Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I made a saucy little dinner last night with the help of Lidia Bastianich, one of my favorite celebrity chefs and cookbook authors. Her cooking is always simple and ever-so flavorful, and reminds me of the way my mom used to effortlessly cook. Haddock's been on sale this week, so that was my fish of choice, but any white fish will do. I changed Lidia's recipe slightly and added a yummy roasted red pepper and caper tarter sauce (aioli), which turned out to be a great complement to the garlic and lemon flavored fish. This recipe serves four and it's definately company fare. I give it five stars.

Savory Bread Crumb Topped Baked Haddock with
Roasted Red Pepper, Lemon and Caper Aioli
Adapted from Lidia Bastianich

1-1/2 pounds haddock
1 tsp kosher salt
4 T extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a big chef's knife
1/2 cup seasoned (store-bought) bread crumbs
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
Fresh lemon slices for garnish

1/2 roasted red pepper (I use Pastene jarred) chopped fine
3 tsp capers chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp jarred white horseradish
1/2 cup light mayonnaise

To make the fish: Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly salt the fish on both sides, using about 1/2 tsp in all. Pour 2 T of the olive oil, the lemon juice, white wine and an additional 1/4 tsp salt into a baking dish (I used a glass Pyrex) and whisk together well. Drop in the crushed garlic cloves and stir with the dressing. Lay the fish filets in the dish, turn and swish them around in the olive oil mixture so both sides are thoroughly moistened. Arrange them skin side down, in one layer. I tucked the crushed garlic under the fish so it wouldn't burn while cookin in the high temp oven.

Toss bread crumbs in a bowl with the lemon zest, cayenne pepper and remaining salt. Drizzle with 2 T olive oil and toss crumb mixture well until evenly moistened. Spoon the seasoned bread crumbs on top of the filets in an even layer. Bake uncovered until the crumbs are crisp and golden and the fish is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

To make the sauce: Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk until combined.

If time permits, make the sauce ahead of time. Refrigerate and let the flavors get to know one another and thicken a bit. I think you'll be very happy. I know that while writing this post, I nibbled on some microwaved leftovers and aioli, and I'm very pleased with last night's dinner.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Slow Cookin'

Tonight my friend Fran, known on this blog as "the gardener" came over with a steaming pot of soup made in her crock pot. I don't own a crock pot, but I think I'd like to purchase one now.

I have never before posted a recipe that I haven't made myself, but tonight I decided to share Fran's delicious Unstuffed Pepper Soup that can feed a crowd, and please that crowd as well. If you like stuffed peppers, this soup is for you. It has all the flavors of your mom's stuffed peppers, but none of the fuss. We served it with sliced, grilled ciabatta bread rubbed with fresh garlic, then dove into this hearty meal that was oh-so-good. Not to mention healthy and economical.

Fran's Slow Cooker Unstuffed Pepper Soup

1 lb ground turkey
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
6 oz can tomato paste
4 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3 cups chopped green pepper
2/3 cup uncooked brown rice
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

In large skillet, cook turkey, onion and garlic over medium heat until browned. Drain any juices or fat and transfer mixture to your slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add water to thin if necessary.

If I were to re-mix this, I'd toss in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes before cooking and add some lemon juice to the soup before serving. But this is the kind of recipe that you can really make your own. Thanks Fran. I know what I'm having for dinner tomorrow. And I'm happy.