I have learned so much from watching cooking shows on PBS. Back in a former lifetime where I worked a Monday-Friday job, we would turn on the cooking shows on KQED and have them going all day long as we did chores or whatever. I have a ragged copy of The French Chef, numerous books from Lidia and Jacques Pepin, and even a bread whisk I got from the The Bread Monk. The best part of watching the PBS shows is they really are any-man programs. Anyone really can make the stuff they’re creating with a bit of effort and practice.

Heck, I have a cooking and baking background, but I haven’t cooked professionally since 1978. I continued to work in kitchens, yes, but other than the occasional jumping in when there was a need, my duties were generally elsewhere. The cooking shows bring technique forward that I had forgotten, or have shown me a new and better way to do something I’ve done for years.

Tonight’s dinner was an impulse-buy at the grocery store based on a Lidia Bastianich show a while back – Involtini di Sogliola al Limone – Rolled Lemon Sole. It’s a Sicilian dish of seasoned breadcrumbs placed on a thin fish fillet, rolled, and baked. Pretty easy, pretty basic. My impulse-buy fish, however, was not thin sole fillets – it was thick cod fillets.

Thick cod fillets do not stuff and roll.

Of course, I did not check any of this until I had made the breadcrumbs, buttered the baking dish, and was all ready to put them together. Our rolled fish became fillets topped with breadcrumbs, but otherwise cooked as the recipe stated.

Ya need to be flexible.

And I have to tell ya, the fish came out great! It was perfectly-lemony, the breadcrumbs had tons of flavor, and the contrast between the crunch of the crumbs and the tender fish was perfect.

Simple fried potatoes and a saute of radicchio and spinach with a drizzle of fig balsamic finished the plate.

I now want to make this with the right fish just to see how it comes out, so… stay tuned…

Involtini di Sogliola al Limone

Lidia Bastianich

  • 1⁄2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated grana padano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 lemons – 1 zested and juiced, 1 thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 skinless fillets of sole – about 1 1/2 lbs
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Toss together the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, parsley, lemon zest, and oregano in a bowl. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, and toss until the crumbs are evenly coated with the oil.

Coat the bottom of a 9-by-13- inch Pyrex baking dish with the softened butter. Arrange the lemon slices in one layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour in the lemon juice and white wine. Lay the fish on your work surface, and press the crumbs into the top of the fish.

Starting with the short side, roll each fillet up with crumbs on the inside, and secure closed with toothpicks. Arrange the fish in the baking dish, and scatter capers in the open spaces. Sprinkle any leftover crumbs over the fish, and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Place the baking dish on the bottom rack of the oven, and bake until the fish is just cooked through, about 20 minutes.