Cooking at the Cove: light and easy starter with a decadent dessert
The first time I ate fish wrapped in parchment was at Dutch Treat, a sweet little restaurant in Franconia, New Hampshire. I loved the simplicity, I loved the elegance, and I loved the full, fresh flavor of a simple fillet of fish. The tenderloin of the day was cod, but since then I have roasted salmon, hake, haddock, swordfish, tuna and halibut this way.
I also put other little flavor gems in the fish bags in addition to those in the recipe presented here. Butter, thin slices of onion, tomatoes or oranges; and fresh herbs like dill, rosemary and thyme are all ingredients that can enhance a piece of plain fish.
Whatever you decide to eat with the fish you cook, take it easy on the quantity because a little goes a long way. You don’t want to dominate the taste of your seafood delicacy.
To accompany this fish dish, try making a simple salad with a dressing that will blow your mind. Blue cheese can be substituted for gorgonzola, and remember, just a small dab will do.
I like to use a wide, shallow wooden bowl for mixing salads like this. Avoid overfilling to leave enough room for the lettuce and other veggies to bathe in the flavorful dressing.
Finally, I make this little batch of decadent brownies when I urgently need a dose of chocolate, but don’t want to leave temptations after indulging myself. Dense and delicious, this dessert really hits the mark. Sure, double the recipe if you like, but these brownies are totally irresistible, so beware!
Pesce alla San Nicola
4 steaks or fish fillets
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs of fresh oregano
12 pitted black olives
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1-2 large lemons, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or use your grill (indirect heat). Place fish fillets on a large square of parchment paper or foil. Garnish each fillet with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon of parsley, 1 sprig of oregano, 3 olives, a few strips of garlic, 2 slices of lemon and juice of lemon.
Wrap each serving in parchment paper or foil. Place each package on a baking sheet and place in the oven (or on the grill and cover). Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is flaky. Yield: 4 servings
Romaine & Gorgonzola salad
2 heads of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Put all the ingredients in a bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette just before serving. Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tbsp shallot, minced
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of fresh basil, minced
2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup walnut oil
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of Gorgonzola
Freshly ground pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake well. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. Yield: 1 cup
Raspberry brownies in small quantities
5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup flour
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and make sure the oven rack is in the bottom third of the oven. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper back and forth with the foil hanging a bit off the sides to use as handles for pulling the brownies out of the pan once they’re done.
Place the butter, sugar and cocoa in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir then return to microwave for 30 more seconds. (You can also melt these ingredients together over low heat in a small saucepan on the stovetop.) Stir until the ingredients are combined and the butter is melted.
Let the mixture cool for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is still hot, stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and salt. Incorporate the egg then the flour. Beat vigorously for 50 strokes with a wooden spoon.
Spread the dough evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle about 8-10 raspberries on top of the dough and press into the dough with your fingers.
Bake for 25 minutes until the top is dry. Remove from the pan and let cool. Yield: 4 brownies
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of raspberry puree or raspberry jam
Combine ingredients in a small bowl then pour over brownies before serving.
Veteran Midcoast reporter, writer turns the page on a long career