Scallops thermidor makes a delicious addition to a holiday menu. (KATHY D’AGOSTINO PHOTO)

With several holidays coming this month, many of us are planning some sort of celebration. Some may travel to be with friends and/or family, while others may choose to have a quiet holiday at home. Whatever your plans, one thing is clear: Food will be an important component. I pondered some wonderful recipes that would pair well with individual traditions for holiday fare.

I wanted something that would be undeniably delicious and complement just about any menu. Something most folks love. Seafood! What holiday is complete without it? In many parts of the world, it is a tradition to serve seafood during the holidays. It was a no-brainer. We live in a working waterfront community and that is very much a part of what Harpswell is all about.

I reached out to Monique Coombs, director of community programs at the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. Monique lives on Orr’s Island and happens to be married to a fisherman, so when it came to seeking a seafood recipe, who would be better qualified? She delivered.

Whether you are planning a menu for the traditional Italian “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year’s, be sure to include seafood as an entree, side dish, or appetizer. Whether in a soup or stew, an appetizer or a main dish, it’s a great way to support our fishing neighbors and local economy while feasting on delights from the Maine coast.


Dry scallops on a paper towel, then pat them dry. In a cast-iron pan, heat 2 tablespoons of light olive oil. Get the pan really hot. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and add the scallops. Cook for 2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other side. Remove. They should be golden brown.


About 2 pounds of cooked scallops

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 medium shallot

2 garlic cloves

3/4 cup whipping cream

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (Have more on hand to sprinkle on in the end!)

1 cup breadcrumbs

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced shallot and cook, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Add chopped garlic and cook until softened. In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy whipping cream, sherry and egg yolks. Add the cream mixture to the pan, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cayenne and Parmesan. In a separate pan, melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter, then stir in 1 cup breadcrumbs. Stir constantly until lightly browned.

Arrange the cooked scallops in a baking dish and pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the scallops, finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan, and place under the broiler for about 2 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Maine scallops can be served as an appetizer. Monique likes to make what she calls “deconstructed bacon-wrapped scallops.” Serve the cooked scallops with crispy bacon on the side, along with a small bowl of maple syrup.

Here are some other appetizer combinations that can be used with cooked scallops: garlic butter and lemon wedges, along with sprinkled feta; pesto and tomatoes; avocados and chili sauce; pineapple chunks, oranges and mangos.

Want to learn more about our local fisheries and how to make some delicious fish dishes? Join us for “One Fish, Two Fish, Seven Fish, Local Fish” on Dec. 14 from 4-6 p.m., location to be announced. Check the Anchor calendar for details.

Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday!

Cooking at 43° North, a program of Harpswell Aging at Home, brings Harpswell residents together for cooking programs, in person and online. Watch the Anchor calendar for listings.

HAH always needs cooks for its Meals in a Pinch program, which provides nutritious meals to seniors in need of emergency assistance. For more information, contact Julie Moulton at 207-330-5416 or