This week’s FFWD recipe choice, Skate with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce, was another Are you kidding me? moment in my French Fridays career. First, I was not that familiar with skate. Okay, to be truthful, I probably didn’t even remember it was a fish and member of the stingray family. Skate is another French favorite. In America, not so much.

In the late 90’s, skate wings, the edible part of this fish, flew over the pond, landing on plates in Manhattan’s fancier restaurants. Although still not a popular entrée throughout this country, you will find it on menus in tonier restaurants. If I ever see it on the menu, I will order it.

Sauteed spinach and tomatoes made a perfect pillow for my fish.

Sauteed spinach and tomatoes made a perfect pillow for my fish.

But for now, let’s turn to wild Alaskan Pacific cod, the mild-tasting whitefish I substituted in this week’s recipe. Unlike it’s maligned, overfished Atlantic cousin, this cod is an ocean-friendly seafood choice. According to Fishwatch, “Alaska fisheries for Pacific cod account for more than two-thirds of the world’s Pacific cod supply, and are considered among the best managed fisheries in the world.”

The result was cod-licious, thanks to the killer sauce Dorie suggested for this dish. After dredging four 6-ounce cod filets in flour, salt and pepper, drop them in a heavy skillet coated with 2 ounces of melted butter. I cooked the cod four minutes on each side until it was lightly browned and flaked easily. After transferring the fish to a heatproof platter and tenting with foil, I put it in the oven to remain warm while I made the (killer) sauce (recipe below).

Wild Alaskan Pacific cod on a bed of Sauteed Spinach and tomatoes......totally, totally.

Wild Alaskan Pacific cod on a bed of Sauteed Spinach and tomatoes……totally, totally.

Although Dorie suggests serving this entrée on a pillow of mashed potatoes or Celery Root Purée, I detoured down the veggie highway and mixed together Sautéed Spinach with Cherry Tomatoes. Since this (killer) sauce has so much going on – grainy mustard, brown butter, cornichons and capers -, I didn’t want “my pillow” to muscle into the spotlight.

Not only was this a satisfying dinner but also a lovely breakfast and afternoon snack. The following morning I flaked a fillet, added it to the vegetables and made a frittata. Pretty darn delicious.

Cod, Spinach, Cheese & Tomato Frittata (a great use of leftovers)

Cod, Spinach, Cheese & Tomato Frittata (a great use of leftovers)

The 2014 Food & Wine Classic begins in Aspen today, continuing through Sunday, June 22nd. It’s the 32nd year for this festival, bringing together celebrity chefs, corporates (food purveyors, wine professionals and spirit reps) and folks who like to eat and drink and can cough up $1250 for the weekend pass. There will be nearly 100 official events including cooking demonstrations, food, wine and cheese seminars, tastings, conversations and book signings.

Tents like these two have been put up all over Aspen for activities for the 5,000 participants in the 2014 Food & Wine Classic.

Tents like these two have been put up all over Aspen for activities for the 5,000 participants in the 2014 Food & Wine Classic.

Our local community has a long history of volunteering in exchange for a Pass to the Classic. In the past I helped set up tables and chairs and poured wine during seminar tastings. For more years than probably necessary, I sliced baguettes, filling hundreds of bread baskets for the two daily Grand Tastings. Obviously that’s where my talent lies but this year I joined the Green Team. My job, as I understand it, is to help the attendees remember the meaning of recyclable, compostable and trash.

I’m hoping to see Marcus Samuelsson’s demo in the Cooking Tent and Laura Werlin’s seminar, “Mountain Wines, Mountain Cheeses” and more. Giada DeLaurentiis is here as well as José Andrés, Michael Chiarello and Tyler Florence, to name a few. I promise to share more about the F&W Classic next week. French Fridays with Dorie is an international cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table. To see how my colleagues skated through this week’s recipe choice, go here.

Capers, Cornichons & Brown Butter Sauce

6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1/4 Cup Sherry Vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
12 cornichons, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Put 6 tablespoons of butter into a skillet on medium heat. Cook the butter, swirling the pan, until it starts to turn a light brown. Add the vinegar and swirl again. Stir in the mustard, sliced cornichons and capers. Mix together.

Spoon sauce over the appropriate fish.


  1. Donna Grauer says

    This is a gorgeous dish…especially when paired with the spinach and tomatoes. You did good girl.
    I hope you can figure out the trash recycling thing. Trash has become so challenging.
    You have a very important job at Food & Wine this year and to think I knew you before you became a trash expert.

  2. says

    What a fun time of year to be in Aspen! I remember searching for celebs before I knew more than a handful. Have fun volunteering.
    P.S. your spinach base is a magnificent pairing with the cod! YUM! Off to Ames again next week 🙂

  3. says

    Wasn’t this one delicious! And I actually learned after I had tried to buy it that Skate is overfished at the moment as well, at least over here in Europe. So I guess all the better that none of us were able to find it.

    And have fun at the show!

  4. says

    Your dish looks beautiful, so lovely set off by the vibrant spinach and tomatoes. I thought it was delicious too, the sauce was terrific. I would not have thought about the fish in the frittata, but I bet it was great too.

    Your weekend sounds terrific! Enjoy

  5. says

    Yep – I think this sauce would be good on any kind of fish! Well, I did make sauteed spinach…then I stirred it into my potatoes!

    I wish I could be there with you!

  6. says

    I have seen skate egg cases on the beach, but never knew what a skate was until this recipe came up! I was able to find skate at my local fish store, it was utterly delicious! Tasted a bit like scallops, and a bargain at only 4.99 a pound…a big difference from the crabmeat last week!
    Nice post, Mary! Your cod looks great, and I love your side of Tomatoes and Spinach…mouth watering!
    Enjoy Food & Wine, sounds fabulous!

  7. says

    Now that is a volunteer position that comes with some perks! Hope you were able to see the demonstrations you wanted to. We keep thinking of going, some year….

    Your Cod looks delicious!!!

  8. says

    You are so right, the sauce is killer. And it’s great to see how many different fishes it works with. I like the look of your spinach and tomato pillow. As for my chickpea puree, you asked what it tastes like. It has the texture of a warm hummus, but without the tahini the flavor is a little different. Hope that helps. I’m reading in reverse order so already know you had a blast at the F&W Classic. Sounds like quite an extravaganza.

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