It may have been just a fluke that Frederic van Coppernolle secured a co-host job on the television Food Network.
He used to work at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. One day a producer for a local television show called, looking for a kitchen tool. Van Coppernolle told the producer he was an opera singer, so he could cook and sing on their next segment. The producer took him up on his offer and put him on air. The rest is history.
Now that he has his own television show, van Coppernolle is doing what he can to make "How To Boil Water" popular viewing for those who really don't know how to cook — exploring the tools, techniques and ingredients necessary to prepare foolproof versions of favorite dishes.
On this Good Friday, van Coppernolle has prepared a lovely spring meal of Stuffed Sole Fillet Printemps and Vegetable Medley, Mashed Potatoes, Chocolate Mousse, and Fresh Fruit Salad with Mint.
Stuffed Sole Fillet Printemps
2 finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Pernod (or any anise liqueur)
1/2 pound cooked, chopped spinach
1/4 pound crabmeat
1 crushed garlic clove
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon grated ginger
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small Chinese eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 fillets of sole, 3 to 4 ounces each
4 cherry tomatoes
8 steamed leek leaves (white to pale green)
Ingredients for Steaming Liquid:
water to fill pot with 2 inches
2 strips lime zest
4 star anise
Ingredients for Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon grated ginger
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sauteed Vegetable Medley, recipe follows
Sweat the finely chopped shallots in the butter until transparent, flambe with the anise liqueur and add the spinach, the crabmeat and the garlic.
Cook for 3 minutes on low heat and add the lime juice, ginger, salt and pepper.
Cut the Chinese eggplant in thin lengthwise slices and in another skillet, cook the eggplant in the olive oil until softened. Dry on paper towels.
Place the fish skin side up flat on the working table. Place a slice of cooled eggplant on each fish fillet. Spread the stuffing on the eggplant. Place a tomato on the center and roll the fish around it, like a spiral.
Wrap each rolled fillet with the steamed leek leaf. Use a toothpick if it seems to separate too easily. Make sure all the different layers are visible. Place in a steam basket.
Reserve until ready to cook.
Bring the water to a boil. Add the lime zest, chervil stems and the star anise. When ready to cook, sprinkle the fish and carrots with salt and white pepper to taste.
Place the basket on top of the boiling water, cover tightly with a lid and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn off the heat and let rest for another 5 minutes.
During this time, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning to your taste and reserve.
Dry the cooked fillets of sole on clean towels to remove excess water and place 2 on the center of each plate. Decorate with the star anise from the steam basket. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and garnish with the chervil sprigs.
Note: This dish can be served hot or at room temperature.
Sautéed Vegetable Medley
4 cups mixed blanched and refreshed Spring vegetables (procedure follows)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
Toss vegetables together in a medium bowl.
In a medium sauté pan, heat the butter and water together over medium heat. Add the vegetables to the pan and turn the heat to medium high. Toss the vegetables by gently moving the pan back and forth over the flame. Cook the vegetables until heated through (3 to 4 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
To blanch and refresh vegetables:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Fill a large bowl with ice water, and put a colander or strainer in it. Add the vegetable to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, until crisp tender, or the desired degree of doneness. Scoop the vegetable from the water and immediately put them in the ice water, to stop the cooking and set their color. Cool and drain, and use as desired.
When blanching a mix of vegetables, don't cook them together since they may not all cook at the same time. Start with the lightest colored or mildest flavored vegetable, and blanch and refresh each vegetable, one after the other, until cooked as desired.
- Cook the vegetables in 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter, without the water. Do this over high heat and brown and crisp the vegetables slightly.
- Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, minced shallot, a teaspoon of grated peeled fresh ginger to the pan before adding the vegetables.
- Enhance the vegetables at the end of cooking with a tablespoon or so of minced fresh herbs, like chopped flat-leaf parsley, dill, mint, basil, cilantro or thyme.
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 medium), whole, scrubbed
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup whole milk
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
freshly ground black or white pepper
In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Do not cover. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 45 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Swirl the pan over medium heat until the skins are dry, about 1 minute. Halve the potatoes crosswise. Put the halves in a ricer cut-side down and press the potato through the ricer into a bowl. The flesh should easily pass through the holes and the skins remain in the ricer. Discard the skin, and repeat with the remaining potatoes. (Alternatively, peel the cooked potatoes and put through a food mill or mash with a hand-held potato masher.)
Heat the butter and milk in the saucepan over medium-high heat until hot, but not boiling. Add the nutmeg (if desired) stir into the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.
Chopped fresh herbs
Real bits of bacon
Use olive oil instead of butter
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup cold heavy cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons dark rum (replace with liqueur of choice or 1 tablespoon water)
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
In a cold non-reactive bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
Fill a saucepan about a third of the way with water, then bring to a simmer.
Chop the chocolate with a cook's knife. Put the chocolate in a medium-large heatproof bowl, and place over the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Set the chocolate aside. Keep the pot of water hot, but not boiling.
In a small bowl, stir the espresso powder into the rum or water, to dissolve.
Put the egg, yolks, and pinch of salt in heatproof bowl. With a hand-held electric mixer whip the eggs until light, about 1 minute. Slowly add the sugar to the eggs, while continuing to beat. Add the rum mixture.
Set the bowl of eggs over the simmering water, increase the heat to bring the water to a rapid simmer. Whisk the egg mixture constantly over the heat, until pale yellow, very fluffy, and hot to the touch (3 to 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and whip until cool and thick, and the mixture folds over on itself or "holds a ribbon."
Whisk about a quarter of the egg foam into the chocolate to lighten. With the whisk, briskly fold in the remaining foam, (the mixture may get very thick). Whisk in the whipped cream, taking care to keep the mixture light. Pour the chocolate mixture into 4 to 6 serving dishes and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Serve with cookies, if desired.
Fresh Fruit and Mint Salad
1 papaya or mango
1 cup strawberries
2 navel oranges
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional
3 to 5 sprigs fresh mint
1 cup raspberries or blueberries
Peel and dice the mango or papaya, and put in a medium bowl. Trim the strawberries' stems and half or quarter, if large. Add to the bowl of fruit. Peel and dice the kiwi, add to bowl. Peel and slice the bananas, add to bowl.
Cut the top and bottom off the oranges just deep enough to expose the inner fruit. Following the curve of the fruit, cut the skin and pith off the orange in panels. Holding the orange over the bowl cut between the membranes to free the citrus segments. Let them fall into the bowl as they are cut free. By hand, squeeze all the juice from the remaining membrane over the fruit, then discard. Repeat with the other orange.
Lightly stir the honey and Grand Marnier, if using, into the fruit. Strip the mint leaves off the stem, tear, or chop into smaller pieces, and stir into the fruit salad. Add the berries and set aside for 10 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Copyright 2003 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved