I try to be a good listener, I really do. Endeavoring to hear what is being said, I respect and appreciate the other person's point of view. And, I don't believe learning or maturity is possible without it. After all, do I really have to say something right on top of the person talking? Is it vital I blab all over you while you're trying to communicate? I appreciate someone who really pays attention to me when I'm talking because it changes the entire dynamic of our encounter. And that's important. I'm sure my silence does the same wonderful things for you, yes?
Now, here's the caveat, when you tell me you don't like a particular FOOD...oh, dear. I fiddle, and fidget, and gesture and roll my eyes. Why? Because although there are lots of reasons for this statement and you may have valid reasons, I'm still going to interrupt you say that most of the time, the reason you don't like something it's because YOU JUST HAVEN'T HAD IT SERVED CORRECTLY.
Take fish for instance. (Yes, you knew I was going to say this.) What is it about fish that draws so many battle lines on the plate? For one thing, it is notorious for being cooked INcorrectly. And almost everyone, even those who love all ocean and river dwelling creatures, can tell you a horror story about tough, dry, mealy, bad smelling fishiness gone awry. That's why a recent dinner party attendee, who is a good sport and a little reticent about finned creatures, let me cook her some fish THE RIGHT WAY.
Classic Cod. Classic because it's easy to make, and easy to mess up. It can be served alongside so many different flavors but on it's own it was the perfect fish to make without any fancy seasonings. And at the end of the meal? I got a thumbs up. Chalk it up to another person who stacks the deck in my favor for GOOD FOOD DONE RIGHT.
Unless she has very, very good manners and she went home and cried, I think she'll come back! <Insert dice-rolling sound here...>
Okay, for those of you who still know and believe that good food conquers all, here's what I did. Knowing that fish benefits from clean flavors, and fresh ingredients, I let the side dishes steer the theme of the meal. I had recently read about some pan sauteed versions of ratatouille -- the classic French vegetable dish -- so I decided to put something together that would layer flavors and colors. 'Cause y'all, the fish is gonna be simple.
Working to cook each ingredient in my ratatouille in stages I set about making delicious begin....Which is to say I started with all the aromatics and potatoes because they can take longer to cook. Then scooped them out and gently sauteed the vegetables afterwards with care. Then I put everything together again, deglazed with stock and wine and added herbs, simmered SLOWLY, then added butter. Yes, I know. YUM!!!
Those beautiful Cod filets? First, BUY. FRESH. FISH. Got that? The best. Don't mess around. You'll just waste your money. And I have my eye on a new Le Creuset piece that is awesome. If I hear you're wasting money, you're buying!!!
Here's now I did the fish:
1. Rub each of the 4 ounce filets with GOOD olive oil.
2. Sprinkle with good cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
3. Put a thin slice of lemon on each filet. Then a dot of butter on each filet.
4. Tie fresh thyme and rosemary together with a string and place on top of the fish filets. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes.
5. Take out of the oven, cover with foil for 10 minutes.
6. Ladle butter pan juices on top.
7. Fight for your own. People will want a taste.
8. Take a bow.
That's it! That's how you DO IT RIGHT.
RECIPE: Pan Sautéed Ratatouille
4, 4-ounce Cod Filets
4 T olive oil, divided
2 T butter
1 large clove garlic chopped finely
4 sprigs each fresh thyme and fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, grate off the zest and slice the lemon thinly
1 medium, roundish purple eggplant, cubed
½ large yellow squash, cubed
5 medium width asparagus stalks, cut into 2 inch angled slices
½ white onion, in large 1 inch pieces
½ pint cherry tomatoes halved
¼ C white wine, ¼ C chicken stock
2 small white potatoes, cubed
1 t dried oregano flakes
Rub filets with 2 T olive oil. Place in baking dish, about ½ inch apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with a small lemon slice, put ½ T butter pad on each filet, tie up two of the rosemary sprigs and two of the thyme sprigs and place on top of the fish. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and then prep the ratatouille.
Heat a large saucepan and add 1 T butter and 2 T olive oil until hot. Add the onion and potato and sauté on medium high, seasoning with salt and pepper, until browned. Take those ingredients out and then add the eggplant, tomatoes, squash, and asparagus along with the garlic, adding a little salt and pepper, and the lemon zest. Sauté until soft. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, let simmer on low for about 2 minutes, then add a little of the stock, reserving the rest if needed to moisten pan. Add the potatoes and onions back in, cover and simmer on VERY low for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Don’t let it dry out. I kept mine on VERY low heat. Put in a little more butter at the end to make it shine and taste even better!
While vegetables are simmering, cook the fish for about 15-18 minutes. Remove, cover with foil and let sit for about 5-8 minutes. Serve by ladling the buttery pan juices from the fish over the fish while it is nestled next the vegetables. Sprinkle with flat leaf parsley and some lemon juice.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.