This is for and about home cooks - the women all over the the world (and through the centuries) who put dinner on the table every night. They know how to cook quickly, easily, economically, healthily and satisfyingly whether for one or a dozen.

Part memoir, part diary of shopping, cooking, reading and thinking about putting supper on the table, by a former fashion/design writer/consultant whose secret love has always been food.  

 

Wonderful Sweet/Sour Sauce

_
Venetian Sweet and Sour marinated fish

Venetian Sweet and Sour marinated fish

“Why don’t you make a Venetian marinated sweet and sour fish?” said my friend Elaine.

A passionate and adventurous home cook, she was responding to my plea for make ahead ideas for a weekend lunch party. “Everyone always loves it and you can serve it as a first or a main course.”

Her preferred recipe, she said, was from “The Foods of Italy” by Guiliano Bugialli, a popular Italian cooking teacher, demonstrator and book author in the United States,  

Now, over the years I had marked several delicious sounding sweet and sour recipes in Diana Henry’s wonderful “Crazy Water and Pickled Lemons” and later cookbooks but lacked the courage to try them. Now I would take the risk with another food writer’s sweet/sour “Agradolce sauce for fish” which combines raisins, pine nuts, onions, sugar and wine vinegar in a marinade for lightly fried sole (or similar white fish) made at least 24 hours (and refrigerated) before serving at room temperature.

It was delicious. So delicious that on a trial run we wanted to pick up our plates and lick up every last luscious drop.

There are many variations on this classic Venetian dish – just to start there are at least two by Bugialli, another by Mario Batelli, and yet another in the New York Times’ wonderful archive of recipes “Cooking” - “Pesce in Saor” . Some include onions, others place more emphasis on the cooking of the fish, but the Bugialli version I tried first is simple and quick to put together and we loved it.

Venetian Marinated fish with Sweet/Sour Sauce (adapted from Bugialli recipe) Note: Start one day before serving

Agradolce Sauce with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Yield 1 cup – 4 servings

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced (1 tspn)

½ cup chicken stock (best home made)

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

¼ cup raisins

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbp granulated sugar

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Heat garlic in olive oil in 12-14” pan over medium heat, stirring, until it just starts to turn light brown, about 2 minutes.

Whisk in all remaining ingredients (except parsley) and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes until the raisins plump up. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Fish:

2 lbs filet of sole (or similar white fish)

½ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup olive oil

sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Season fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge fillets in flour and then fry in hot olive oil until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

Place fish in a shallow dish that just fits the fried fillets, slightly overlapping. Top with the sweet and sour sauce, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve at room temperature. 

Easy Mackerel with Onions & Capers

Easy Chicken with Vinegar