Hey. You. This is Gram Melada. I’m one of the people in that Janet Stilson book where my gran’chile Luscious played a starring role. It’s called THE JUICE. You’ll find stuff about me scattered all through the story.
When I read it, I was spitting tacks at Luscious for telling the whole worl’ that I looked like a big chicken. But she’s my only kin left, and she done some “heroic acts,” as they say. So I chose not to get mad for too long.
Now seeing as it be the end of the year an’ all, this Stilson woman thought that maybe you might like something a little diff’rent in her blog. So she asked if I’d share one of the recipes that Luscious and that friend of hers, Dove Brown, always used to have me make.
I call it “Don’t Sit on the Damned Divan.” It’s kind of a play on an old dish my mama’s mama used to make, which everybody called “Chicken Divan.” Couldn’t make my “Damned Divan” for the longest time, on account of a lack of funds. Shit. Nobody in Pompey Hollow, where I live, could rub enough coins together to buy the creamy ingredients in the cheese sauce, even though I could still pull some fish out of Mirror Lake.
That’s the place where my fool gran’chile rescued a boy called Bobby Abdullah when he was led astray. Went out on the ice and fell through. You might say that when Luscious pulled him out of the ice, everything took off for us. One thing led to another, and before you know it, my homely little country bumpkin gran’chile had turned into a super charismatic being – so damned pretty it was enough to make my old heart hurt with excitement. She could get people to do just about anything.
There was a worl’ of trouble that came after that. But let’s get back to the food. Here’s what you do:
DON’T SIT ON THE DAMNED DIVAN
1 lb. pan-fried white fish fillets. You can go for anything, like sole or tilapia, long as it’s on the mild side. And if you don’t like frying, bake ’em.
1 ½ lbs. broccoli or asparagus, steamed to perfection. Don’t use the woody end of the stems, or that gonna ruin everything.
¼ lb. butter
6 Tablespoons flour
½ Teaspoon salt
2 cups broth. I go for chicken, but suit yoursef
½ cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons dry white wine. Or throw in a titch more, and cut back a little on the other liquid, depending how you feel
¼ grated Parmesan cheese – and a little extra for the topping. If you don’t have any Parm on hand, you could use a cheddar or whatever melts good.
A baking dish, around 12” X 7” X 2”—something that’s close to that.
Once you get the fish and vegetable cooked, you want to make a type of white sauce like this:
Melt the butter, and then turn off the damned burner so it’s easier to blend in the flour, pepper and salt. Whisk it all together and get the lumps out. Then slowly whisk in the broth, firing up the burner again as you do so. And when it all starts getting thick and bubbly, add in the cream and the wine. Then turn off the burner again ’cause it’s time to put stuff together.
Layer the broccoli or asparagus in the pan so it covers the whole bottom. Pour half the sauce on top of it. Then you blanket it with the cooked fish fillets.
Add ¼ cup Parm cheese to the remaining sauce and pour it all over the fish. Then sprinkle the whole thing with the rest of the cheese.
Now you got yoursef some options. Either bake the dish at 350 degrees for 20 minutes – ’til it’s all warmed through. Or stick the sucker under the broiler ’til the sauce gets golden brown, which should take about five minutes. But watch it so’s you don’t burn everything.
There you have it. Should make about six servings.
Just two more pieces of advice before I go. First, if it don’t turn out the way you think it should, don’t fuss. Tell everybody it’s just the way you planned it. And secondly, go out and buy that Stilson woman’s book, THE JUICE. I’m proud of my Luscious and what she did, even though she’s a damned fool.