Like a pianist in a bar, I love taking requests. It keeps life interesting. Most recently, Grace asked for a proper Lent dinner on a Friday night. In the Presbyterian tradition of my childhood, there were no food restrictions of any sort*, but I've happily cooked around the dietary restrictions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and vegetarians of all stripes. Sometimes it's more fun to cook with certain categories removed; it sharpens the senses, breaks you out of a routine, and pushes creativity.
The main part of this meal was Dover sole. But that filet looks two inches thick, right? It's a trick I picked up from a little French bistro in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you've got a lot of little flat pieces of sole, just season and stack, and you have greater control over the cooking time and texture. Here I made a blood orange and vermouth reduction, dipping each filet and then assembling the whole mess into a brick shape inside foil. Topped with blood orange slices and baked until done, it came out tender and flaky. For sides I sautéed some baby bok choy in olive oil and soy sauce, and made a quick pasta dish using angel hair, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil.
This was all pretty easy, and it was very tasty. What about the wines? I tried a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc... more details on those in a future post.
*Now that I think about it, there was one Presbyterian food rule. At a church potluck dinner, you avoid the most appealing and delicious food and fill up your plate with the cold casseroles and slimy 7-bean salads that haven't been touched yet. You don't want anyone to go home with hurt feelings. So by the end of lunch, the soggy pile of corn-tuna-pea-mayonnaise salad would be gone, but a stack of beautiful golden-brown fried chicken would only be half-consumed.