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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  1. What a combination - Hester and Jill all on one page. It can't get better than this.


  2. Hester, thank you so much for being such a lovely host. I do wish I could join you for dinner tonight and raise a toast to Alchemy in the Kitchen and good friends. Thank you also for your kind words - you know, on the James Galway thing it makes me think, "the older you get, the better you were"! ;-)
    Bon weekend. J xo

  3. Jill, an absolute pleasure! I'll raise a virtual glass of wine to you as I tuck into that delicious Saint Pierre! Bon weekend!

  4. Excellent reading, and nice dish of course. When you say "A dish that would seduce a saint", is that on a Sunday as well?:)

  5. Dear Hester,

    For the last few months you have been in effect dining with our family on a weekly basis. Thank you so much for your recipes and your innovation and inventiveness.

    all the best,

    Conor Bowman

  6. Love Jill's blog and this is such a great recipe! Thanks both of you for bringing it to us!

  7. What a great recipe and so well written by Hester and Jill. The fish looks absolutly fab!

  8. Hi Hester, although I have just had breakfast, you have made me hungry! If I can't get John Dorey, I will try this with something similar!! Hope to catch up soon. Bernadette W

  9. Until last week I thought John Dory was the neurotic doctor from scrubs. Now thanks to your recipe, I know better. Definitely a recipe for my scrapbook (well actually, my girlfriend's scrapbook!).

  10. We've got sugar snap peas growing in the garden, in need of something to accompany them.... This sounds like the perfect thing! I'm off to the fish monger now!

  11. Wowzers! Two fabulous bloggers in one post - what more could I ask for? Oh ye... An equally fabulous recipe :-)
    I think a trip to the fishmonger is in order.
    Thanks ladies.

  12. A gorgeous summer recipe - love the sauce - I would eat it all by itself. While I have made something similar, I have never presented it so beautifully. Kudos!

  13. Aww I just adore Jill! What a fantastic guest post!! :)

  14. Makes me want to rush off to Paris. Might try this dish for the weekend in drizzling Dublin instead!

  15. Good lord that's SO good. See, this is what happens when awesome foodies unite!

  16. Brilliant! I love it! I'm allergic to fish, so I can't indulge, but if I could *sigh* I would love it!

  17. Oh, good. I was looking for something to try out on my VBF who is home from Florida next week. She is a VERY GOOD COOK and I'm dying to impress. I'm sure Cavistons in Greystones will recommend something similiar to John Dory. Isn't that cockney for something? ...... story? That would be apt as Hester is a very good storyteller too!

  18. I've got to stop reading this blog on my coffee break!! Always end up ditching dinner plans in favour of what's being posted!! John dory sounds fab-u-lous

  19. It's a pleasure to read the post, well done ladies! I especially love the addition of tea to beurre blanc! Simply brilliant :)

  20. I popped over here from Jill's blog and am so glad I did! That fish looks amazing and so simple!

  21. What a great post ladies! I think you both have the same quick wit and sense of humor and I always enjoy visiting your blogs! What a beautiful fish! Thank you both for sharing this! : )

  22. "A dish that would seduce a saint."

    Can I use that line? With my nick that phrase would go down a treat. :)

    Wonderful recipe and gorgeous photo.

  23. You two are BOTH delights!!!! Jill, this fish dish looks amazing! I may be able to convince Bill to try something besides salmon with that lovely crust. Hester, thanks for the wonderful guest poster~

  24. This dish looks amazing. You girls have worked your magic for sure! Looking forward to reading more on Jills blog soon even though I am not sure I can attempt the macarons! I hope you are enjoying the summer. Lovely here in Galway.

  25. I so enjoyed this post. I just picked up fish yesterday. Not anywhere near as gorgeous of a setting as Jill though. I had the movie Sabrina playing in my head instead of music, the good version with Audrey Hepburn. Really enjoyed visiting. Fish intimidates me, not sure why. Maybe it's the shifty eyes.

  26. This looks an really amazing dish - beautiful with wonderful flavors!
    I'm siging up to follow you!!

  27. Exquisite summer and winter recipe is healthy and wonderful, very beautiful pictures I congratulate you, big hug.

  28. Hi Hester! Thanks for inviting Jill on your blog! YUM! The fish looks amazingly delicious! I love the crunchy topping... :-)

  29. What a fabulous recipe... I think the fact that word 'hugging' is in the title is super appropriate, because I often get the urge to give Jill a huge hug :) I must try this recipe soon! Thanks for sharing this, Jill, and thanks, Hester, for bringing us this great guest post :)

  30. LOVE this post! Smoked tea butter sauce? OH MY WORD! And I didn’t know Jill was a musician!

  31. Great post!I just heard of John Dory the other day in a fiction book I was reading. What a coincidence you posted a recipe using. Cannot wait to try it out.

  32. I ♥ JILL! :) So nice to see her on your blog, Hester. Now if I could just get my hands to wrap around that John Dory....nom nom nom!

  33. Oh, what a fabulous post! Love the fate of the breadcrumbs and the dish as a whole :-) Fantastic job, Jill!

  34. OMG it looks gorgeous!
    I'm salivating...
    But is it easier than making French macarons?
    I'm not so sure.
    I would definitely order this in a restaurant though :)

  35. Ahhhh, the Irish and the Scots....a swell combination ;-)
    Hester - great blog - Jill thanks for introducing me to it!
    I can almost smell that sauce.....divine!

  36. Ladies, you rock!!! Love everything about this virtual cook-gathering and you two are amazing. Hester, I've been missing so many of your posts as I had to be away from computers for about 20 days thanks to a neck problem. But forget about it - this looks good and all the posts after will work like a magic alchemy medicine for me : )

  37. Wow, just gotta indulge in this, fab recipe & looks nice & easy to make yet it looks so professional when served. Another delicious treat although never known anything less from you ooh macaroon maestro


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