Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grouper with Tomato and Basil (Page 287)

RECIPE #1085

  • Date: Monday, January 11, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Kitchen: Our Temporary California Home
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+


As soon as we arrived in Berkeley I was eager to cook some seafood from The Book. This was the first of several seafood dishes I made while I was visiting my special gentleman in California. The Book says that red snapper can be substituted for grouper in this recipe and that is what I did. I coated the snapper in olive oil, then put it in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, skin side down. I seasoned with salt and pepper, then topped the fish with a mixture of chopped tomato, minced garlic, sliced basil, oil, and more salt and pepper. I covered the skillet and cooked until the fish was done. This recipe was super fast and quite tasty. The dish was simple and fresh, and the fish came out beautifully cooked and flavorful. The tomato topping was ok -- it could have used a bit more pizazz, but it tasted good. Were I to make it again I might reduce the pan sauce with a bit of white wine, and give the topping a splash of balsamic. But as it was, this recipe was tasty and quick -- a nice fish preparation for a quick weeknight dinner.

The recipe is here.

Today I had one of those moments where I got exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. I flew back to Indiana today from California. I used to be terriblly scared on airplanes, but I have gotten more used to it and now I generally do pretty well. But before today I hadn't flown in 5 months -- the longest I have gone without flying in years and years -- and I just wasn't looking forward to it. Plus I generally do worse on trips that involve leaving my special gentleman. And to top it all off, I was flying in the morning. I have found that I mellow out throughout the day, so I am a much calmer flier in the afternoon. But it was 9am and I was on a plane, and there was this guy a few rows ahead of me who was clearly experiencing withdrawal symptoms from who-knows-what (to the extent that the flight attendants were standing next to my seat strategizing about how to deal with this guy). He was fidgeting like I have never seen, pouring sweat, standing up, sitting down, standing up, etc... He was stressing me out.

My fight had the mixed blessing of being more than half empty. One the one hand, this was excellent for in-flight comfort. I had 4 empty seats next to me so I had plenty of room for me and my belongings. On the other hand, my strategy for staying calm at the beginning of flights is to talk to the people near me. Yes, I am that woman who strikes up conversations with total strangers on the plane. But there was no one for me to talk to! So, right as the plane took off, my eyes started tearing up. I was stressed and upset to be leaving, and just all around not coping like an adult. It was at that point that my purse fell over, dumping its contents. With all the noise of take-off, I didn't even notice this, except that the guy behind me tapped me and said, "I think your phone just slid by." Indeed, my phone, wallet, pens, chapstick, receipts, etc, etc... were sliding towards the back of the plane. And suddenly not only was I distracted from my irrational fear of fiery plane crashes, but I had made a new friend. The guy behind me (totally nice guy from Florida -- likes national parks, and is a calm flier) helped me collect my belongings. We talked for a few minutes, and I felt 100% better. After that the trip was a breeze. It was just what I needed, my purse falling over. Go figure.

Now I am back home at my apartment in Bloomington. I have been away so long I couldn't even remember where I keep the silverware. It's nice to be home.

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