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Tis the season to be jolly

As seen in The Seasonal Chef. Column 50, December 19, 2013. FILLET OF GREY SOLE DUGLERE, WHOLEGRAIN COUSCOUS WITH PETIT POIS, FESTIVE GREENS WITH ORANGES, AVOCADO, AND RED ONION. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but when it comes to dinner, who has the time to cook?

As seen in The Seasonal Chef. Column 50, December 19, 2013

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but when it comes to dinner, who has the time to cook? For a dinner “on the run” this menu is quickly prepared for the family but it also can just as easily be used for a dinner party. The colorful fish dish can be served with rice pilaf or potatoes but wholegrain couscous is faster and festive with green peas and it doubles as the vegetable side. Add an excellent salad of greens such as arugula, frisee, and mesclun, orange slices, avocado, red onion dressed with extra virgin olive oil and white fig balsamic vinegar. Complete the menu with a platter of cheese and fresh fruit for dessert. Bon busy appétit!


Serves four

4 fillets of sole, washed and patted dry with paper towels
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 medium firm ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes, minced
About 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
About 2 tablespoons dry vermouth
Optional 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter a baking dish that will hold the fish in one layer.
In a skillet over moderate heat, add butter and oil, sauté shallots until they are aromatic.
Stir tomatoes and half of the parsley into the shallots and transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Add vermouth to the skillet, bring to a boil, and remove from the heat and reserve.

Remove the spiny column running down the center of each fillet, season with salt and pepper. Fold the thin ends of each fillet under the thicker end and arrange each piece on top of the tomato/shallots in the dish. Drizzle reserved vermouth over the fish, cover with parchment paper, and bake until the fish turns from translucent to opaque, about eight to nine minutes. The baking time will depend on the thickness of the fish.

With a slotted spoon or spatula, lift the fish out along with the tomato mixture and transfer to a warm platter or dinner plates and tent with foil. Pour the pan juices along with remaining tomatoes into a saucepan set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, swirl butter into the sauce, spoon over each piece of fish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve at once.
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Serves four

2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for drizzling
1 shallot, chopped
1-cup whole grain couscous
2 to 2 1/2 cups good quality chicken stock, boiling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 bunch scallions chopped
2 cups extra fancy petit pois, thawed
Optional additions: 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
Chopped fresh parsley

To prepare:

In a heavy medium saucepan over high heat, coat the bottom with oil, add shallots and sauté briefly until aromatic, add couscous and chicken stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat and simmer until the couscous is tender and the stock is absorbed, about fifteen to twenty minutes. Add more hot stock is necessary until the couscous is tender.

Stir scallions and peas (or any of the optional additions) into the hot couscous, taste and adjust the seasonings. Let stand about five minutes, fluff with a fork and serve at once.
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Serves four

About 6 cups assorted salad greens, (mixture of frisee, mesclun, and arugula)
3 navel oranges peeled and sliced or 2 large pink grapefruits, peeled and sectioned
2 Hass ripe avocado’s, cut into slices
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into rings
Flaked Malden Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Fig infused white balsamic vinegar for drizzling

To prepare:

In a large bowl, toss your favorite tender lettuces together and cover with dampened paper towel and set aside.
Holding a serrated knife over a small bowl, remove the skin and white pith over the orange sections (reserve the juice in the bowl.) Cut the orange into slices and set aside. Next, cut avocado in half, remove the pit, and cut each half into even sized slices and immediately roll in the orange juice, the citric acid will prevent discoloration.
Cut onion into thin rings and add to orange slices.

Just before serving, toss salad greens with a bit of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the greens to individual salad plates and arrange the avocado, orange, and onion slices on the greens. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, taste and adjust the seasonings and serve at once. Pass Malden salt and pepper grinder at the table.
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