Posts Tagged ‘cheddar’

I fell behind a little bit in my project, as we went out of town a couple times and our 11-month-old has kept me pretty busy. She is crawling everywhere, standing, and into everything, so I can really only get things done when she is sleeping! Oh, and some days we only take one nap! I also wanted to make some of my favorite summer dishes (gazpacho, caprese, and risotto) before the season is over. Summer has gone by way too quickly for my liking.

This episode, featuring another “flat” food, showcases flounder. Alton claims that flounder is a readily available fish, which is probably true in some areas, but not where I live. I called our local markets and was told that they never have flounder, and that any flounder they would order would be frozen. My only option, it seemed, was to use frozen flounder fillets, so that’s what I did.

Baked Stuffed Flounder

The first flounder recipe is for flounder fillets stuffed with a vegetable filling. This recipe, as written, makes enough for four to six people, so I halved it for us. To make the full recipe, you’ll first want to cook enough rice to yield three cups of cooked rice. You can set the rice aside until later. To start the filling, melt 2 T butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, adding a chopped medium onion and a pinch of Kosher salt.


Onion and Kosher salt in skillet with melted butter.

While the onion sweats, pour 1 C heavy cream and 1/4 C white wine into a saucier over medium heat, and whisk as you bring the mixture to a simmer.


Heavy cream and white wine in saucier.

Meanwhile, add 1 minced clove of garlic to the onion and cook for a minute. Once the cream mixture is simmering, slowly whisk in 10 ounces of cheddar cheese, letting each addition of cheese melt before adding more. When all of the cheese is in and the sauce is smooth, remove it from the heat.


Cheese, ready to add to simmering cream/wine.

To finish the filling, add to the onion pan 10 ounces of chopped frozen spinach that has been thawed and drained, along with the zest of a lemon. Next, add 2 T chopped parsley, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/4 t pepper. Remove the filling from the heat.

Stir the cheese sauce again before placing 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of flounder fillets on a sheet pan. Season the fish liberally with Kosher salt and pepper. Distribute the spinach filling among the fillets, placing a mound at the widest part of each filet.

Roll the fish around the filling, bringing the tail end up over the filling and the head portion down, kind of twisting the fish around the filling. Place the fillets seam side down in a 1 1/2 to 2 quart casserole that has been filled with the 3 C of cooked rice from earlier.


Fillets rolled around filling and placed on rice.

Pour the cheese sauce over the fish and rice and bake the fish for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the fish rest for five minutes before serving.


Cheese sauce poured over fish and rice.


Fish after baking for 25 minutes.


Alton’s stuffed flounder.

Okay, so I instantly cringed at the idea of fish and cheese together when I watched Alton prepare this dish. Cheese and seafood? Well, it turned out that the cheese wasn’t so much of the problem as was my fish. Is all flounder fishy? My flounder smelled super fishy when I opened it and maintained a fishy flavor after cooking. The fish also had a somewhat mushy texture, and we both found it really unappealing. In fact, I just ended up eating the rice with the filling and sauce. I would definitely not make this recipe again as it is written. Maybe this would be better with a different type of fish? Still… fish with cheese. Yeah, I’d recommend skipping this one.

Oil Poached Flounder

After making Alton’s first flounder dish, I decided to make the remaining to recipes with a different type of fish that I could get fresh locally – salmon. My flounder was just so bad that I could tell it would not taste good in any recipe. Yes, substituting ingredients (especially the main ingredient) goes against the premise of this project, but I chose to do it here in Alton’s oil poached flounder recipe. To poach fish in oil, heat 3 C of olive oil on the stove over low heat until it reaches 300-310 degrees.


Olive oil heating to 300-310 degrees.

While the oil heats, heat the oven to 350 degrees and season 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of fish fillets with Kosher salt and pepper.


Salmon, seasoned with Kosher salt and pepper and cut into fillets.

Thinly slice a lemon and line the bottom of a cast iron skillet with the lemon slices. Top the lemon slices with a few sprigs of fresh parsley.


A layer of lemon slices and parsley in a cast iron skillet.

Place the fish fillets on top of the parsley and top the fish with another layer of thinly sliced lemon and a few more sprigs of parsley. Make sure your parsley is not wet.

Place the skillet in the preheated oven and carefully pour the hot oil over the fish.


Skillet placed in oven and hot oil poured over.

Let the fish cook for 10 minutes before removing it from the oven. Let the fish rest for five minutes before serving.


Fish after poaching for 10 minutes in the oven.


Alton’s oil poached fish.

You can strain and save the oil for later fish cooking. If you plan to make the next recipe, which uses leftovers from this recipe, be sure to save 1/2 C of the cooking oil and two of the lemon slices. My salmon turned out moist and flavorful, yet not greasy. I do think my fish was slightly overcooked, so I would be tempted next time to cut the cooking time by several minutes. I did like this method of cooking fish and I did save the oil, so I think I’ll try this again. I suppose you could always mix up the fresh herbs; since I used salmon, I think dill would pair well.

Flounder Fish Salad

Leftover fish is typically pretty gross, so I wasn’t sure what to think when I saw Alton making a leftover fish salad. To make this salad, whisk together in a bowl:  3 T white wine vinegar, 1 T lime juice, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/8 t pepper, and 8-10 drops of hot sauce.


White wine vinegar, lime juice, Kosher salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Slowly whisk in 1/2 C of the strained leftover cooking oil from the previous recipe until you have an emulsion.

Fold a pound of leftover cooked fish from the previous recipe into the dressing.


Leftover poached fish added to vinaigrette.

Finally, add two diced  leftover lemon slices from the previous recipe, 2 T parsley, and 2 T scallions. Serve the fish salad with crackers.


Diced lemon, parsley, and scallions added to fish.


Alton’s fish salad on crackers.

I used my leftover salmon from the previous recipe and thought this turned out to be surprisingly good. We ate this as an appetizer on crackers. The fish didn’t taste fishy and the vinaigrette had a nice pep to it. The leftover diced lemon added both texture and a bit of tart citrus. I found this to be a very summery dish. While I never would have considered eating leftover fish before, I may make this salad again in the future if we have good leftover fish. I can assuredly say that this recipe would have been awful if I had used the frozen flounder that I used in the first recipe, so if you do decide to try this one, be certain that you are using good fish!

Do you ever have memories from childhood that seem incredibly prominent, such that you feel like they occurred with regular frequency? For some reason, I have a very strong memory of my mom making cheese souffle when I was little; the odd thing is that my memory makes me feel that this happened regularly, when, in fact, it may have only happened once or twice. I think I will have to call my mom later and have her set the record straight about her cheese souffle routine. Whether it happened once or many times, I remember sitting at the dining room table with my dad and brother, eagerly anticipating my mom’s arrival from the kitchen with her hot souffle dish. Would her souffle successfully rise and puff above the top of the dish? I recall a beautiful orange souffle, golden on top, with a perfect puffy “top hat.”

Cheese Souffle

Though I had consumed cheese souffle when I was young, I had never made one before I set out to prepare Alton’s souffle for our Saturday breakfast. Per Alton’s instructions, I preheated my oven to 375, which is his temperature rule for any souffle. For a souffle vessel, he recommends a 1.5-quart round souffle dish, preferably with an unglazed bottom (for heat penetration) and fluted sides to increase surface area; it just so happens that we have a dish just like this. First, I greased my souffle dish with cold butter.


Souffle dish, greased with cold butter.

Next, I added 1 T of grated Parmesan to the dish, covering it with plastic wrap and shaking to coat the inside of the dish. I found that I actually needed a little more Parmesan to coat my dish, so I added some extra and shook again. Lining the dish with Parmesan gives the souffle something to “hold onto” as it climbs the walls. The souffle dish goes into the freezer while you prep everything else.

Alton’s recipe then calls for making a roux by melting 1 1/2 ounces of butter over medium heat, allowing the butter to cook until it stops bubbling, which means most of the water has been cooked out.


Butter, cooking until it stops bubbling.

While the butter cooks, in a lidded container combine 3/4 ounce flour, 1 t dry mustard, 1/2 t garlic powder, and a heavy pinch of Kosher salt, shaking to combine.

You will also want to separate 4 egg yolks (you will need 5 egg whites later, so save the whites here), grate 6 ounces of sharp Cheddar cheese, and heat 1 1/3 C milk in the microwave.

When the butter has ceased bubbling, add the dry ingredients to the pan, whisking over low heat until you have a nutty aroma. To the roux, add the hot milk, whisking and increasing the heat.

Beat your egg yolks until light in color and turn the heat off under the roux. Temper the egg yolks by gradually adding small amounts of the hot roux, whisking. Once you have added about half of your roux, you can whisk the egg yolks into the roux pan.

Keeping the pan off of the heat, whisk in the grated Cheddar until you have a smooth mixture, which will take a few minutes. Set the base aside to cool.

Note:  To cut down on preparation time the day you are making your souffle, you can make the souffle base to this point and refrigerate it for up to a week; just be sure to press a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface to avoid having a “skin” form. If you do this, you will need to bring the base to room temperature before using. While your base cools to room temperature (or warms to room temperature if you prepared it in advance), beat 5 egg whites in a metal bowl, along with 1 T water and 1/8 t cream of tartar until you have stiff peaks.

Stir 1/4 of your egg whites into your room temperature base, as this will lighten the base.


Stirring 1/4 of the egg whites into the souffle base.

Gently fold the remaining whites into the base in three installments, avoiding deflating the foam by over-mixing.

Pour the souffle into the prepared dish and use your thumb to make an indentation all around the edge of the souffle, as this will help to form a nice “top hat.” Place your souffle dish in a pie pan (for ease of removal from the oven), and bake it for 35 minutes.


Souffle in prepared dish.

After 35 minutes, use a sharp paring knife to peek into the middle of the souffle – if there is a lot of liquid, place it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. My souffle seemed to be done after 35 minutes.


Souffle after baking for 35 minutes.

Serve your souffle promptly. The nice thing about a cheese souffle is that you could eat it for any meal, but we had ours for breakfast before an 11-mile run.

Honestly, I was worried that my souffle was going to flop, as I felt that I had over-beaten my egg whites, but it actually turned out quite nicely. I do wish my souffle would have had a better rise above the top of the dish, but it still was nice and airy, and had a light crust on the outside. The cheese flavor was really prominent in this souffle and it had the texture of super light scrambled eggs. Souffles can be intimidating, but they are really not difficult, and Alton’s recipe seems to be one that works.