Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moving On -- To the East Coast

It was the late spring of 1972 when we sold our stately home in Ottumwa, Iowa and moved to Connecticut. Marc had accepted a position in private Industry in Wallingford, Connecticut with Cahn Engineering.

My closest friend Ingrid, who lives in Long Island, went house hunting for us. Ingrid found a beach bungalow in Branford, Connecticut. The beach was our front yard and the kids were ecstatic. However we needed more space so after a few months and a visit with my parents from Germany, we found a 4 bedroom home. It was also on the waterfront in what is called Haycock Point. It was there that I started my first “Cooking School”.  Home cooking schools were rare in those days. One can say I was a pioneer.

My classes were never bigger than 5 or 6 students. During that time some male friends of ours wanted to learn how to skin a bluefish. Bluefish can weigh anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds. I really had to be inventive since I wanted to capture that audience.

The guys brought the bluefish they had caught fishing. The fish weighed at least 12 pounds if not more - it was huge. I took a big hook and put it into the mouth of the fish and I ushered everyone into the backyard. Close to our picnic table we had a big tree. I proceeded to hang the fish on a branch of that tree. Everyone was puzzled, ha, ha. With a very sharp paring knife I loosened the skin around the head and then pulled the skin down and off. I received applause and the guys said next time they entertain this would be a great party opener. We then took the fish back inside. I removed all the black oily meat and filleted the fish.

A couple of weeks later one of the men called me and asked how to grill the fish whole. What should he do? I suggested rubbing the fish with some olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, rub the fish with garlic cloves and put the garlic in the cavity, adding green onions, lemon slices and fresh tarragon.

If you want to try this, make sure your grill is very clean, coat it lightly with vegetable or olive oil and heat the grill to medium high. Put the fish on and brown, turn over and do the same on the other side. Now, put the fish on heavy duty foil and finish cooking. The fish is done when you touch the very meaty part with your index finger and the skin and meat bounce back.

When the fish is done remove to a big board or platter and proceed to remove the skin and the black fatty meat. Put lemon slices all the way down the middle of the fish sprinkle with a mixture of chopped parsley mixed with fresh tarragon leaves. Voila you have a wonderful family or party dish. You also can do this with a whole salmon, yum, yum.

Here is the bluefish recipe I taught in my very first class. (Pictured above)

Bluefish or Striped Bass (poached in Court Bouillon)

1 --- 5 to 6 pound whole bluefish or striped bass (head removed) washed and rubbed with salt.

1 quart water
½ bottle dry white wine
1 stalk celery, tops included, sliced into 2-inch pieces
1 carrot sliced
1 small onion halved
1 lemon quartered
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dry tarragon (fresh 2 sprigs)
3 whole cloves

Place all ingredients into a fish poacher or large roaster, except the fish, bring to boil; simmer for 20 to 30 minutes on medium low heat.

Now add the fish and poach on low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool fish in the court bouillon for about 10 minutes; lift fish out carefully and remove the skin and black fatty meat. Set aside and cover tightly to keep the fish warm with foil.

Sauce au Beurre: (Butter Sauce)

7 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)
2 tablespoons flour
1 ¼ cups of boiling lightly salted water+1 tablespoon
1 egg yolk
Lemon juice

 In a small sauce pan melt 1 ½ tablespoons butter, add the 2 tablespoons of flour, mix and moisten with the 1 ¼ cup of  boiling water. Stir the flour mixture vigorously with a wire whisk; add the egg yolk mixed with one tablespoon of water. Incorporate, stirring all the time and keep sauce pan on very low heat or on a double boiler. Add the rest of the butter cut into small pieces keep stirring until smooth and incorporated. Season the sauce with pepper and a few lemon drops.

Put the fish on a platter now and top with the sauce and some lemon slices and chopped fresh parsley. Use your favored vegetables and roasted potatoes put around the fish.

Note: This sauce can also be used as a base for many other sauces and is good on boiled vegetables as well with added lobster meat.

Bon appetite

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