A Summer Menu
Whether I’m traveling solo or with my daughter or a significant other, one of my favorite on-the-road activities is to take cooking lessons and learn the cuisine of the place I’m visiting.
While in Napa Valley, California, I enjoyed a wonderful class with Meadowood Chef Danielle Fiala, who created this beautiful menu that’s perfect for a special summer lunch or dinner, when you’ve got the time to cook leisurely, no rush, perhaps a glass of cold wine nearby to refresh you. From start to finish it takes about an hour and a half to prepare, and it’s absolutely worth it, especially the Potato Gallette. Enjoy!
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Pan-Seared Black Cod with Caper Beurre Blanc
Herbed Potato Gallette
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
2 red bell peppers
½ yellow onion, diced
½ large carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 whole sprig thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
2 ½ cups chicken/vegetable stock, plus more as needed
1 oz heavy cream
Olive oil as needed
Kosher salt to taste
Pinch of cayenne or espelette pepper
For garnish: crème fraiche, fresh corn kernels, sautéed, minced chives
Roast the peppers: Place the red bell peppers directly on the burner over a high flame. Leave them in place until the skin is completely black and blistered, then use tongs to turn them until they are black on all sides.
Remove the peppers from the flame, place them in a mixing bowl and wrap tightly with plastic. Let them steam in the bowl until they’re cool enough to handle.
Working over the bowl, remove the skin and seeds. Roughly chop the flesh and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat and add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, thyme and garlic. Season lightly with salt, and continue to cook gently until soft.
Stir in the roasted red peppers and add the stock. Increase the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil. Once it is bubbling, reduce the heat and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are soft enough to smash with a spoon – about 15 minutes.
Remove the thyme stem. Carefully pour the contents of the pot into a blender and blend on high speed until very smooth. IMPORTANT: Do not fill the blender more than halfway with hot liquids! Work in batches if necessary.
Once completely smooth, pour the soup back into the pot and maintain at a low heat.
If the soup is too thick at this point, add a little more stock and simmer for a couple minutes before proceeding.
Stir in the cream and season the soup with salt, black pepper and cayenne or espelette (if using).
Serve the soup hot or cold, garnished with the sautéed corn, a drizzle of crème fraiche and a sprinkle of chives.
NOTE: If serving the soup cold, add a little extra salt as cold foods tend to taste less salty.
Pan-Seared Black Cod
3 portions of sablefish (black cod) fillets, 4-6 oz each
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & black pepper to taste
Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-medium high heat, then add the olive oil. Place the fish in the hot pan with the skin side down. Cook approximately 5 minutes without moving, (I think Danielle means the fish, not you, ha, ha!) until the edges of the skin look brown and crisp, and the sides of the fillet have started to turn opaque. Flip the fillets and cook approximately 3 more minutes. Test for doneness by gently squeezing the sides of the fillet. It should feel less firm and start to flake slightly. Transfer to a paper towel and keep warm until ready to serve.
NOTE: If black cod is unavailable, try this recipe with sea bass, striped bass or red snapper. Bear in mind that red snapper fillets tend to be thinner, so they will require a shorter cooking time.
Caper Beurre Blanc
1 teaspoon finely minced shallot
½ cup white wine
¼ cup lemon juice
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon capers, drained and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Combine the shallot, white wine and lemon juice in a small pan.
Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer until the liquid has reduced about halfway.
With the heat off, begin whisking in the butter one cube at a time. The butter should melt slowly and remain emulsified (not separating).
Continue whisking in the butter until a thick, creamy sauce consistency is achieved. Taste the sauce to make sure it is balanced; it should be bright and tangy, yet not overly acidic, and it should coat the mouth in a pleasing way.
Stir in the chopped capers and adjust seasoning.
Keep the sauce warm until ready to serve. If it must sit for a while, keep an eye on it, and return it to a burner on low heat if it begins to seize up.
Serve warm with the fish and potatoes.
Herbed Potato Galette
1 large Russet potato, scrubbed clean and dried
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, roughly chopped
3 sprigs parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
6 chives, finely minced
Clarified butter as needed
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat a 10-12” cast iron skillet over low heat.
Using a mandoline, slice the potato crosswise into 1/8” thick slices. Keep the slices staked as you work, to prevent them from browning.
Add enough clarified butter to generously coat the bottom of the pan.
Beginning at the outer edge of the pan, arrange the potatoes in overlapping concentric circles. Continue working towards the center, then cover the center gap with a potato slice.
Cover the potatoes with a light layer of clarified butter, sprinkle generously wit the herbs and season with the salt and pepper.
Repeat the potato arrangement to form a second layer, and coat again with clarified butter.
Increase the heat to medium and weigh the potatoes down with another skillet.
Continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through, and brown and crispy on the bottom.
Invert the skillet onto a plate and add a light sprinkling of salt and any leftover herbs.
Slice and serve hot.
If making several hours in advance, reheat the galette in a hot oven to re-crisp.