Sole Meuniere

The simplest dishes are always the best. This one is extremely easy and extremely delicious. You can use any firm white fish for this dish. I actually used Pollock and it was great. Plus, the dish that turned Julia Child into a cook has got to be good.

Sole meuniere

Sole Meuniere

INGREDIENTS:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 sole fillets
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

  2. Generously coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Season 2 of the fillets with salt. Dredge the fillets in flour and place them immediately in the pan with the hot oil. Do not flour the fish ahead of time or it will be gummy and mushy on the outside rather than crispy.

  3. When the fish has turned from translucent to opaque, about 2/3 of the way through the cooking, turn the fish over and cook on the other side. Remove the fish from the pan and reserve on a sheet tray in the oven. Repeat the process with the remaining 2 fish fillets. Keep the cooked fish fillets warm in the oven while you make the sauce.

  4. Remove any excess oil from the pan. Add the butter and thyme leaves. Shake the pan frequently to prevent scorching. When the butter has melted and is very bubbly, add in the lemon juice and whisk to combine. As the butter becomes bubbly again and starts to turn a nutty brown, season with salt and whisk in the chopped parsley. Taste to make sure it is delicious.

  5. Remove the fish fillets from the oven and plate them, spooning the sauce over the fish.

Pommes Puree

There are lots of ways to make mashed potatoes. This is my favorite.

Pommes Puree from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 Idaho potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

  1. COOK THE POTATOES: Place the potatoes in the large pot and add enough cold water to completely cover them. Add the 1 tablespoon/14 g of salt and bring to a boil. Let the potatoes cook in the boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife.

  2. Drain the potatoes, discarding the hot water, and when they are cool enough to handle – but still hot – slip them from their skins. This might take some effort, and unless you’re a magician, there will probably remain a few tiny bits of skin. Not a big deal. Just discard the skins as best you can and move on.

  3. MAKE THE PUREE: In the small pot, combine the heavy cream and butter and bring the mixture to a boil. (it boils over quickly, so keep an eye on it.)

  4. In the meantime, return the potatoes to the large pot and mash them with the potato masher. Once the cream mixture has come to a boil, pour it in increments into the potatoes and mix well. Add cream. Mash. Add cream. Mix. Do not overwork the potatoes. When the mixture is creamy and smooth, season with salt and pepper and serve.

IMPROVISATION:

There are a lot of chefs in this country who are getting a lot of mileage from “Truffle Mashed Potatoes.” Now, fresh truffles are very expensive, and I doubt you’ll want to use them for something as simple as mashed potatoes. But don’t worry. Most of these chefs aren’t using fresh stuff either. Simply make the recipe above, drop a teaspoon of the relatively inexpensive canned “black truffle peelings” into the mix, then jack it with a few drops of white truffle oil.

Chive mashed potatoes? Sure! Simply drop a bunch of chives into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Immediately cool in ice water to retain the bright green color. Chop roughly, then puree in a blender with a little oil to moisten. Push through a fine strainer, then fold the result into your potatoes, along with some fresh chopped chives.

Roasted pepper mashed potatoes? Roast red peppers. Peel off the skins. Remove seeds and stem. Puree. Mix with spuds.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts

If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, this is a tasty way to cook them. You can use any kind of nut you want. I’ve tried it with pecans and walnuts.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons water

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Put the Brussels sprouts and butter on cookie sheet and cook until the butter browns, about 5 minutes.

  3. Toss the Brussels sprouts, add the nuts and cook about 7 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle with water and cook another 8 or 9 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are slightly brown.

Flatiron Steak with Herb Butter

When you think of all the different ways you can prepare a steak, sometimes the simplest are the best. This simple recipe has got to be my favorite. It takes very little time and the flavors are spectacular. The one thing you really need to do though, is learn to test the doneness of your steak by touch. The times in the recipe are longer than I’ve had to cook it.

Flatiron Steak with Herb Butter

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 10-ounce flatiron steaks
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme
  • 4 1/2-inch-thick rounds Maitre d’Hotel Butter

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Generously season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the salt and pepper will also season the shallots as they cook.

  3. Place two large skillets over high heat. Add 1/8 inch of canola oil to each skillet and heat until hot. Add 2 steaks and 1 teaspoon of butter to each skillet, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for about a minute to brown the first side. Turn the steaks over, tilt the skillet, and use a spoon to baste the meat as it sautes on the second side. When the second side of the steak has browned, but the steak is still quite undercooked, drain off any excess fat. Scatter half the shallots, thyme, and remaining butter around the steaks in each skillet and stir to combine. After 2 or 3 minutes, when the steaks are cooked to rare, transfer them to a small baking sheet. Continue to cook the shallots until they have softened but have not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Spoon the shallots over the steaks and place the baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the steaks are cooked to medium-rare. Place a round of maitre d’hotel butter on top of each steak and return to the oven just until the butter begins to melt.

Maitre d’Hotel Butter

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

METHOD:

  1. Put the butter in a small bowl and stir with a spoon or stiff spatula until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

  2. Cut a piece of plastic wrap and form the butter into a rough log about 4 inches long, about 2 inches from one end of the plastic wrap. Roll up the butter in the plastic, then twist the ends to form a compact log about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. (The butter can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.)

Filets De Poisson Bercy Aux Champignons

For our monthly Advanced Wine Class, I made this fish dish from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I thought it would go well with the wine theme, which was Wines of Champagne. Just a warning. This dish is rich. On the other hand, if you are someone who doesn’t really like fish, this dish is good choice. The earthy flavors of the mushroom and the creaminess of the sauce make the fish almost secondary.

Filets De Poisson Bercy Aux Champignons

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 lb. or 3-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 2-1/2 lbs. filets of sole or flounder
  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups cold, white wine fish stock made from heads, bones, and trimmings
  • OR 1/4 cup dry white wine or 2/3 cup dry white vermouth plus 1/4 cup bottled clam juice, and water
  • OR 1-1/2 cups wine and water mixed
  • Buttered brown paper or waxed paper (do not use aluminum foil-it will discolor the wine)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons flour blended to a paste with 3 Tb softened butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter cut into bits

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  2. In an enameled skillet, toss the mushrooms in hot butter over moderately high heat for a minute or two without browning. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

  3. Season the filets lightly with salt and pepper and arrange them in one slightly overlapping layer in the dish. If filets are thin, they may be folded in half so they make triangles. Spread the mushrooms over them.

  4. Pour in the cold liquid and enough water so fish is barely covered. Bring almost to the simmer on top of the stove. Lay the buttered paper over the fish. Then place dish in bottom third of preheated oven. Maintain liquid almost at the simmer for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets. The fish is done when a fork pierces the flesh easily. Do not overcook; the fish should not be dry and flaky. Place a cover over the dish and drain out all the cooking liquid into an enameled saucepan.

  5. Preheat broiler.

  6. Rapidly boil down the poaching liquid until it has reduced to 1 cup.

  7. Off heat, beat the flour and butter paste into the hot liquid, then 1/2 cup of the cream. Bring to the boil. Thin out the sauce with additional tablespoons of cream until it coats the spoon nicely. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice.

  8. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle on the cheese, and dot with butter. Place dish 6 to 7 inches from a hot broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to reheat fish and brown top of sauce lightly. Serve as soon as possible.

  9. (*) Dish may be prepared ahead and reheated as follows: After sprinkling on the cheese and butter, set aside. Before serving, reheat just to the simmer on top of the stove, then run for a minute or two under a hot broiler to brown the top of the sauce.