March 11, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Week 10: Fluke, Turnip Fries, and Braised Green Cabbage


After a long busy week, we went away last weekend in search of relaxation. Instead, we ended up with a torrential downpour and a broken-down car. So when we finally found our way home on Sunday evening, I was glad that the ingredients for dinner were already waiting for us in the fridge. I had picked up a fluke from the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday before we left and planned to serve it with a few turnips and a wedge of old cabbage. With Jesse's help and a bottle of red wine, dinner came together easily and fairly quickly, like a well-oiled machine.

Jesse and I certainly love our oven baked fries, but having used up all our potatoes earlier in the week, I decided to see whether turnips could also be turned into fries. I prepared the same as potatoes: cut three medium-sized turnips into wedges, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper, and then roasted them at 425 for 40 minutes, turning them over after 20 minutes to let them brown on each side. The turnip fries turned out good, but not as good as potato fries, just a little softer and blander. Mostly, they work as a healthier low-carb alternative.

Then I set to work on the cabbage, slicing it thinly and sauteeing it in butter with onions and garlic. After it softened a bit I added my favorite sauce combination - salt, pepper, mustard and a splash of balsamic vinegar - with enough water to cover the cabbage halfway. The flavors of the cabbage came out fragrantly garlicky and just right, but I should have cooked it longer. After about 15 minutes of simmering, the cabbage was still crunchy, and I realized I should have started it at the same time as the turnips to reach a softer texture.

I had intended to get flounder at the Greenmarket, but they recommended fluke at the stand instead. According to Jesse, fluke is also known as summer flounder, while regular flounder can be known as winter flounder. He was surprised that they caught fluke so early in the season - I guess that's global warming for you. Fluke is larger and the eyes are on a different side of the body or something like that, but it tasted the same to me. I wanted to steam the fluke atop the cabbage, as I've done before successfully with flounder, but because the filet was so large, Jesse thought it wouldn't cook through that way. He sauteed it in olive oil instead, with a little salt, pepper, and old bay. I love how fish cooks so quickly and simply, and is yet always delicious. Once plated, our dinner looked so blandly white. Yet beneath the white exteriors loomed a flavorful and nutrition-packed meal.

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