Well tonight I tried two more recipes from my new Martha cookbook and was very happy with both. I made her Braised Fish with Fennel & Tomato and her Brown Rice Pilaf with Dried Currants. The fish was great and I will definitely make it again. The brown rice pilaf was good but my husband and I are such suckers for white rice that it's hard for us to LOVE any other rice preparation. It was really good though and a nice accompaniment to the fish. I served the two dishes with a mixed greens salad with apple cider vinaigrette inspired by a restaurant here in town called La Spiga. It was good and an easy side to throw together since I was making two new dishes.
I highly recommend the fish, especially if you can get your hands on fresh seafood. Even my mother-in-law, who is the master of cooking fish, loved it and said she would add it to her repertoire! Big props when she likes your cooking!!! I used cod and halibut. My mother-in-law and I preferred the cod, my husband preferred the halibut. Both were great though.
Braised Fish with Fennel & Tomato
My adaptation of Martha's recipe
3 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
2 or 3 medium fennel bulbs, halved, cored, and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 can of whole peeled tomatoes, cut in quarters (use juice too)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
5 thin lemon rounds, shave off some of the peel first with grater or zester *
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 large black cod or halibut fillets **
Prepare Braising Liquid: Pour the oil, wine, and water into a large (13-inch) skillet, then add the fennel, tomatoes, garlic, and lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer over moderate heat until the tomatoes begin to fall apart and the fennel softens, 12 to 15 minutes.
Braise Fish: Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and arrange fillets in the pan, partially submerging them in the sauce. Cover and simmer until fish is opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes (or 8 to 10 for thicker fillets).
Serve: Spoon some of the braising sauce into a shallow bowl, then top with fish. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with pepper.
* If the skin on your lemons is not too bitter (check by tasting a washed one), you may want to leave it on; this will help the slices hold their shape. Otherwise, remove the rind before slicing.
** Buy fish fillets that are similar in size (4 to 5 ounces each) so they cook at the same rate. A 1 1/2-inch thickness is ideal, allowing the fillets to cook evenly. Much thicker and the exterior could toughen before the center has cooked.