Saturday, March 18, 2006

Braised Swiss Chard Wrapped in Filet of Sole (WCB #41)

As a child I was surprisingly tolerant of vegetables. This is probably what eventually drew me to become a vegetarian for a good six years: Carrots, spinach, radishes, mushrooms, and asparagus, it all tasted so good and earthy. My mother would often have me create the salads, calling me “rabbit” and promptly banishing me from the kitchen because I would start devouring the crisp vegetation before dinner was ready. This vegetable love eventually led me to my own tomato garden (which the deer and squirrels in our backyard ate) and drew me weekly to the farmer’s market and any grocery excursion.

Today I am still fascinated by farmer’s markets and grocery stores. If I have nothing better to do I will wonder over just to walk through, hypnotized by the produce, laid out in beautiful pyramids, or tucked into bins. I only wish I could take it all home. I often will purchase a fruit or vegetable just because it looks beautiful, strange, unloved, or overly loved. Often I have never tasted the item before. I bring it home, behold the power of the internet, and research different ways to eat whatever it is I acquired.

This quasi sense of adventure when it comes to buying produce led me to Swiss chard the other day. The bright red stalks initially drew me in. The veins and deep emerald bushel of leaves won me over. D has this same sense, though he does not like to admit it. It is not for produce, it is for the meats and fish. While I spend my time fondling over the fruits and vegetables, D heads over to the meat and seafood sections spying out whatever looks fresh. Surprisingly, more often than not, our tastes meet midway and we are able to concoct a meal that blends quite nicely.

This was one of those days. While I joined up with D he was having 6 filet of soles wrapped up. We returned home, me with the intent to braise my chard, even with D complaining he has never had it and would not enjoy it, and D still undecided on how to prepare his filets. After some research, on which sites I do not know, D announced we would wrap the chard up in the filet. He had found similar recipes for spinach, and I ensured him it would be easy enough to treat the chard with the same respects.

I braised away, D complained of hunger. Soon enough he was wrapping the chard in blankets of sole, pinning, baking, and we were both enjoying a very succulent meal. The flavors in this dish completed each other perfectly. Chard, with its slightly bitter taste, paired with the milk and bacon of the braise perfectly; a stunning platform for the sole. D announced he felt like we were eating in a 4-star restaurant. With all objectives met, we rubbed our bellies satisfied.

Serving Size= 2. Active Time= 20 minutes. Inactive time= 30 minutes
* 1 bunch swiss chard (about 6 stalks); slice stems bite-size; tear leaf into more manageable sections
* 2 strips bacon, slice bite-size
* 2 scallions, whites and greens, chopped (one small onion would work too)
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* 1-½ cups chicken broth
* ½ cup milk or cream
* 4-6 filets of sole (sole is quite thin; depending on hunger prepare more or less)
* juice of 1 lemon
* 2 tsp paprika
* 2 tsp mustard powder
* 2 tsp parsley
* salt/ pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. In a skillet with a cover, over medium heat cook the bacon, scallions, garlic and chopped swiss chard stems until bacon browns, about 8 minutes.
2) Add swiss chard leaves, broth and milk. Cover, turn heat to medium-low; let simmer about 10 minutes, until leaves are limp.
3) While the chard braises, prepare the filets. On a large skillet or baking pan lay out the sole. Pour ½ the lemon juice over the filets, add salt, pepper and 1 tsp of paprika, mustard powder and parsley.
4) Once chard is complete, using tongs or a fork, place a thin layer of chard on top of the sole filets. Wrap tightly, being careful not to tear the fish; pin closed with one or two toothpicks. Arrange rolled up fish in a tight pack on baking dish. Top with remaining lemon juice, paprika, mustard powder, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour any remaining chard or sauce into the pan. Place in middle rack of oven for 20 minutes.

** Please check out my article regarding Umami over on Blog Critics. Soon enough the same piece will be posted to Paper Palate in the WellFed Network (and might make an appearance here as well).

In the non-food world of WCB, Eat Stuff serves up another winner. Below we have the spotlight on the young terror Whiskey. Yes, he may look cute and innocent now, but try moving your toes or rolling over when you are trying to sleep.

Here, we have Whiskey moments before on top of a rug, resting verticle, in the corner (about 6 feet high, you can see the doorframe of a closet). The young Whiskey whisked his way to the top, declared himself king of the world, and then awaited his sister to walk by below and attacked.

Head on over to Lindy Toast for the Something For Nothing wrap up!

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