An Easy Gourmet Norman Sole


Easy Gourmet                                                                                    Cooking Devotional

In our dish for this week, our gourmet chef takes a traditional Norman sole recipe and tweaks it to make it more economical. But the taste is still superb.

Lately I’ve seen some interesting tweaks in traditional recipes. One is a hash which uses diced beets instead of beef. Since my daughter gave us some nice beets from her garden, I plan to try that recipe this week. Dale’s Vegetable Lasagna that we featured last week is another tweak to a traditional recipe, and would you believe it? I’ve even come across a pizza recipe that is gluten free because it uses cauliflower for the crust instead of wheat.

But back to the tweak in traditional Norman sole that makes it easier to prepare and shop for. It is the entrée along with a rice pilaf in the Hospitality chapter of our upcoming cookbook.


Dale’s World:

Sole Norman Style

There are many variations of this traditional recipe, and I have simplified them to create this one. The mussels and oysters have been omitted, but I’ve retained the flavors by using clam juice. If you can’t find sole, it will be just as good with any mild flavored white fish.

You will need:

1 tablespoon Shallots                                    Butter

12 Shrimp                                                       4 Sole Fillets

Parsley                                                            1 cup Clam Juice

1 cup White Wine                                          Chives

Flour                                                                ½ cup Sour Cream


  1. Heat your oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Mince one tablespoon of shallots.
  3. Boil twelve whole shrimp until they turn pink. Then shell and de-vein them, but leave the tails on.
  4. Make the Beurre Manie:  Definition— Massaged butter. Pronounced “bear man-yay.” Equal parts of flour and cold butter which have been mixed together. It is used for thickening sauces which need to be thickened only a little bit. Take 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup flour and mash them together with your fingers until you have something the consistency of play dough. What you don’t use immediately, keep in a small jar in your refrigerator for later use.
  5. Chop two tablespoons of parsley.

6.   Cut chives into one and a half inch pieces. You will need about two Tablespoons of chives also.


  1. Sauté the fillets in the butter until they begin to turn white. It is not necessary to cook them through because they will continue to cook in the oven. After you have cooked both sides a little, place the fillets on any old pan and transfer them to the warm oven.
  2. Sauté the minced shallots in the same pan you cook the fillets in. If necessary, add more butter.
  3. Deglaze with the white wine. Then add the clam juice. Reduce.
  4. Whisk in the Beurre Manie one pinch at a time. Continue to whisk until the sauce has slightly thickened. This is not a heavy sauce. You have read in other cookbooks that  the sauce needs to be cooked only until it “coats the back of a spoon.” Well, this is one of those times. Then cook on low heat for one more minute.
  5. Stir in the sour cream.
  6.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


 Food for Thought:

The Ups and Downs of “Tradition!”

We live in a casual society that often wants to ignore tradition. But tradition is a powerful thing.

The essayist and philosopher Thomas Carlyle wrote, “What an enormous magnifier is tradition! How a thing grows in the human memory and in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it.”

Because we have a strong music program in our church, one of our traditions is to have spectacular concerts on the main holidays: Christmas Joy in the city’s Pikes Peak Center, an Easter oratorio just before Easter, and on July 4th, a rousing musical celebration, always including that famous rip-roaring rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Our church follows the old church calendar, and we especially appreciate the seasons of Advent and Lent because they remind us of the two most important events of the Christian faith.

I think of traditions with pleasure because they give shape to my days and provide an anchoring feel to that nebulous thing we call time.

One example of shaping time is the Cocktails and Classics tradition my husband and I look forward to late in the afternoon. We relax, talk about the day and read a good book together. Currently we’re reading March, a Pulitzer Prize Winner by Geraldine Brooks.

Traditions can help strengthen the ties of family also: devotions each night with our children, seeing extended family at Christmas, celebrating July 4th with sparklers.

How our 3-year-old Grandson hung our old family ornaments

Sometimes, however, traditions become constraining. One definition of the word traditionalist,  is someone who fills with or constrains by traditions.

We can solve the problem of constraint, outgrown or overly rigid customs by tweaking them like we do recipes. We may not be able to have devotionals every night anymore as a family, but we can substitute a meaningful holiday reading when we gather. Bob and I may need to cut down on wine sometimes, so we change our hour of Cocktails and Classics to Lemonade and Classics.

Let’s evaluate our traditions or lack of them and consider creating some new ones—something to celebrate with, something to remind us of the important things of life.

A Ridley Family Homeplace

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1 Response to An Easy Gourmet Norman Sole

  1. Diane Rutledge Hazel says:

    I always love it when you give tips for varying a traditional recipe. I don’t have the courage to try anything like that unless someone else has done it first. Thanks!

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