Cooking motivation has been at an all time low for the past three weeks, with the exception of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Somehow they always seem to escape the culinary doldrums, probably because in our apartment (and this is scientifically proven) dessert is a nutritional need rather than a measly want.
All this means that the most recent dinner menus I’ve half-heartedly assembled have consisted of spaghetti and meatballs (a relatively recent Ikea trip resulted in a toddler-sized bag of ’em so we’ll be subsisting off those for about 7 months), Thai takeout, lots of frozen broccoli, frozen matzoh ball soup, half a leftover sandwich that barely survived a roadtrip in my bag from New Haven to Boston, and the lonely egg here and there. And ice cream, obviously.
But last night I shot through the rut, skyrocketing so far away from it that I actually made up a dish without heavily consulting internet, cookbook, or mother, while trying a new-to-me method of cooking and type of fish. I call it “From Zero to En Papillote” and it was pre-tty yummy. The shallot, butter, fresh thyme, and splash of beef (beef and fish?!, I know, but somehow it worked) broth worked some magic on the flounder, mushrooms, and bok choy. If you’re interested, I’m sure a glug or two of white wine wouldn’t hurt. Savory and filling but not overly heavy – this is a good dish for those of us that are trying to stick to New Years Resolutions. Which doesn’t include me but I’ve got to make the occasional last-gasp attempt.
From Zero to En Papillote – Flounder with King Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy in Parchment
2-3 flounder fillets (eyeball them at the fish counter, you may want more if they are teeny)
1 tablespoon of butter, cut into little chunks
1 shallot, cut into slivers
6 thin slices of lemon, plus a little extra lemon juice
3 sprigs of thyme
2 baby bok choy, roughly chopped
1-2 bunches of king oyster or other wild mushrooms, roughly chopped
2-3 tablespoons beef broth (I had an open carton so this is what I used, but if it makes you nervous to mix beef and fish, chicken or vegetable broth is a good substitute)
Salt and pepper
Parchment paper (a generous piece – enough left over on the sides after the food is sitting on it that you can fold and wrap the ends, creating a pouch)**
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pat the filets dry, dust with salt and pepper on both sides, then place them in the center of the parchment paper, which should be atop a rimmed baking sheet. Lay the thyme sprigs, butter, and lemon slices across the filets. Add the chopped mushrooms and bok choy on top, then sprinkle on the beef broth and extra lemon juice, to taste.
Gather the longer edges of the parchment paper and fold the edges together, rolling once or twice so that it is sealed but not too tight around the food inside. Do the same with the shorter edges. (Some en papillote recipes say you can staple the edges of the paper together – I would have tried this if I had a home stapler. I covet staplers. My work stapler has a label with my name on it so people can’t steal it).
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes – mine was finished at 12 but if your filets are on the thicker side they may need a bit longer. Use caution when opening the pouch because you’ll be releasing a bit of steam.
**Another option would be to make two individual packets, but I went with one bigger packet to hold everything and it worked well.