Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Easy Meal

Sometimes I like to have an easy meal, quick and simple. Fish is something I prepare simply and paired with leftovers and/or basic sides supper is on the table without much effort. I was so excited the first week Pickett's trout was at the Main St. Farmer's Market and have purchased it several times. Today I pulled it from the freezer, having saved it from last week. I grabbed some frozen cauliflower, too, as I had not quite purchased enough veggies at the last market to make it a whole week. That plus some leftover sweet potatoes and rice with sprinkles of fresh herbs (at least some from MSFM seedlings from various vendors) was a satisfying meal. Tonight I asked Zachary for his professional touch with the photos and he sweetly took them all for me. 

For fish I prefer Martha Stewart's recipe for fish en papillote: fish in parchment paper. It has proved to be foolproof for me - even on vacation recently with a wacky oven to work with, despite being overcooked, the fish melted in our mouths (the one fillet whose paper unsealed got rubbery). The original recipe I work from is called parchment bluefish but every kind of fillet I have used has worked so far. First I cut some herbs: one to two stems of each kind I wanted to use per fillet, plus some more herbs for the veggies and rice: 

Left to right: common thyme, parsley, chives, lemon thyme, garlic chives, oregano, and mint.

I made circles of parchment per Martha's advice, a little less than her recommended 14-16" (Martha must not have used Costco parchment, if there was such a thing in 1988; it's not wide enough.):

Plenty of times I am lazy and just use rectangles but the circles are really easier to fold and make a good seal. 

I seasoned both sides of the two fillets I had (I never use enough salt, salt them well!). Then I chopped up a few sprigs each of lemon thyme, parsley, chives, garlic chives and oregano (the other herbs went on the veggies and rice). I sprinkled them on the fillets and added a pat of butter to each:

Then I folded them up, beginning in the middle, and crimped them well. They need to be sealed well to hold in the moisture: 

I baked in a preheated 450° oven for 10 minutes. Yes, only 10 minutes. Quick and easy! Often I don't even chop the herbs, just throw on some sprigs, but the kids don't like that as much. Voila:

Supper's ready! I like common thyme with my sweet potatoes and both kinds of chives plus parsley with the cauliflower. Rice with herbs and sautéed onions were another option tonight.

Chard, Three Ways

Sometimes I am not very good at doing things with restraint. For instance, last Wednesday at the Main St. Farmer's Market I bought two bunches of beautiful Flamingo Swiss Chard from The Healthy Kitchen. I neglected to take a photo of it before cooking but here's a good example.

I also had some bolting plants leftover from the fall that needed to go to make room for this spring's seedlings (fall and spring seedlings from Crabtree Farms). That's a lot of chard! My go-to recipe for chard greens is to combine them with some sautéed onions. For the stems we like to bake them with butter and parmesan. But I was in the mood for something different! Well, I found it: Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart (and made use of Healthy Kitchen's eggs, too). Apparently this is not specifically a health food but an old French recipe. I imagine chard's high oxalic acid gives it appeal in a dessert much the same way rhubarb does. 

I decided to go with the old standby of baked chard stems, sautéed greens, AND the new tart recipe. Dinner was a little late that night. I also baked my fresh Chicken Club whole chicken from Hoe Hop while messing around with the chard.

The result? Success! Since I cannot eat them myself I left off the hazelnuts and tart crust of the original dessert recipe and it was still good and appreciated by everyone. I'm sure it's even better with the nuts and crust. 

The baked stems are still colorful, though not the bright pink of the original. The browned butter and parmesan help make up for the color change. 

I did not take a photo of the sautéed greens as they were not as pretty as the other dishes. I tried with the beautiful brown chicken but I had knocked some skin off one leg. It was still yummy! Here's a mini shot.

Find the tart recipe on Michelle Redmond's blog Stone Soup.

Here is my version of Jack Bishop's Baked Chard Stems with Butter and Parmesan (adapted from Vegetables Every Day):

1 pound chard stems (about 12 large stems)
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup parmesan cheese 

1. Arrange the chard stems in an appropriate size dish (chard stems sizes vary - I usually use 8 x 8 but this night I had enough and large enough for 9 x 13). Leave some water from washing on the stems and/or add a couple of tablespoons of water to the dish. Salt lightly and cover the dish (foil, a lid, a cookie sheet). Bake at around 350° until tender (about 15 minutes). 

2. Melt the butter, pour over stems, then sprinkle on the parmesan. Bake until lightly browned, about another 10-15 minutes or so. 

Note that this is very flexible recipe. The oven temperature can easily go up or down and the time will vary with the size of the chard stems. It is hard to overcook it in the early stages, just watch the browning at the end.