Beurre Blanc and Chenin Blanc

It has been one of those weeks where I have not spent as much time as I would like to have done in my kitchen.  I think that it is allowed however as I have been in the process of moving this week; I say moving, I have moved out of my flat but I haven’t yet moved to anywhere new so I currently don’t have a kitchen.  Or at the very least I don’t have a kitchen of my own.  I actually find this most unsettling and now that I am not able to, I am absolutely desperate to bake something, anything! What I actually want to do is to bake my first batch of whoopie pies but it is looking as if this little ambition may have to go on hold for the time being at least.  The key items of baking equipment you see are now in storage and at my boyfriend’s flat I am yet to find these items in the cupboards.

Although I have not made any cakes, I have eaten cake in the form of delicious little cupcakes from Lola’s as they now have a convenient counter in the Oxford Street Topshop.  I was seriously impressed with these, so much so that I bought several.  One of my delightful colleagues came back from her lunch hour armed with a box of these bite sized treats.  She was absolutely right, it was Friday afternoon and we deserved a reward; I ate a Rocky Road cupcake and half of a chocolate sponge with vanilla bean cream.  They were both delicious and the chocolate cake was exceptionally moist and complemented beautifully by the vanilla.  The Rocky Road was good but perhaps not quite as good and I did find it rather difficult to eat on account of all the gooey little marshmallows.

I was inspired by these mid-afternoon delights to return to Lola’s myself after work to buy some for my boyfriend as well as  some to take to my friend’s house on Saturday seeing as I am currently unable to make them myself.  By the time that I left work however I arrived there rather late and there was a very limited selection remaining so I selected the following: two mini carrot cake cupcakes and two mini black forest cupcakes for my boyfriend, and an Oreo cupcake, a chocolate and vanilla bean cupcake and an all chocolate cupcake to take round to my friend’s house for our high-powered business meeting.  (It just isn’t possible to address one’s plans for world domination without cake and tea, it just isn’t).  I particularly enjoyed the black forest cupcake because again it was the chocolate sponge with the vanilla cream and a lovely fresh cherry.  I love fresh cherries.  I am told that the carrot cake was good but my boyfriend very sweetly tells me that it was not in the same league as my carrot cake.  That is true loyalty.  Or perhaps just concern that I will refuse to ever make carrot cake again if he does not tell me that mine is superior.  I love the little boxes that they pack the cakes into although I can’t help but feel that a better bag is needed as the Topshop bags are not really wide enough to accommodate the boxes so they don’t lie flat.

As I have already indicated, my own culinary exploits have been few and far between this week.  I did however whip up a little something on Friday night when we eventually made it home; pan fried Anglesey sea bass with a beurre blanc sauce, crushed baby new potatoes and broccoli.  I don’t know if you consider this to be somewhat extravagant for Friday night when you don’t walk through the front door until after 9pm but it is a relatively quick dish and sometimes you do just need something to lift your mood after an unreasonably long Friday in the office.

It was one of those occasions when I didn’t know that I would be cooking sea bass.  I merely took myself off the food hall in John Lewis with the vague idea that I was after fish.  My initial thought had been that I would buy salmon and give it a Far East flavour but I arrived at the fish counter and was immediately confronted with a large pile of sea bass.  Without hesitation I bought four fillets and then started to stare at the shelves for additional inspiration.  I eventually gave up the notion of making an oriental dish although I did take some time to reach the conclusion that it would be better to let the fish do the talking so I bought potatoes, parsley, a lemon, some capers, butter, shallots, broccoli and a lovely bottle of Chenin Blanc.  I have cooked sea bass in this way before and I think that I am right in saying that it did not disappoint.

The first thing to do of course is to pour a glass of the wine, just to make sure that it will do, then to cook the potatoes before turning your attention to the beurre blanc sauce, then the broccoli and finally the sea bass.  I waited to cook the sea bass until the very last minute when everything else was ready to go.  I serve my crushed potatoes with chopped fresh parsley, a knob of butter, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a decent amount of freshly grounded black pepper and salt.  I find that if you pop the lid back on the saucepan after you have prepared them they stay perfectly hot.  If I may say so myself, I cooked my sea bass to perfection; I fried the fillets in a little olive oil with some seasoning.  I put them in skin-side down and waited until the fish was nearly cooked through before squeezing over a little lemon juice and flipping them over to finish.  This was the point at which I turned the gas off and left the fish to finish in the pan.  This is a great little tip that I learnt from my brother and helps to ensure that you don’t overcook the fish.  I was so pleased with dinner, the fish was beautifully cooked and my beurre blanc sauce was most excellent.

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