Jacques Pèpin’s Genius Fish in Pepper Sauce

January 25, 2016 – January 31, 2016

Stiped Bass

Monday:               Provolone Cheese Toasts & Vegetable Soup

Vegetable soup

Tuesday:               Herbed Omelet with Shrimp, Asparagus and Mushrooms
Wednesday:          Savoy Cabbage ‘Stroganoff’ on Toast
Thursday:             Crostini with Fromage Fort and Cherry Tomatoes
Chicken Thighs with potatoes and Rosemary , Asparagus Gratin
Friday:                  Striped Bass with Yellow-Pepper Sauce
Roasted Fingerlings with shallots and rosemary
Arugula, blueberries, tomatoes and feta
Saturday:             Tarted-up, left-over Vegetable Soup
Sunday:                Cannellini Bean Dip
Costolette all’Emiliana, Roasted Fingerlings with Rosemary, Arugula

Technology tip: Beez tells me that when she receives e-mail notice of the posting each week she has to click on the icon or the date to have access to the full blog site (we’ve added reviews to the cookbook and restaurant section and you can find old posts by going to the “Keepers” button and clicking on any recipe you like).

Note: Peter Slavish sent along a picture from a meal he shared with his mother and Aunt Katie in NYC (Avocado toasts – the jar contains egg yolk):

Peter Slavish

Please feel free to forward anything you’d like to share. (I feel obliged to remind you that, as the signs at the restaurants on the Jersey Shore say: ‘Shoes and shirts required’ – oh, and pants.)

And now for this week’s posting of last week’s cooking (hope that’s not too confusing):

You know those days when, tasting the food you have cooked, in spite of the personal humility you* have so carefully cultivated, you simply have to say “Lord, is this good or what?” Well, last Friday night when we ate the Striped Bass in Yellow Pepper Sauce, I said “Lord, is this good or what?” And while the Lord did not reply, SWMBO and Billy did, and they agreed. It was a banner night and I explain below how to create this surprising keeper of a dish from Jacques Pèpin (it involves poaching and absolutely depends upon the sauce which is so good that you could eat boiled leather in it – tell Charlie Chaplin).

*I’m speaking about you, not me, you will note.

So what’s with the drawing at the top of the posting? Well, last Friday, the market had only 2 bass fillets left and we used some red snapper as well, since it is just as meaty, but the picture we took showed the snapper and I am not a good photographer and the damn thing looked like a piece of pork covered in mayo. I apologize to all fishermen if I have gotten the striped bass wrong and to all market gardeners if I have misrepresented the pepper.

Honestly, the Veal Chops on Sunday were nearly as good as the bass (a recipe from Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s magnificent The Splendid Table – you need this cookbook) and the herbed omelet on Monday was up there too. I’ll have to tell you about them some day. But today I’m simply adding a note (see “Extra”) on the new oven-roasted potatoes that have supplanted an old standby on our menus – a tweak on the recipe I shared last Spring. As a nod to the Old Sod these potatoes beat the dickens out of the corned-beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes with which our parents used to torture us.

Poached Fish in Pepper Sauce (Adapted from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen – J. Pèpin) – Serves 4

Provisions:
4 skinless fish fillets (striped bass is perfect, red snapper works)
Yellow bell pepper (seed, cut into ½” dice)
Onion – ½ Cup chopped
Zucchini – julienned (3”-4” lengths)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/4 Cups water
Salt and pepper
TBS minced chives for garnish
Timing:
Quick – About 25 minutes after initial prep.
Cooking:
Prep the onions and yellow pepper and zucchini before starting
Heat olive oil in medium skillet or pan, add onion and sauté for 1 minute,
then add the pepper and ¾ Cup of the water, bring to a boil, cover and
cook for 5 minutes.
Add ¼ Teaspoon each of salt and pepper and emulsify in blender or food
processor. Add butter and pulse for another 10 or 15 seconds. Reserve in
small microwavable bowl.
Next, toss zucchini with a pinch of salt, cover and heat in microwave for
45 seconds (just long enough to soften the zucchini)
Now sprinkle the fish fillets with a bit of salt and pepper. Place in a large
skillet in a single layer and pour ½ Cup of water around them – do not wash
the salt and pepper off.
Bring to a boil, turn the fish over, cover and cook for about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile reheat the sauce in a microwave (We used instructions on the microwave door for reheating 1.5 cups of sauce).

To serve, place sauce on each plate and top with drained fillet and
some of the zucchini and then sprinkle with chives.
This is really tasty stuff, but slow down and enjoy, if you can. (This is where martinis come in handy for me – a sip between bites seems about right here. Although, if you use the martini-pacing method you may find it difficult, afterwards, to remember what you ate.  If you find yourself forgetting where you were, switch immediately to daiquiris and consider a career in interior decoration)

Extra:       Roast fingerling potatoes with shallots and rosemary

Roast Fingerlings

Why alter a recipe (oven-roasted potatoes) that we have been cooking forever?
Because this recipe, using halved fingerlings, eliminates the need to parboil and the difficulty of keeping the sliced potatoes about the same size (otherwise some overcook, some undercook). And the caramelized shallots are a great thing – you might want to add even more than the recipe calls for. We discovered all this by using the fingerlings once when we ran out of regular potatoes.  Not knowing it was unnecessary, we parboiled them and cooked them for 90 minutes, ending up with a residue that resembled cigar ash.  We are convinced that most recipes evolve from mistakes, a few from absolute disasters and a small, but historically significant number, from fires and explosions.

Provisions:          For 4 or 5 people (recipe can be doubled or tripled)
1 lb. Fingerling potatoes, halved
3 – 5 shallots thinly sliced
Tablespoon or less of chopped Rosemary
Cooking spray
Salt and Pepper
Mince chives for garnish
Timing:
30-35 minutes, including prep
Cooking:
Preheat oven to 450 F
Combine everything but chives and cooking spray in a bow and toss to coat
potatoes. Then spray a foil-line cookie tray with Pam and spread the
potatoes in a single layer.
Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes, then turn potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes more (keep an eye on them, when they brown take them out), sprinkle with chives and serve. Note: If there are any Irish or Patagonians in the room, stand back.

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