Janet & Marc: Cooking at Home

cimg6908.jpgJanet’s first experiments in filleting a fish left us with excellent ingredients for fish stock, so we threw the cap and rake (read head and spine) into some water with a bay leaf and leek greens for about an hour. I’m told fish stock only needs a half hour, but I prefer to really work the fish smell into the house. When I’ve gone to all that trouble, I want people to walk into the house three days later and say, “Were you cooking fish?”

About ten years ago I was a big fan of “Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home,” hosted by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. She tended to do Americanized recipes and he classed things up with some fine French cuisine. Although they were always very nice to each other, Jacques definitely had strong opinions on the right way to do a recipe and Julia was casual and confident. He would stir his pot and give her a glance out of the corner of his eye that said, “Whatever, you’re the legend.” Here’s an example of their styles that Amazon uses:

“Not everything I do with my roast chicken is necessarily scientific,” Julia says. “For instance, I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it–and, more important, I like to give it.” Julia sets her chicken on a V-rack in a roasting pan in a 425-degree oven that she then turns down to 350 after 15 minutes. Jacques roasts his bird at 425, on its side, right in the pan. “To me,” he says, “it’s very important to place the chicken on its side for all but 10 minutes of roasting.” After 25 minutes he turns his chicken over, careful not to tear the skin, and lowers the heat to 400. The bird finishes breast-side up for the last 15 to 20 minutes.

Hmm, that reminds me of someone.

I somehow managed to remember enough of their Mediterranean Fish Stew to make it myself and cook it every year or two without ever having written anything down, not that I’ve remembered to add the salt every time. If you can procure fish heads or fish stock, it’s really an easy meal to make and looks impressive when served to guests. Julia favored clams for this recipe, but I prefer mussels due to my east coast Canada heritage. I always shell the mussels before storing the leftovers, not for any specific reasons, but it seemed weird to have those shells frozen into my soup. Shells must not falsely state freshness. Other than that, there really isn’t much to the recipe at all. It’s mostly wine, fish and vegetables with hot sauce and thyme to finish it off.

After googling the recipe for the first time ever, I discover I’ve forgotten the rouille, a spicy sauce made with breadcrumbs and olive oil. It went on top of the soup, or perhaps on bread which were stuck into the soup. However, Janet’s garlic bread adds a very similar element with much less effort—especially when I get her to make it.

Keep reading for the recipe.

Here’s my version for when my memory eventually fails:
½ cup olive oil
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ lb carrots, chopped
½ lb white potatoes, cubed
3 large tomatoes
2 tbl thyme
½ bottle white wine
1 qrt fish stock (home made)
½ lb white fish (haddock or rock cod is good)
½ lb scallops, halved or quartered
½ lb mussles or clams
red pepper flakes
hot sauce

1)Bring the fish stock to a boil and add the tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes or until the skins are split. Remove the tomatoes and allow to cool. You don’t need the stock for a while, so cover it and leave on the stove without heat. Remove the tomato skins, remove seeds and chop.
2)Heat olive oil over medium heat in large stock pot. Add onions, leek and celery. Cook until onions are transparent.
3)Add tomatoes, thyme and wine. Cook for 5 minutes
4)Add potatoes, carrots and stock. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes
5)Season with salt and pepper. Add hotsauce and red pepper flake to taste.
6)Add fish and shellfish. Cover and cook for 7 minutes.
7)Serve with garlic toast.

One Response to “Janet & Marc: Cooking at Home”

  1. Fallon Voorheis Says:

    Hi there, thanks very much for that. I was looking for a hearty stew recipe to help me get through the christmas month, and this sounds great. I found a whole stew recipes site here too that seems to have tons of ideas, maybe your readers can get some more inspiration there. Anyway, thanks, I will bookmark and read more another time 😉