Here’s a speedy and uncomplicated method for cooking mild-tasting fish. From Molly Steven’s latest cookbook “All About Dinner” comes Sautéed Flounder Fillet with Wine Sauce along with a side dish of Green Beans with Shallots, Herbs and Lemon. All you need to complete this light and quick meal is a simple side salad.
Both dishes take approximately 20 minutes total from prep through the cooking process.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper.
Set a heavy-bottomed skillet large enough to hold the fillets (or cook in two batches) over medium-low heat. As the skillet warms up, dredge the fish in the rice flour on a plate, flipping so both sides are lightly dusted, shaking to remove any excess.
Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the oil to the skillet (use only half if cooking in two batches). When the oil shimmers, lower in the flounder. Drop the pieces of butter around the edges of the skillet, and as soon as it melts, tilt the pan to pool the butter and use a spoon to baste the fish. The butter will turn golden.
In 30-60 seconds, when the fillets turn golden, flip them and repeat.
Transfer the fish to a serving platter, flipping the fish so that the browner side is up. Cover tightly with foil while you make the wine sauce.
Give the skillet a cursory wipe to remove any excess fat, but don’t wash it.
Return the pan to medium heat, add half of the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and the minced shallot, and cook stirring frequently, until the shallot is tender, about 1 minute.
Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and cook until reduced to a glaze, another 30 seconds or so.
Add the capers, parley and remaining butter. Swirl the pan to incorporate the butter and heat through. Spoon over the fish and serve immediately.
This side dish is a great model in how a little technique and a few choice seasonings can transform basic ingredients. As Molly says in her cookbook “There is a sort of Goldilocks zone when they loose their raw taste and relax enough to offer a pleasant bite before turning limp and sad.”
At home, you can store green beans in a loose produce bag for a couple of days, but any longer, they start loosing their flavor.
1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Flaky salt such as Maldon
Bring 2-3 quarts of well-salted water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Set a colander in the sink.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 4-6 minutes. Add the herbs and keep warm over low heat.
Once the water reaches a rollicking boil, add the beans in big handfuls, and boil until the color deepens and a bean bends a bit when you lift it out with tongs. For best flavor, stop the cooking when they are tender with only a bit of resistance, 3-5 minutes.
As soon as the beans are done, dump them in the colander, giving it a couple of good shakes to remove excess moisture. Quickly wipe out and dry the pan, and return it to the stove. Return the beans to the pan over medium-high heat. Use the tongs to toss briskly until the beans are nice and dry, about 30 seconds.
Remove from the heat, add the shallot butter and lemon, scraping the skillet with a silicone spatula, and toss to coat. Garnish with flaky sea salt and serve immediately.
Folks in much of the U.S. start to breathe a sigh of relief as the temps and humidity become more humane. With the welcome respite, we start craving comfort foods that haven’t made appearances on our dinner table since the early Spring. Meatloaf comes to mind as one of those cool-weather comfort foods, and here’s one with a local twist: Philly Cheesesteak Meatloaf.
I found this recipe on dinnerthendessert.com and decided it was worth a try, after all Philadelphia is our “mother” city, the place we refer to when on vacay and asked where we call home. It contains not only ground beef but green bell peppers, onions and mushrooms, and is topped and stuffed with provolone cheese. Not exactly haute cuisine, but certainly worth a try. And BTW, it is fantastic leftover!
Typically I like to serve mashed potatoes with meatloaf, but The Hubs suggested we pair it with a Farmers Market Ratatouille recipe found in our latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine. It is an example of simple food, prepared in a way to let humble ingredients shine that gets even tastier as it sits. You could even make it the day before, let the flavors meld in the refrigerator and reheat it when ready. A win-win in my book.
For a touch more depth of flavor, I included 1 teaspoon dried oregano, two dried bay leaves and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Keep in mind, the ratatouille is done in a slow cooker and takes over 6 hours total including the prep, so plan ahead. But you will love it because it’s rich in flavor, gluten-free, vegetarian, and absolutely delicious! If you have a non-meat eater in the household, they could make this their main course along with a hefty slice of crusty bread.
The directions instruct to employ a 6-quart slow cooker. We used our 7-quart model and it was filled to the brim initially, but everything cooked down to about half by the end. So you might want to start with a larger cooker if you have one. Oh, and feel free to throw in any errant veggies you may have lurking in the fridge. We had one cooked ear of corn, so I shaved off the kernels and threw them in for the last several minutes before the basil.
1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 medium Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 medium yellow summer squash, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lightly packed cup thinly sliced basil
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, remove from the heat, and let cool 5 minutes
Stir in the tomato paste until smooth.
Combine all of the prepped veggies (except the basil) in a 6-qt. (or larger) slow cooker. Add the tomato paste mixture, bay leaves, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir well.
Cover and cook on low until the vegetables are tender, about 5 hours.
Remove the lid, and continue cooking until some of the liquid evaporates, about 30-45 minutes.
Stir in the basil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve or cool and refrigerate until ready to eat.
If you’re not fluent in Korean, the title translates to “Korean Chicken Salad (with Pine Nuts)“. And best news of all, it uses a supermarket precooked rotisserie chicken (at least my version). Other than a bit of chopping and measuring, you only have to use the stovetop to blanch the beans for a few minutes. I’ll toast to that!
Light, creamy, nutty, and tangy
This Korean chicken salad is made with a traditional pine nut dressing—no mayonnaise. It is light, creamy, nutty, and tangy, and certainly a healthier option for you. Always toast the nuts lightly to bring out the flavor, and then either finely chop or, as in this recipe, grind them in a blender. The gochujang and mustard add robust flavors, while the acidity from lemon juice ties everything together, brightening the taste of the dressing.
The original recipe indicates adding yellow mustard, but I went ahead and used Dijon. Other variations incorporate hot mustard, so it’s up to you which way to go. The Hubs thinks mixing Coleman’s brand hot mustard powder with vinegar would make a good acidic choice.
This isn’t your grandma’s coleslaw by any stretch. We’ve taken the idea of slaw and turned it on its “head” to perk up your tastebuds and shout “look at me!” It contains both chipotle powder and a jalapeño, but if you think that might be going too far out on a limb for some of your guests, just scale them back a touch, or use one or the other.
Please don’t use bottled lime juice. Just don’t. The fresh ingredients in this recipe are really what makes it so special. Bottled lime juice will not give it the same fresh, tangy taste. On that note however, we decided next time to scale back on the amount of lime zest, and zest only one of them, but use the juice from both.
A large mandoline is worth its weight in gold when cutting the cabbage and onion into sliver-thin slices. When it comes to the amount of mayo, I suggest starting with a half-cup’s worth and increasing the amount to suit your personal preference.
So next time you’re asked to bring a side dish to a BBQ or potluck, this just might be your ticket in…