Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 31 - Omelet with Sautéed Mushrooms, Shallot Vinaigrette, Braised Fish with Fennel and Tomatoes, Basmati Rice, and Simple Syrup

Wow, I didn't realize how many things I'd done today until I was titling this entry!

Omelet with Sautéed Mushrooms (p. 89)

One more omelet variation, which turned out exactly as I expected - mushrooms sautéed in olive oil folded into an omelet. I should probably have used more oil and salt with the shrooms, but I was thinking "moderation."

Making a Martha omelet has become second nature to me. I think it might be harder if I were making one for someone who wanted their eggs well done. I'd probably use a bigger skillet so the eggs would spread out and cook faster...

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Shallot Vinaigrette (p. 356)

I was pretty sure this would be my favorite vinaigrette, so I've been wanting to make it since the beginning. But I haven't been able to find sherry vinegar. Then, on Easter, Iron Chef Paula was using it, and she caught me admiring it and insisted I take her almost full bottle home with me. So sweet. Thanks, Paula!!

The dressing is delicious.

But I think my favorite so far is still the Lemon Vinaigrette.

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Braised Fish with Fennel and Tomato (p. 192)

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while, too. It just looks really good and really easy. And it is pretty easy. You throw a bunch of things in a pan (sliced fennel, chopped tomatoes, garlic, lemon slices, etc.) and let them cook for about 15 minutes, then you plop some white, firm-fleshed fish fillets in, braise for another 8 minutes and serve.

I bought halibut this time. I wasn't going to take my chances with grouper again!

I probably could have cooked the fish thirty seconds longer, but I hate to overcook fish. And it was so close to being cooked perfectly.

The flavors of this dish are very subtle, more subtle than I expected. I was hoping for something with a little more flash, but FNBF really liked it. And it did taste good. But to me, it's just not a showstopper. Braising is a nice, gentle way to cook fish, though. Good to have in the ole repertoire.

The big shocker to me was the discovery that Martha didn't want me to serve the vegetables with the fish. The final instruction is: "Spoon some of the braising sauce into a shallow bowl, then top with fish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper." What about all this beautiful braised fennel and tomato?? Then, it occurred to me that they'd be perfect to serve with the next item!

Jeff: A- (for slightly undercooking the fish)
Martha: A

Basmati Rice (p. 412)

Martha strikes again. Excellent directions for grains. And basmati rice, which I don't know that well, is delicious. All by itself! It's one of those rices that you could just sit down and eat a plateful of... I served it under braised fennel and tomato, and it was perfect.

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Simple Syrup (p. 485)

I can't hear simple syrup without thinking of mixed drinks. But there were no cocktails being made in Cooking School. This was in preparation for tomorrow's sorbet. Now that I have an ice cream machine, I had to use it ASAP!

In the future, I'll try infusing the syrup with some cute things, like herbs, vanilla, ginger, etc. But this first time, I wanted to make it straight.

It's very easy. Sugar, water, boil, stir, cool. Can't wait to have homemade sorbet tomorrow!!

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Until we eat again....

FNBF pointing to his fish, although you can't really see it, can you?


  1. It's so fun reading/feeling your excitement for some of these projects because that's EXACTLY how I get when I try something new (especially of Martha's) and it turns out great, like almost giddy! If you haven't yet tried her Chewy Molasses Spice Cookie recipe from the website you really must--they are absolutely irresistable! I use course sanding sugar to roll them in instead of granulated. They are definitely a crowd pleaser--the most perfect mix of mostly sweet with just a hint of saltiness: mmm! :D

  2. Hey Erin-
    I haven't tried those. I did make the Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies, i.e. the cover cookie from Martha's Cookies book. I didn't love them, but all the people at the cookie party I attended did. I think I might prefer the ones you made. Thanks for the tip.