Parmesan Dover Sole

pan of baked Dover sole

Over a month ago I was celebrating a belated Christmas get-together with Carol, a friend of 31 years.  Our time in each other’s company is always rich; my desire for our merrymaking was that my food would do the honors, blessing our long-term bond.  This delicious dish answered this ambition beyond my expectations.  I share it here for your use with those close to you.

Friendship and food are both treasured gifts.  When we mix the two together, life explodes.  I always endeavor to meet my guests’ particular needs, thus making each dinner engagement unique and exceptional.

For instance Carol doesn’t like hors d’ouvres, as they were never served in her family of origin; for her they take away from an acute appetite for the main meal.  Consequently, we just partake in tea and conversation for the first half hour of our gathering.

This sensible person has a heightened awareness of taste.  She knows good food and eats with purpose, maximally enjoying each bite.  This takes concentration and my friend allows herself this luxury; we spend much of our repast in silence, focusing on gastronomic pleasures.

This discipline was first displayed to me when I was 20 years old, while waiting on table in my father’s restaurant.  (Joy unspeakable happened to me then, as I served the public with our exceptional ailments.)  My About Page on this website notes that which is true for each of us: it details the unfolding of my destiny with food history throughout my entire life.  An excellent example of this is what I learned about the gift of hospitality, while serving the public in my youth; during that instructive time, a young couple showed me what a treasure stillness brings to eating.

Tourists peopled my family’s eatery in Glacier National Park and this unique pair was probably there on their honeymoon.  I initially approached their table with rousing emotion, my usual display of a genuine heartfelt welcome, however my spirit was quickly corrected.  This excitable enthusiasm (which was normally highly pleasing to those on holiday) was not appropriate in their presence, for there was a holy reverence about them.  My sensitive response was an immediate change of demeanor.  Throughout their lengthy feast I watched them with awe, as they indulged in each other’s company and our kitchen’s delights in their unparalleled way.

I intuitively knew how to respect them with a quiet spirit.  However, this was so foreign to me that I felt like I was walking on egg shells, but oh the glory of it all!

Since then, God has given me a friend with whom I can practice what these two taught me, forty odd years ago.  Carol and I uphold veracity in all of life’s dealings; thus, even our eating is veracious.  Because of the honesty in our souls, we engage in veneration to God as we consume food; therefore, you can see my need for a dish that would rise to our integrity, which I knew would be present at this gathering.

My heart’s desire was met in this Parmesan Dover Sole recipe; how facile and pleasing it is beyond words.

sauce cooking

Parmesan Dover Sole   Total prep time: less than 1 1/2 hr; active prep time: 50 min;  baking time: 30 min.  Yields: 3-4 servings.

Note: you may double this recipe, leftovers are great, however fish only keeps for 3 days.

1 1/2 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is best here for flavor and quality; you may also use avocado oil; olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium/large yellow onion, halved at the root and thinly sliced

5 medium cloves garlic, minced, or to taste  (May substitute 2 cubes frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)

1 lb Roma tomatoes, chopped small  (Organic is best and the Roma variety is not that much more expensive.)

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt  (Real Salt is so important for your body’s optimum health; this product is available in the health section at most leading grocery stores.)

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon  (Either the chicken or vegetable flavored base will do; this product is available at most grocery stores.)

Spray oil  (Pam coconut spray oil is ideal.)

1 lb Dover sole fillets, or other type of whitefish, such as flounder  (Dover sole is a type of sole that has very thin fillets, which is ideal for absorbing sauces; see Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder, 2016/12/05.)

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

Rice, steamed according to directions on package

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  (If you prepare dish ahead of time, do steps 2 through 9 before hand; then, preheat oven 1 hour before serving; start rice when you put fish in hot oven, if preparing ahead.)
  2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Place small piece of sliced onion in oil; when it sizzles, add rest of onion and caramelize (cook until dark brown, stirring occasionally).  Set onions aside in a bowl and save this pan for preparing sauce.
  3. If using fresh garlic, chop and set aside.  Clean tomatoes with an inexpensive, effective vegetable spray: fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; spray vegetables and let sit for 3 minutes; rinse really well.  Go to next step.
  4. Meantime dissolve Better Than Bouillon in the hot water, set aside.
  5. Chop cleaned tomatoes in small pieces and place in the above sauté pan.  Add garlic, bouillon mixture, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Stir well; bring to a boil over medium heat; then, turn heat down to medium/low; simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until a sauce is formed, with the tomatoes somewhat chunky (see photo).  Adjust seasoning when sauce is complete. (I encourage you to read tips about cooking properly with garlic in Tomato/Feta Chicken, 2016/07/25.)
  6. Begin steaming the  rice while tomatoes are cooking.  (If you are preparing this ahead of time, start this starch when you put cold fish dish in oven, 50 minutes before serving.)
  7. For a single recipe, spray with oil a 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 3 inch pan, or 2 ½ quart baking dish.  (For a double recipe, use a 9 ½ x 13 x 2 inch pan.)  Place fish fillets in bottom of pan.  Note: it is not necessary to wash pieces of fish or meat; only poultry carcasses, where blood is captured inside, need washing.
  8. Pour prepared sauce over raw fish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (see top photo).  You may choose to refrigerate fish and bake it 50 minutes before serving.  If doing this, preheat oven 1 hour ahead of time and start rice when you put fish in hot oven.
  9. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 50 minutes-time varies if fish is cold from the refrigerator.  Fish is done when its center is opaque and it flakes with a fork.
  10. Enjoy this incredibly good dish!  Leftovers are also delicious.

Scottish oat scones and more…

20160430_103137One spring day in Montana’s Big Sky country changed my creative life forever.  An imaginative oil painting of mine was drying in the living room.  My tiny, efficient kitchen brimmed with Spanish tapas.  I was entertaining the arts and entertainment editor of the Billings Gazette, whom I knew from my acting world.  She was going to review my article on the historical buildings of this largest city in Montana.  My hopes were she would publish it. She spoke prophetically over me as we indulged in our lavish repast:  “Leave these other artistic quests; seek your true strength of creating quaint, delectable foods; start catering!”

Thus I launched my business in 1982 with all the passion of my former poetic attempts. My first catering assignment was that June.  This editor published an article on my French dinner, thus giving the needed exposure to my new dream.  It was a marvelous meal of bouillabaisse (fine fish stew) with all the trimmings.  This memorable evening marked the beginning of my knowing the joy of my life’s calling.

This fire in my soul originated in southern Montana, but in a very short time my eager endeavors spread north:  I catered elegant historical feasts in my home town of East Glacier Park and the surrounding area.  Groups would have me return each summer to present my “latest creation”.

One such group had me cater my delicacies to them yearly, for several decades. How they blessed me:  They treated me like fine gold as a guest in their home; they paid for blessed, needed massages during my intense labors; there was a memorable night out on their sailboat on Flathead Lake; and so much more…

Another old-time friend invited me over for this scone recipe during one of these trips north. I fell in love with this slightly sweet, nutty breakfast delight from Scotland.  I have been making these scones ever since that morning in the early 1980’s.  I am convinced you’ll be sold on them, too.

Scottish Oat Scones (Yields: 12 servings.)

1 egg

2/3 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/3 cup milk or cream

¼ cup sugar (coconut or cane sugar is best)

1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or grind 1 cup soft, winter wheat berries to make 1½ cup flour)

½ cup unbleached white flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)

1 ¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats (organic is best, available in bulk at most supermarkets)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp cream of tartar (much cheaper when you buy in bulk food section)

½ tsp salt (Real Salt is best, available in the nutrition center of your local supermarket)

½ cup currants, raisins, or cranberries

spray oil (coconut spray oil is best)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Beat egg in a large bowl. Mix in butter and milk. Add sugar and beat well.
  3. Place all other dry ingredients except fruit in a sealed storage bag. Shake well. Add this to above liquid mixture. Beat thoroughly.
  4. Stir in fruit; let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Shape dough to form a ball. Pat out on a cookie sheet, sprayed with oil, to form an 8-inch circle. Mark 12 wedges in dough with a sharp knife. (Note: You may bake this on an ungreased stone, which will require almost double the baking time.)
  6. Bake until golden brown in center of oven for about 12-17 minutes. (Time will vary with cookie sheet vs. stone; stone will take up to 30 minutes.) Center should be slightly moist. Do not over bake.
  7. Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to serving plate; may serve warm, or at room temperature.