While my dear, sweet husband would prefer to remain anonymous on these here pages of “La Pomme” or at least, keep to the role of an extra…an extra, as in, one of the 70,000 in the stands of the filming of a great sports film…I do feel that there is something you should know about him. He is a man who knows what he likes. And, once he’s locked on to that…tea brand, yogurt and granola pairing, holiday cookie from Trader Joe’s…there is no deviating. Now, this is a good thing, especially if you’re me. He’s locked on to me and I don’t have to worry. However, because of his highly “distinguished palate,” preparing a meal for my guy can sometimes be…challenging. So, when his hunting and gathering takes him out of town, my mind starts racing and I immediately start thinking about all of the dishes I can prepare in his absence especially those involving mushrooms…for those fungi have never made my sweetie’s “like list.”
So, after a flurry of chopping and slicing and simmering and scooping and my man far, far away, I laid before my three children bowls of braised halibut with mushrooms and leeks for dinner. My anticipation of enjoying this fine meal could barely be contained. I sat down with excitement twinkling in my eyes. But, while the presentation was beautiful and the children dutifully ate their meal, somehow it was anti-climatic. There we sit. Just me and the three kids. Eating our meal. And then, sure enough,
the 10-year old someone farts and it’s all down hill from there. Somehow it seemed silly to have gone the extra effort for my off-spring when, honestly, they would have been just as happy with Costco chicken nuggets, frozen peas and applesauce.
I cleaned up the meal and headed up for the bedtime routine. Glancing at the chair in my daughter’s room, I sighed. There would be no lounging in that chair, eavesdropping on my man and the littlest one through the wall as they “rehearsed” their rendition of “Up On the Rooftop” for the Preschool Holiday Program. The silence from the downstairs was almost haunting. No Sportscenter. No hollering from my sweetie to the 10-year old to “Get down here and check out this play.” And, once I had the boys down and was scooping up the trail of legos left by the mysterious and elusive “Lego Poopin’ Rabbit” that apparently inhabits our house, I glanced downstairs expecting to see my daughter snuggled up next to her Daddy watching their favorite show. But, no. They weren’t there. So, although I was able to eat my mushrooms tonight which were quite tasty, somehow the pleasure was lessened by the absence of the one who matters most which gives rise to the question, “Is food really more pleasurable when it’s shared?” Perhaps there is some truth to that.
Oh, gads. Look what I’ve done. I’ve gone and talked about my main squeeze. The guy who wants to keep his contributions to our lives anonymous. We’ll just keep this a little secret between you and me. Shhh. Maybe he won’t read this and then, he’ll never know. Deal?
Braised Pacific Halibut with Mushroom and Leeks
(Inspired by a recipe of a similar name from Fine Cooking, October 2009)
For years, I didn’t cook fish, only ordered it in restaurants. I don’t know why. Somehow the whole process seemed to intimidate me. Now, the older, wiser me can’t be stopped. We eat a lot of fish. Don’t be put off by the “rawther fawncy” title of this recipe. It is so quick that it is worthy of weeknight status especially if you buy the mushrooms that have already been sliced. And, while the recipe calls for halibut sometimes I just can’t stomach the price for that meaty guy and so, I’ve made this with petrale sole as well which is good but does tend to fall apart easily. I’m sure cod would be another tasty alternative. Enjoy.
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 pound, white button mushrooms, thinly, sliced (about 4 cups) (Feel free to use whatever your favorite mix of mushrooms might be.)
2 large leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
4 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup of dry, white wine
5 skinless Pacific halibut fillets (about 4 oz each)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Melt the butter and heat the oil over medium heat in a deep, straight sided saute pan with a lid. Add the mushrooms and leeks and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the broth and wine, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.
Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Nestle the fish among the vegetables in the skillet. Bring the broth back to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently until the fish is just cooked through, about 7 minutes.
Serve the fish in shallow soup bowls, surrounded by the mushrooms, leeks and broth. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.
Yield: 5 servings….
All original text and photographs, copyright: Carrie Minns 2009