Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here fishy, fishy, fishy...

The pressure was on last night at dinner: I had to cook for 2 strapping Ohio boys instead of the usual 1. And if you think Ty is a picky eater, you should meet his brother Jay.

We chose to make the Grecian Grouper from the cookbook, the ingredients sounded simple enough: grouper, Greek Seasoning, frozen spinach (thawed), feta & diced tomatoes. The cookbook suggested serving this with orzo, which I WAS able to find during my Food Lion scavenger hunt on Sunday, but it didn't give a recipe on what to do with it. So I used one from the package that called for chicken broth, minced garlic and asiago cheese.

I had to make a few substitutions based on FL's selection and what we had at home: we got flounder instead of grouper, I couldn't find Greek Seasoning but Google led me to believe it is very similar to the Italian seasoning mix I already had and since the only time I've ever bought asiago cheese was when it was baked into my bagel at Panera (mmmm I love Panera), I used grated parmesan. All said, this meal cost me about $9 and fed 3 people!

It looked like the fish was going to be a quick fix so I got the orzo started by bringing 3 cups of chicken broth to a boil and chopping up the garlic (without hurting my self might I add). The recipe said to dump the garlic & orzo into the boiling chicken broth and then let it simmer uncovered for 7-8 minutes. There are a few possibilities for what happened next: 1. I didn't completely understand how to "bring it down to a simmer" (Google says...Simmering is a cooking technique in which foods are cooked in hot liquids kept at or just below the boiling point of water and higher than poaching. To keep a pot simmering, one brings it to a boil and then adjusts the heat downward until just before the formation of steam bubbles stops completely.) hmmm...should've Googled BEFORE starting...or 2. I may have added too much orzo due to inaccurate measurement (it said 3/4 a pound & it was a 1lb. bag - they need to take a tip from Alton Brown - give it to me in measurements that don't require a scale) or 3. which is most likely: a combination of both. More on this in a minute...

The fish did in fact cook very quickly and I admit I did not have my other ingredients totally ready for this (spinach was not completely thawed - I really need to pre-read these recipes in the morning, this thawing thing is throwing me off my game). Lucky for me, the Green boys aren't big spinach eaters so I didn't need the whole package anyway. I got the pan nice & hot, threw some Italian seasoning on the flounder and away we go:

When i went to check the bottom of the fish for browness, I realized that flounder is not a particularly sturdy fish and that flipping them over was going to pose a few logistical problems (i.e. they were probably going to break all apart and end up looking like canned cat food). The recipe said to remove the pan from the heat, flip the fish, top them with the spinach, feta & tomato and then cover them to allow the spinach, etc. to warm. With only a slight feeling of apprehension (knowing there was one more frozen pizza in the freezer) I went in for the flip.
For the most part, my large spatula was able to keep them in a general fish-shape. A few stray pieces were easy to fit back into the fish fillet puzzle. Getting them out of the pan was not a complete disaster either:

The verdict: I'm going to place blame on the flounder.

The meal was not a total disaster but none of us were particularly fond of the fish/spinach combo. The orzo ended up tasting pretty good (I added butter...that's supposed to make everything better right?) but I think it was a little under cooked. I think we'll move on from this recipe, not defeated, but not planning on a second attack. We'll definitely give orzo another shot, but I'm consulting Alton next time.