I have a cool Facebook friend who recently shared a beautiful silver vintage dress and described it as a “fine china and heavy silverware kind of dinner dress”.
I have a non-vintage silver dress which is very similar and her words just stuck in my mind and captured my imagination. I stopped at the Exeter Farmer’s Market last week with the intention of buying some fish. I bought a couple of beautifully filleted pieces of Dover sole from the Gibsons Plaice Fishmonger stall. We decided to make a fine china and heavy silverware kind of dinner.
Just in case you’ve arrived looking for the recipe, here it is up front. I find it irritating when I’m searching out a recipe and have to read through a bunch of superfluous stuff to get to it.
Baked Fish Filets with Mushroom Stuffing
- 4 large Dover sole fillets, skinned
- 5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
- lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon double cream
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
- 8 oz (225 g) dark-gilled mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 oz (25 g) butter
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 level tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine or cider
- 2 level tablespoons plain flour
First of all melt half the butter and all the oil together in a pan and fry the onion gently until soft and golden.
Add the mushrooms and cook until all the juices have evaporated and the remaining mixture is a dryish, spreadable paste – this will probably take about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then transfer all but 2 tablespoons of the mixture to a basin and mix with the parsley.
Next cut the fish fillets in half lengthways and spread an equal quantity of the mushroom mixture on the skinned side of each piece. Roll up the fillets from the head to the tail end and place closely together in a baking dish.
Pour in the wine or cider, place a piece of buttered silicone paper (parchment) directly on top of the fish and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a saucepan, blend in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. When the fish is ready, transfer it to a warmed serving dish, using a draining spoon; cover and keep warm.
Now add the cooking liquid to the butter and flour mixture, beating all the time to get a smooth sauce, and also blend in the milk.
Then bring to boiling point, stirring all the time, add the remaining mushroom mixture, season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and stir in the cream.
To accompany the fish, we made mashed potatoes w/ double cream and butter and buttered, steamed spinach with fresh nutmeg. Ladle the sauce over the fish filets and et voila!
Now back to the superfluous stuff.
We’ve been buying silver plated Old English and Dubarry flatware here and there over the past few years. It mixes and matches very well. We recently inventoried it to see what the gaps are and if any of it needed to be replated. Steve wore his special anti tarnish gloves. He is natural born butler at heart!
We have the capability to host an elegant dinner party for twelve at any given moment. However, this little dinner party was exclusively for a party of two.
We used Dubarry flatware which combines Baroque and Asiatic influences to strike a beautiful balance between intricate detail and straight lines. First appearing in the early 18th century, its inspiration lies in the elegant furniture of Thomas Chippendale.
Blue twill place mats, cream scallop edged dinner plates, white flax napkins and silver napkin rings completed the elegant table settings.
We opened a bottle of 2014 Sancerre from our most recent Fortnum & Mason Christmas hamper that we’ve been saving for such an occasion. Here Steve’s sommelier duties came to the fore.
And here is the dress. I bought it a few years back for my 50th birthday party from Jigsaw, one of my favourite places to shop. It is elegant, very comfortable and makes me feel like a Greek goddess. It isn’t really ombre, but looks it when it catches the light.
I’d also picked up a bouquet from In Bloom Devon which sells flowers grown in a Devon field, entirely without the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. There are no air miles except for the ones traveled by the and bees and other pollinating insects who love visiting the flowers.
For dessert, we stayed local. Homemade meringues from West Country Meringues, organic double cream from Ashclyst Farm Dairy and strawberries grown at Balls Farm, Exeter.
We didn’t really have a proper silver service but it would be really fun to do one day. Silver service (in British English) is a method of foodservice. This usually includes serving food at the table. It is a technique of transferring food from a service dish to the guest’s plate from the left. It is performed by a waiter using service forks and spoons from the diner’s left. In France, this kind of service is known as service à l’anglaise (“English service”). There’s a guide here.