Just when you think you're getting somewhere this happens:
It all started innocently enough. I decided it was time to upgrade our baking/casserole gear (vanity speaking), so found a nice price on amazon for a double set of baking dishes from Staub (highly regarded, less expensive than Le Creuset or Emile Henry)
in sizes (11x 8; 9x7) more suitable for just two Flutters.
An aside here, and I’m sure familiar with other home cooks, a lot of the recipes I find on the net and have saved over the years are marked “serves 6 or 4” rarely two. Which then leads to: a) loading up our already packed freezer with unmarked Tupperware containers (what the heck is this stuff)?; or b) since I don’t probably eat a “normal” serving anymore, having the same stuff three nights in a row (boooring!). Some recipes are amenable to cutting, but lead to having to measure a 16th of a tablespoon or something.
So (back to the point) I found a recipe YouTube for Rice Pilaf "how to cook classic rice pilaf: chef John, allrecipes.com for 4 that was cooked in the oven, not cooktop. I have failed many times with the latter approach. Besides it called for even amounts of rice, butter, oil, stock, and an optional “pinch” of saffron (half a pinch is??). Cooked in oven in “tightly sealed casserole”; Minimal prep, and I get to use my new gear. let’s go for it!
Easy, right? Well……
The rice: had to chop a quarter of an onion (half of original’s “half”) then cook in 1 TBL spoon(!) of butter and olive oil till “just past translucent”.. Kind of easy (10 minutes of monitoring), tough to find a pan in which 2 tablespoons doesn’t get lost, then combine (1 ½ cups stock), salt, ⅛ tsp cayenne and the optional Saffron (no got) in a pan and reduce (simmer 5 minutes). Then combine with the 1 c. rice (making sure “EACH GRAIN IS COATED”). So spread over rice in (new) dish and mixed it up carefully watching EACH GRAIN. Lesson One: there wasn’t enough liquid to easily cover EACH GRAIN despite stirring around for another 8 – 10 minutes, so some of the grains were NOT COATED..
Spread stock, et al., then “tightly cover pan with heavy duty foil. Lesson two: the hooty doody Staub dish has NO LIP, so how do you do anything to “cover tightly” but sort of lay it on the top and lop over the edges? Put in 350 degree oven for (original) 35 minutes.
Quandary One: original recipe (2 C. rice); should I shorten the time because less volume? I did, going for 27 minutes. Removed from oven and let sit (still covered – no peeking) for 10 minutes. Elapsed time over an hour, nerves partially shot.
Meanwhile the Hollandaise: 1 large egg yolk, 1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed Lemon juice, pinch cayenne, half a stick unsalted butter, ½ Tsp. Kosher salt. That’s not much stuff but I don’t have a blender that small (just my mini prep food processor - one speed, on or pulse)
And the combined yolk juice and cayenne barley covered the bottom of the mini - prep (not even up to blade). While I have used it successfully for house made mayo with the little drip doo-dad on the top, half a stick of melted butter doesn’t drain so well, plus speed not high enough to mix well.. result: not well combined. 10 minutes, nerves continue to fray.
I found in that packed freezer some “Pacific Dover Sole” from Sea to Table that sounded good with the rice.
I must admit I have had good luck with Sea to table seafood.
“tracker” said my order shipped on 7 August, to be delivered no later than 8pm on the 9th. We had to go out on the 9th, and by chance the FedEx truck was entering “the Farms” as we were leaving. MFO followed it and was able to obtain our box from the driver. Uh, Oh, box very moist on bottom. MFO turned the MOMSTER round and went directly home (fuming over delay getting to event), and opened said box to discover COMPLETLY thawed Sole (and scallops) tepid and limp. Had no choice but to stick them in the freezer anyway. (happy aside: I sent a note to them, and they refunded the whole order. Once it leaves their hands, it’s out of their control; FedEx doesn’t care~apparently).
Which while looking good, it belies the fact that by the time they were nicely browned, they were overcooked to the point of being dry and hard.
Then I did the batch for serving
Same result, dryish tough fish,
So plated up our "dinner" with the hollandaise thinner than I wanted, and to my chagrin the rice was underdone and while not exactly crunchy, was uh, al dente (to be kind).
Appetizing, yes? Probably two and a half hours of prep, making each item at it's station cooking and watching. By the time we sat down, I was pretty much exhausted and the quality of the food wasn’t worth. I texted both FOJ’s and a couple of friends that it was the worst dinner I have ever prepared. Not far from the truth. we did eat it before turning it over to the
Reader’s help: should I cook half the rice the recipe full time? How the hell do you make a lipless dish “tightly sealed”? not the right device for the Hollandaise? what do you do about cutting recipes? (by comment or to Bill@Billsbottomfeeder.com)
I did talk to one of my chef friends and for the fish I should get the pan “screaming hot” and put the fish in for maybe 10 seconds. That scares me but I think that’s right.
So anyway, time will dull the anguish and I’ll try again, maybe with less aggressive plans. I have some scallops from Sea 2 Table, offering another chance to deal with high heat (?)
Until another attempt
DFD (in english)