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Cooking like Julia Child

Inspired by Julia Child, this delicate fish stew combines classic cooking methods and ingredients.

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Fish Stew with White Wine and Tarragon
Serves 2 generously as dinner, 3 as a light lunch

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Blue Kitchen

Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.

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Julia made this with sole and charmingly called it Sole Food Stew. I couldn’t get fresh sole and substituted halibut. Any firm-fleshed, mild white fish will work.

1 medium tomato
 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced
 1 celery stalk, preferably with leaves, sliced (leaves chopped)
 1 medium onion, sliced
 1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
 1 generous teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
 1-1/4 cup chardonnay, plus 1 tablespoon (or other dry white wine)
 3/4 cup chicken broth (preferably unsalted – see Kitchen Notes)
 1/2 cup water
 salt and freshly ground pepper
 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
 1/2 pound halibut sliced into bite-sized pieces
 1 egg yolk
 1/2 cup sour cream (I used Breakstone reduced fat)

Blanch the tomato. Drop tomato into a medium pot of water to a boil. After 10 seconds, remove with a strainer and set aside to cool. You need the tomato near the end of the recipe, so during a break in the action, core and peel it, scoop out the seeds using your fingers and gently squeeze out any liquid from the tomato. Then dice the tomato; you should have about 3/4 cup.

Melt butter in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over low to medium flame. Add carrot, leek, celery and onion and toss to coat with butter. Cover pot and sweat vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow to brown; reduce heat if necessary.

Add tarragon, 1-1/4 cup wine, broth and water. Season with salt and pepper and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine cornstarch and remaining tablespoon of white wine in a small bowl, stirring until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of heated broth/wine mixture into cornstarch and wine, stirring constantly to keep it from forming clumps. Blend back into pot and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Fold in fish and tomato and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Meanwhile, mix egg yolk and sour cream in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of heated broth/wine mixture into it, stirring to combine. Gently fold into pot. Ladle stew into shallow soup plates and serve with a crusty bread.

Kitchen Notes

Choose your chicken broth. Store-bought broth options have been improving greatly. You can now pick from organic, free range, low fat, fat-free or several combinations thereof. But until recently, your sodium choices were full salt bomb or reduced sodium (which was still pretty salty). Now, though, unsalted broth is showing up on supermarkets shelves everywhere. This is the best option, giving you complete control of the amount of salt in dishes. Of course, if you make your own chicken stock, that’s even better.

Related post on Blue Kitchen: Skate Meunière with Browned Butter and Capers

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The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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