Just a few additions make magic!

Our red snapper has enjoyed a few special additions since our description of it before final preparation of the dish this afternoon and evening…just a few. We thought haricots verts would make a good vegetable addition, and it turns out we were right…they blend in perfectly with the flavor of the fish and the buttery sauce, especially with a slice of lemon and a touch of dill. Then we topped off the cucumber that accompanies the dish — as well as the fish itself — with just a wee bit of fresh chinook salmon caviar.

Behind that addition lies a tale. An acquaintance of ours recently went fishing in Lake Ontario near Olcott, New York, not far from Niagara Falls, where the reintroduction of salmon stock to the lake has helped boost the economy of many a small lakeside town. This is the kind of place where, if you catch an 18-pound chinook, you throw it back because it’s too small. Our friend was lucky enough to catch two huge female salmon loaded with roe, and while he knew what to do with the salmon meat — Marc has taught him how to smoke his own salmon — he didn’t know what to do with all that roe, so he gave it to Marc. Marc processed it by hand — not easy, but we think you’ll believe the effort was worth it. This kind of caviar isn’t heavily salty; it has a milder flavor than many commercially processed caviars. It just seemed like an ideal complement for our red snapper.

As it so happens, you could say it’s Surf and Turf Night here at the Bistro, because we’re also serving up an encore of the Beef Tenderloin we featured last night. Thursdays are always Reprise Nights during the Julia Project, in which we bring back a popular dish from earlier in the week, but this one was so well-liked we brought it back a night early!

Behind the Dish: Poached Filet of Red Snapper

Tonight’s Julia dish, Poached Filet of Red Snapper with Mushrooms and Fast White Butter Sauce, is an example of how even a simple dish with few ingredients can become special when you have a fresh product prepared properly. In this case, that product is skinned red snapper, poached in French vermouth, fish stock, mushrooms and lemon juice with a little salt and pepper. The fish is then removed from the cooking liquid and the liquid becomes a base for a beurre blanc, made with butter, more lemon juice, white vermouth, white wine vinegar, shallots and white pepper. The dish is completed with a touch of buttery cucumber. We’re serving it with more of that marvelous Israeli couscous.

Will this dish be so good that it earns a proposal from one of our patrons, the way the beef tenderloin did for Ruth last night? (Sorry, sir, she’s taken.) Come in tonight and find out.

Because this is another dish from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home, we thought we’d treat you to another video clip, this one featuring highlights of the public TV series by the same name. As the video points out, the whole series is available on DVD, so if this whets your appetite for more, you can order away.

Julia Project Dishes for Week 4

Here’s our Julia Project lineup of dishes for Week 4, beginning with dinner on August 31.

Monday, August 31 — Grilled Pork Tenderloin with George Germon’s “Hot Fanny Sauce,” served with individual ramekins of marshmallow-and-pecan-topped sweet mashers. (This dish, from In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, page 75, will feature a sauce Chef Todd learned while working under George at his award-winning restaurant Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island.)

Tuesday, September 1 — Filet de Boeuf en Feuilletons, Duxelles: Tenderloin of Beef sliced and stuffed with mushrooms and roasted. We will serve this with Yukon gold mashers and grilled asparagus (Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2, page 180)

Wednesday, September 2 — Poached Filet of Red Snapper with Mushrooms and Fast White Butter Sauce, served with Israeli couscous (Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, page 238)

Thursday, September 3 — Fried Chicken with Chicken Gravy and Corn Pudding (In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, page 192)

Friday, September 4 — Crêpes Suzette (Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, page 410). Also, Fridays of the Julia Project will be “Reprise Nights,” in which we will bring back a popular dish from earlier in the week in addition to our special Friday dish. (Last night, we brought back the Pork Tenderloin with Prunes — and you ate it up!)

Saturday, September 5 — Paella with Chicken, Lobster, and Clams in Saffron Broth (In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, page 201)

Mark your calendar and make your reservations…when we come back, we’ll be cooking up a storm!