Up until this January 2010, I was a partner in an investment club – the Shared Interest Investment Club (SIIC). The club was started in May of 2001 and was for women only (sorry, guys!). In January after 9 years, we decided to disband the club due to various reasons. Over the years, our club gained and lost members, saw births of babies, adoptions of children, job changes, etc. I think at our peak we had 11 ladies and we closed the club with 7. Of the 7 remaining members, 4 of us were charter members. This club has been really great – it has allowed me to learn about the stock market (why anyone would want to do that for a living is beyond me!), meet really smart women, and gain a little confidence.
I remember that our first purchase was around 9/11 and the market was in turmoil. It was really a crazy time to start a club when no one really had any stock market experience. Our first couple of purchases weren’t that great, but we started to get the hang of it. Our portfolio did suffer with the ups and downs of the last 9 years, but no more than the market overall. I was really proud of our gang – I thought we did really well!
To commemorate our club, we decided to have a farewell dinner. I volunteered to host our “Good Bye” dinner because it gave me a chance to try a new dish! I picked a recipe from my Julie Child cookbook – Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons (Fish Filets Poached in White Wine with Mushrooms pg 210). I was also going to make artichokes a la Julia, but I thought that be too much to take on (and, they were $5 a piece!). We’ll do them another time.
If you are unfamiliar with the Julia Child cookbook, each recipe has at least 14 steps and requires you to dirty multiple pans. So, if you make a whole meal (main dish and sides) from the JC cookbook, you will need to go across the street and borrow all of your neighbor’s pans first! So, my side dish was something I had made before and is very easy and tasty – roasted potatoes and fennel with parmesan cheese (it also only requires ONE baking sheet).
We do have one member, Carrie, that is allergic to shellfish. I did verify that halibut was okay (I was SO on top of it!) so the menu was approved!
The fish is supposed to be poached in homemade fish stock and white wine. Well, that would have required me to buy 2 lbs of fish heads, bones and trimmings along with 5 other ingredients. Hmmmm, I don’t think I will make my own fish stock since I don’t normally see these items in the seafood case and I really didn’t feel like dumpster-diving. Other alternatives for the poaching liquid were (A) 3/4 cup of white wine plus 2/3 cup of dry vermouth plus 1/4 cup of clam juice and water OR (B) 1 1/2 cups of white wine plus water. Well, the second option sounded BORING so I picked Option A (wine + vermouth + clam juice + water).
Everyone arrived and began noshing on wine and hors d’oeuvres while I was preparing the fish (the potatoes and fennel were roasting away in the oven). Here is where I have a confession – I did not follow the Julia Child recipe EXACTLY. Julia wanted me to poach the fish in the oven and then do some awkward pouring and draining etc. (you have to read the recipe). So, I improvised and I poached my fish on the stove. As I was placing the fish in the pan and covering it with the Champignons along with the poaching liquid, one of the gals inquired about the ingredients. I explained what was included in the poaching liquid (see above) and what I was doing. I have to say that in looking back, Carrie’s concerned look over the ingredient list now makes a ton of sense! But, she was WAY TOO nice in NOT saying anything at that point!
Does anyone notice anything about this picture? Maybe the shell??
The fish were poached – next step is to move the fish to a baking dish. I also took this time to turn on the broiler (I have two ovens and one was already taken with my potatoes/fennel!). I then poured the poaching liquid into a sauce pan along with a roux, boiled it down and then added cream. When the sauce was done, it was to be poured over the fish. The fish were to be sprinkled with swiss cheese and broiled for a bit. Well, as I was pouring the sauce over the fish, Carrie (very nicely) says, “Can you make one without sauce?” I was a little confused. And, then she said something about the poaching liquid containing clam juice. I FELT SO HORRIBLE!! I had been all over it (or so I thought)! Putting Carrie into anaphylactic shock would have made for an interesting dinner! (Have you seen the movie, Hitch? – click on this Hitch Scenes and then pick one of the “Clip 5: Food Allergies” options.)
It’s a good thing my kids don’t have food allergies because they would apparently be in the emergency room all of the time!
Now, ALL of the fish are ready for the broiler (Carrie’s fish, un-sauced and in a separate pan). But, wait, I smell a little burnt-food smell. OMG!! I had turned the dial to BROIL on the oven which contained the potatoes and fennel!!!!!! Meanwhile, the other oven was cold. Okay, now I had almost killed my friend, I burned my potato dish and my fish are getting cold. I immediately removed the potatoes and fennel (with everyone very generously telling me that they liked burnt potatoes and fennel – xoxo to my friends), and put the fish under the broiler.
The meal was served and everyone ate their food without incident. Whew! Not quite how I like to entertain (serving burnt food and almost sending my friend to the ER), but we had a great time with good friends, good food (sorta), good dessert, good bread, good wine and funny stories!