Monday, August 5, 2013

Cod with Fennel and Tomato


Ooohh!  I'm so excited, the first post!  This recipe tastes summer fresh and is great for any warm night.  I really hope you give it a go...

For years, my mom has said that she doesn't like cod and insists on spending four times the amount to buy halibut.  The problem is that the cod she remembers came from a frozen blue rectangular package.  Please buy your cod fresh from the deli section of the grocery store, and you will also be surprised by how fresh and delicate it can taste.

Some people think that they do not like fennel because it has a strong black liquorice flavour when it is raw. I personally hate black liquorice, but when fennel is cooked, it has a very mild flavour that is nothing at all like anise.

This recipe serves two generously, but you might want to make more of the fennel and tomato accompaniment so that you can use it in one or two of the leftover recipes at the bottom.  It also freezes well.

Ingredients:

2 pieces of cod (or other fish - even salmon would work)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large bulb of fennel
1 large leek with as much white as possible on the stalk
1 clove garlic, minced
6 - 8 cocktail tomatoes (I like Campari)
3-4 Tbsp fresh dill (it is important it is fresh)
1 Tbsp fennel fronds (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place the two pieces of cod in a casserole dish.  Top with slivers of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Place in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.



 3. Cut the stalks off the fennel fronds, but do not throw them away.  If the outside of the fennel bulb is beat up, peel it with a vegetable peeler.  Cut the bulb in half crossways, and then use the tip of your knife to cut out the core.  Chop the bulb into pieces a little bigger than you would an onion.





4. Cut the green top off of the leek, and then cut it in half lengthwise.  Run each half under cold water and spread the leaves apart to get off any dirt or grime - some are dirtier than others.  Cut each portion in half again lengthwise, and then cut each quarter into 1/4" crescents.


                     



5. In a skillet, add the olive oil, fennel, leeks, salt and pepper.  Sauté on medium heat being careful not to brown.  If it starts to brown, turn down the heat and/or add a small amount of water to the pan.

6. Mince the garlic, chop the tomatoes into eights, chop the dill and chop the fennel fronds.


7. When there are two minutes left in the cooking time for the fish, add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan with the fennel and leeks.  Stir to combine, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

8. When the fish is done, take it out of the oven.  Sprinkle half the dill and fennel fronds over the fennel-tomato mixture.  Sprinkle the other half of the dill and fronds over the fish.  Enjoy!


Leftovers:

With the leftover fennel-tomato mixture, you could:
1. Add chicken stock to make a soup.  You might want to also add chicken or shrimp and pasta or diced potatoes.

2. Reheat in a skillet with a bit more olive oil and tomatoes to make a pasta.  Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  This would also be good with some added shrimp.  You could even add in some lemon zest for an extra zing.


There are two keys to serving leftovers: never serve them the next night (wait at least two days), and try to repurpose them into something a bit different.

Shopping Tips:
1. Fennel is sold in all major grocery stores, but it is kind of an annoying vegetable because it isn't always there and there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to it.  At this time of year, though, you should be okay.  If you can only find the bulb without the fronds (feathery bits at the top), just use more dill instead.

2. When you are buying leeks, try to get ones with as much white as possible.  You don't use the green part at all, so look for ones that are at least half white.

3.  Fish should not smell like fish, it should smell like the sea.  There is no lemon in this recipe because you shouldn't need it (although it would be good with a bit of a squeeze, if you want).  If you NEED lemon on your fish, then your fish is not fresh!

That's it.  I hope you are as excited about this journey towards healthy eating as I am.  Yay, fresh food!

7 comments:

  1. I usually avoid fennel like the plague (as I always tried it raw and hate black licorice) but I'll give this a go! Thanks!

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    1. Your adventurous attitude is inspiring. Let me know what you think!

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  2. Shannon's MomAugust 7, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Shannon...this is your mother... I love the humor about why I thought I didn't like cod! I also love the photos and the conversational tone of your blog. I'm really looking forward to trying this out on the weekend. Could you please remind me about choosing the right kind of olive oil when I go shopping? Thank you, Daughter!

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  3. Hi mom...
    Well, that is kind of a loaded question. When you buy olive oil, you want to buy cold-pressed extra virgin. This is the healthiest kind and definitely the kind you want to use on salads. However, since we will be cooking with it, some people feel it is a waste of money because you will be heating it. It's a valid point since olive oil has a low smoke point, so you have to be careful that you don't heat it too much when you are cooking.

    Having said that, a good alternative to olive oil when cooking is organic canola oil. Make sure you buy organic, though, as more than 90% of regular canola oil is genetically modified.

    Whatever you do, do not buy "light" olive oil. It does not have less fat. Olive oil is a pure fat and all fats have the same number of calories.

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  4. Thanks Shannon. I think I will try this. I too like the layout, the shopping tips, and the pics are great so you know what things are "supposed" to look like. Unlike your mother, I LOVE cod but am scared off of the fennel. I totally dislike anything that may even remotely resemble black licorice (taste, smell)...unless it is a licorice baby....I like those :). You said that once fennel is cooked you can't taste the black licorice at all. I hope that's true since it is the only thing holding me back from this dish. Am looking forward to your next recipe. - Marlene

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    Replies
    1. Hi Marlene,
      Thanks! I promise, if you cook the fennel so that it is tender, there will be no hint of black licorice. A friend of mine, who also hates black licorice, tried the recipe yesterday and now claims she is a fennel convert. The fronds do have a faint anise flavour, though, so taste them before you add them to the dish. If you don't like them, leave them out! Good luck!

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    2. Hi Marlene and Shannon. We tried this dish yesterday and it was excellent! No black licorice taste whatsoever and also NO LEFTOVERS! lol I'm officially a cod fish convert... might even like it more than halibut!

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