Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Romantic Candlelight Dinner: the Aftermath

This is an old post but thought I'd put it up.

A good friend and old roommate is visiting, and on her first night here we had a romantic candlelit dinner. We made Mediterranean Fish Bake, from a recipe given to me by a friend who took a cooking class at Camaje, a restaurant in NYC, back in 2005. It was pretty delicious, and we had it with grits, which if that sounds weird to you, call it polenta, but we only cooked it for 5 minutes, and mixed in some feta and butter, I think.

Mediterranean Fish Bake
2 servings

1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
10 leaves basil, sliced
2 Tbsp. capers
2 (6 oz.) fish fillets-- just about any fish works, except tuna, we used cod
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbed (ok we used a lot more)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (we just toasted the ends of a loaf of bread and tore them up)

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, basil and capers in a small bowl and toss to combine. Lightly oil a small baking dish. Place fillets in dish and season with salt and pepper (do a little happy dance when you get to use your new mortar and pestle as you are out of ground pepper but have lots of whole peppercorns). Top with tomato mixture. Combine feta and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over fish. Bake for 20 minutes or until fish is just beginning to flake and a knife inserted into the fish is very hot to touch.

I baked it 20 minutes and hoped the fish was done, which it was, since I would have no idea when it was "just beginning to flake." This is the first animal protein I have ever successfully cooked "on my own," (my friend helped a lot, and her confidence helped even more, especially as I stood in front of the meat and fish case in the grocery store at a total loss). I am generally deeply afraid of cooking meat of any sort as I recall two failed attempts in college that practically burned down my apartment and were inedible, so I just stick to vegetables. This wasn't too hard though. I might try chicken next time.

We also mixed some feta and butter into the grits, and it was delicious.

You can see in our "aftermath" picture that we also had wine, whiskey (that was later), and Root, a Pennsylvania-made liquor based on old recipes for the pre-Prohibition root beer. It tastes like very-alcoholic root beer, and it has a charming label with drawings of all the ingredients.

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