Fresh trout, fresh silky sauce

April 30th, 2011

Sauce elegant touch for everyday veg or fish

The weekly fish vendor has got my number….always asking where this or that sea creature is from, which doesn’t seem to be a common line of questioning. The first time I queried the provenance of a glossy little trout, he looked puzzled and said :  “…farmed, Madame”.   So on Thursday, before I could ask as I again selected fresh trout he piped up:  “…truite Périgordine!”  as his usual stern  glare broke out into a grin.   Next week, I expect he will ask how I like to prepare it, a natural question often part of the banter of market day interchange.  And this is my current (before the grilling season begins) favorite:

Poached Trout Mousseline is about as flexible a quick meal as one can produce.  Why mousseline, which is also the French word for flannel?  So smooth, so comforting, and so easily whipped up.

For each diner, one small trout can be cooked with spring onions, garlic and fennel…or with carrots and new potatoes…or…whatever catches your eye in the spring market stalls.  This option goes together in a blink – well, on the table in about 30 minutes:

Ingredients:   1 small trout

1 to 2 T. oil or butter (or half and half)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 spring onion, trimmed and sliced in rings

1/3 cup Noilly Prat white vermouth

bay leaf, sprigs of tarragon, minced chives, etc.

1 cup fish bouillon (or a court bouillon cube dissolved)

3 new carrots, stemmed and peeled, sliced diagonally

4 new potatoes, peeled and quartered

for the sauce:  2 egg yolks + 1 tsp  cold water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt & white pepper

2 T. cold butter, cut into bits

Set the carrots and potatoes on to cook in hot water to cover, cook at a simmer for about 15 minutes or ’til tender.  In a large enamel fry pan (I have a favorite one, used only for fish), heat the oil or butter (or a bit of both) and sauté the garlic and onion slices, add sea salt & white pepper & herbs, then splash in the vermouth to let cook for about 5 minutes.  Push this to the side of the pan and add/heat the bouillon, place the fish in this, poach on one side for 5 minutes, turn and cover to poach for another 5 minutes.

For the sauce:   heat water in a medium-sized saucepan and set a pyrex or similar dish over – not touching (or you will wind up with scrambled eggs) – to whisk the egg yolks, adding the lemon juice; as you whisk in the bits of butter, it will thicken quickly.  Double the recipe if you wish, and save some sauce to nap some cold potatoes for the next day’s lunch.  The Mousseline’s zippy flavor resembles a savory lemon curd, a great touch for this season’s asparagus spears or steamed new turnips. Try it with salmon or chicken suprèmes poached with herbs in white wine.  Divine.

Salmon steaks take to Mousseline, too

Happy Easter!

April 24th, 2011

I welcome spring in all its glory..and wish you all a very happy Easter wherever in the world you roam.  The vagabond returns this week, with lots to chew on – from fennel with saucy fresh trout to a simple, silky pudding….to toss in a few ideas for the upcoming May Day week end.