“With patience, you can even cook a stone.” Unknown
Recently I taught a class themed “Fish and Seafood.” I have addressed this subject many times before during my 16 year tenure as a culinary instructor and there is a common thread that always seems to prevail, ‘fish cookery is intimidating’. One learns from doing and the best lessons are often born from mistakes, so be not afraid. The first and most important step is finding a fishmonger who is knowledgeable and trust worthy. Once that is accomplished you can rely on their guidance to select the freshest and best of the day. The most common mistake many cooks make is over-cooking which produces a dry, unappetizing result. Remember, it is already dead so you need not kill it a second time.
“Be Brave Take Risks” Paulo Coelho
I apply the same principle to purchasing fish as I do to buying seasonal produce, ‘let the product be your inspiration’. For example, this week I visited my favorite fishmonger with salmon on my mind. Looking over the selection, it was recommended that I consider the sole fillets instead as they were his pick of the day. So I followed his advice wondering what else I would need to prepare them. He must have read my mind and went on to share that an earlier customer said she was going to stuff and roll them. This got me to thinking about the crab in my freezer waiting for its purpose and there the marriage was made.
Here is how it went down in the kitchen.
BAKED FILLET OF SOLE STUFFED WITH CRAB
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
2T Extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb. sole fillets, skinless
¼ c freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ c dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2T capers, drained
2-3 olive oil packed sundried tomatoes, julienned (optional)
Fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of an oven proof baking pan with 1T of olive oil.
- Lay the fillets out flat on a cutting board. Place 2T of crab mixture in the center of each roll tightly and secure with a toothpick. Place in the baking pan being careful not to crowd.
- In a small bowl, mix remaining 1T olive oil with fresh lemon juice and white wine. Pour over the fillets. Season with salt and pepper.
- Tuck in the lemon slices between the rolls and scatter the capers evenly.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and rolls are heated in the center.
- Remove from oven and serve hot. Drizzle sauce oven the fillets, garnish with sun-dried tomatoes, if using, and chopped parsley. Serve extra sauce on the side.
The result was quite impressive yet fairly simple to prepare. The pairing of the lemon and caper gave it a zesty salty component balancing the natural sweetness of the crab and perfect partners for the mild flavor of the sole. There is an extra advantage to this preparation as well, enough leftover crab mixture to make 8 crab cakes for dinner the following evening. Who doesn’t appreciate a “two-fer” right? I reserved the remaining sauce and reduced it a bit to concentrate the flavor and it became the dressing for the cakes. I added a fresh green salad of arugula and dinner was served. The above link will give you all the instructions for making and cooking them.
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all, have fun!” Julia Child
We welcomed April this week with announcements of several farmers markets scheduled to resume operation later this month. This is always reason for celebration in my book. My hands are anxious to dig in the dirt and see what this year’s harvest will provide. The most difficult thing is holding back and not planting too soon. The unpredictability of the weather, such as yesterday’s snow storm, serves as a reminder that we are not in control.
Before closing, I want to take a moment to remind my Wisconsin readers that Tuesday, April 5th, that is this week by the way, is election day. Please please please get to your polls and vote. Regardless of what your choices are, this is your voice. Let’s make a big noise.
Just as we must live with an open mind, I hope this post encourages you to shop with an open mind. Choose the freshest and the best and allow the products to speak to you. Wake up your creativity. I think you will be amazed at the results. Until our paths cross again, keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Peace and love to all, from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne
“No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” Julia Child