My son and daughter-in-law are having a baby. And when I say “having,” I mean as I write this post. So naturally, I have to find something to do while I wait nervously, and this post is it. My husband, Grumpy, has already called twice from the golf course (remember, we’re in Texas, which is a great place to be in January), and he’s only on the 11th hole.
Hardly anything would convince me to visit New Jersey this time of year, but the arrival of my first grandchild qualifies as that anything. So I’ll be heading north soon, and have promised to cook dinner for the little family for a week. I’ve been rummaging through my recipes for food that I can comfortably fix in their kitchen, to avoid spending all my time looking for a slotted spoon, and a few recipes I can make to be frozen for when I leave. I’m remembering how difficult life was with a newborn – realizing at 4pm that you’re still in your nightgown and haven’t got anything for dinner and how the thought of dressing both you and the baby for a trip to the store was only slightly less painful than having all your fingernails pulled out.
One of the dishes I know I’ll be making is a fish casserole I call Lee’s Fennel Flounder. You don’t have to use flounder – any mild whitefish that’s not too thick will do; in fact, the last time I made it, I think I used mahi-mahi and simply baked it a bit longer. Here’s what I like best about this dish: it’s easy, relatively foolproof in that a few minutes more or less in the cooking doesn’t hurt the flavor (as long as you’re sure the fish is done), and it’s one of the few fish dishes that still taste good as leftovers.
For the mirepoix:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1½ pounds flounder filet
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
tomatoes – about 2 cups chopped (fresh tomatoes – not canned)
Heat oil/butter in a skillet over medium heat and add carrots, onion, celery, stirring frequently for 7-8 mins. Spread mirepoix on bottom of a medium-sized (approx. 2-quart) casserole dish. Arrange half the fish in one layer, and sprinkle with half the fennel. Arrange the rest of the fish in the next layer and top with remaining fennel. Spread tomatoes evenly on top. Season with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Bake, covered, at 400º for 30-35 mins, then remove cover and broil until the tomatoes get slightly toasted.