A Remembrance of Meals Past

Beez at Willard

Beez with cherry blossoms in Willard Hotel Lobby

Monday:          Salad, Leftover Choucroute

Costa Rica

Billy’s feet and Emily in Costa Rica

Tuesday:          Again

Beet salad

Wednesday:    Smashed and Seared Beets with Chimichurri and Goat Cheese Crema

pea soup

Pea Soup with Roasted Prosciutto, Grilled Bread

spicy meatballs

Thursday:        Spiced Meatballs with Polenta and Parmesan Brodo

Friday:             Pan-Seared Salmon and Salad

Tombs

The Tombs, Georgetown

Saturday:         DC / brunch at The Tombs, dinner at China Chicano

Round Robin Bar

Round Robin Bar at the Willard Hotel

Sunday:           Latte and Cashews on PA turnpike

First, before the post proper, for those of you who make your own pizza, here are two very good suggestions from Caroline Regan (look at the comments on last week’s posting):

‘I make my dough the same as always, but when I form the pizza, I don’t touch the edges – leave a border – and then just watch it plump up when you put it in the oven! Also, broil it! Trust me – it’s amazing, and you’ll never go back!-

  • Caroline Regan

Second, for those of you who know Proust (see the title of this post) there will be no recipes for Madeleines, je te promets.

It was a week of left-overs and travel and fine moments with friends and family.  On Friday I met my brothers John and Greg and my friends Ambrose and Tim in the cozy little bar at The Mansions on Fifth.  I spent my birthday in DC with Beez.  We ate at one of Jose Andres’s restaurants, the provocatively named China Chicano, and we had a good meal:  some new tastes, a particularly wonderful potato dish but, all in all, not a great dinner.  However, I would return to this restaurant again because of the service, particularly our excellent bartender, Alexis.

It is a plain fact that for most of us (cooking contest judges excepted), the satisfaction from a meal depends only partly on the food.  Indeed, I could eat peanut-butter and jelly and, if I were with Beez, watching the sun set over Half-Moon Bay, I would count myself blest.  A dry martini would improve the situation, as would a perfectly grilled steak or fish.  But this last week all I had to sustain me were friends, my honey and ambience – no great food.  And I wouldn’t trade last week for all the gin in Amsterdam.

Nonetheless, there is a blog posting to produce, so it’s time to roll up our sleeves and help you deal with your weekly task of postponing starvation day by day.  There have been many fine meals that we didn’t share with you because we judged there was no room in our already substantial posting.  Well, this week there is room, so we’re going to reach back and write up two of those dishes for you.

Finally, here are the two recipes, Sole Meuniere and Barberi Bread:

Sole

Sole Meuniere
(adapted from NRY special section, The New Essentials of French Cooking, 2/19/17)

You may recall that two Fridays ago, Catholics in many cities were released from the obligation to fast from meat in order that the more literal-minded traditionalists among us Micks could properly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with corned-beef, lamb and other dishes which our families could never have afforded in the old country but which the process of time and legend have placed at the center of an imagined golden age of Irish cuisine.  Well, it’s back to fish this Friday and you couldn’t do better than to cook sole in the traditional French manner, even if your mother was a Kelly and your father a Duffy.  You’ll find the recipe below.  Like most fish dishes, this is quick, healthy, and delicious.

Timing:                                    10 minutes, if you already have clarified butter – Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 skinless sole (or equivalent) filets, about 4 oz. each
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
Kosher Salt
Fine-ground white or black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced parsley
½ lemon cut into wedges for serving

Prep:    Why clarified butter? Because it won’t burn when you cook with it.  I always keep some on hand.

Make clarified butter (takes up to 10 minutes).  In a small pot, melt 2 full sticks of butter over low until the bubbling and foaming subsides.  Let it cool for a minute or so and skim the foam off the top.  Then pour through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel set over a bowl you can refrigerate.  Let it cool completely, then refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Put flour on a plate (for dredging)
Pat the fillets dry
Measure out the butter
Mince the parsley
Slice the lemon

Cook:

Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour and shake off excess.

In a non-stick 12-inch skillet heat 2 tablespoons of clarified butter over medium-high (you might have to reduce heat, if you have a high-BTU burner).  Place fillets in pan and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until just done, then transfer to a warmed serving platter and top with parsley.

In a separate skillet heat the 2 tablespoons of regular butter until bubbling and turning golden – between 1 and 2 minutes – then pour over the fillets and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Note:  Beez will not let me pour the browned butter over her fillet and, since she is SWMBO, I don’t.

NOTE:  You can cook as many fillets as you want, though I wouldn’t go much over 6.  Just start with 4 tablespoons of clarified butter in the non-stick pan and add more as needed.  Keep the cooked fillets warm in a 200 F oven on a platter or sheet pan.

barberi

EXTRA                                                          Barberi Bread

                                    (adapted from bon appétit, March, 2017)

This is a great thing to have with a hearty soup.  With chick-pea purée and wilted dandelion greens or kale, this makes a full meal for a meatless Monday.  A good grilled country bread also fills the bill – but you can cook this easily and quickly on your own.  You will need a pizza stone to cook this bread.

Timing:                                    2 hours, 20 minutes to 3 hours

Ingredients:                             Makes 2 loaves

Envelope of active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
4 cups of bread flour
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Non-stick vegetable oil spray (Pam)
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
2 teaspoons nigella or poppy seeds
2 teaspoons white or black sesame seeds

Prep – Make the Dough:

Combine yeast, sugar and 1 ¾ cups very warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook.*  Let stand until foamy – about 7 minutes.  Add the kosher salt and the 4 cups of bread flour and mix on medium-low until a shaggy dough forms.  Increase speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and begins to slap the sides of the bowl (2 ½ to 5 minutes).  The dough is going to be sticky.

*If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a food processor.  Pulse until the shaggy dough forms (up to 10 short bursts), then pulse for 5 seconds, and if the dough is smooth, remove it.  If not, try another 5 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead, adding more bread flour as needed to prevent sticking, until smooth, about 4 minutes (should be slightly elastic).  Coat a large bowl with non-stick spray, place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size (1 hour or  little longer).  Note:  if it’s winter or cool, I usually turn up the heat a degree or so to get the blower working and then put the dough into our powder room and close the door.

Now punch down the dough and divide it in half to form 2 oblongs.  Flour a parchment-lined baking sheet with no rim (you’re going to shuffle the dough from this baking sheet onto the pizza stone).  Put the dough on top of the parchment paper and dust the top of the dough with flour to prevent sticking, then cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature until nearly doubled again.  30-45 minutes.

While this is happening, put the all-purpose flour, the baking soda, 1 teaspoon of oil and 2/3 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened – maybe 3 minutes.  Let cool.

Heat oven to 450 F, and place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Let the stone heat for 20 minutes or more before baking bread to ensure a crispy bottom crust.

Form the loaves and bake the bread:

Transfer 1 oblong to a work surface. Punch down remaining oblong on baking sheet and press and stretch to make a 14x6x½” rectangle with tapered ends; dust off any excess flour.

Mix sea salt, nigella seeds, and sesame seeds in a small bowl.

Dip your fingers in a bowl of water and press several lengthwise ridges into the dough (be careful not to punch through dough). Brush dough with cooked flour mixture and sprinkle with half of the salt-and-seed mixture.

Now you need to work quickly and confidently:  Slide or shimmy the dough from the baking sheet onto hot pizza stone and bake until lightly golden brown on top and crusty, 15–18 minutes.

Transfer the barberi to a wire rack (or the insert of a roaster pan) and let cool just a bit before service.  Cook the second loaf.

This bread goes well with soups and salads, or you can serve it warm with feta, herbs and pickles (including pickled walnuts!)

Note:  If the Barberi gets soggy – crisp it up in a 400 F oven.

One thought on “A Remembrance of Meals Past

  1. Sorry we didn’t get to see you on this DC trip – next time for sure I hope – and happy belated birthday!!!

    From: whatwecookedlastweek To: mcsparer@yahoo.com Sent: Wednesday, April 5, 2017 4:16 PM Subject: [New post] A Remembrance of Meals Past #yiv0799576861 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0799576861 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0799576861 a.yiv0799576861primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0799576861 a.yiv0799576861primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0799576861 a.yiv0799576861primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0799576861 a.yiv0799576861primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0799576861 WordPress.com | Bill Stewart posted: “Monday:          Salad, Leftover ChoucrouteBilly’s feet and Emily in Costa RicaTuesday:          AgainWednesday:    Smashed and Seared Beets with Chimichurri and Goat Cheese CremaPea Soup with Roasted Prosciutto, Grilled BreadThursday:        S” | |

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