TV dinner

I received a gift card for a good grocery store in the Twin Cities and as I left town I got a few things I would not ordinarily have bought.

Tonight for supper I made a little rainbow trout!

I started with a bit of chopped onion, butter and olive oil, some ginger oil, and put the critter on a bed of stalks of fennel all in a glass pan.. dish… thing.  For moisture, I used some fish base I keep around, half a glass the white wine I was sipping (Franciscan Chardonnay) and the juice of a lemon.  No salt because of the fish base.  No pepper.

The glass pan went into the oven, covered at 325F for 30 minutes.

I drained off the liquid and reduced it for a couple minutes. I then added a some crème fraîche, beat it up with a whisk.

I finished the plate with capers, little fronds from the fennel I saved and some black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Had there been guest I would have dressed out the fish after presenting them.   But I just did it all on the plate, since I am pretty deft at this.

So…. TV dinner is served!

The bread is toasted ciabatta.

So, we begin to dressit out.  First the skin on the top.  I always work with at least one spoon… often two.

The flesh slides right off.  Again, had this been for guests, I would have shifted it all to a different plate.  I was lazy.

You can lift the whole back bone, tail and head out as one piece and put it aside.  Just think of the old cartoon garbage can accessories when cats were involved.

The sauce was so good that I got out one of my precious sauce spoons just for fun!

You don’t want to miss a drop of this stuff.  I would lick the plate… but that is why on the eighth day (or during the Octave) God created the cuillère à sauce individuelle!

Yep.  Not bad.  

It’s a nice change from ramen.

I am very grateful for to my dear friend who gave me the grocery gift card. 

It was a nice supper for my name day…well… one of my name days.

It is good to stay in practice!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen, My View. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Denis Crnkovic says:

    A beautiful looking repast! Was that the 05 Chardonnay? Nice sipping wine. Buon onomastico!

  2. KK says:

    A bit of a change from the previous Chinese craving you noted on Facebook. Nicely done. Not a good day for the fish but more proof that God loves us.

  3. Fr. BJ says:

    How does a sauce spoon work?

  4. Fr. BJ: Pretty well, thanks.

  5. Fr. BJ says:

    Very funny. I should have said, “How does one operate it?” I see the little notch on the side – what does that do? I honestly have never come across one of these.

  6. Roland de Chanson says:

    Fr. Z: God created the cuillère à sauce individuelle!

    Ah bon! Un gastronome sacerdotal! Et Dieu dit: que la sauce soit. Et la sauce fut. Et Dieu sépara la sauce d’avec la truite arc-en-ciel. Et Dieu vit que le repas était bon. Et Dieu dit « miam, miam. »

    [Great! A sacerdotal gourmet! And God said: let there be sauce. And there was sauce. And God divided the sauce from the rainbow trout. And God saw that the repast was good. And God said: “yum, yum.” ]

    And unless God has a sense of humour, I am probably going to bake at a minimum of 350 for eternity. BTW, maybe you need a new category in addition to “my view”, like “cenaculum”? Or even renaming the site “wdtrrs” (what does the recipe really say) ;-)

    There was once a site called Sympotica Graecolatina ( but it does not seem to have been updated in ages. Perhaps the Trimalchionic gourmand gasped his last on the garum.

    I hope you keep on cooking though. … scriptum est, non in pane solo vivet homo sed in omnibus tructis Iridis quae procedunt de rivulis Dei. [ … not by bread alone shall man live but by all the rainbow trout that proceed from the brooks of God.] :-)

  7. Petrus says:

    Father, where did you learn to do all your cooking? All the food you make looks so good.

  8. Jeff M says:

    So when does the “Father Z Cookbook” come out?

  9. Cygnus says:

    Thanks for putting a ZZ Top song in my head.

    Looks yummy!

  10. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Looks yummy! I didn’t know you could bake a fish whole like that, head and all. I like anything with capers. and cream? yowzaah!
    They say the Eskimos like fish eyes, s’posed to taste like candy? I think I’ll just trust the rumor and leave them alone.
    I just read in my Wegman’s flier [my favorite grocery store, unparalleled] that the price of fish and shellfish [lobstah! yum!] is dropping. The haddock is 4 bucks less a pound than last year. Apparently, hotel and restaurant orders have dropped off and there is more for us.

  11. Joshua says:

    Just stopped in to say how much I appreciate reading your gastronomic topic posts. They are inspirational in food preparation and menus. They are also a nice interlude between your liturgical oriented posts and perspectives. Keep them coming, Fr. Z, and thanks!

  12. Roland: Sympotica

    YES! I remember that site and I used to link to it on the sidebar.

    But don’t you think that God would have joined the sauce and the trout, rather than separate them? Unless, continuing your approach, He would say also “let us separate the bone of its bone from the flesh of its flesh”…

  13. Petrus: I have been cooking from a very young age, actually.  Necessitas est mater discendi. Also, among the things I did before seminary was work as a cook in retaurants to put myself through grad school. After that, many years in Italy and travelling in Europe.

    When I would be invited to family gatherings, rather than just sit in the big room chatting with the menfolk, I would head into the kitchen and watch and learn. The women were usually so flattered that the priest would get interested that they always showed me what to do and how to make things. I learned a great deal.  I have also gone into kitchens in Rome to talk to cooks.

    Other than that, I also use a couple good cooking magazines, such as Saveur and La Cucina Italiana (English edition and Italian).  I try to make at least one thing from each issue, even if it is simple, or just a variation on something I already know. 

    However, I think things came together for me when for quite a while it worked out that people were inviting me over for supper and then, when arrived, they would ask what I was going to make.  I picked up the knack of just working with what was there without any preset plans.  The Fook network also keeps me creative, but I don’t watch much TV.  A few minutes here and there.

    The best thing to do is just do it.

  14. Tina: Yes, the eyes are not bad, though I don’t usually eat them. I have, when I have worked over a larger fish’s head in a Chinese place. I think the most unusual sight I had, was once in Italy a Easter, out in the countryside, a couple of kids arguing over who was going to get the lamb’s eyes. A whole lamb had been roasted, you see, and we were working one the head and everything.

  15. Fr. BJ: “How does one operate it?”

    How does it work? Well… you pick it up … ehem… with your fingers… of your right hand in this case, … ehem… and then, well… pass it across the plate to pick up the sauce. Notice that the spoon has a flat curved side on the left.

    What does the notch do? I think its purpose is to provoke questions.

  16. Larry says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    Precisely how did you MAKE the fish? Seems like a lot of work to put the little guy together only to rip him apart again! But of course you must have meant that you PREPARED the fish. Slavish translations from Latin! English; not so precise!

    I am sure he tasted great! Happy Name Day!

  17. magdalene says:

    Kinda gross!!!

    but…bon appetite!

  18. joy says:

    The sauce spoon and the reason for the notch:

    A French sauce spoon is a spoon that is typically the size and shape of a dessert spoon, but with a flattened bowl that has a thinner edge and a small notch on one side. As the name suggests, a French sauce spoon is used to eat the sauce accompanying a dish. The spoon’s flattened bowl and thin edge aids scooping a thin layer of sauce from a plate without resorting to tipping the plate; the notch in the bowl allows oil or fat to drain away from the sauce.

    Originally found mainly in France, French sauce spoons are becoming increasingly popular in high-end restaurants elsewhere.
    (from Wikipedia)

    I learn all kinds of things hanging around here!

  19. RichR says:

    I am very grateful for to my dear friend who gave me the grocery gift card.

    What store?

  20. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Not so gross. We Americans are so far removed from food realities and from whence it really comes, that some might think all is gross except muscle meat in a plastic package. Its good to see Father really gettin’ in to how food is cooked throughout the world.

    When I was little we lived in Saigon. My dear dad [RIP] was a big teaser. He solemnly told us at dinner one night in a local outdoor restaurant [with a hot pot and all, yum!] that the egg roll wrappings were of old Chinamen’s skin.
    Now THAT’s gross. hee hee.

  21. J. Wong says:


    I also used to subscribe to the magazines you mentioned, along with Eating Well and Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve only kept Cook’s Illustrated. I highly recommend it.

    I learned how to cook while working at my family’s restaurant (Chinese) during my junior and high school years. I watched the cooks and saw how things were done. Often after we closed, I would venture into the kitchen, lite the woks and did my thing……. While in college, I worked as a controller for high end Italian and French resturants. This experience sparkled my interest for those cuisines, and I also, watched, asked and tasted (of course……).

    Thanks for sharing your cooking with us. Happy cooking and God bless!

  22. J Wong: I would love to spend a few evenings with a really good Chinese cook. I have a great deal to learn.

  23. Trad Tom says:

    The world is a better place — on so many levels!!! — because of Father Z. Ad multos annos!

  24. Michael R. says:

    That was a beautiful fish, Father. I so love trout. The dish looks scumptious. I really enjoy the culinary feasts that you offer on the blog.

  25. Michael: If you stop to think about it, many of the things I show aren’t all that extravagant. Some are, most aren’t. Creative use of simple ingredients and presentation go a long way!

  26. J. Wong says:


    I agree, creativity plays a role in good cooking. I like to follow the principles of Chinese cooking: balance of the sences
    (taste, smell and looks), balance of flavors (sweet/sour/bitter/salty) and fresh ingredients. The Good Lord provided us with
    all the ingredients,it is up to up to put it all together.

    One of my uncles, a restaurant owner and great cook for over 25 years, would be a great candidate to teach you Chinese cooking.
    Thanks to him, my family and I enjoyed a wonderful Chinese meal on Christmas.

  27. JL says:

    Did you save the carcass to make fish stock?

  28. APL says:

    I have just been a bought all the ingredients and am preparing this for my lovely wife this evening! Thanks Father!

  29. APL: Excellent! Good for you! And thanks. That is some of the best feedback I could have received on this entry.

  30. JL: I don’t really save it for any length of time. I just toss it in a pan right away and start reducing it. Then I strain it into a small container and toss it into the back of the freezer for later. Sometimes I use fish bullion as well.

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