At the end of the third week of Buffet and Catering, half of our class was given the opportunity to go the the mystery basket and make lunch for the rest of the class. The other half of the group made terrains that our group made the day before.

Another part of mystery basket is finding whole Dover Sole just thawing. To make my dish, I had to fabricate six whole fish, including removing the skin in an hour and a half, which flies by when you are playing the part of a butcher.

With one hour left on the clock before we had to present our buffet for judging, tasting, and grading, I measured what I needed from my mise en place and got in the zone prepping and cooking. Everyone was up against the clock, so as usual, it got intense. It’s wild because we were moved to a small baking kitchen for our own space away from the other half of the class. Eleven of us were using three stoves with six burners each and three ovens. That’s not much when we are all needing a few burners each and all preparing significant dishes. But I organized until the rush for space was over, then slid into some open space for the sauté and sauce building part. Thankfully, I finished right on time!

The other classmates also produced some awesome food. I’m going to get their recipes.

FishTacos Honeydew Cucumber Mint Soup WholeRoundFish

The fish tacos, that came in second, were made by a professional cook in a local restaurant and he used the restaurant’s recipe. There was an excellent whole round fish that was sautéed and finished in a tasty braising sauce. There was a creamy chicken dish, as well as three or four sides, a fruit tray, an amazing desert, and two soups. One soup was a honeydew, cucumber and mint served in shot glasses and the other was a cantaloupe, watermelon soup. Both soups were refreshing and delicious. I’m collecting recipes from everyone next week when we can actually sit down and discuss.

Due to popular demand: Here’s My Recipe for Sole – Lemon Piccata
(Keep in mind, I expanded this four (4x) times, this is approximate)

16 oz thin, skinless white fish fillets (Sole, flounder, or other mild white fish)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1/3 cup flour for dredging
4 Tbsp clarified butter (or you can put 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 Tbsp butter for better flavor and convenience)
1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup sweet yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup small capers
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp butter
1 In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper. Then place the flour mixture in a long shallow bowl or dish. Dredge the fillets in the flour so that both sides are lightly coated.

2 Heat the butter or olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. When the oil is hot (add a little pinch of flour to the oil, and if it sizzle immediately, you’re ready), work in batches and place the fish fillets in the pan in one layer, spaced apart so not to steam, and fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Add more oil to the pan if needed. Once browned on both sides, remove the fish fillets from the pan, set them on a sheet pan. (keep them warm in a 200°F oven).

3 Pour any burned oil out and add some new butter. Only add butter at this point for flavor and put pan back on medium heat. Add minced shallots and yellow onions, sprinkle with a little sea salt and white pepper, and sauté for a few minutes until they sweat and begin to get yellow golden color. Add drained capers and sauté a few minutes to rid brine flavor and get them slightly crispy.

4 Add the white wine to the pan and use a rubber or wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine boil furiously for a minute or two, until greatly reduced, almost au sec, then add the lemon juice. Boil another minute. Taste this sauce and season to taste if necessary. Turn off the heat. Add 1 Tbsp of butter to the pan, swirling it constantly. When it melts, repeat the process with the other tablespoon of butter. Stir in half of the parsley and pour it over the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining parsley. Serve at once.

Happy cooking! Let me know how this recipe goes for you. Post the picture so I can see it and share it!