Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warm Poached Fish, Potato and Apple Salad


I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, 
and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts. 
- John Steinbeck 

How to heal a sick dog? As most of you know, Marty has been sick for more than a year and considering he was given only two to nine months to live, well, we call him our little survivor. He mostly does well, but he does occasionally give us signs that he isn’t in tip-top condition and that he is indeed sick. And once in a while, when he has a particularly bad couple of days, back to the veterinarian, his surgeon, he goes.

He has slowly but surely been getting his diet refined and readjusted. He has been on a strict regime of dry dog food, a special brand, a special food for allergies. No more snacks or treats, no more table scraps, poor thing. But still, we knew whatever his problem was it was not going away. So on his last visit to the vet, she suggested that we start his diet over from scratch and see if he is suffering from allergies. “The best, most simple diet you can start him on is white fish and potatoes, colin-patates. And we will see how he does.”

So, off to the supermarket we went and purchased huge sacks of frozen fish, colin or hake, and sacks of potatoes. Twice a week, husband would stand at the stove and steam fish filets and boil potatoes. He would mash the potatoes and he would break up the fish into tiny pieces with his fingers, making sure there were no fish bones hidden in the flesh. We would mix the two together and feed him two bowl of the stuff a day. The house, I must say, smelled divine and we both began craving a simple meal of poached fish and mashed potatoes with dabs of butter melting on the hot food, salt and pepper… we would stand in the kitchen side by side as he prepared Marty’s colin-patates, our eyes closed, and breathe in deeply that delicious scent. And swoon. But it was all for Marty. And happy he was. Just say the now-magic words colin-patates and his head would snap up, his ears would stand at attention, his eyes would goggle out of his head… oh he came to love those words colin-patates!

But after a while, we noticed that Marty had suddenly become fat as a small pig. Fat. Not plumped up, but fat. Practically over night Marty had become a tubby, waddling barrel. And, well, tinkling all the time like an incontinent old man. JP switched the potatoes for pasta and then semolina grains but to no avail. We were up to trundling him out of the house for walkies about 7 or 8 times a day, and not all! About the fifth time he had an accident in the house, we said “enough is enough!!” and put him back on his dry dog food diet. He was not happy, but he immediately “deswelled” (if I may) and shrunk back to normal Boston dimensions and back to asking to be walked his usual number of times. We were relieved.

Which is how we ended up with fish in the freezer and potatoes in the pantry. It is as simple as that.

Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards. 
- Diogenes 

And what a simple salad this is! Husband, who has been doing more and more of the cooking, and thrilled I am because he is so much better a cook than I, created this salad for lunch one day out of what we had in the house. Tender fish and potatoes with the sweetness and crunch of an apple for contrast, shallots and celery to add the savory and a bite, a squeeze of lemon for a splash of sour. And the flavor of it all combined took me by surprise! Right in the middle of lunch, husband and I looked at each other and exclaimed in unison, “This must be for the blog! This recipe has to be shared!” and we quickly set up the lights, grabbed the camera and did. It is that good.

We served this salad with a beautiful 2012 Solosole Vermentino wine from Allegrini Wine’s Poggio al Tesoro Estate in the prestigious Bolgheri area of Tuscany. The Allegrini family has been making wine since the 16th century so you know they know their business!

Solosole is a clean, crisp dry white wine excellent with fish and seafood or vegetarian dishes. With a faint thought of white stone fruit and a slight citrus tang, Solosole is light and easy to drink, so pairs perfectly with a simple, light meal of salads, sandwiches or fingerfoods and is faultless as the wine to open for an ap√©ratif. ‘Solosole’ translates as ‘only sun,’ refering to the sun’s significant influence on the wine, the sun, which seems mirrored in the beautiful bright, sunny straw color. Solosole is a slightly more assertive white than the usual local Muscadet we normally drink with seafood, but that makes it so much more versatile, able to be paired with so many more foods.

We enjoyed a glass of Solosole with a dinner of mussels marini√®res one night and this warm fish, potato and apple salad for lunch the following day. We are a wine-drinking family and find that the perfect, an excellent wine enhances the food one eats and makes a meal much more enjoyable. This is a wonderful and extremely interesting wine that we will drink again and again. 

Disclosure: Allegrini Estates offered this wine as a gift without either the expectation or the demand to write a review; there was no payment involved. The decision to write this and all opinions herein are my own. But I do thank the good people at Allegrini and my friend Lael Hazan for allowing me to discover their truly amazing wines. You can discover more about Allegrini Estates, the domaines and their wines by visiting the website. And join Allegrini Estates USA on Facebook.


There are really no measurements or quantities to a recipe such as this but rather add more or less of each ingredient for the number of people eating and to one’s taste. But roughly, count on more or less 1 fish filet, a handful of potatoes and ½ - 1 apple for 2 people. You will want about the same quantity fish to potatoes and maybe half that quantity of apple.

Hake (colin or  merlu in French) or any firm-fleshed white fish
Court bouillon for poaching
Potatoes that are firm yet tender when steamed or boiled, preferably the tiny thin-skinned fingerling potatoes
An apple, firm, crispy and sweet
1 small branch celery, including the leaves
1 small purple shallot, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
Parsley, flat or curly-leafed, as preferred
Olive oil
Cider or Balsamic Vinegar
 ½ a lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the potatoes – with or without the skin as desired, but better to peel if the potato has a thick skin –  by steaming or boiling them until cooked through and tender. Drain and keep warm while preparing the fish.

Poach the fish in gently simmering court bouillon until just cooked through (but not overcooked), the layers easily pulling apart with a fork. Drain.

Dice the thin end of the celery branch. Chop a few leaves. Chop a few leaves or branches of the parsley.

Pull the fish apart with your fingers into small, bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Slice and cut the potatoes into thin, bite-sized coins and add to the fish. Peel and core the apple and dice or slice and cut into thin, bite-sized pieces and add to the fish and potatoes – the amount should be about 1 fish to 1 potato to ½ apple.

Add a small about of sliced celery, sliced shallot, chopped celery leaves and chopped parsley leaves as desired; start lightly as you can add more to taste once the salad is dressed.

Dress the salad with about 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Salt and pepper. Toss, taste, adjust seasonings and serve warm or room temperature.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A funny story, although I really hope that Marty will get better soon! This potato salad is just perfect. I love such combinations.



Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm glad Marty's feeling better and that, as a result, you've discovered a wonderful new way to serve dog food! Recipe come from unexpected places, don't they?

Jamie said...

@Lydia: ha ha ha ha ha I love the way you put that, "a new way to serve dog food!" LOL thanks yep!

@Rosa: thanks, darling, but although he is chugging along we think he'll just stay stable like this hopefully for a while.

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

I loved this story; I think mostly because it makes me feel less of a freak when it comes to my dog and even my housemates dog. I love dogs and it shows. They get my attention, they get some treats and they both always get a fried egg on Sunday morning when Karen and Terry are at church.

Karen and Terry are very different. While my pup snuggles under the covers with me on a chilly fall night; their little dog is consigned to a crate in a separate bedroom all by herself. When she barks in the night I'm the one who hears her and gets up with her. Sometimes it's because she wants to snuggle with me but last week it was because she HAD to go potty. There ensued a couple of days of her not being herself and a change in diet had to be made. Even plain rice was bolted down with fervor...I can only imagine if she had been given this dish Jamie. She would be swimming the Atlantic now if she knew you had it waiting!

I'm sure the Becker's think me nuts...and I'm also thinking when my new home is complete and I move in 5 weeks that I might have to squirrel little Augi away with me else she will go back to living like a dog; not the princess we have discovered in the time I've stayed here!

I'm glad to hear Marty is hanging in there; give him a cookie from me. :)

Laura @MotherWouldKnow said...

Jamie - What a lovely story. Between the measures to help Marty and your "admission" that your husband is a much-better-than-decent cook, the post was a delight! And the recipe is a bonus. Heading for my freezer now to check for frozen fish.

domenicacooks said...

What a great story. I love European-style salads, which, more often than not, involve no lettuce. My Zia Gilda's insalata di risk is one of my absolute favorites. I like the sound of this one, though. It seems appropriately autumnal with the apple mixed in. I hope you are able to determine what is ailing Marty, poor guy!

Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things said...

Poor little Marty, wishing him a good recovery. Lovely recipe, Jamie.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

Poor Marty but I'll admit that I laughed at the deflated dog. :) I hope he feels better soon. Your salad is most welcome at our house.

Jenni said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous salad, Jamie! Poor Marty. But yay JP for making this salad. Such simple ingredients. He is so intuitive in his cooking--the apple was a perfect addition!

Did I say Poor Marty, yet?

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Aww poor Marty! I bet he missed his favourite meal but it's all for his health and I'm sure he feels much better for it :) It must be hard to resist his face!

Rambling Tart said...

You two have got to be the most loving, dedicated dog owners I've ever known. :-)


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