks!

    I made my first trip out to the North Fork last fall. Such a beautiful area, I’m hoping to go back again this fall. For now, at least the humidity is finally out of the air here in nyc too, replaced by a cool breeze in the evenings. It’s starting to feel like fall.

  6. Michele Napoli Says:

    I love this, Nancy. I can just picture two little girls at Breezy Shores. The gratin looks delicious.

  7. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    I have never been crazy about the innate richness of scallops, but these little gems look very delicious! Maybe I would like them at bit more at the seaside. I will revisit “the scallop”.

  8. Wendy Says:

    I want to go to The Shack and soak up clam juice with my roll! Next best thing, I’ll follow your recipe.

  9. Fluffy Says:

    Breezy Shores Best!!!

  10. Madeleine Says:

    I love this story and I love the recipe. Now I just have to buy a few gratin dishes so that I can follow it to a T.

  11. Kath Says:

    Oh how wonderful Breezy sounds, I wish I could be one sleeping on the starlit porch. A wonderful gratin too, all the better for the memories it evokes.

  12. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…your Mom’s childhood vacations sound as wonderful as this baby scallop gratin. I haven’t had something like this since my holiday jaunt to eastern Canada by the sea.

    The paprika is a nice flavourful touch ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

  13. Cristie Says:

    Food memories are the best, and they are calorie free! I’ve lived on both sides of the country, but not when I’ve been old enough to appreciate great sea food. I would love to have access to sea food now, but like you live very in bound. I’ll have to give your recipe a try, it sound delicious.

  14. Cathy Says:

    Thanks for the memories! The scallops sound scrumptious.

  15. Barbara Says:

    What wonderful memories! I’ve spent a lot of time “down east” so I know exactly what you’re talking about.
    I love those little gems…this is such a perfect recipe.

  16. my little expat kitchen Says:

    Love your dish Nancy. Scallops are a favorite of mine and this dish is surely one I have to try. If I can get so many scallops that is :)
    Magda

  17. Tracy Says:

    Mopped and sopped…wow :)

  18. rachel Says:

    I did actually read this a while ago – during my silent phase. Just to say I like the story and the recipe very much and that this will be made at some point very soon.

    LeCreuset Enameled Fish Gratin dish envy in Rome

  19. Emily Says:

    I tried this dish last night and absolutely loved it! I turned the milk and flour into a roux first, then added the wine. It was fantastic. thanks for such a great recipe!



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