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Highlight a meal at home with these dishes

We were in Wilmington last weekend for Mother’s Day and our friends wanted to go out to dinner.

I just decided I wanted to cook a simple dinner and stay home! Sometimes that is the best thing to do.

I did not want to stress over a big fancy meal but wanted something healthy and simple. I found a recipe called one-pan wonder in my new issue of bon appétit. That sounded like the recipe for me.

It had new potatoes, red snapper, and onions.

What not to like? Also, it used the North African spice harissa (which I have been using since my trip to Marrakesh) so my dinner was set.

My friends brought a delicious Parisian salad (arugula, olives, lardons and shaved parmesan) and a strawberry Charlotte for dessert.

What we did not know was the tropical storm Ana was to make our weekend more eventful.

We rode out the storm on our back porch with drinks and good food! We started with one of our favorite cocktails, the Negroni.

 

From the May, 2015 issue of bon appétit magazine.

Note: Harissa; this chili and spice paste, a North African staple, comes in countless varieties. The ones in a tube or small can tend to be more concentrated and fiery so it is best to thin them with olive oil. The jarred ones often contain sweet peppers or tomatoes which makes them milder. I used the dry spice and mixed it with olive oil.

One-Pan Wonder

This two-technique solution, baking first, then finishing under the broiler, yields perfectly browned fish and tender vegetables.

Baked Snapper with Harissa, New Potatoes, and Spring Onions

Makes 4 servings

6 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. harissa paste

6 spring onions, halved lengthwise, or 8 scallions (left whole)

1 lb. new potatoes or small potatoes, scrubbed, thinly sliced

Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ lb. skin on snapper fillets (3-4)

Lemon wedges for garnish

Place an oven rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Combine oil and harissa in a small bowl; adjust flavor with more harissa if needed (Spiciness and flavor vary from brand to brand.).

Toss onions and potatoes with half or harissa mixture in a large baking dish; season with salt and pepper, then add ¼ cup water. Roast, tossing once, until all potatoes are fork tender, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, score skin side of fillets about ¼” deep; season with salt and pepper. Rub remaining harissa mixture all over the fish, getting into the score marks.

Remove onions and potatoes from the oven and heat broiler. Place fish skin side up on top of vegetables and broil until onions and potatoes are tender and fish in cooked through and starting to brown on top, 8-10 minutes.

Serve fish and vegetables with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

 

From Paris Bistro Cooking by Linda Dannenberg.

Strawberry Charlotte

Serves 6

2 pints strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered

Juice of 1 orange

2 Tablespoons Kirsch

½ cups milk

1 ½ cups crème fraiche

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

12 ladyfingers or small strips of sponge cake

1 cup raspberries

¼ cup granulated sugar

6 mint sprigs

Macerate 1 pint of strawberries in the orange juice and kirsch. Whip the milk and crème fraîche with the confectioners’ sugar until firm.

Line six small dessert bowls (about 6-ounce capacity each with plastic wrap. Spread about ½ cup of the crème fraiche mixture in the bottom and up the sides of each bowl. Place two ladyfingers or pieces of sponge cake in the bottom of each bowl. Divide the macerated strawberries and juices over the ladyfingers. Cover with the remaining ladyfingers and spread with the remaining crème fraîche. Top each bowl with plastic wrap and place a ramekin on top of each to weight the Charlotte down. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Puree the remaining strawberries with the raspberries and the granulated sugar. Strain to remove the seeds.

To serve, remove the weights and plastic wrap from the tops of the bowls and invert each Charlotte onto a chilled dessert plate. (My cooking partner called in the afternoon to make sure I was cooling his plates!) Peel off the remaining plastic wrap and spoon strawberry-raspberry puree around each Charlotte. Garnish each with a drizzle of puree and a mint sprig.