HOORAY! As of Tuesday, spring is here! I see little buds on the trees outside of my window, pedestrians flirting with shorts and open toes and windows staying slightly ajar to allow that rebirthed tepid air to circulate out winter. It’s heaven, perhaps my favorite season. Hopefully, summer won’t start next week, Ms. Nature.
In anticipation and celebration of spring, my good friend Lisa, of college and upstate cooking bonanza fame, and I planned and prepared a divine meal at her home on Sunday. We would be joined by our friend, and expectant spring mother, Dana.
Our original plan was to go out to eat to catch up, but that was kiboshed by Lisa’s travel-weary partner, Doug, who was returning home from an international business trip. Turns out, Doug had the right idea.
Lisa and I began our menu planning the day before, as we do in preparation for any “Cooking with Lisa and Kysha” pretend cooking show sessions. By end of day Saturday, the menu was as follows:
- Prosciutto-wrapped melon
- Herbed panko-crusted
- wild flounder
- Corn and sugar
- snap pea hash
- Toasted mushroom and herb Israeli couscous
- Big green salad with thinly sliced fennel and shallot vinaigrette
- Lisa’s Guinness
- chocolate cake with
- cream cheese frosting
I sent Lisa the shopping list in the morning so we could each do a quick inventory before we ventured to Fairway for shopping and gossiping. By the time I arrived at the house to prep, Lisa had it smelling sweet from the baking cake. I couldn’t wait to get into it.
We huddled on our plan of attack: wrap the melon in the prosciutto, prep the hash by slicing the corn kernels off the cob and the snap peas into half-inch bias pieces, make the vinaigrette and prep the salad vegetables and gather the ingredients for the couscous for its quick preparation. Hut-one, hut-two…break!
Lisa was on the star of the show: the fish. Though we were thinking snapper, the flounder was the better choice at the store. For the herb panko crust, we first made a paste.
In a food processor we added a handful of flat leaf parsley, six big leaves of basil, five stripped sprigs of thyme, 10 chives, one large garlic clove, zest of one lemon and juice of half a lemon, one-quarter cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Once processed and seasoned to our taste–we added a little more salt, pepper and basil–we moved the paste to a bowl and combined it with a bag of panko until the beautiful spring green coated the crumbs.
We lined baking sheets with parchment paper,s then a thin coating of olive oil. We laid the filets down and topped them with a healthy coating of the herb panko and a little extra drizzle of olive oil. We put it in a 375-degree preheated oven on the top rack for 15-20 minutes.
While the fish was in the oven, we sauteed the hash in butter and olive oil, salt and pepper and finished with a chiffonade of basil. For the couscous, we browned the mushrooms in butter and olive oil then added diced shallot and the dried couscous to toast. We then added chicken broth and covered and cooked it. We finished it with thyme, parsley and chives.
All of the dishes finished at the same time. We dressed the table, sat, made a “cheers” to spring and to Dana’s impending delivery, then dug right in. The delicate, flavorful crust on the fish was divine. Mixed with the sides, spring was definitely on the plate!
We finished with interesting teas from Teavana and the Guinness cake. Lisa can bake! I fought myself from bringing a slice home for later.
I am now ready for spring! Are you?
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
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