Saturday, October 3, 2009

Filets de Poisson a la Bretonne...

Okay, so I lied. All I actually want to talk about is food. Sorry! :)

So, yesterday I decided I was going to tackle fish, primarily because in Julia's memoir My Life in France, she gushes over the french way of preparing fish, which is to poach it and serve it with a delectable sauce. Sold.

So I flipped to Fish, chapter 5, and decided first on Filets de Poisson Gratines, a la Parisienne (Fish filets poached in white wine w/ a cream and egg yolk sauce). Sounds delectable, right? Well, I realized that it was ridiculously unhealthy and artery clogging, and, since Julia says that when serving a "beautifully sauced fish...a salad or vegetable should come afterward, so as not to disturb the harmony of the fish, the sauce, and the wine" I knew that by the time we finished eating the main course, I'd be too lazy to actually prepare a salad, so I settled on Filets de Poisson a la Bretonne instead, which is filets poached in white wine and a julienne of vegetables. (Btw, I just have to say that, though it's very persnickety, I kind of love the fact that Julia makes sure we don't spoil our wonderful fish dishes with pesky things like vegetables. I love her.)

So, I'm feeling a little daunted by the recipe this time around, because I'm really making a combination of 3 recipes, as Julia tends to provide a master recipe, than variations of the master recipe, and then variations of that recipe, so there's a lot of flipping back and forth, and a lot of room for missing steps and screwing things up. But it sounded so tasty, I was willing to take the risk.

First thing I had to do was find a "10- to 12-inch fireproof baking and serving dish, 1.5 to 2 inches deep," which I didn't buy during my cookware spree at Home Goods. But I figured it'd be easy to find, right? Absolutely and utterly WRONG. I went to a different Home Goods, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Macy's, and there were no fireproof baking dishes to be found. So upsetting! I wasted about 2 hours on my hunt, but did pick up some fun kitchen gadgets at BBB, including an onion chopper, yay!!

Anyway! I finally made it home around 5, and was shooting for dinner at 7 again, so I immediately set myself up with 3 lbs of potatoes and the Amazing Race premiere and started peeling. (I was making the Pommes de Terre Sautees again, per Julia's recommendation for good dishes to accompany the fish.) After peeling, I started julienne-ing the veggies (carrots, celery, onions--I sadly realized I would not be breaking in my chopper just yet), and if you've never julienne'd anything before, a word of warning: it's annoying. I hate chopping on the best of days, and making little matchsticks out of carrots will never be my idea of fun...but Julia said julienne, so I said, "how tiny?" and chopped away.

By then, hubby was home, and I thought I'd set him to work actually trying to make "elongated olive shapes" out of the potatoes, which is what you're supposed to do to make sure they cook evenly, but which I was never actually going to try, because it sounded too absurd. But for hubby, it sounded like the perfect task! :p And, as it turns out, I was imagining a lot more work than it actually is, as the measurements Julia gives for the ideal olive-shaped potato are actually about the size of a new potato to begin with, so it wasn't actually that much work after all. Good to know. From that point on, hubby was pretty much in charge of the potatoes, which was nice, but also a bit difficult, since I'm a bit of a kitchen control freak. I also forgot to tell him to dry the potatoes before cooking them, so they didn't turn out as delectable as last time, but now we know how important it is to dry them first! They came out fine, though siginificantly less buttery. They did look pretty though! (Good job, hubby :o) )

I then set to work on the fish. I slowly cooked the veggies for 20 minutes while I prepared the cod filets by lightly seasoning them with salt and pepper and layering them in a buttered casserole dish (which worked out fine in place of the baking dish I needed, but was a little cramped). When the veggies were tender, I layered them on top of the fish. Next, I added the "liquids" that the fish would poach in. Julia offers several options, which I appreciate, and I picked the white wine/clam juice/water option, mainly so that I'd have enough of the wine left over to drink with the meal! (Priorities, people.) I then brought the whole thing to a simmer, covered it with buttered wax paper, and poached the fish in the oven for about 10 minutes. When I pulled the pan out, I really had no clue if the fish was done, since I couldn't actually see the fish under all the veggies and liquid, but I crossed my fingers and pressed on.

Next I drained all the cooking liquids into a saucepan and started making the sauce that was going to make the whole thing so amazing, at least according to Julia.

I boiled down the fish juice (yum), then beat in a "white roux" I'd made earlier out of butter and flour, and some cream. Heated it up again, added more cream, added some lemon juice, gave it a taste, it was great, and dumped it on top of the fish again.

Almost there! I then sprinkled swiss chesse on a top and dotted it with more butter (sigh), and stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes, and it came out like this! Beautiful!!!

We then sat down and watched the new NBC show 'Community', which is actually pretty good, and then a lame episode of Buffy, Season 3, "The Zeppo." I should probably explain here that we are on a mission to watch all 7 seasons of Buffy, due to the recommendations of about a thousand people, and thanks to the fact that one of our friends owns the whole series, so there will probably be lots of Buffy watching as we eat our french food for a long while. (Funny side note: it turns out that Julie Powell is actually obsessed with Buffy, and on her blog from 2002 about cooking the entirety of MAFC, she mentions Buffy a lot. It's really funny how my Julia experience is also linked with Buffy.)

Anyway, I'm rambling, mostly because when I finish this post I need to spend the rest of the day working on internship application essays, which is clearly not that much fun. But I must....I'll leave you with a shot of the plated food. Again, it doesn't look nearly as good as it tasted, but that fish was....mmmm, perfection.

Butter Count: 2 sticks

Stumble Upon Toolbar

1 comment:

  1. So delectable, I think I'll have some of the leftovers now!