Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Feed A Man For Life
by Susu and MaceVindaloo

In the Serenity 'verse, Shepherd Book is a bit of a mystery. He's a man of a Christian God, but his skills and efforts indicate that though it was obvious he was not born a Shepherd, he was trained to be something very different.

But whatever his background, since joining his religious order, he's learned many things about life. By the time we first meet him, he had made up his mind to re-join the world after living in isolation as a monk, and he gave the impression that he had grown a bit tired of the life behind the walls.

One thing he did miss: his vegetable garden. And once, a benefactor had donated a quantity of fish to the Southdown Abbey! Fish was a big deal in the 'verse, where it was a rare thing that only the very, very wealthy could afford. But also, the very very poor, if they knew how to forage for it. Everyone else tended to eschew it because it was smelly if not prepared on time, finecky to cook or prep, and what to do with the leftovers?

The brothers at the abbey did not waste a thing, and took seriously the teaching of the messiah: if you give a man a meal, he eats for a day; if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime. This extended to using up the fish in a timely and appropriate manner. By planning on how to cook and present it, the leftovers of one meal became a whole new meal the next time it was served.

The benefactor was visting the abbey to "acquire peace," and expected to be served the fish he'd donated. To the brothers' credit, they served the same fish three times, and the guest enjoyed it each time as a new dish.

"Bad Woman" Fish Fillets
The Southdown Abbey was a male-only monastery. Most of the inmates had lived another life before coming to the religious order, and so had known and enjoyed the company of women. This classic preparation was called "au bonne femme" or "in the manner of the good wife" and it meant nothing more than using mushrooms in the sauce. Many of the men missed women while they were at the abbey, and when they could afford to, they would use recipes with feminine names. In any case, it's a good way to prepare light fish, and remember not to overcook it. (They like this sauce not-thick so they can dip toasted or fresh bread into it, and they don't broil it like the really classical preparation of "au bonne femme," but then again, there are no women there to scold them. So they called this dis "bad woman" instead!)

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 small red onions or 4 or 5 shallots, minced fine
  • 16 oz / 450 g mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 12 small (single-serving) fish fillets, skinned, pin-bones removed (bass, flounder, etc. — whatever you prefer)
  • 2 cups dry white wine (leftover from another time is good) or 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups fish stock or water
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • nutmeg, grated to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coriander pods
  • 1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream or milk
In a large pot, smear or dot with the butter, then layer on the onions/shallots and mushrooms. Roll the fish fillets so that the bone-side of the fillet ir rolled outwards, and place on top of the mushrooms. Pour over the white wine, fish stock (or water). Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add some coriander pods, if desired. Put a lid on the pot and boil the stock, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook till the fish is almost all opaque -- there should be a spot about an inch/ 2.5 cm in diameter that appears uncooked. It will continue to cook, so that's as far as you want it to go.

Remove the fillets onto a platter. Sprinkle over with some chopped parsley, if desired. Tent some foil over the fish to keep it warm while you prepare the sauce/broth.

Boil the sauce over high heat till its reduced by half its volume. Add the cream or milk.

To serve, place one or two fish fillets in a bowl, and ladle the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle over with parsley.

This dish will feed about 8 people, but if you are planning to make use of "progressive leftovers," then plan for it for feed 4.

Back to the Menu: Feed a Man for Life

Creamy Fish Macaroni Bake
A sauce is a rich version of a soup, in a sense, so just adding water to it can make it into a soup. But after eating a saucy dish, to make the leftovers into something different, the new dish should be much less "like" the old one. But what if you added too much water? No fear, you can cook macaroni in the former sauce, and it will absorb the excess water, which will be flavored like the fish and the sauce. Use an elegant tube shape, like penne, and arrange the leftover fillet rolls decoratively within the pasta, servie it with a green salad, and no one will realize that this is a recycled dish!

  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • ½ lb / 225 g pasta noodles, like penne — UNCOOKED
  • half a recipe of "Bad Woman" Fish Fillets
  • same volume of water or chicken or fish stock / broth
  • parmesan cheese, grated, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • nutmeg, grated to taste
Heat the oven to 375°F / 190°C. Grease the bottom of a baking dish with butter or margarine, then put the uncooked pasta noodles in the dish. Arrange the leftover fish within the layer of uncooked macaroni (you can leave them as rolls, or you can crumble them up to make the dish more homogeneous — it depends on how many fish fillets you have left over and how many you plan to feed). Mix the remaining sauce with the water or stock or broth, and pour evenly over the macaroni. Top with cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Bake covered in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the cover and cook till the liquid is absorbed, the macaroni is tender, and the top is browned, probably another 20 to 30 minutes.

Serves up to 8, or 4 if you plan to make the chowder.

Back to the Menu: Feed a Man for Life

Fish Corn Chowder

Soup is an excellent use of leftovers, and it can disguise its provenance if the cook is good at distracting the diner's attention from the things that made the dish recognizable as a leftover. The cooks at the Southdown Abbey simply added a lot of canned corn and milk to the leftover macaroni bake, and the colorful, slightly crispy corn kernals complemented the fish and soft pasta beautifully. It's great with a toasted cheese sandwich, too!

  • half a recipe of Creamy Fish Macaroni Bake
  • an equal volume of water and/or fish or chicken stock / broth
  • 3 x 11 oz cans of corn niblets, undrained
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
In a very large, heavy bottomed pot, place the leftover fish bake and water. Dump the cans of corn directly into the pot, complete with the water they come in. Heat over medium-low heat till its all hot and bubbling, and stir to break up the fish and clumps of macaroni. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 8 heartily!

Butter one side of the bread, on the outside of the sandwich. Place the cheese between the dry sides of the sandwich. Heat up a non-stick skillet and lay the sandwich down on the hot surface, butter side down. Cook till the bread is as browned as you want it, and the cheese starts to soften and melt. Flip the sandwich over with a spatula, and toast on the other buttered side.

Remove from the skillet and let it cool for a minute before cutting into 2 or 4 pieces.

Back to the Menu: Feed a Man for Life

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