Saturday, April 9, 2016

Julia Child's Fish Dinner for Four in Half an Hour

Julia Child's Fish Dinner for Four in Half an Hour


Julia Child's Petites Caisses au Fromage (Cheese and Artichoke Appetizers)

Julia Child's Tranches de Poisson a la Barbouille (Fish Steaks with Eggplant and Tomato Sauce)

Noodle Shells

Rose Wine

Fantaisie Bourbonnaise (Baked Apricot)

"Here is a three-course fish dinner that you can prepare any time in the day you have a spare half hour and then finish off in one oven at your leisure. If you are really pressed for time, assemble all the ingredients before you start cooking and plan to carry on several operations simultaneously. Here is a suggested order of procedure."

La Barbouille
(Ragout of Eggplant, Onions, Peppers, and Tomatoes)

Preparing the sauce:
About 1 1/2 pounds eggplant
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch cubes: you should have 4 to 5 cups. Place in a colander, toss with the salt and set aside. (Salt draws out excess vegetable water and removes puckery taste. A 10 minute steeping will do: 20 to 30 minutes are ideal. Eggplant will be dried and sauteed later.)

1 large green pepper
1 large yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil or cooking oil
A 10-inch skillet

Halve the pepper, remove stem and seeds and cut pepper into 1/4-inch crosswise slices. Peel, halve and cut the onion into 1/4-inch lengthwise slices. Cook onion and pepper slowly with the oil in the skillet for several minutes, until vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, prepare the dessert, and if you are cooking and serving immediately, set 6 quarts of water to boil for the noodles.

Fantaisie Bourbonnaise
(Baked Apricot Dessert)

A baking dish approximately 9 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches deep
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup "granular" brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
A 1-pound can apricot halves, drained
1 large banana, peeled and sliced
1 lemon
1/4 cup bourbon whisky

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Smear half the butter in the baking dish; sprinkle in half the brown sugar and half the peanuts. Arrange the apricot halves around the outside of the dish and the banana slices in the center. Grate the rind of the lemon over the fruit, then squeeze on the juice; pour over the bourbon. Sprinkle on the rest of the sugar and peanuts and dot with the remaining butter.

Cover and set aside until you are ready to bake, then place in upper third of oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Dessert is done when top is very lightly browned and when liquid has reduced to a thick syrup. Serve hot, warm or cold with heavy cream.

The Noodles

If you are cooking and serving immediately, start the noodles now. Two cups of 1 1/2-inch shell-shaped noodles dropped into 6 quarts of boiling salted water. Cook 12 to 15 minutes.

La Barbouille Again
(Sauteing the Eggplant)

Drain the salted eggplant. Spread on several thicknesses of paper toweling and pat dry. Remove the cooked peppers and onions to a side dish, leaving oil in skillet; add more oil if necessary to film pan by 1/16 inch. Raise heat to moderately high; when very hot, add the dried eggplant. Toss frequently. (While sauteing, start in on the fish and carry on both operations together; you should be able to work in the first course as well.)

Les Tranches de Poisson
(The Fish Steaks)

About 1 1/2 pounds skinless fish steaks or fillets (cusk, halibut, cod, hake, or swordfish) 3/4-inch thick and cut into 4 serving pieces.

Salt, pepper, lemon juice, and flour
Olive oil or cooking oil
A fireproof serving platter

Season fish lightly with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Just before sauteing, dredge in flour and shake off excess. Pour a 1/16-inch layer of oil into a heavy skillet; when very hot, saute the fish. If you are serving immediately, saute 4 to 5 minutes on each side; fish is done when a fork pierces flesh easily. if you are recooking, brown fish lightly on each side for a minute or so only. Arrange fish on platter.

Finishing the Sauce and Assembling the Main Course

1 cup tomato sauce or marinara sauce
1/3 cup dry white vermouth
1 clove mashed garlic
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

Add the cooked onions and peppers to the sauteed eggplant; add the tomato, wine, garlic and herbs. Boil slowly for several minutes to make a very thick sauce. Correct seasoning and pour over the fish.

For immediate serving: Drain noodles, toss with salt, pepper and butter; arrange around the fish.

For later serving: Omit noodles until serving time. Cover platter closely with aluminum foil and refrigerate. About 30 minutes before serving, set foil-covered platter in middle level of a preheated 375 degree oven to finish cooking fish; surround with buttered noodles and serve.

Petites Caisses au Fromage
(Cheese and Artichoke Appetizers)

4 baked patty shells (fresh or frozen) about 3 x 1 1/2 inches
2 packages (6 ounces) cream cheese with chives (remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before using, for easy mixing)
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 egg
3 drops Tabasco sauce
6 drops Worcestershire sauce
4 canned artichoke hearts (or frozen hearts, cooked)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.Place patty shells on a fireproof serving dish. Beat the cream cheese with the egg and seasoning. Just before baking, place a spoonful of cheese in each shell, set an artichoke heart in the center, and cover with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes in the upper third of oven, until cheese filling has puffed slightly and browned on top. 

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