Monday, December 15, 2014

Messing With The Classics

Here in California, we have a very nice little fish called a petrale sole. He's a flat fish, like the tiny sand dabs and the giant halibut, so he's white-fleshed and very mild. When he's fresh, there's no better fish on earth, so when I saw some at the local Astronomico's supermarket (just kidding), I wanted to do a fish dish celebrating our local star.

My dog-eared and spattered copy of Sunset magazine's, "Cooking for Two" cookbook has yielded many a delicious recipe over the years. I was sorry to read that the parent company, Time, Inc. has sold their test-and-demonstration campus in Menlo Park to the rich cat developers, but I am hopeful that the magazine will continue to produce a monthly pleasure and that the cookbooks will keep coming out.

The recipe for Sole Florentine is one I had never made before, but it seemed pretty simple, so I went for it. Being me, I had to tinker a bit with it, even though it's a classic, but it still turned out very well. I used Swiss chard instead of spinach, simplified the poaching step, and substituted the sharp cheddar cheese I had on hand for the Parmesan cheese the recipe suggested. It was still a lovely dish that My Beloved and I inhaled - I don't think it was on the plates for more than five minutes!

California and Sunset magazine just seem to go together. Even when I didn't live in California, I subscribed to the magazine for all the good recipes and craft ideas inside. I hope it never changes - that would truly be messing with a classic.

Sole Florentine, adapted from Sunset Magazine 

4 sole fillets, 3/4-1 pound
1 bottle (8oz) clam juice
1 bunch rainbow Swiss chard
4 Tablespoons grated Cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2/3 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon each lemon juice and instant minced onion (I left out the onion since I didn't have any - and I'd have used minced shallot in any case, softened in the butter before thickening the sauce)

Preheat the oven to 425 degree F oven.

Wash the Swiss chard and sauté it with the water still clinging to the leaves until limp in a wide skillet. Butter a ovenproof gratin dish large enough to accept the fillets in a single layer. Distribute the Swiss chard in the bottom and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of the cheese. Set aside.

Bring the clam juice to a boil in a wide pan. Lay the fillets into the clam juice and gently poach for about 3 minutes. Lift out the fillets and lay them over the Swiss chard. In a separate sauté pan, melt the butter and add the flour, cooking and stirring until bubbly, then cook for a minute or two longer. Add the milk and the clam juice a bit at a time, stirring to make a smooth sauce. Add the nutmeg, lemon juice, and dry mustard, and stir to blend.

Pour the sauce over the fillets and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Slide the dish into the oven and bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.


Blogger Greg said...

Sounds absolutely wonderful

Monday, December 15, 2014  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

It does sound wonderful - will look for sole today at my local market.

Monday, December 15, 2014  
Anonymous Zoomie said...

Greg and Nancy, sometimes it pays to break the rules...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014  

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