Monday, January 7, 2013

Dining In - The SOG City Bistro

Today was a food filled day. First, pulling recipes, then making out a grocery list, and then - the horror - a trip to Publix, where shopping is an adventure.

Upon arrival back at the ranchero and after dispersing the groceries to their designated areas, I contemplated the options for dinner this evening. I came up with two ideas, starving or cooking. I didn't say they were two good ideas. Knowing that my bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, would not buy in to starvation, the obvious choice was cooking.

Even though seafood was not on today's list, while passing the Publix seafood section I saw an irresistible slab of mutton snapper. It was thick and resembled two side by side fish tenderloins. I had to have it! I asked my charming fish monger to remove the skin and in the process she volunteered to remove a bony section of the snapper. She likes me, and like many other folks at Publix, if you are nice to them they go out of their way to be nice right back. Niceness is rewarded with perks.

I needed something to accompany the snapper and I decided on a tomato, basil bread pudding that I saw on  one of the Giada TV shows a few months ago. I was planning on this bread pudding as a stand alone dish, but I was concerned that it would not be sufficient as a main dish. It turned out that I was wrong.

There was enough pudding here to feed a small army, but I served it along with the snapper anyway.

This pudding is a savory dish with bread cubes (I used country sourdough), shallots, mini San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, shredded Parm, and a six egg custard. A couple of slabs of that flavorful pudding would have been more than enough for a full meal, but I pressed onward with the snapper preparation.

I first prepared a brown butter sauce, what the French refer to as a beurre noisette - butter heated in a skillet until the moisture evaporates and the butter just begins to brown. This is a very simple nutty flavored sauce that I perked up a little with a few drops of Worchestershire sauce.

After the fish was tossed about a bit in the beurre noisette I moved it to a buttered baking dish, then mixed a few tablespoons of bread crumbs in with the remaining sauce. The crumb mixture then coated the tops of the snapper tenderloins.

To complete the prep, I added a couple of sprinkles of shredded Parm and baked the fish for about 15 minutes. The Belle of Ballast Point, who is not a true lover of seafood, said this was a tender, juicy, and tasty dish that equaled or surpassed menu items she has tried at Tampa Bay seafood eateries. My head swells!

Unfortunatley, for you that is, The SOG City Bistro is not open to the general public. Both the snapper beurre noisette and the bread pudding are easy recipes that may be prepared in the home kitchen.

For Giada's bread pudding, click HERE. The only changes I made to the recipe were the bread and the tomatoes. My bride had purchased two BOGO bags of Arnold's bread a few weeks ago that have just been sitting around gathering dust - surprisingly, no mold - so I used half a bag of the sourdough. The San Marzano tomatoes have way more flavor than the regular cherry tomato varieties, and I like their cute little pear shape.

Most any firm flesh white fish would probably work instead of mutton snapper. Try halibut. For the beurre noisette, heat a small skillet over mediun heat, add 4 or 5 tablespoons of real butter, melt until bubbly and turning brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Dip in the fish to coat with the sauce and then place in a buttered baking dish. Toss a couple of tablespoons of fine bread crumbs into the remaining butter sauce, mix and then use to coat the tops of the fish. Place the baking dish into a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

I topped the fish with shredded Parm before placing in the oven. The Parm hardened into a cheesy wafer instead of melting and I don't believe added anything to the dish, but I thought I would give it a try anyway.

Bon appétit, y'all.

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