My mother’s cooking always spelled “comfort” when I was growing up. We weren’t wealthy in terms of money, but we were abundantly rich in other ways. One expression of my mother’s love was the preparation of delicious meals for her family, many quite involved. Mom never took shortcuts, instead preferring to take the utmost care with every step. (She was also a 1-strand-of-tinsel-at-a-time person at Christmas!) Until her death almost 4 years ago, she took great delight in sending everyone’s taste buds into a euphoric orbit. While unpacking boxes of her belongings, I ran across a favorite red and white terry cloth apron Mom wore back in the 60’s. Memories flooded back of days spent watching her traipse happily around the kitchen with a passion for cooking I didn’t come to identify with until I was well into my own adulthood. The little apron instantly brings me back to my childhood surrounded by the heady aromas of a luscious beef stew, a rich bowl of tomato soup or crispy fried chicken that far surpassed the colonel’s. I’m now just as passionate about food and its preparation as Mom was. And when I tie the strings of her old apron around my waist and pull out this recipe of hers which I’ve renamed Mom's “Sole”, I’m treated to a nudge of maternal encouragement from the person I loved most in the world and Mom's “Sole” turns out perfectly every time! Here’s to my mother and all mothers, not just on Mother’s Day, but EVERY day! This is a fabulous dish which is rolled and poached, then covered with a silky sauce of fish stock, white wine and cream. On that goes a golden hollandaise sauce fluffed with whipped cream which is broiled briefly before serving. Definitely a decadent treat! Times are estimated.
- 6 sole fillets (about 2 lbs)
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 dash pepper
- 7 tablespoons butter (divided)
- 2⁄3 cup water
- 1⁄4 cup white wine (chardonnay)
- 1 small onion (sliced)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1⁄4 cup light cream
- 1 lb mushroom (sliced)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash cayenne
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or 1 tablespoon watercress
- 3 egg yolks
- 1⁄4 cup butter (melted)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream (whipped until soft peaks hold)
- Make Hollandaise: In double boiler top with wire whisk, slightly beat egg yolks. Slowly beat in melted butter. Cook, stirring, over hot water (water in base should not touch upper pan) just until thick. Mixture will curdle if cooked too long. Whisk the heavy cream into sauce. Gradually beat in lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Beat until as thick as mayonnaise. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Gently rinse fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Place dark side up on board. Sprinkle fillets with 3/4 teaspoon salt and dash of pepper. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
- Starting at narrow end, roll up fillets. Secure with toothpicks. In buttered shallow baking dish, stand fillets upright on even sides. Pour water and white wine over fish. Top with sliced onion and bay leaf.
- Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with fork. Remove bay leaf and onion. Remove fillets to oven-proof platter and keep warm. (Leave the oven on; you’ll be broiling these soon.) Remove toothpicks gently; fish is fragile. Strain fish stock, reserving 1 1/4 cups liquid.
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in flour and dash cayenne until smooth. Gradually stir in fish stock and bring to boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in light cream and mix well. Pour over fish.
- Increase oven temperature to broil.
- Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sauté mushrooms. Add lemon juice and salt. Cook until tender. Spoon mushrooms around fish. Pour Hollandaise sauce over fillets. Broil 4 inches from heat source until golden brown. Garnish with parsley or watercress.