When I was young I remember my father vacuuming and creating beautiful, straight lines in the deep pile shag carpet that covered every inch of the floor in our little Southern California bungalow. Evenly spaced, swerving only to avoid a piece of furniture too heavy to move, they stretched dramatically down the entire length of the room. These linear monuments to his OCD reminded you of Wrigley Field before game time, Those rows! They were just lovely.
My dad seemed to experience a profound sense of satisfaction while dragging the tank and hose through the house, admiring his perfectly pert planks of pile as he moved from room to room. But then after he stashed the Eureka, he made us all tip-toe around the perimeter of the room so we wouldn't mess up the carpet. I know we needed to respect his art and hard work, and we knew he just wanted to enjoy it for a minute before millions of little barefoot prints would ruin it all. But it wasn't just a minute or two that we waited. No! Into the evening the wake continued, each of us finding new ways to hold on to the wall so the least amount of damage was wrought upon the floors of perfection.
I have realized over the years that the result of that ritual did more than make me a clean freak. It made me preserve beyond what was reasonable. I had simply acquired a talent for having things, without diving in and learning to enjoy them.
So here's my advice: Go ahead, make the footprints. And that pair of fancy shoes in your closet that you haven't worn because the right party hasn't even been planned yet? Get 'em out. Put 'em on with your skinny jeans, and go have fun on half-price wine night at your local haunt. While you're at it, call up your best friend and tell her you love her. Call all the people who shouldn't have to wait for Christmas, or Valentine's Day, or Good Friday to hear what you feel.
And finally, when you see that beautiful piece of expensive Chilean Sea Bass at Fresh Market? (GULP) Buy it. I'm SO GLAD I DID. I would venture to say that my invitees for a Thursday night French Winter Dinner were more than just a little glad as well.
Oh, the lushness of it all! The moist, white, flavorful decadence of this meal seeped into my bones! It made me want to try all sorts of fancy methods for cooking amazing food. And my bucket list? It grew five times that day. I must DO. MORE. --- NOW.
But first, I have to vacuum. Because, you know...there's crumbs all over the rug. Heheheheh.
Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass Provençal
Serves 4 - Click here for printable version
4, 4 oz fillets of Chilean Sea Bass
½ C flour for dredging
¼ C (4 T) butter divided
2 T sunflower oil
Kosher salt and Black pepper to season
¾ of a can of artichoke hearts drained and quartered
1 C pitted Kalamata olives quartered
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 mini orange peppers sliced thinly
1 heaping T capers
Dash of hot chili flakes
1 t olive oil
2 T lemon juice
2 t white balsamic
¾ C dry white wine
Handful of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
Blot dry the sea bass, and set on counter until it reaches room temperature. In a large bowl combine the olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, orange peppers, chili flakes, 1 T lemon juice, capers, vinegar and oil. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 T of butter and sauté the olive mixture for about 4 minutes, just until the pepper is slightly softened. Remove, cover and keep on counter for up to 3 hours before serving time.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the flour in a bowl and add the salt and pepper. Toss. Heat a large oven-proof sauté pan with 3 T butter and 2 T oil. Dredge one of the fillets and tap to remove extra flour. Make sure you get flour on all sides. Set the fillets in the hot butter and oil, with plenty of room between them, and sear on each side about 1 ½ to 2 minutes each side. Shake the pan a bit to bring the liquid around the pan, delaying the over-browning of the butter. Turn heat down a bit and add the wine and 1 T lemon juice and a little kosher salt. Let deglaze for about 30 seconds. Place pan in oven and let cook for about 4 minutes. Remove, turn pan slightly so you can ladle the pan juices over the meat. Let sit for about 2-3 minutes, serve with the vegetables and garnish with flat leaf parsley.
NOTE: I also served it with Creamy Herbed Cauliflower and Potatoes, and a Spring Green Salad with yellow peppers, craisins, sweet onions, and roasted almonds with a lemon garlic mustard vinaigrette.
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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.