Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spinster in the Kitchen: Fish rockin' out in the pan (one pan)

I love living by myself, except when it comes to cooking.  It isn’t the process that I mind (I actually love to cook) or the dining alone (I love to eat too), it’s the half a dozen dirty pots and pans and the eight days of leftovers.  I like cooking from scratch and I like the end result to be a well balanced and enjoyable meal even if I am only cooking for me.  Unfortunately, I have a habit of cooking as though there is a table of seven waiting in my dining room (you know, if I had a dining room).

Cookbooks are not always helpful in solving this dilemma.  Open any cookbook and you will quickly see that nearly every recipe makes four – six servings.  Now, leftovers do have their uses.  I don’t mind eating for lunch the next day what I had for dinner the previous evening, or maybe even dinner the following night but by  day three I’m just sick of looking at it let alone eating it.  I can pack it up and freeze it of course, but I already have a freezer full of servings for one. 

The following recipe does not have this problem.  It not only is enough to serve just two (or one with leftovers for lunch the next day) but it is made to be cooked in one pan.   Ideally this is a soup or pasta pan with a steamer basket that will rest a few inches above the liquid simmering below (mine came as part of a pasta pot set) but you can also use a large covered skillet or soup pot.  As long as it has a cover, you can rock this.

Fish in White Wine Broth and Garlic Steamed Chard

First a couple of tips.  In order to ensure that you don’t end up with over cooked fish or under cooked greens, it is best to buy one large filet of a fish such as haddock or cod.  Smaller fish like tilapia tend to be thin and cook rather quickly and you will end up with under cooked greens.  Also, make sure you prep your chard so it is ready to be added to the pot immediately (or almost immediately) following the fish.  Timing is a key part of this recipe. 

Garlic Chard

1 bunch chard
1 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic pressed or chopped fine
¼ cup water
  1.  Cut the stems off the chard and wash thoroughly.  Drain. 
  2.  In a small bowl mix the garlic, salt and water.  Set aside.

Fish in White Wine Broth

1lb of white fish (cod, haddock, etc)
1 ½ cups of white wine
½ cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
Cup of cherry or plum tomatoes sliced in half
4 green onions chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
½ lemon sliced
½ tsp salt
  1. In a large skillet or soup pan mix the white wine, olive oil, salt and water.  Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the green onions, lemon juice and sliced tomatoes.  Allow to simmer uncovered until the skins just begin to peel from the tomatoes (this will be about 7 – 10 minutes).
  3. Add your fish to the skillet or pan.  You will likely find that you need to cut the fillet in half.  This is perfectly okay and makes it easier to serve.  Lay the remaining sliced lemon on top of the fish. Bring the liquid back to a simmer.
  4. (a) If you are using a steamer basket.  Shred the chard by hand or with a knife and fill the basket.  Cover.  Now this will be a large mound of chard so your cover may sort of float on top of the chard until it begins to wilt.  After the chard begins to wilt a bit, remove the cover and pour the garlic, salt and water mixture over the top.  Replace the cover and cook until the chard is tender but not mushy (about 8-10 minutes). (b)If you do not have a steamer basket.  Shred the chard by hand or with a knife.  Allow the fish to simmer for a few minutes.  Add the chard directly on top of the fish.  Pour the garlic, salt and water mixture over the top of the chard.  Replace the cover and cook until chard is tender but not mushy (about 5 – 7 minutes).  You will need to remove the chard with a pair of tongs to another bowl to serve.
  5. The fish is done when it begins to flake when poked with a fork.  You should be able to remove it from the pan with a slotted spatula.  Place it on a plate and dress it with a bit of broth.  The broth is also very tasty poured over the chard. 

I often find when I am done with dinner and I’ve packed up the remaining serving for lunch, I have a couple of cups of broth left over.  You can freeze this and if you want a quick and tasty dinner: thaw, add some cooked frozen cooked shrimp,  a few mushrooms, some green onion and red pepper flakes and you have a rather yummy spiced shrimp soup. 

And there you have it.  A tasty dinner for one, with leftovers you will want to eat and only one pot, one plate, one fork, one knife and you wine glass to sit in your sink for a day…or two…or…


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