Friday evening, after dragging reluctant children to the fishmonger, I was all geared up to prepare Snapper, Potato & Porcini Al Cartoccio, as per my menu reform.
I cranked up the temperature dial on the oven and... nothing. Not a light, not a sound, not a flicker.
The oven and the cook-top had gone belly-up.
A heartier soul would have rugged up and headed outside for the gas grill.
I got takeaway.
The next day, after pricing new ovens, I thought I'd give the old girl one more try.
And... she's alive. Just.
With a significant quantity of snapper sitting in the fridge and an oven that might expire at any moment, it was time for a quick plan B.
I don't know about you, but I have to cook fish the same day I buy it, especially if it is a very simple preparation, like the one I'd intended, designed to showcase quality and freshness. But a hearty stew of wine, onion and tomatoes, I rationalized, can compensate for a day or two in the fridge. And I did have that pint of frozen fish stock hanging around.....
Enter Plan B: Soupe de Poissons. I am sure the Snapper, Potato & Porcini would have been lovely, but there was no air of compromise about this. Every last bit of broth was sopped up with garlic bread. Delicious.
A Qualifier: DB, who was in a particularly contrary mood, declared it "disgusting", but when I reminded him that unless he ate every bite there would be no dessert, he managed to get it down. The rest of us loved it, so I'm counting it as a success.
Soupe de Poissons (it just sounds better than fish soup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 can whole peeled Roma tomatoes
sea salt to taste
1 cup white wine
2 cups fish stock
2 red snapper fillets, skinless and deboned, cut into 1 inch pieces
500g mixture of prawns, mussels, salmon pieces and calimari
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
Mince the garlic and finely chop the onion. Sauté over gentle heat in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the can of tomatoes and crush using the back of a spoon. Stir and sauté for several minutes. Add 1 cup of white wine and simmer several minutes, to burn off the alcohol. Add the fish stock and bring back to the simmer. Add the fish and simmer very gently, with the lid on but slightly askew. Stir after several minutes to ensure even cooking. When the fish is just cooked through, ladle into warm bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve with garlic bread.
1 loaf turkish bread or french baguette
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons parsley
Cut the loaf of bread lengthwise. Melt the butter gently in a very small pot or pan, add the garlic and salt and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the parsley and pour or brush the mixture onto the cut side of the bread. Toast under the broiler/grill until the edges of the bread turn golden brown.
Note: If you're anything like me, out of sight is out of mind; knowing this about myself, I only ever cook half the bread at a time. That way, when I inevitably burn the first lot to cinders, I still have a back-up, which I then watch very, very closely.