When in Paris, I make a point of going to small, new bistros, most of which are overseen by young French chefs. I book these tables because nowhere is the food more inventive or reasonably priced. These gifted cooks, who buy fresh seasonal ingredients and pair them in unusual ways, know no boundaries when it comes to creativity. My mouth still waters when I think of a perfectly sautéed cod fillet served on a gratin of potatoes laced with bits of ham and Gruyère that I sampled one cold winter night. At another bistro in mid-summer I savored every bite of that same fish set atop a colorful ratatouille. Succulent slices of roasted rib of beef offered with batons of blanched celery root and a garnish of crisp baby romaine leaves caught my eye and my palate on another visit.
In my kitchen, I often follow the philosophy of these talented cooks, combining seasonal ingredients simply but in unexpected ways. One such dish—Sautéed Scallops and Shaved Brussels Sprouts on Polenta–has become a favorite of my husband, and recently got high marks from two of my discerning (make that very picky!) assistants. Continue reading