I planned this meal for a lazy weekend, one of the very few that I allow myself to have. Those weekends, ugh who I am kidding – one day, are usually scheduled in my head way in advance and right after that tough day at the office, after the echoing of the nail clipping colleague next door interferes with the phone conversation you’re having with your boss while you’re trying to cut the check for a vendor who is hovering over your shoulder. And because you want no unfinished business left for the worst day in a week, Monday, you run to Kroger to get a quick money order but the lady at the customer service desk does not know you just got irritated by the sound of nail clipping, nor would she care if she knew, and so off she goes – clueless of how my day is going so far – to find Vitamin D for a customer in front of me. It seemed she was gone forever and she finally came back, but the customer wanted a smaller bottle, and you guessed it, she went back to look for that small bottle. The sixth customer in line has left and I would’ve left too if I weren’t next. Suppose if I needed tomatoes on the vine she would gladly get them for me?
To plan my day off from the rest of the world I make sure all obligatory visits, grocery shopping and house cleaning is done during the week so there is nothing else left to do but indulge myself into doing absolutely nothing. My brain, however, has a different idea of relaxation. With the first chirping of the birds in the morning, my brain starts listing things that would be fun to do, with that free time and all. And I’m like: no brain; it is the weekend, we have no plans, we’re sleeping in. Brain wins. Where was I going with that? Welcome to the inside of my head. It is never weekend there. Oh, yes… I planned this easy to make meal for my husband and I. Right before lunch time my daughter and granddaughter stopped by to say hi as they were in the neighborhood. Is that really a thing? Ava wanted “hakeem” (ice cream) to which my daughter responded she can have it after lunch. Wait, what? Who said I will feed you lunch? This is my off day, remember? But you know what? There is no better feeling in the world than being needed, having your kid stop by to say hi and wanting to spend some time with the old you, even if it’s for the reason of making the most out of HER off day or maybe because she misses your cooking. This French Fish Ragout with Fried Potatoes (say that three times fast) is perfect for those unexpected visits because you can easily stretch it with just few more potatoes. And it is really tasty, nothing fishy about it at all in case you dislike fishy taste. Ava loved it too! For vegetarian version, omit bacon.
1 1/2 – 2 lbs firm cooking Potatoes (like Yukon gold)
4 oz Bacon, diced (optional)
4 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Ketchup
4 oz Cream Cheese with herbs (I used Onion and Chive flavors, leftover from Tuna- Ravioli Salad)
1 cup Water
1 lb. Red Snapper (Substitute with fish of your liking. I used tilapia for its mild taste)
1 Onion, cut in rings
1 Bay leaf
4 tablespoons White Wine
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
5 black Peppercorns
1 teaspoon Salt
Wash and clean potatoes from any blemishes (do not peel) and place in a pot. Cover with water and cook, covered, for about 20-25 min. Run under cold water to cool enough to handle. Peel and let cool completely and then cut the potatoes into slices.
Rinse fish fillets under cold water, pat dry with paper towels and cut in 1-1 ½ inch pieces. You don’t have to be real accurate. Bring water, wine, lemon juice, onions, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt to boil. Place fish in the liquid, remove from heat, cover and let poach for about 15 minutes.
In a large pan, brown bacon (if using) then remove from the pan. Melt butter in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add potato slices, season with salt and pepper and fry, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until golden brown in color.
Mix cream cheese with ketchup and fold into potatoes. Add bacon and fish pieces and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
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