I asked my son Jeremy, a super amazing man and cook, to join me once a month on a cooking extravaganza. Lucky for us, he agreed. So here we go with a Valentine’s Day dinner that will knock your socks off and be pretty darned healthy at the same time.

We’ll begin with the main course -a dish Jeremy whipped up and named “Baby Got Sole.”

I have to say that when he sent me the photos, I wanted to lick my computer screen just for a little taste.

The color, the texture, the balance, the presentation.

Wowzer!! Yes sir that’s my baby!

Baby Got Sole (ala Jeremy)

This is a really quick dish that is pretty healthy and light. There’s a little butter and some olive oil to keep you honest, and a little cayenne pepper to liven everything up.

Ingredients

1 bin mushrooms (I used white button)

2/4 cup wild rice

3 cups raw spinach

1 clove garlic

1 bunch carrots

1/2 pound sole fillets (fresh or frozen)

Parmesan cheese – about two pinches

2-3 slices fresh Mozzarella (block or ball)

1 lemon

Butter

Olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

Cayenne pepper

Preparation Instructions

Start with the rice since it will take the longest to cook.

Put the rice into a pan with 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. The water should be pretty much gone. I have a clear lid on my pan, which helps me keep an eye on things. At the end of the 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let stand. Don’t remove the lid until you’re ready to use the rice. Total cook time for the rice is just about 30 minutes.

Turn on the oven to 350 degrees.

Move on to make the stuffing for the sole

Slice mushrooms thin and add to a sauté pan with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook and stir until they are soft. The goal is to remove a lot of the water and get a bit of color.

Add the spinach to the pan of mushrooms. Once it is wilted, which will be quickly, add a couple of pinches of Parmesan cheese and mix well. Break up the mozzarella cheese and add to the mixture. Next chop your garlic and add to the mix. Don’t worry about cooking the garlic. It will cook in the heat of the oven.

Now for the fish…

Rinse your thawed fish in cool water and drain on a paper towel. Season with sea salt.

Add a dollop of olive oil and a little butter to a baking dish. Place the fish in the pan and add a tablespoon of the spinach mixture to the fish. Roll up and place seam side down. You can use a toothpick to keep the roll together, but please remember to remove it before taking your first bite. Slice a lemon into thin, beautiful slices and place one on each fish roll. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The fish will be done when it is white and flakey.

As for the carrots…

While the fish is cooking, turn to the carrots. I found some mid-sized carrots with the tops still on. I think they look pretty cool when cooked, so I left them on. Trim the tops a bit, and clean and peel the carrots. Add them to the sauté pan you used for the stuffing mixture. Lay them into a little olive and butter mixture and cook over medium heat. Keep them moving and sauté until soft. Sprinkle on a little cayenne pepper just for fun. You want the carrots soft but not mushy. They need a little crunch left in them. Don’t we all?

Remove the carrots from the pan. You’re going to use it one more time.

Once the fish is done, add the pan juices to the sauté pan with the juice of the lemon you used earlier. Add a little butter and olive oil if you need to. And honestly, who doesn’t? The sauce will be light and lemony.

To serve your feast…

Spread the rice on a plate and then place a lovely piece of fish atop. Drizzle sauce over the roll. Add carrots and you are ready to go.

A little wine and some chocolate and you’re ready for Valentine’s Day.

Did someone ask for chocolate? I have just the thing.

Salted Fudge Brownies courtesy of The Tasty Kitchen blog.

I’ve been seeing recipes using special (make that expensive) sea salt in dessert for a while now.

I was really interested in trying the taste. Salty and sweet has been a great combo in candy bars.

Why not brownies?

Ingredients

1-1/2 stick Butter

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate finely chopped

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel French Sea Salt (I got mine here)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place two large pieces of foil in a 9-inch square metal cake pan, with the foil draping over the edges. Smooth a little butter on the foil.

Melt butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk to combine. Add the remaining ingredients except the Fleur de Sel and mix well. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.

Sprinkle the Fleur de Sel over the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the sea salt into the batter. Sprinkle a bit more salt on top.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted comes out coated with a little of the batter. Cool at room temperature in the pan for about an hour. That is if you can wait that long. Refrigerate just until they are firm.

Lift from the pan and remove the foil. Cut into squares and feed to your beloved – starting with yourself (because you are beloved too!)

Jean’s notes

These are really dense, chewy brownies – hence the word, “fudge” in the title. I actually pulled my crown off when I was doing a taste test. So be careful! Picture me at the dentist’s office this morning.

I am intrigued by the salty-sweet combo though and will definitely try this again. Jeremy said he read that mixing salt with chocolate keeps the taste buds resetting. Whatever the heck that really means. But it sounds good.

Make this dinner and think of us. It’s our valentine present to you.  We’ll be back in March with another taste treat. Bon Appetit!

P.S. Leave us a comment and tell us how you like it.


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