The food: a French-ish dinner
My husband E – in the hope of inspiring me to cook something new and delicious for dinner – likes to bring home from the library new cookbooks that are getting good press and buzz, which is how I ended up recently perusing the pages of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.
When it comes to French food, I could happily eat frites several times a week, their calories be damned, and in fact, I’ve used an appreciation for frites – as well as an avoidance of them – as a means of characterization in my fiction, with the heroic/sympathetic characters being the ones who eat frites, of course.
Frites aside though, French cuisine isn’t my favorite, so it was with a certain ennui that I turned the pages of Greenspan’s book, only to happen upon gorgeous photos of two dishes that caught my eye and whetted my appetite: one for a salad of strawberries, cherry tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, the other for a fish dish called almond flounder.
The salad – which seemed to me more Italian in tone than French, but never mind – was easily assembled of sliced strawberries, halved grape tomatoes, chunks of buffalo mozzarella, and some chopped basil, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I had heard of strawberries being dressed with balsamic vinegar before but never tried it, and found the sweet-tart combination to be refreshing and delightful, especially when combined with the soft, creamy cheese.
Greenspan’s recipe for almond flounder is also simple, made by coating fish filets – actual whitefish, in my case, because I was loath to pay $30 for a pound of fresh flounder – with egg yolk and a mixture of ground almonds and flour (the recommended ratio being 1/3 cup of almonds to 1 tablespoon of flour), then frying them in browned butter and topping them with sliced almonds and chopped parsley.
I found the result a little bland (guess I should have sprung for the flounder) but served on a plate (shown at the top of the post) with some roasted carrots and potatoes, buttered green vegs, and a mâche/cherry tomato garnish, the fish made for a fine, old-fashioned dinner – a welcome novelty around my usually non-French table.