Roast Halibut with Artichokes


It seems that cooking magazines are always arriving in the mail and it’s hard to keep up with them. Once in a while, I go on a binge read, tearing out the recipes I want to make and filing them for future use. When I choose to prepare one of these recipes, I feel my subscriptions are justified—especially when, as last night, it turns out so good.

This recipe comes from the December 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine. It calls for cod, but when I went to the fish market, the halibut looked much better. It worked perfectly; the flavor is similar to cod, but the texture is richer.

The bed of crisp and creamy potatoes, earthy roasted artichoke hearts, and salty Kalamata olives provided the perfect background for the mildly sweet flavors of the halibut.

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine December 2013

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced (I used a mandolin for uniform 1/8 inch thick potatoes)
1 9 -ounce box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 6 -ounce cod fillets (I substituted halibut.)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges for serving

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the potato slices, artichokes, olives, rosemary, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet; bake until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Vegetables before roasting
Vegetables before roasting

Brush the fish with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the fish on top of the vegetables. Return to the oven and continue baking until the fish is opaque and the vegetables are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Fish before roasting
Fish before roasting

Mix the lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the parsley and drizzle over the fish. Serve with lemon wedges.

Read more at: Food Network

Asian Grilled Salmon


Friends are always surprised when I cook something other than Italian. But once in a while, a little change is good.

Tuesday is typically a fish night for us, and we hadn’t had salmon in quite some time. So I turned to one of my go-to recipes for it: Ina Garten’s Asian Grilled Salmon. (The link will take you to the recipe.) It’s perfect for a weeknight meal, with minimal prep and maximum flavor.

Salmon fillets marinate for around 10 minutes in a blend of olive oil, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic. Half the marinade is reserved for a sauce. Rather than mincing the garlic, I use a microplane rasp and also add some rasped fresh ginger.

The fish grills for about 4 to 5 minutes a side and is served with the reserved marinade.

As a side, I prepared a quick cooking couscous tossed with some cherry tomatoes, chopped basil, zahtar, and olive oil.

When you don’t have a lot of time and want something homemade, this salmon and side can be on the table in under an hour.

For wine, I chose a 2013 Mille Sauvignon Friuli Grave DOC. Not as grassy as some new-world entries, it’s fresh and crisp with good citrus notes. At around $17 for a liter bottle, it’s a wonderful value.



Grilled Tuna Steaks



Except for shellfish and calamari, I’m not a fish lover. Nevertheless, we try to have fish twice a week and for that reason, I purchased Fish: Complete Guide to Buying and Cookingby Mark Bittman. It’s given me confidence not only in the kitchen but also at the fish market.

It was a great night for grilling and I can’t think of any fish better for the grill than thick tuna steaks—especially for a meat-lover like myself. I chose Bittman’s “Basic Grilled Tuna,” which calls for a simple marinade that seems to enhance the meaty character of the fish.

For sides, I prepared a simple couscous and roasted cherry tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red-pepper flakes.

Basic Grilled Tuna Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Fish.
1/3 cup high quality soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 thick yellowfin tuna steaks about 3/4 lbs each
Ground black pepper
Lemon wedges and extra virgin olive oil for finishing.

1. Mix the soy sauce and olive oil.

2. Place the tuna in a square baking dish just large enough to hold the fish and sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper.

3. Cover the fish with the marinade, cover, and let the fish marinate in the fridge for no more than one hour. Marinating for too long a period may overwhelm the subtle flavors of the fish.

Tuna steaks marinating
Tuna steaks marinating

4. Heat a grill pan greased lightly with some olive oil. When hot, grill the tuna on one side for about 5 minutes, basting occasionally.

5. Turn with a fish spatula and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. This timing should yield a steak that’s still somewhat rare in the middle. You can cook longer if you like, testing for your desired level of doneness by lightly prying open the tuna with a thin bladed pairing knife. Avoid overcooking.

6. Place the steaks on warmed plates and finish with a nice drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc


Baked Monkfish Roman Style


When friends ask me which style of Italian cooking I enjoy the most, I usually say “Roman.” It seems to meld the earthy richness of the north with the sultry spice of the south. My go-to book for Roman cooking is David Downie’s Cooking the Roman Way, and it is here where I found the recipe for today’s post: Martino al Forno, Monkfish Baked on a Bed of Lemony Potatoes. (The book is sadly out of print, but is currently available in Kindle format.)

The fish, coated with olive oil and breadcrumbs, is baked slowly for about 35 minutes on a bed of thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes dressed with olive oil, lemon, parsley, and fine breadcrumbs. What’s great about this dish is how the creamy, lemony potatoes highlight the rich buttery flavors of the monkfish, sometimes called “the poor man’s lobster.” It’s Roman cooking at its best.

I halved this recipe when I prepared it for two, using half of fish and potatoes called for, but slightly more than half measures of the other ingredients.

Martino Al Forno    Adapted from Cooking the Roman Way (Yields 4 servings)
2 pounds Monkfish fillets (Try to get fillets that are approximately equal in size and that are not too thin to ensure even cooking.)
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes washed, peeled, and sliced 1/8 inch thick. (Use a mandolin for evenly sliced potatoes.)
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 heaping Tbs of fine breadcrumbs (I only had seasoned Italian breadcrumbs on hand and they worked well.)
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled and mashed
4 heaping Tbs fresh Italian parsley minced (Be careful not to over mince the parsley as doing so leaves a lot of the herb’s flavor on the cutting board.)
1 lemon juiced (The next time I make this dish, I’ll also add some of the zest of the lemon to the potatoes.)


1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Rinse fillets, pat dry with paper towels, and place on a platter. A paper towel on top of the fish will keep them dry.

3. Place the peeled, sliced potatoes in an oven-proof baking dish and drizzle with 2 Tbs of the oil. Season with generous pinches of salt and pepper. Toss lightly to evenly coat. (Be careful not to tear the slices as you toss.) Sprinkle in 2Tbs of the bread crumb and toss again. Arrange the potatoes in an even layer.

4. Distribute the smashed garlic cloves evenly over the potatoes and sprinkle with a generous pinch of the parsley.

5. Drizzle the patted-dry fish fillets with 1Tbs of the olive oil and gently rub it into the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 2 Tbs of the breadcrumbs and turn the fillets to coat them evenly with the crumbs.


6. Place the fillets in the baking dish over the potatoes and the garlic. (I folded under the thin ends of the fillets to ensure even cooking.) Sprinkle any breadcrumbs that are left behind the platter that held the fish.

7. Sprinkle 1 Tbs of lemon juice over the fish and the potatoes and then sprinkle with small pinches of salt, pepper, and parsley.

8. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes are tender on the inside and crisp on the edges.

9. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the fish. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil (1 Tbs) and the remaining lemon juice.

Serve immediately on heated plates.

Wine Pairing: Chilled Frascati, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling

Fresh Tuna Steaks with Marsala and Mushrooms


Yesterday, I found some really good looking yellow-fin tuna steaks at the market. So when I got home, I scoured my cookbooks to look for a new recipe for these beauties. As I didn’t want it to be a late night, time was a deciding factor in my choice.


I turned to Giuliano Hazan’s Every Night Italian, a great source for dishes that can be prepared in 45 minutes or less, and found just what I was looking for: “Fresh Tuna Steaks with Marsala and Mushrooms.”

It’s a recipe that takes 20 minutes from start to finish and yields a succulent dish, with the Marsala perfectly tying the knot between the meaty tuna and the earthy mushrooms.

Here’s a link to the recipe online.

Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir. Look for one with no more than 13.5% alcohol.

Roasted Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce


For Friday night supper, a Tuscan dish: Roast Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce. Relatively thick fillets are marinated with fresh bay leaves and rosemary in olive oil and hot paprika and then roasted for 12 – 15 minutes. The fish is served on a puree of chickpeas seasoned with the zest and juice of a lemon, garlic, and minced rosemary. The parsley sauce is a puree of fresh parsley and olive oil. Perfect with a white from the coast of Tuscany: Vermentino. I found the recipe in the May issue of “Food and Wine.” Ever notice how many Tuscan dishes are beige?