Let’s Pack

With many people heading up to the mountains or sending children to summer camp, this is a good time to discuss packing. Of course, we’re not offering advice on the best way to pack socks! We’re talking about packing tasty bits of food into parchment paper and steaming it. This cooking method is perfect for summer. It’s quick and easy, and results in light meals with no mess.

Cooking en papillote (ahn pah-pee-YOHT) — steaming small portions of food in a wrapper ― is a classic technique. Some cultures use grape leaves, banana leaves, cornhusks, or other natural materials to wrap delicate foods before cooking. They add vegetables, herbs and spices for seasoning.

Steaming requires little or no added fat; steam builds up in the packet to cook food quickly yet gently. The nicely wrapped package allows you to add juices, spices, or herbs.

Steaming en papillote requires no special equipment other than a roll of parchment paper that you toss when you’re done.

Follow These Simple Steps to Making Parchment Packages:

  • Cut a 15- x 24-inch piece of parchment.
  • Fold parchment in half crosswise, making a crease down the center.
  • Draw half of a heart shape on paper. Cut out heart, and open the parchment.
  • Layer ingredients in one half of the sheet, making sure to leave at least a 1-inch border around the cut edges.
  • Starting at the round portion of the heart, fold paper, tightly sealing edges with narrow folds.
  • Twist the tip portion of the heart to seal.
  • Place packets onto an ungreased baking sheet, and bake.

Flounder en Papillote

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce) flounder fillets
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix together the onion, zucchini, carrot and garlic. Add half the oil and toss to combine seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Put each fish fillet in a piece of parchment paper as directed above. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the vegetables on top, dividing evenly. Top the vegetables with 2 lemon slices, remaining oil and 1 tablespoon white wine, layering in order. Fold the parchment paper as directed. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. To serve, cut open the packets and serve on a plate directly in the parchment paper, so you don’t lose the juices.

Steamed Chicken With
Summer Vegetable

  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 5 oz. green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, checked and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to ½-inch thickness
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a bowl, toss together the corn, tomatoes, green beans, shallots, olive oil and half of the parsley; and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare 2 sheets of parchment, as directed above. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of each sheet; and top each with a chicken breast. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the garlic and remaining parsley and drizzle with oil.

Fold and seal parchment as directed and place each packet on a baking tray.

Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the packets to individual plates and carefully open them. Serve the chicken and vegetables immediately.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to peppermill@hamodia.com. This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.