Sunday, March 18, 2012

Trout Meuniere

The menu for son daughter-in-law dinner was somewhat contentious. I got a text from son on Sunday morning after church, when he knew I might be prowling around Safeway on my way home from church. "Can we have corned beef and cabbage?" he demanded. Since it was the day after Saint Patrick's Day, corned beeves were in abundance in the meat department. However, the answer was regretfully, no.
Ever since the end of February, I have been on a diet known as the anti-inflammatory diet. Some of you long time readers, (all two of you) may have noticed a certain lack of commitment to the blog. Well, this is one of the reasons why. I have arthritis in my hips and in my toes and pains in my shoulders and every place else. Finally after repeated urging by my daughter, who also is on a diet avoiding certain foods, I took the plunge.
What it means is, the dieter is more or less restricted to fish, chicken, grains and vegetables. Also eggs and fruit. No pasta, cheese, red meat, cake, bread, etc, etc. It is way more healthy and when I stuck to it faithfully, I lost weight and had much more energy. However, The New York Times Heritage Cookbook and health really don't coincide. The recipes date from a time when people got much more exercise in the course of their daily lives and had to eat to fuel the engine.
So I haven't been cooking much, at least out of the cookbook.
Also, I have been working 12 hour days in the service of the DC Public Schools which doesn't allow a lot of time for pouring through the cookbook, tracking down ingredients, etc. etc. etc. When one has to create a phonics lesson, a lesson for a book to be read aloud to the class which is supposed to illustrate some point of literary craft such as character traits, a second phonics lesson for the children who need it, and a math lesson every day, not much time remains for breathing, exercise, or even chatting on the telephone to one's own children.
My daughter got justifiably upset when I told her last week I didn't feel like talking to anyone.
Inside my head, I was yelling, "I don't want to talk to anyone. Not you, Elvis, the Pope, the ghost of Lyndon Johnson (read more about him later), Harrison Ford or the President. I just want to be left ALONE!" So, that's been my life for the past few weeks.

However, Trout Meuniere fit in more or less with the diet. (More because it was not red meat, less because it used flour and milk. So, instead of corned beef and cabbage, we had that for dinner when the yms came over. It is easy to make, but do not let the fish man sell you more than you need. What you will need is not a whole trout for each person, but more like half a trout for each person, and maybe one extra trout half for seconds. As fish go, trout is reasonably inexpensive, so you will not be looking at a bank loan or a maxing out of the credit card to pay for your meal.

Trout Meuniere

6 trout fillets

1 cup milk

1/2 cup flour

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup vegetable or peanut oil

1/4 cup butter

chopped parsley

lemon wedges

1. Dip the fillets in the milk and let stand until ready to cook.

2. Blend the flour with salt and pepper. Drain the fillets, but do not dry. Dip them in seasoned flour.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the fillets until golden brown, turning once. Transfer to a warm serving pallet. Wipe out the skillet.

4. Add the butter to the skillet and cook until butter just begins to brown. Pour the butter over the fish, sprinkle with parsley and garnish with lemon wedges. Makes three to six servings.

Hancock Village Steamed Ginger Sponge

When one embarks on a project like this, one accumulates ingredients for dishes long before said dishes actually make their appearance. So it was with Hancock Village Steamed Ginger Sponge. I tracked the preserved ginger down at Rodman's, a very peculiar institution in our neighborhood that sells a wide and disparate array of goods, around Christmas. Pop it went into the cupboard until I had an event to serve it at. Son and daughter-in-law came to dinner and I finally got it together to make this for dessert.
It should be explained that sponge does not refer to either a cleaning implement or a cartoon character. Sponge is what the British call a pudding, which I certainly found confusing in my younger years since pudding to me meant Jello pudding and pie filling. This kind of pudding is steamed, which again may be unfamiliar to American cooks, but is not difficult. What you do need is a pudding basin, which is a smallish ceramic bowl with a rim. The rim is necessary because you have to stretch waxed paper over the top of it, and fasten it with a rubber band. Without the rim, the rubber band goes shooting off and the cook is left cursing.
Anyhow, everybody liked this so if you can run down Canton preserved ginger on the Internet, and have an hour and three-quarters before you may eat dessert to steam it, go ahead. Steaming involves putting the aforementioned pudding basin, filled with raw pudding, and waxed paper stretched over, into a large pot filled half way up with water. Turn on the heat and wait for the water to boil. It should not boil too violently as the pudding basin may tip over. After the water has a nice, even boil, put the lid on the pot to keep the steam in and go about your business.
In case anyone is wondering about Hancock Village, it is a reconstructed Shaker colony in far Western Massachusetts. The Shakers were great eaters, and this recipe has been handed down to us.

Hancock Village Steamed Ginger Sponge

1 cup butter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (I put in more. I wanted it to be sweet.)
2 eggs well beaten
2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Canton preserved ginger, drained and cut into small pieces
7 teaspoons syrup from preserved ginger
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1. Cream the butter and gradually add the granulated sugar. Add the eggs.
2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and add alternately with the milk to the batter. Add the ginger and one teaspoon ginger syrup. Pour into a buttered one-quart mold and steam one and three-quarters hours.
3. Beat the cream until stiff, sweeten with the confectioners' sugar and flavor with the remaining ginger syrup. Unmold the ginger sponge and serve hot, with the ginger cream.
Makes six servings.

Broiled Shad Roe

Shad roe was one of those things that my parents ate when I was very young. My parents operated on the British model. Kids, at least my brother and I, ate earlier in the kitchen. Adults, and my sister, who was four years older and had special family status, ate at 7:30 in the dining room. So I heard of shad roe, but never ate it. And frankly, it was all to the best. Although I ate most meat dishes that were put in front of me, fish was not a favorite, and if it had gotten out that fish eggs were on order, the results would not have been pleasant.

I actually had ordered shad roe a few weeks earlier in a restaurant. They were okay, somewhat mealy. But I had no idea what they looked like until I trotted around to the Fishery on a Saturday afternoon and ordered some in response to their hand lettered sign that proclaimed SHAD ROE. While seasonal foods have faded out, shad roe is only available for a few weeks in the spring, so I had to move while the shad was running. Or roeing. Or something.

Well, what they look like is brains.

When they are cooked, they look more like a sausage, so not to worry.

The recipe says to take care not to overcook them. Due to some fooling around with the broiler, and leaving a pan in the oven that has no other place to live, I did overcook them. That increases their mealiness. So, be careful.

Broiled Shad Roe

1 pair shad roe

4 slices bacon

2 tablespoons melted butter

Lemon wedges

1. Wrap the roe in the bacon slices and broil five minutes on each side, or until bacon and roe are done. Do not overcook.

2. Pour the butter over and serve with lemon wedges.

The recipe says, makes one serving, but my roes were large. One pair served for the two of us.