July Recipe of the Month
It’s that time of year when you don’t necessarily want to be in the kitchen more than you have to (unless you’re me because, well, I’m a chef and I always want to be in the kitchen) but at the same time, here in the Northeast, the farmer’s markets start really kicking into gear about now. Here are two recipes that are similar and highlight simple, (mostly) local ingredients.
RECIPES & RUMINATIONS
A collection of recipes, good reads, and other items of interest from Chef Abigail Hitchcock
A few notes on these recipes:
The cooking method: In both cases, you can follow the recipe and bake in the oven, but if you’re outside and have a grill going, you can also treat your grill like an oven. Place the fish on the baking tray over the hot part of the grill and close the lid. Easy!
The fish: Bluefish is in season right now. Head to a farmer’s market or good local fish market and buy some. Now. People scoff at it like you’d only eat it out of desperation. I’m convinced it’s because it hasn’t been cooked properly. The worst thing you can do with oily fish is cook it until it is well-done because the more you cook it, the fishier and drier it becomes. If the fish is cooked just through (to about 145˚F if you’re fancy and have an instant read thermometer), the texture and flavor are delicious and not too strong. If you find that it’s underdone to your taste, you can always cook it more, not so the other way around. The reason the two recipes have different cooking times is that the Fish Mediterranean is cloaked in an insulating layer vegetables.
The recipes: More and more people are cooking without white-knuckling it with a recipe in hand, which is great. In my classes, we often riff on the printed recipe. Most people like to have something to follow but I always tell people that recipes are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. There are too many variations in brands and personal taste preferences for any recipe to be perfect for everyone. With these two recipes, one of which is so simple it’s almost embarrassing, the different herbs you use will produce different flavors. If you don’t have lemons hanging around, try splashing on some wine instead. If you’re dairy free, don’t use the feta. Gluten free? Omit the breadcrumbs. For something completely different, try thinly sliced leeks and mushrooms. Most of all, have fun in the kitchen this summer whether it’s inside or out.
Long Island Bluefish with Lemon and Herbs
Yield: 4 servings
1 ½ lbs. bluefish fillets
2 – 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, marjoram
1 – 2 lemons, very thinly sliced
Good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place fish on a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper then sprinkle with herbs. Place the lemons over the fish and drizzle with olive oil. Roast fish until just cooked through. The flesh should feel somewhat soft when pressed. Depending on how thick the fillets are (and how accurate your oven’s thermostat is), the fish should probably only cook for about 10 minutes or so.
Yield: 4 servings
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated on a Microplane
2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
10 leaves fresh basil chiffonade
2 Tbsp. capers
4 (6 oz.) fish fillets—just about any fish works well (not tuna! And nothing too thin)
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400ºF. 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 a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Top with tomato mixture. Combine feta and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over fish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until fish is just beginning to flake and a knife inserted into the fish is hot to touch.