Trout with Almonds and Green Beans

January 30th, 2013 · 64 Comments · Seafood

The first time we made this was in January 2007 — I  remember that not only because, um, it’s written in my dinner diary, but because it was one of the keepers that came out of the original “30 Days, 30 Dinners” experiment (the prequel to Seven Days, Seven Meals that I hope you guys are still reaping rewards from). I want to say it was around Day 28 or 29 when Andy reached up into our cookbook library and pulled down our French Laundry Cookbook to look for ideas.

“Yeah right,” I said. The last time I had thought about The French Laundry was when I had been lucky enough to dine at the Napa legend about a decade earlier. Reservations were impossible to get, they only booked you 30 days in advance, and tables were usually all scooped up within 15 minutes of the reservation line opening. This was before OpenTable — it might have even been before me owning a cell phone – because I remember circling the day on my calendar that was exactly 30 days before the one night during a trip to SF that we’d have free, then camping out in my apartment on Monroe Place in Brooklyn and speed-dialing for an hour until I got through. Thirty days later we sat down to a parade of dishes served with bacon emulsions and pea coulis and quotation marks.

Things were getting blurry. Was that even my life? What on earth could we make from that cookbook that had any relevance to our real life?

But wearing his parent goggles, Andy found one that worked. What he found was basically a cleaner, healthier Trout Amandine and it worked for us because it was a) fast b) took advantage of my daughter’s newly discovered, Nemo-induced fish obsession and c) fast.

Trout with Almonds and Green Beans
Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller 

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 trout filets (about 1 pound for four)
1/2 cup slivered raw almonds
2 large handfuls trimmed green beans (enough to fill four people)
red pepper flakes, a few shakes
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
chives, optional

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook fish skin-side down, 2 to 3 minutes. Lift it out and place on a platter (you might have to do this in batches if your skillet is not large enough.) The fish will not be cooked all the way through, it will still be pink in the middle. To the pan, add the green beans with some red pepper flakes and cook them over medium heat for about 5 minutes. With tongs, lift them out and place on top of the fish on the platter. (By doing that you are adding heat to the fish.) Add one more glug of oil to the pan, throw in the almonds and stir until just toasty, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape them over the fish.

Add lemon juice, butter, wine and stir about 30 seconds until reduced and slightly syrupy. Pour on top of fish, beans, and almonds.

Garnish with chives.

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Soup on the Brain

January 28th, 2013 · 60 Comments · Sides, Salads, Soup

This post is for those of you in the Northeast who haven’t felt their toes since last week. And for those of you who keep tweeting and emailing requests for soups right now please, Jenny! And for my mom who called me last night and said Why haven’t you done some kind of soup yet? For those of you in warmer climes, sorry, this post is not for you. In fact, I’m going to do my best to suppress my envy of you and your warmer climes by just ignoring you completely.

Best Get-it-On-the-Table Fast Soup Greek Chicken Soup (Avgolemono), above. A Greek twist on chicken noodle. Just don’t do what I did last night, which was try to temper and whisk the egg into the broth during the 30 seconds my egg-hating sous chef Abby was retrieving bowls for serving. I panicked, didn’t get the egg mixture hot enough, whisked it into the main soup just as she was coming my way, only to find the pot of broth more Egg Drop Soup-ish than creamy, luscious Avgolemono. This wasn’t a disaster (I love Egg Drop soup) except Abby kept picking up little strings of white and yellow with her spoon and saying “This looks an awful lot like an egg.” (Me: “You were with me the whole time. How could there be an egg in there??”) If you have everything you need, you can be eating this in under 20 minutes.

Best Soup for Picky Eaters Tortilla Soup. If you are all set up for Super Bowl Nachos, then you are all set up for this soup. For me, it’s all about the lime, but for the kids, it might be all about the cheese. So think about the diners at the table as you assemble and customize accordingly.

Healthiest and Heartiest Butternut Squash Soup. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with this one, replacing the curry powder with smoked paprika (just a little; stuff’s strong) and topping with pepitas and Greek yogurt instead of walnuts and creme fraiche. No matter what you do, though, it’s a classic. It was also the recipe that convinced Andy that butternut squash was maybe worth a shot.

Scrappiest Soup Grated Vegetable. This is a riff on the soup made famous by Jacques Pepin that’s always good to have in your back-pocket. You basically bring a pot of chicken stock to a boil, then shred whatever vegetables you have directly into the pot. The only rules are to keep your carrots-onions-celery to an even ratio and, if you are using greens, to tear instead of shred. Simmer for about 15 minutes and stir in a few tablespoons of grits to thicken if desired. Serve with grated Parm or Gruyere and olive oil drizzled on top. And crusty bread.

Soup Most Likely You Could Convince the Baby Was His Regular Old Vegetable Puree Ariel & Yolanda’s Broccoli Soup. This looks so good, and calls for ingredients I always have in the pantry — I think I’ll try it out for lunch today since (shocker) girls are home from school due to inclement weather.

Others from around the web: Chorizo and White Bean, Tomato Bread Soup, Jamie Oliver’s Leek & Potato, Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding – amazing I haven’t made a version of this for the girls yet.

Stay warm.

Photo credit: Marcus Nilsson

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