One of my personal favorite's is to make papillotes, and fill them with seasonal treasures. It's a sensual presentation a foil packets cut open to reveal the tasty bits it holds. It makes it's own sauce and cooks in minutes. This works with scallops, fish, or chicken. Serve with Bourassa Chardonnay and crusty French bread to savor every last bit of the sauce.
1 cup Israeli couscous
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups water
4 teaspoons safflower or other vegetable oil
20 large fresh shrimp (wild)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 leek, sliced thin
8 asparagus spears
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 teaspoons fresh herbs (like tarragon, chervil, chives & parsley) minced
8 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons water or chicken stock
4 sheets heavy-duty aluminum foil, each 12-18x20 inches long
Preheat the oven to 500°F.
In a medium sauce pan heat the butter until melted. Add the Israeli couscous and cook stirring occasionally until lightly toasted. Stir in water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring boil reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, it should be almost completely soft as it will finish cooking in the papillote.
Fold foil in half, in the center of one half, use a pastry brush and brush the center with oil. In the center place 1/2 cup couscous, place 5 shrimp on top. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 2 asparagus spears and one-fourth of the leek, garlic and a tablespoon of water or chicken stock. Sprinkle each with a teaspoon of herbs, and 2 teaspoons of butter. Fold foil over each packet and carefully fold edges by ½- inch, and repeat fold for a tight seal. Repeat this 2 more times on each of the other sides. (The papillote may be made several hours ahead and refrigerated at this point.)
Heat 2 baking sheets in the oven for 10 minutes and place 2 packets on each. Bake 10 minutes, then remove from oven. Place on a dinner plate (see note). Slit or cut with scissors the top of the packets to serve (be careful of steam), or let diners open their own packets.
Note: For an elegant presentation place on a bed of coarse salt and garnish with dry herbs or spices to add a gentle fragrance.
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