Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Wedding: Crab Stuffed Flounder with Fresh Asparagus and Homemade Hollandaise Sauce

Throughout most of The Wedding, Wilson Lewis has been helping his wife Jane and his daughter Anna prepare for Anna's wedding, which happens to be planned for Wilson and Jane's thirtieth wedding anniversary. Wilson has been in charge of getting his father-in-law's home ready for the event. (Click here for more about Wilson and Jane.) The night before the wedding, Wilson plans a surprise anniversary dinner for Jane. He arranges for a limo to pick up Jane and bring her to the house where he has dinner and a romantic evening planned. When Jane arrives, not only does she find the house all decked out for a wedding, she also finds a photo album full of pictures of the two of them that Wilson has collected from friends and family members, along with a love note apologizing for not being a good husband and professing his undying love for her. Wilson has prepared a delicious seafood dinner that they will eat by candlelight.

This isn't the first time someone has prepared crab-stuffed sole in one of Nick's books; it's the third. The first time it was in A Bend in the Road, when Miles prepared it for his wife, Missy, shortly before she died tragically after being struck by a car. (Yeah, I know; nauseatingly melodramatic, right? I love that stuff, SO THERE. Anyway, click here for my crab-and-shrimp stuffed halibut I made in honor of that one.) The second time it was Julie who made it for Mike in The Guardian. I decided not to make that meal because I knew this one would be coming up soon; and if you thought A Bend in the Road was dripping with melodrama, wait until you read The Wedding. Besides, Wilson's sole is much more blog-worthy than Julie's.

Here's what I prepared:


• 1 cup soft bread crumbs (I used a half cup dry gluten-free rice crumbs)
• 1 cup cooked or canned crabmeat - drained, flaked and cartilage removed
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• dash cayenne pepper
• 4 (4 ounce) sole fillets
• 3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine, divided (optional)
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup chicken broth
• grated Parmesan cheese
• Sliced almonds

1. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, crab, onion, egg, salt and cayenne. Spoon onto fillets; roll up and secure with a toothpick. Place in a greased 2-qt. broiler-proof dish; drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees Ffor 25-30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, for sauce, place remaining butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Drain liquid from baking dish. Spoon sauce over fillets; sprinkle with cheese and almonds. Broil 5 in. from the heat until cheese is melted and almonds are lightly browned. Discard toothpicks. (Source:

I picked up these lovely flounder filets at a local fish market.

I had a little bit of a dilemma, because the filets had the skin attached, and I didn't want to roll them like the recipe suggested with the skin on. I tried taking the skin off of one of them, but called it quits because I was afraid of tearing the filet to pieces in the process. Instead I opted to lay the filets flat and top them with the stuffing.

I left the cheese off of one of them, since Moe is allergic to dairy. And I forgot to buy almonds, so I had to leave those off. It was unanimously decided that these were much better than the stuffed halibut I had made previously. Definitely worth making again.


I've only used Hollandaise sauce on Christmas morning, when I make our traditional breakfast of Eggs Benedict; and even then I always make it from a powdered mix. This time I decided to have a go at making it myself. I pulled out my very first cookbook, and my favorite for a long time:


Melt slowly and keep warm:

1/2 cup butter

Barely heat:

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, dry sherry or tarragon vinegar

Have ready a small saucepan of boiling water and a tablespoon with which to measure it when ready. Place in the top of a double boiler over--not in--hot water:

3 egg yolks

Beat the yolks with a wire whisk until they begin to thicken. Add:

1 tablespoon boiling water

Beat again until the eggs begin to thicken. Repeat this process until you have added:

3 more tablespoons water

Then beat in the warm lemon juice. Remove double boiler from heat. Beat the sauce well with a wire whisk. Continue to beat while slowly adding the melted butter and:

1/4 teaspoon salt

a few grains of cayenne

Beat until the sauce is thick. Serve at once.

(From the 1995 edition of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, p.358)

Except for having a little too much lemon juice, the sauce turned out well and was surprisingly easy to make. Except for one thing--when it got too cold I decided to warm it up in the microwave. Big mistake: it curdled. It still tasted good, though, especially drizzled over the fresh local asparagus I had picked up at the farmer's market the day before. Curly even enjoyed some on his fish.

I decided to pull out our WEDDING dishes and our WEDDING crystal for the champagne (I had one two-serving bottle left over from New Years' and decided to crack it open since it was part of Wilson and Jane's dinner, too.) I only wished I had brought out a nice tablecloth instead of these horribly ugly placemats.

How did Wilson and Jane like their dinner, you ask? Well, Jane was so overwhelmed with love after reading Wilson's gushy letter and seeing his thoughtful gift, and Wilson was so overcome with desire seeing her in the slinky dress he had bought for the occasion, that they spent the rest of the evening upstairs in one of the bedrooms. They never ate the meal, and Wilson threw it out the next day. Needless to say, their rocky marriage was mended that night.

Up next, the final WEDDING post: Cake!