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Upcoming Cooking Classes 3rd+4th Thursdays of April, May, and June, 2015,  5-8pm at Shouse Appliance, Colorado Springs, Colorado. $55 adults; $30 kids.  $5 discount for cash/checks.  Includes French Night, Make a Great Pizza+ Salad at Home, Kids make dinner/dessert, Spring Brunch (Master quiche/homemade sausage!) Can’t wait to cook with you. Click here for list and sign-up info.

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The day began beautifully–a little chilly, but gorgeous.  I went to Bible study and when we finished had to run for the car as a white-out snow storm had hit. No hat, no scarf, no boots, I was frozen by the time I started the engine, found the snow brush, got the car cleaned off, and jumped in to head for home. (Channel Saint Paul, Minnesota.) Did I say the temperature was by then 10 degrees colder than when I’d left the house?  Brrr…. Of course the dogs were thrilled with the weather.

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Definitely a soup day today, I’m glad I made this fun one-pan fish meal last night preparing for Friday Fish.  (One more to go after this.)

If you follow a tradition of Lent, you might be interested in reading my Lenten journal (blog), written three years ago and chronicling the entire 40-day journey. Here’s the link for days 33-34; we’re a week away from the end as this Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday and next week is Holy Week. Sigh.

About the fish dish…I’d thought about this meal for a while and just never got around to making it until last night. As Dave asked, “How long does something like this perk in your brain?” (Who knows?)  The crux of it is you make a pan of risotto with a few vegetables and, when it’s done, add a layer of seasoned, thin fish fillets and lemons.  Put the lid on and let it cook just a few more minutes until the fish is firm and opaque and there’s your one-pan dinner.  As far as I know it’s an original dish, but who knows?  If you wanted to do this on a simpler rice preparation (say long-grain white rice cooked in chicken broth), I think it would work with some extra liquid.  If you do want to make the risotto and haven’t ever made it, read Mark Bittman’s article on “Laid Back Risotto,” and fear not!  I did make a pound or so of green beans, too, but just because I love them.  Try this:

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SOLE COOKED ON KALE-BASIL RISOTTO

served with Green Beans Almondine                  4 servings

Begin by boiling the water for and cooking the green beans. You can start the risotto in the meantime and the beans will hold or reheat at serving time.  I like this risotto with fresh herbs, but they’re easily replaced with dry and/or less-expensive parsley; see note.

  • 4 cups cooked green beans* ( approx. 1 1/4 pounds) seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed with 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds (Set aside until risotto and fish are done.)
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) hot chicken broth heated together with 1 cup water -Keep warm in pot on stove
  • 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • Kosher salt, Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup kale, chopped into 1/4″ ribbons (save stems for stock or sautéing another day with scrambled eggs)
  • 1/2 cup fresh Julienned basil 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 pound sole fillets, rinsed and patted dry, salted and peppered
  • 2 teaspoons butter, cut or pinched into bits
  • 1 lemon (Cut in half. Slice one half thinly and quarter the second half for garnish.)
  • 4 small tomatoes, sliced, for garnish

1. In a deep 12-inch sauté pan (5-quart), heat butter and olive oil and cook onion over medium heat until quite soft– 8 – 10 minutes.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, along with a good pinch of crushed red pepper and the thyme.  Add rice and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring to make sure each grain is well-coated with butter.  Add wine and simmer, stirring, until wine has cooked down or been reduced.

2. Pour in two ladles of hot broth mixture at a time and cook, stirring regularly until incorporated. Repeat until there’s only about one more addition of broth to go.  Stir in kale and basil and let cook 3-4 minutes. Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning; check if the risotto is al dente. If not, let it cook another couple of minutes.

3. Lay the seasoned fish** in a single layer evenly on top of the risotto; top with lemon slices and dot with butter. Add a little more stock or plain hot water if rice appears dry. (It should still have a bit of liquid left in order cook the fish.) Cover and cook 4 minutes or so or until fish is opaque and barely done.

4. Divide risotto topped with sole and lemon pieces between 4 plates or shallow bowls and garnish each with a piece of fresh lemon and one sliced tomato. Spoon some green beans almondine to the side of the fish and grind a little pepper over all. Serve hot.

*Basic technique for cooking green beans.  Alternately, you can cook (then drain) the beans in water, then heat butter and cook the almonds in it–adding the drained beans and tossing for several minutes over the heat. Don’t forget salt and lots of pepper; beans love them.

**If there are any fish that don’t fit in the risotto pan, cook them separately,  pan frying them in butter (dust with flour, salt, and pepper first) for 3-4 minutes or until opaque and barely firm. Leftovers: Blend with soft cheeses and spices for a spread,  stuff in omelets, chop for salads, or eat as is for a snack.

Cook’s Note:  No fresh thyme or basil?  Use 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme with the onions and fresh parsley in place of the basil, or just leave it out if you’ve no parsley either.   You can also sub fresh spinach for the kale.

WINE:  I like a gorgeous White Burgundy or California Chardonnay here.

Sing a new song,

Alyce