I sat before this extraordinary sole, wondering as I chewed each buttery, spright, sumptuous bite of fish, "Why have I never made this dish before...?"
My Sole a la Grenobloise (as prepared in the city of Grenoble, the south-eastern region of France) was pulled from Saveur's 'The Beauty of Butter' special issue, No. 109. The word butter itself was such an obvious, delicious clue to all that might await in the pages, but the pages remained unsmeared by my buttery fingers, until recently. What a simple dish to delight your guests!
Aren't these beautiful sole filets?
Soak your sole in milk, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The recipe is here, and it's not difficult to make, merely astounding to eat. You can purchase the clarified butter required or take a little time to do it yourself as described here. I would add a final spray of lemon over the sole before serving; the shock of acid truly brings the dish to life. Otherwise, serve it with white rice and a side dish of green beans almondine, the basics from geniuskitchen.com found here. Do enjoy!
Sometimes recipes stir me to make something else entirely with them. I was intrigued by a recipe for a fava bean stew, but then I thought of the shrimp we had in the freezer, considered cannellini beans, and wondered how it might all go on top of creamy polenta.
I made the Cyprus fava bean stew, known as Koukkia Kounnes, from Saveur magazine, but tinkered with the recipe (see below,) using a 15.5 oz. can of white cannellini beans instead of favas and used about half the amount of suggested chicken broth. I let it simmer for quite a while, along with the garlic, thyme, onion, and bay leaves, until the liquid all but evaporated--now I had a luscious, fragrant confit of beans!
While the stew slowly simmered, I prepared the polenta. When the polenta was nearly done cooking, I sauteed a dozen thawed shrimp in olive oil with zest from a whole lemon, some smashed garlic, salt and pepper. Once the shrimp were cooked, I removed them with a slotted spoon and covered with foil to keep warm. Reduce the zesty sauce to thicken slightly.
The perfect forkful: spoon your polenta on two plates, and add the confit of beans. Top with shrimp and pour the reduced sauce over that. Get a hold of that fork and dig in! Serves two.
I went rogue in the kitchen, but here is complete stew recipe unadorned, with my suggestions only in italics:
KOUKKIA KOUNNES (FAVA BEAN STEW WITH GARLIC, THYME, &
1 lb. dried fava beans (I
used canned cannellini beans)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more, to taste
6 cloves garlic, quartered
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (I
used only about 2 cups)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I forgot! But
lemon zest with the shrimp preparation solved that!)
Place the dried fava beans in a bowl or pot, cover with
water by 3″ and let soak for 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain the beans and set aside. (Use
canned for time-saving tip!)
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat, and add the oil.
Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and bay, and cook, stirring occasionally,
until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Add the fava beans (or
cannellinis) and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and then
reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender
and broth has thickened, about 2.5 hours. (Canned
beans won’t take this long to cook; simmer until liquid is almost evaporated)
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lemon juice (again, I forgot the lemon juice). Ladle
into a bowl and drizzle more olive oil over the top, if desired. (Or serve on top of your polenta with shrimp!)
I have to admit that peppers and spicy foods in general have turned on me and I have to pause for a Prilosec from time to time. But I did think Saveur's recipe of chicken thighs with peppers, chorizo, and brown rice was worth investigating and adjusted it accordingly. Good news is, our immensely satisfying dinner didn't suffer from the omission of red peppers and chorizo. I used sweet sausage instead of chorizo to delicious results and we didn't miss the peppers at all! Add Stubb's liquid smoke instead of chorizo for smoky flavor, if you'd like. However you choose to make this wonderful one-pot dish, I would definitely use more oregano than the 2 tbsps suggested--and then summon a hungry bunch.
I'd like to clear up something: There's very little mystery to clarified butter or making it. Clarified butter means that the milk solids (whey) and water have been removed from the butterfat to ensure a high smoking point in cooking, ie., the butter can take higher temperatures without burning.
Anytime you need clarified butter (much cheaper than buying it already made and awfully easy), do this:
1. Bring your butter to a boil (probably at least a stick; if you don't need it all right away, clarified keeps for a long time when covered and refrigerated) and let it foam white and sputter for a while.
2.When the butter stops foaming and the noise settles down, turn off the heat immediately and skim off the solids. You're done. Try it in the microwave if you'd rather.
While it may be inadvisable to wear white after Labor Day, this pale, creamy gazpacho from foodandwine.com made with cauliflower is highly recommended (at least by me) all through the year. I substituted walnuts that I already had on hand for the suggested pine nuts and almonds to great effect, I thought. I would recommend (here I go again) that after blending all the ingredients together, to push the solids with the back of a wooden spoon through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and refrigerate the thinned soup then. Try it with toasty bread in the cooler months to take off the chill!
1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets 2 slices of crustless white bread 1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 ounces) 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped 1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds 1/2 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely diced cucumber 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower until
tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool and
In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups of cold water with the cooked
cauliflower, bread, pine nuts, chopped garlic, sherry vinegar, chopped
shallot, 1 cup of the slivered almonds and the coarsely chopped
cucumber; blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse just until
incorporated. If necessary, add more water to thin the gazpacho. Season
the soup with salt and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup of slivered
almonds in a pie plate and toast for about 6 minutes, until fragrant and
lightly golden. Ladle the gazpacho into bowls. Garnish the soup with
the toasted almonds and the finely diced cucumber and serve.
First published in part in Food & Wine. Thanks to contributor Joy Manning and photographer Hallie Burton!
In need of polenta, but fresh out? Do you perhaps have some popcorn? Throw it in a blender! At a high speed, the blender (a Vitamix fitted with a dry-grain container is ideal) will grind the popcorn to a coarse cornmeal powder--exactly what you need to make your polenta dish. A cup of ground polenta will serve at least four people once prepared. Follow this link for 'perfect polenta' of your own, courtesy of allrecipes.com. A little salt, butter, cheese and several cups of water on the boil are the basic ingredients for a creamy side dish, but certainly tailor your polenta to your taste. If you have never tasted or made polenta before, it's a must try!
A note: The polenta may take longer to cook than the suggested time and may need more water to acheive the perfect consistency, so plan accordingly.
Thanks to Karen Haggenmaker at allrecipes.com for the silky, satisfying polenta photo!
Aren't tomatoes just great at the height of the summer season? Try grating them! Rub several whole tomatoes against a grater, skins and all, and let the juicy bits run into a bowl. Discard the tomato skin that didn't go through the grater and you have a bowl of instant tomato sauce.
Try this method using a yellow tomato, and stir it into steaming pasta with some sea salt, fresh ground pepper, perhaps some chili flakes, and a crushed garlic clove. Or win the children over by grating a ripe beauty over their mac 'n' cheese, as above. Spread the sauce over toast, bake into, or use with any number of things that require the benevolence of summery tomatoes. Suggestions welcome! Do enjoy!
Isn't she a beauty? I picked up this bunch of red basil at our neighborhood
farmer’s market over the weekend and after one deep inhalation I was reminded of a bunch of other things, too—the house in Riverhead, Long Island, perched on a cliff with a breathtaking view of the Sound...the house full of hungry guests one summer in Riverhead, Long
Island, where I first fed my desire to cook. Fresh basil served us for a season of fresh
tomato sauces, gazpacho and ribbons of the stuff on cornmeal-dusted, crusty pizzas, all full of the vibrant flavor and aroma released from the leaves.
Why not simply chiffonade a bunch of basil to boost any summer
salad as well? Pluck the basil leaves from the stems and then roll a few of them up tightly like a cigar. Slice thinly on the bias for a familiar taste and yet a surprising, enhancing flavor
when added to your greens!
At first, it wasn't so much of a celebration as it was a whim surrounding what we already had in the house--including a visiting bunch of our neighbor's feisty children--that brought our bowtie pasta, spaghetti, a jar of Prego sauce (click here for homemade suggestions) and ground beef to the table. We were a little on the early side for Fourth of July, but the little ones lit up like firecrackers at the display of our dish just the same !
I always maintain that a little ingenuity is a vital ingredient in the kitchen and so, a simple dish of spaghetti acted as patriotic stripes of pasta and the bowties served as our stars. Our handsome ground beef came courtesy of Butcher Box (a sort of 'Meat-of-the-Month' Club) and naturally we wrapped it all up in a vibrant red sauce!
While I take some time off to finish my new novel, I thought I'd leave you for the moment with a comment or two about tea! And no, not Constant Comment, but a lovely tea for two from the fine folks from Bellocq--No. 96 White Wedding Tea! The hubs and I discovered this extraordinary brew featuring organic jasmine silver needle white tea, rose petals, organic lavender, and orange blossoms while enjoying an afternoon tea at The Blue Box Cafe at Tiffany's. We enjoyed our pot of tea over a smattering of finger sandwiches and a few molar-crushing sweets at Tiffany's petite eatery done up in signature robin egg blue, but I imagine the gentle perfume floating off the cup would be welcome whenever you wish.
Cuddle up then, with a good book (perhaps one of mine) and a warming cup of tea over the next few months as I work on my book and pursue the wisdom found in the leaves. Do enjoy!
Bellocq Tea Atelier is located at 104 West Street in Brooklyn, but you may also find the tea online, as well as a host of their other special blends. Thanks to Bellocq for the photo!
After weathering a soul-shredding career as a theatrical agent that lasted entirely too long, Mr. Sherwood left his stable of actors from the stage and screen and went on to pursue his literary aspirations. He is currenly the senior editor for Carnsmedia, was web editor for Interior Design and the dining editor for Next magazine (nextmagazine.com) where he wrote a weekly restaurant review column which also featured Manhattan's best food and drink recipes from the finest chefs and bartenders on the island. He has written for New York magazine, Travel & Leisure and Woman’s Day, among others, and his recipe for Wicked Good Clam Chowdah from this blog was published by Andrews McMeel in Foodista’s Best of Food Blogs Cookbook.
A proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Mr. Sherwood also studied voice and theater abroad at Regent’s College, in London’s historic Regent’s Park, and at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent a year at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Mr. Sherwood's books are available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and iUniverse.com.
Twitter/tweet/twat him @kaleidabox