Friday, July 22, 2011

Herb-hugging John Dory with Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc – Guest Post with Jill Colonna of Mad About Macarons

Pin It Oh you are in for a treat! I am thrilled to introduce my first guest blogger, the delightful Jill Colonna from Mad About Macarons. I’m a huge fan of Jill’s and was flattered to be asked to guest on the legendary Le Blog recently. I’m very honoured to introduce her to you today.

Jill is a Scots lass, now living in Paris with husband Antoine and their two gorgeous girls. Jill's blog is always a delight. She makes me laugh with her celtic wit and her insights into Paris and the French. One of my favourite posts was Jill teaching her girls to forage wild nettles for pesto – and scaring the locals in the process. They have become expert foragers and need no assistance gathering wild strawberries – funny that!
As well as being the author of Mad About Macarons, the book and Le Blog, Jill is a very talented musician. There is an Irish connection with her music too – Jill once played flute for the legendary Sir James Galway!
Please imagine some appropriate music to accompany you on your journey with Jill – first to the Paris fish market to collect your ingredients, then onward to Jill’s kitchen to prepare this mouthwatering dish.

Jill Colonna – Mad About Macarons
I can't tell you how much I was excited when Hester asked me to guest post on Alchemy in the Kitchen. I adore Hester's blog, as she has such a knack of enchanting us with her fabulous dishes that have all been given her touch of magical creativity.
Don't you also love Hester's sense of humour? I particularly love getting to the main photograph, when she injects her Irish wit with wonderful one-liners such as: "does my bun look big in this?" and "Well, I did tell you that drizzle was forecast". Speaking of drizzle, that is something else we both have in common apart from food. Being Irish and Scots lasses, we certainly know what it's like to be prepared for northern summers: a typical blustery June day could start T-shirtingly sunny and end with a Damartingly snow flurry. Oh, and we also chat a lot.

What on earth was I going to pick as a recipe? Time for some inspiration.

Give me a sign!
The signs were all there. First this one - St Peter Street- looked down on me as my keys dropped to the ground. Was I heading for the Pearly Gates to say b-b-b-onjour?
Thankfully to my relief, the sign appeared again a few minutes later at the local market in St Germain-en-Laye. Saint Pierre - or John Dory - was laid out beautifully chez le poissonier. Taking it as the real sign, it was high time to do something with this gorgeously thick fish fillet.

I'll take that one please!

I couldn't just fry it and shove it on a plate with lemon and parsley. No. This was for Alchemy in the Kitchen, so it needed some transformation with some simple ingredients, as Hester puts it so well.
I found a French recipe by chef Vincent David but simplified it. The result? I want to make it again for my French guests. Sounds très posh? It's so simple and delicious. The topping is referred to as à la viennoise. It's when you coat it with breadcrumbs and fry it. Here, the topping is added at the last minute and quickly finished off under the grill.

A dish that would seduce a saint!

Herb-hugging John Dory with Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves 4
4 John Dory fillets
100g butter
100g breadcrumbs
100g block of parmesan, freshly grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme

Scots lass creates a stir with ... seaweed!
1                    Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the breadcrumbs, parmesan and garlic. Here I added a tablespoon of dried seaweed (found in Asian supermarkets) but you can add freshly chopped herbs if you prefer.
2                    Spread the mixture out on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
3                    Top with another baking parchment sheet and roll it out until it's flat and even (about 3mm thickness). Place in the fridge to set.

A short but brilliant career à la viennoise - it's what every crumb aspires to!

50g shallots
50cl dry white wine
50cl single cream
100g butter
1 Lapsang Souchong teabag

Clockwise from top left: Sweat the shallots; add the cream; whisk in the butter; strain the sauce

4                    Using some of the butter, sweat the shallots for about 5 minutes until translucent (don't brown). Add the wine and leave on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until reduced by half.
5                    Add the cream and stir until boiling. Take off the heat, whisk in the rest of the butter until it melts then add the teabag and leave the tea to infuse for about 10 minutes.
6                    Meanwhile, prepare some vegetables of your choice. Here I cooked some green beans, added some fried mushrooms and sautéed them together with a touch of lemon juice.
7                    Filter the sauce into another saucepan and keep on a low heat.
Clockwise from top left: fry gently; cut the topping; layer the topping on the fish; OMG!
8                    Season the fish fillets and fry in some olive oil and butter gently until just cooked; no more than 5 minutes, depending on thickness.
9                    The viennoise topping is now ready to cut.
10               Place the fish in a roasting tin, layer the topping on top of it and melt it under the grill for a couple of minutes.
11               Serve on a bed of vegetables and surround with the sauce and enjoy with a chilled glass of white Burgundy.

Santé!   Slàinte!

Thanks Jill. I can’t think of a better fate for breadcrumbs than to become à la viennoise in this stunning dish.

Please head on over to visit Jill at Mad About Macarons and select one of her magical macarons for dessert! Remember to say Hi from me.
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