Dinner Report - Fantastic Fish Recipe
We celebrated our anniversary with a dinner at home:
New Potatoes with Caviar
Sea Trout in Champagne Sauce with Saffron Rice and Haricots Verts
Pear and Endive Salad with Bleu d'Auvergne and Toasted Hazelnuts
The inspiration for the meal was a bottle of Dom Perignon from my mother in law, and I wanted to find dishes that would work well and not overwhelm it.
The first two recipes were from Hopkinson's Week In, Week Out. The potatoes were to be the tiniest new potatoes - boiled and "scraped", not peeled. Well, these were not the newest of potatoes, nor the tiniest. Scraping was difficult so I resorted to peeling, but I can see the benefits of scraping - the potatoes keep their pretty round shape, and less of the potato is removed. Since mine were larger, I cut them in half and scooped out the middle a little, and also sliced a little of the bottom of each piece so they would sit on the plate. (I initially tried putting them on a bed of salt but, as I should have realized, a layer of salt adhered to the potato!) Before adding the caviar (American) I brushed the inside of each potato with melted butter, and then put v. finely chopped chives on top - a tasty and pretty touch.
The fish - ah the fish - what a wonderful dish. I was able to find a 2 lb sea trout (which I was pleased to see is an inexpensive fish - about $5 a lb), and had it beheaded and cleaned. You then butter a roasting pan (I used my oval cazuela) with a nice knob of soft butter, add a layer of chopped shallots, rub the fish with another knob of butter, season with salt and pepper, add thyme sprigs and bay leaves to the dish (no quantities given - I used 2 bay leaves and probably 6-7 sprigs) and half a bottle of champagne or white wine. I had bought a bottle of cava for this purpose. It then gets cooked covered in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning the fish once, then 15 minutes covered out of the oven. You then remove the skin and filet the fish (I wasn't so good at that) and put all the skin, bones, liquid etc. in a sauce pan and reduce until almost all the liquid is gone. Then add cream (250 ml or so) and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain and return to clean pan. Meanwhile I put the fish back in the clean cazuela and covered w/ Saran wrap so it wouldn't dry out. I reheated the fish briefly in the oven (said to put a couple of minutes under the broiler) and served with the sauce. That sauce was incredible - so very flavorful. He says this dish is typically served with fleurons, and to do so if you are one who enjoys that kind of thing. I had some leftover puff pastry in the freezer, so I made them, though uncrimped, and I must not have made the knife marks deep enough, because they puffed up an awful lot - I just sliced them in half. I think this dish could also be made somewhat ahead of time, reheating the sauce and fish before serving - the fish was very moist.
When I did a little research in JC, my sense was that this kind of dish is usually served alone, but I wanted to have things with it, and Gio kindly got me on my way. I made a saffron rice pilaf from epicurious.com, but forgot the almonds, and haricots verts that I blanched in the potato water for a couple of minutes, then sauted in butter and seasoned. Both worked nicely with the fish.
For the salad, I'd read that mild blues go nicely with champagne, and I think hazelnuts do too, so I did a variation of a salad that I'd made before, with slices of pear, then sliced endive tossed in a mustard dressing that had just a little bit of lemon juice in it, and topped with crumbled cheese and toasted hazelnuts.
I made the Iles Flottantes from JC's recipe. I've made it before, but had trouble with the Creme Anglaise - I must have overcooked it as I did have tiny tiny bits of cooked egg in it, despite straining. However, it sure tasted good, though was a bit thick. I also wish that I'd put thinner "threads" of caramel on top. Overall a pretty easy dessert, and one that can be made ahead of time and then assembled - just reheating the caramel.
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A nicer photo of the main course and a fireside photo of the potatoes and champagne (before the potatoes were quickly removed to higher ground for safety reasons).
re: Sam Fujisaka
Thanks - I did comment to my husband that, other than the beans, the dishes were rather colourless, but I think that came out of not wanting to compete with the champagne. I had some leftover iles flottantes with raspberries last night - no caramel - and that might have been a nice though non-traditional addition.
I didn't recall ever reading about that method for making the sauce, but just now (to avoid running errands in the cold) I looked up some of my best sources. Didn't find anything similar in Bocuse, Guerard, Senderens. Even Madeleine Kamman, who has pages and pages on how, and how not, to make a fumet and sauce therefrom always starts with raw heads and frames.