23 March 2009

Lenten Feast

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.


The Wine Commonsewer said...

See that's the trouble with you Press-by-tear-y-ans. When I was a lad, my mother would admonish me not to touch her potato salad at the Sunday afternoon social. Wait....

Bottom line, mom's would vanish, and the icky stuff would still be there.

I was just explaining to the kids today how good cold fried chicken is at a church pot luck.

Michelle said...

Looks fantastic. Very clever tip about stacking the thin pieces of fish.

Benito said...


You're completely right about the homemade, cold fried chicken. It's a far cry from the half box of leftover McNuggets in the fridge.


Glad you liked it--Fresh Market had Dover sole on sale but the pieces were tiny.

erin said...

blah! I had a typo and that wouldn't do.

Ben. 1- you nailed the presbyterian potluck.
2- I'm just going to have to come over to memphis and watch this business for myself. !