Meal No. 25: Spicy Stuffed Celery Sticks; Baked Flounder with Lemons and Onions; Saffron-Tomato Rice; Bread and Butter Pudding with Strawberries
I put this off as long as I could, hoping that there would come a cool day when I could cook some lemons, onions, fish and dessert in the oven. The forecast says it’s going to be hot until Christmas, so I gave in after finding some local, line caught flounder at Ellwood Thompson’s. Please note it was 100 degrees when I made this, and we don’t have central air, just two window units. :::faints:::
The entire menu, with recipes, is on Martha Stewart’s site here.
Spicy Stuffed Celery Sticks:
My, what a random menu item!
Martha calls this her grown-up version of stuffed celery sticks. It involves stuffing celery sticks, naturally, with a mixture of cream cheese, horseradish, Tabasco, salt and pepper, adjusting for taste. We used goat cheese in place of the cream cheese, and it was tasty. She gives amounts of the spices, but since the original recipe served four, and called for 8 oz of cream cheese and an entire bunch of celery, we just smashed the cheese and spices together until we liked it, since we only planned on eating a stalk or two.
It was fine, but I still think this is a weird thing to put in a cookbook.
Baked Flounder with Lemons and Onions:
This one involved baking sliced lemons and onions in some white wine and water with chopped thyme until the onions softened, about 40 minutes. Then the flounder was placed on top, and covered with a couple of slices of the lemons and onions, and baked until flaky. The problem I had was that in the time it took to cook the onions sufficiently, the wine sauce had all cooked off and I had nothing to baste the fish with, per Martha’s instructions. I added some water and used that.
We have a split decision on this one. I loved the fish with the onions, and thought it had plenty of flavor from the wine and lemons. The Husband, however, found the flavor too quiet. He added more lemon juice and salt* and that helped. The fish was flaky, tender and moist.
By the way, do I want to know where this fish was caught locally? Please tell me it wasn’t at the pond in Byrd Park.
Jasmine rice cooked with a pinch of salt and saffron, then mixed with diced tomatoes, butter and oregano. Easy peasy, yes?
I managed to botch the rice and it turned out mushy. I am flummoxed, as normally I get the rice to come out perfectly, and I smugly laugh at people who have to use rice cookers. Well, I am eating my words, since this looked like polenta! The flavor was bland; perhaps my pinch of saffron was not big enough? Boo.
Bread and Butter Pudding with Strawberries:
I was leery of this one, given that I don’t like bread pudding or baked French toast, and this seemed to be veering into that territory. She says it is a traditional British dessert; according to my research, it normally has raisins in it, and maybe cinnamon.
Sandwich bread (cut in half diagonally) is buttered, then placed in the baking dish. An uncooked custard (ick!) is made with eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, sugar and rum, and poured over the bread. It sits at room temperature for an hour, to get good and soggy (ew), and then is sprinkled with sugar and baked for 25 minutes. It’s supposed to be served with macerated strawberries, but the strawberries in these parts have been gone for a while now, so we used blueberries.
Let me take a minute to tell you about the rum I used, Zaya, which is aged for 12 years in oak barrels in Trinidad. It’s smooth, like a nice Scotch, but full of vanilla flavor. It’s for sipping, not for mixing with diet Coke. Delicious! The truth is, I only agreed to make this dish because I could use this special rum in it.
Again, we were split. The Husband quite liked it, but he likes bread pudding. I thought the flavor was ok, but didn’t like the mushy, wet bread. This is the opposite of our reactions to the spoonbread, so I guess we are just contrary. I made a half batch, and there was still a lot left over.
The more I looked at it in my bowl the more it looked like scrambled eggs to me. No thank you.
*While adding extra seasoning to the fish and rice dishes, The Husband shared some wisdom: “Salt, lemon and garlic will fix almost anything. And if those don’t work, try bacon.”
See why I married him? He’s very wise.
Flounder: B (I gave it an A, The Husband gave it a B-)
Bread & Butter Pudding: B (I gave it a C, but I am hardly objective, since I don’t like dishes of this nature. The Husband gave it an A)
This concludes the spring portion of the book, for now. There is still that pesky roast beef and cabbage recipe I have to make up sometime. I’m guessing that will happen this fall. Next up, Summer BBQ!