Thursday, March 27, 2014

Francesca Zambello (whom we adore) shares culinary wisdom

From Francesca's latest newsletter to Glimmerglass supporters:
Francesca Zambello
Photo: Claire McAdams/Glimmerglass Festival
  • FAST FISH. I previously told you how I am getting used to cooking on an AGA cooker. Well I learned a big lesson this week. I was having guests over for dinner, and I planned on serving a roast. When you want your oven on, you normally crank it up 15 minutes before you need it to get up to the required temperature. Well not an AGA; it needs at least an hour to heat up. So when I realized company was arriving and I had mistimed everything, I turned to a faster recipe, “Fish in Parchment.” Not sure about you, but I love fish. I always order it in a restaurant, but at home, I do not want the house to smell from cooking it. So I often use this surefire recipe for delicate, flaky and juicy fish, with no odors left afterward.

    You will need to get parchment paper. The parchment paper forms a barrier around the fish and traps the heat inside the packet, which gently steams the fish. This is a healthy way to cook fish because it requires little fat and it is hands-off. With this technique, you let the steam do all the work and add moisture to the fish so it doesn't dry out. And then the clean-up is easy as well.


    What you need:
  • Fish — can be whole fish or filets. I recommend cod, halibut or monkfish filets. Get thin slices of the filet. Some people use salmon, but I prefer salmon cooked in foil, not paper. I will talk about a whole baked fish soon, once I catch one in Otsego Lake.
  • Olive oil
  • Almost any spice combination depending on the flavors you want:
    - Asian (use soy and lemon grass)
    - Italian (use garlic, thyme and rosemary)
    - French (use lemon, parsley and shallots) 
  • Some liquid: white wine, stock, soy, or just a little water

    How to do it: 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Get a cookie sheet and put out as many pieces of parchment paper as guests and big enough to wrap a fish twice around 
  • Put a little olive oil on your parchment paper 
  • If using filets, place half a filet on the parchment 
  • In the middle make a sandwich-like structure with all your herbs and flavors, then top with the other piece of filet. Pour some liquid over it, white wine, stock, soy, lemon juice, whatever flavor you want… 
  • Wrap it like a present with a fold in it
  • Cook in the oven, usually 20-25 minutes, but you cannot mess this up by over-cooking. (But don’t leave it in all day) 
  • Serve the fish with rice and vegetables (best steamed as well) and white wine

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