Friday, September 27, 2013

Fillet of Sole with scallops, shrimp, fresh peas,
and cherry tomatoes on a bed of rice and quinoa

Civilized Folk

We put our differences aside 
When we sit at the table
To share cuisine produced by friends 
Whose talent –– more than able ––

Produces gustatory gems
In atmosphere delightful ––
A welcome respite from our fears
Of world events so frightful ––

A stimulating ambience
This pleasing to the senses
Lets  good food served with elegance
Put down all our defenses.

~ FreeThinke (9/27/13)


  1. Does this mean we're all invited to your house for dinner this evening?


    -- Silverfiddle

  2. Alas! Twas not I who prepared this beautiful dish. It arrived from one of our mutual friends in an email yesterday. I thought it looked like a tear out of Gourmet Magazine, but no -- it's a homemade photo of a homemade meal recently served to some very fortunate people.

    It looked so enticing, I thought I'd post it with a new-minted rhyme to freshen up the atmosphere a little.

    It's a great recipe - especially if you have access to fresh ingredients.

    Frozen fillets of fish may be edible, but you really need to have it fresh caught for a great recipe like this.

    All politics all the time becomes downright morbid after a while, as I think you know very well.


  3. Living here at the edge of the Atlantic, I always enjoy seafood.

    That looks yummy.

    It would be great to exchange recipes. Silverfiddle is quite a cook, I understand.

  4. Funny you should mention the smell of coffee, Ducky. I was debating whether or not to keep an empty jar of Maxwell House just two days ago, and happened to sniff the lingering aroma. It was positively edifying.

    I kid thee not.

    In that one instant I realized that Aromatherapy is not the invention of charlatans.

  5. Kurt knows a great deal about outdoor grilling of all kinds, Ms Shaw, and has great recipes for marinades and many worthwhile tips on timing and methodology.

    Ducky, what do you like to eat besides your daily regimen of steel filings and broken glass washed down with vinegar -- and those cocktails of three parts Chlorine Bleach to one part Ammonia I know you love to imbibe at eventide?

    Are you still serving Bloody Marys made with real virgin's blood and lighter fluid at those infamous Sinday brunches of yours? };-)>

  6. PS: Love your picture of the street pianist in front of some of Boston's proud, elegant, delightfully staid architecture. I once used a bank in Manhattan where a wonderful jazz pianist entertained us customers as we waited on line to process out transactions. GREAT! Can;t imagine her ON the street in front of the place, however.

    What does he do if it starts to RAIN, I wonder? Do you know?

  7. Ducky you never commented on our proposal to have a Family Reunion either in Everett, Wakefield or Boston proper. I think it would be -- as they say -- "cool."

  8. Loved the photo, Ducky.

    For those interested, here's MORE INFORMATION.

  9. I love this, FreeThinke:

    Ducky, what do you like to eat besides your daily regimen of steel filings and broken glass washed down with vinegar -- and those cocktails of three parts Chlorine Bleach to one part Ammonia I know you love to imbibe at eventide?

    Are you still serving Bloody Marys made with real virgin's blood and lighter fluid at those infamous Sunday brunches of yours? };-)>

    I can tell it is done in good humor and without spite or malice.

    Speaking of the Reunion, I you, Shaw and Ducky really get together, I would love to crash that party. If we could stay off of politics, it would be a grand time.

    -- Silverfiddle

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. @FT --- Ducky, what do you like to eat besides your daily regimen of steel filings and broken glass ...
    Since my normal diet has given me stomach problems recently, I switched to lighter fare.

    Breakfast -
    Banana/apple smoothie
    Scrambled eggs with peppers
    Short stack

    Lunch -
    Sam Adams Pumpkin ale
    Spinach salad

    Dinner -

    I was a little tired after hitting he bricks with the camera for three hours today so I went to the local Italian joint

    Stuffed mushrooms
    Seafood ravioli

  12. Thanks, Ms Shaw for the painted piano article. The project is DELIGHTFUL. The idea most heartening. I'm amazed the city has been so receptive, but that speaks very well for the city.

    Not long ago another friend sent a very depressing article from The New York Times describing in painful detail how so many perfectly good old piano -- even Chickering, Knabe, Baldwin and Steinway grands with beautiful carved wooden cases -- are just being TRASHED -- tossed out and hauled to city dumps where they are raised on cranes and then dropped from a considerable height to crash into splintering ruins on the ground.

    Almost made me weep to learn of it.

    What YOUR city is doing is far more enlightened. Balm to the Soul really.

    Who knows the project might revive interest among the general public for studying the piano again.

    I hate WASTE, and the piano project in Boston and elsewhere is anything but.

    GOOD SHOW! Thanks.

  13. Okay, FT.

    Glenn Gould or Alfred Brendel?

  14. I've never been any good at fixing fish! Mom rarely cooked fish, so I missed all the necessary training.

    When Mr. AOW and I go out to dinner, I typically get one of the fish offerings on the menu. Yum!

  15. Shaw,
    Fall River and New Bedford served the best seafood fishes I've ever had. A chef in Fall River prepared paella at my request as the dish wasn't on the menu. That paella was exquisite!

    Until I visited those two places, I thought that San Francisco served the best seafood dishes in the world.

  16. Fall river... uh oh.
    Stonington, Fisherman's Friend. They are ON THE DOCK.
    Specials are what just came in.
    But you have to get there.
    Stay at the Inn on the Harbor.

    At the other end... Grand Hotel Point Clear, Alabama. On the bay. 5 star restaurant. They'll do anything for you.

    My $.02

  17. AOW,

    Fall River and New Bedford have a great Portuguese fisherman tradition and cuisine. Emeril Lagasse was born in Fall River.

  18. Gould was by far the more interesting, stimulating and intriguing of the two, Ducky, but he also had propensity for mannered eccentricity bordering on affectation -- in certain repertoire -- that could be infuriating. Much of his Beethoven, for instance, sounds as though he must have been mentally thumbing his nose at critics, audiences and traditional understanding alike. Real "Bad Boy" stuff.

    Brendel detested Gould, and while I respect Brendel for his pianistic facility, smoothly controlled virtuosity and comprehensive intellectual grasp of the broadest cross section of the repertoire imaginable, he was in fact a dullard compared to Gould.

    This is the second or third time Ms Shaw has mentioned Jonathan Biss, an artist with whom I am as yet unfamiliar. I guess there's nothing left for me to do but take a Biss and discover for myself what he may be all about. I respect Ms Shaw's musical instincts and sensibilities.

    I still wish I could have heard Jeremy Denk perform the Goldbergs. I trust the word of no professional reviewers, because in too many instances their primary aim is to call attention THEMSELVES not to direct attention to the music and the artists who perform it. Too many college professors are the same way.

    Gould's recording of Beethoven, Opus 58 (the 4th piano concerto in G-Major) is far and away the most compellingly beautiful account of the work I've ever heard -- or ever expect to hear. So, we know he DID understand Beethoven, and COULD perform his music exquisitely. Why he deliberately chose to DISTORT and thus MISREPRESENT Beethoven's intentions in so many of the master's other works becomes more of a mystery than ever.

    Brendel: Highly competent, but almost never inspired or inspiring

    Gould: One of the greatest geniuses of the 20h century.

  19. AOW, the secret to cooking fish is twofold.

    1. Make sure it's fresh

    2. Don't cook it for very long.

    A tip about cooking shrimp: Toss out any recipe that tells you to boil the shrimp for 8 or 10 minutes. That's rubbish. Just bring them TO a boil, then IMMEDIATELY take them off the heat, pour into a colander catching the water in a bowl, then place the shrimp in the freezer for two or three minutes to stop further cooking. Then peel them and use them for whatever dish you've planned.


    Reserve all the water from cooking the shrimp from pot and bowl alike, put the shells back into it, bring it back to a boil, and let it reduce itself by half.

    Remove from heat, strain out the shells, and save. With this liquid you have basis for many good soups and sauces. [TO BE CONTINUED "SOMEDAY" ;-]

    PS: I freeze this bouillon in Mason Jars and save it for future reference, unless I'm preparing to make a Seafood Chowder, Shrimp Bisque or Bouillabaisse that very day.

  20. Speaking of the Reunion, if you, Shaw and Ducky really get together, I would love to crash that party. If we could stay off of politics, it would be a grand time.

    I don't know. I'd have to consult the other members of "The Family" first, but I think it could be a lot of fun, myself.

    You knew, of course, that Ducky, Ms. Shaw and I all have authentic family connections to Boston -- particularly the suburbs of Everett and Wakefield, didn't you?

    I think it's a fun fantasy if not much else. It may happen yet. Who knows? Stranger things occur every day everywhere.

  21. AOW, if you want to save a few bucks and eat fish at home, try this neat old trick:

    Preheat your broiler. Place fresh salmon steaks in a foil-covered broiler pan. Sprinkle each with very little salt and pepper, then cover each salmon steak thickly with sour cream, sprinkle judiciously with chopped fresh dill (dried is all right if fresh is unavailable), place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, and VOILA! You have an elegant man dish ready to serve immediately. Plain buttered rice (I like Uncle Ben's), and new peas or fresh green beans make a nice accompaniment.

  22. WELCOME, Epaminondas! You got into the spirit of things here right away. Very much appreciate your input.

    I have not had the pleasure of dining in Alabama, but have experienced great joy at the table in Appalachicola, Florida and New Orleans, which, of course, share the seacoast with the same body of water.

    Please visit us again.

  23. I have no connections to Bean Town.

    Your tip on saving the juice after boiling shrimp is a technique my wife uses.

    Me? I love 'em grilled on skewers. I also like grilling lobster tails when they are on sale.

    -- Silverfiddle

  24. F.T.,

    I've been boiling shrimp peels for years, reducing it, and using the broth for lots of seafood dishes. Zuppa di pesce, for example. Also shrimp scampi.

    And you and AOW are absolutely correct about not overcooking the shrimp. If you do that, the texture is like rubber. Whever I make a dish with shrimp in it, I put the shrimp in at the last moment and gently, gently cook until just done, because the heat continue to cook them when you take the pan off the gas or element.

    I treat all my fish dishes gently.

    I'd be glad to share my own recipes for fish and clam chowdah 9served with homemade cohn bread0 whenever you have another recipe post.

  25. Sorry about that.

    (served with homemade cohn bread)

    Typed while rushing.

  26. Not to worry abut typos, Ms Shaw. If I did that, I'd have to stop posting altogether, because try as I might, I can no longer produce error-free copy. (My eyesight has deteriorated horribly, even after 7 operations in 10 years that tried to keep it going -- that's my excuse anyway ;-)

  27. I know you must already know this, Ms Shaw, but we should also tell the readers that the shells from crabs and lobsters should be used to make broth also.

    If you don't have time to do it right away, take all the shells -- even left over after your guests have finished, put them in a plastic bag or two, and place in the freezer.

    I have found that bringing shellfish to the boil in Court Bouillon brings out the flavor and makes the very best foundation for the soups, "chowdahs" and sauces at which we've hinted.

    To make Court Bouillon:

    Bay leaf
    Prepared Marinara Sauce
    Chicken Broth
    Dry Vermouth

    Clean, peel and coarsely chop the first three ingredients, peel and puree the garlic
    Use 2 or 3 Bay leaves a light hand with the Thyme
    Take two quarts prepared chicken stock -- or better yet FISH stock, add 1 cup of Marinara Sauce, place all ingredients in a large pot, and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer for at least one-half hour, or until vegetable virtually disintegrate. Add S&P to taste.

    You can stop there, strain the bouillon and save it in the freezer, OR use it right away.

    Whether to strain the bouillon before cooking the shellfish or not is matter of personal choice. Straining beforehand makes further cooking less messy, but I prefer not to do it in the interests of conserving as much of the flavor as possible.

    What say you, Ms Shaw?

  28. "...but I prefer not to do it in the interests of conserving as much of the flavor as possible."

    Agreed. I never worry about mess when cooking if it delivers flavor.

    Also, it's not necessary to have a fully-equipped, high-tech kitchen to create savory dishes. I think of the French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, etc., cooks who used fresh ingredients for their dishes without modern kitchens. Those recipes have been handed down through the decades but were made without modern conveniences.

    I still beat my eggs with a wire whisk, and chope everything by hand with a good, sharp kitchen knife.

    Preparing a meal from scratch with fresh ingredients is probably one of the most satisfying things there is to do.

  29. "... it's not necessary to have a fully-equipped, high-tech kitchen to create savory dishes ..."

    YES! You'll get no argument from me there. In that way our thoughts and feelings are perfectly congruent. My grandma, who was born in 1869, came over to marry my grandpa when she was 20, did all her cooking or a cast iron wood stove or coal stove. She made everything from scratch, because in those days she had no choice. The woman was a de factofour-star chef, and worth hundreds of thousands a year by today's standards, but to her it was all about Duty and Love which she regarded as one and the same.

    Her job was to raise her eight children, see that they were well fed, decently dressed, and above all well EDUCATED. No one was allowed to eat dinner in my grandmother's house until everyone had finished his homework.

    Later on, several family members lived in small New York apartments where cooking was done from a "kitchenette"-- a not-unattractive, closet-like arrangement usually situated in the front hall hidden by louvered doors. The doors opened to reveal a small, apartment-sized, four-burner gas stove, a small refrigerator and a double sink housed in a metal cabinet. No dishwasher, a freezing unit so small it could only hold two trays of ice cubes and two packages of Birdseye frozen vegetables, and a row of metal cabinets above. That was IT.

    I hasten to add these were considered luxury apartments in very good neighborhoods, and "state of the art" for their time.

    At any rate, we had THE most marvellous meals prepared for parties of 6-10 in those apartments, and I remember everyone was so happy to be there and enjoy not only the great food, but each other's company.

    I look at the Home and Garden Channel today where every whiny, spoiled young couple just starting out, and lot of picky old parties as well, HAS to have a kitchen as big as a football field outfitted with granite countertops, stainless appliances, a special refrigeration unit designed just for wine, and a second sink in the middle of an "island" set aside for the preparation of salads, etc. and I don't know whether to laugh or cry, or get up and start throwing things.

    Those bratty kids, picky divorcees, and fatuous gay couples are not having any FUN. They either never knew, or long ago forgot what fun really is.

    My anecdotal sociological observations born of long experience are one of the reasons I feel compelled to classify myself as a "conservative."

    My nostalgia for what-truly-was a lovely past overwhelms me with grief at times.

    We have lost so much of great value and charm, and what we has come to take its place, is not EVER going to be to my liking.

    It sounds, Ms Shaw, as though you are still enjoying the ways of the Old World at least culinarily. All I can say is "GOOD FOR YOU, and LONG MAY YOU ENJOY LIFE."

  30. Shaw,
    The chef Emeril was born in Fall River? I did't know that!

    I have visited Fall River several times over the years while doing research on Lizzie Borden. Over time, I have come to my own conclusions as to what happened that day in the Borden home.

  31. FT,
    I'm not sure that I'd like to eat peas with fish.

    I always want cole slaw with any fish that I eat.

    Homemade dressing made fresh for the cole slaw is my preference. Alas! I am highly allergic to dill! I substitute a bit of cilantro -- not too much.

  32. Um....did't in my comment above should read didn't.

    The chalazion on my eye is creating visual disturbance in my dominant eye this evening. **sigh**

  33. FT,
    I occasionally grill salmon steaks for myself. Mr. AOW won't eat salmon.

    I like salmon with a TOUCH of honey, syrup, or sweet barbecue sauce.

    Before I place the salmon on the grill, I always coat it with olive oil and dash of oregano or Provence spices.

    I love dill but am highly allergic to it.

  34. Epa!

    I just noticed your comment.

    Fancy seeing you here at FT's site!

  35. This was fun. A pleasant, lively, informative exchange.

    That beautiful picture of an even more beautiful homemade seafood dish brought out the best in everyone.

    We all must dine together more often.



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