Alex Budman: Kelly’s cuisine

A brown paper bag was placed on my plate. Interesting. I hadn’t been given food in one of those since I was in school. When I opened it up, steam […]

A brown paper bag was placed on my plate. Interesting. I hadn’t been given food in one of those since I was in school. When I opened it up, steam and the scent of thyme oozed out in a thick mist. Kelly, the incredibly talented chef, had wowed me with her “Fish in parchment paper.”


Kelly is from Connecticut, yet is a Parisian at heart. She spent a year living in Paris during a high school exchange. She also spent a summer in an intensive course at the French Culinary Institute in NYC and worked as a sous-chef at the Greenwich, CT restaurant ‘Jean Louis’. Watching Kelly cook is incredibly meditative; her knife work is seamless and she finds creative and sneaky ways to cut things into cubes and strips. I would consider her a ballerina in the kitchen, radiating poise and grace. If only she wore the matching tutu, then we could sell tickets to this spectacle.


Kelly learned this dish during her summer at culinary school. She likes it because it is an instant crowd pleaser. Try making it, and you will agree just by the looks of surprise on your friends’ faces when they are given their bags! The combination of flavours is delicious in a simplistic way. What’s even cooler about this dish is that it can be completely modified to your liking. Throw anything inside the “bag”: your favourite herbs, vegetables, alcohol, sweets… whatever! If it cooks, it will work.


I was lucky enough to meet Kelly in our first year. From the first time we cooked together, it was apparent that Kelly had a culinary ability that was unparalleled with any students/people/aliens. Eating with her is the ultimate treat. Kelly thinks that the type of food that makes people gather together is the best kind. Although some her dishes have names longer than I can pronounce, her cooking is more about the simple act of bringing people together. Talented she is, food snob she isn’t!


So try this Poisson en Papillote (if you want to sound cultured and sophisticated, call it by its French name!), wow your friends, and impress yourself with how easy it was!




Fish in parchment paper (Poisson en Papillote)


Serves 4




4  5 oz. fillets of sea bass

2 tbs. vegetable oil

Thyme sprigs

Parchment paper

1 egg white for egg wash

White wine

Salt & Pepper




4 medium-size tomatoes

 ¼ c. white onion, finely minced

2 garlic clove

2 tbs. olive oil or butter

2 tsp. sugar

Salt & pepper

2 tsp. Red wine vinegar


Mushroom Duxelle


1 lb. button mushrooms, finely minced

2-3 tbs. lemon juice

¼ c. shallots, finely minced

2 tbs. unsalted butter

Salt & Pepper


Vegetable Garniture


1 carrot, julienne

½ leek (white parts), julienne

1 celery stalk, julienne

1 tsp. butter


Salt & Pepper


Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then place in ice cold water to shock them and stop the cooking. Peel the tomatoes with a pairing knife. In a saucepan, sweat the onions and garlic in oil or butter until they are soft. Season with salt & pepper. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally and, working over a bowl, squeeze out the seeds. Chop them coarsely and add them to the onions. Let cook for 5 minutes and add some sugar and vinegar. Let cook for another 5 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.



Clean the mushrooms. While cutting, add lemon juice to avoid them oxidizing. In a small pan, sweat the shallots in butter until soft and add the mushrooms and a little more lemon juice if needed. Season with salt & pepper. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.


Vegetable Garniture

 After slicing the vegetables very thinly, place in a small saucepan of boiling water (enough to slightly cover the vegetables) with a little butter. Only cook until tender. Drain and set aside.


Full Dish

 Cut parchment paper in a long rectangle and fold in half. Cut into a semi-circle/heart shape for final dish.  To assemble, place 3 tbs of the tomatoes in the middle and then about the same of the mushroom duxelle. Place the fish on top of the tomatoes and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Place a few pieces of the leeks, carrots and celery on top with a stem of thyme. Pour about a tbs. of white wine or lemon if you prefer on top of the fish and close up the parchment paper To do so, use the egg wash to make it stick and make folds continuously along the border until the paper bag is sealed.  Place in oven at 425 F/200 C for about 8-10 minutes and the dish is complete.