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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mediterranean Cod on a bed of Wild Rice

It's rare that Dave wants to eat fish, so when he offers an opportunity for fish, I never turn it down. Tonight I started with a couple of nice pieces of cod. It's too cold and snowy to use the grill and last time I made cod I did a classic tin foil wrap in the oven. So I wanted something slightly different and yet a hint heartier than a simple fillet and salad since it is so cold out. Growing up in the Midwest I adore a hearty wild rice, but can find it bland on it's own. Rifling through the fridge uncovered goat cheese which sent me down the Mediterranean path and looking for olives. Olives are one of those items that I do keep stocked, mainly for the simple pleasure of having olives and cheese with a glass of wine. It's simple pleasures like these that make me to full for actual dinner - anyone else? A glimpse into my past would reveal that I received a can of black olives in my Christmas stocking every year. Yes, I said a can. It was the Early California brand, with the bright red label- honestly, who could resist putting an big fat olive on each finger! Now I indulge in olives of a higher caliber, but will forever hold an affection for the classic ripe olives in a can.

Begin this dish by having your fish topper ready. Combine crumpled goat cheese, chopped olives, bread crumbs, black pepper and parsley in a bowl; set aside. Now start your wild rice. For two people, 1 cup of rice is plenty. Place olive oil in pan on top of the stove. Add black pepper and dried oregano (if you have fresh oregano, wait to add it at the end with the parsley.) When you are working with herbs, there is a simple rule to follow. Always add your fresh herbs towards the end of the cooking time. You will notice a pattern with my style of cooking in that I add dried herbs immediately to whatever I'm sauteeing. Especially in soups. I like to get that extra flavor working its way into the other ingredients and I like to be sure those dried herbs soften. Now add the onions, sautee for a few minutes and add fennel, broccoli and celery; continue cooking until slightly softened. Set aside in a bowl, and add chopped olives, parsley (add the fresh oregano now if your using fresh herbs). To that same pan, add a little more olive oil and add the cod pieces over medium heat. Fish cooks rather quickly, so turn on your broiler now as well. To the cod add a little lemon black pepper if you have it, and cover. When the fish is just moments before turning flaky and white, add the topping, pushing it together so it stays in place. Now place under the broiler until the topping turns a golden brown.

To assemble, place the wild rice mixture in the middle of the plate and top with one piece of the cod. Because of the amount of olives in this dish, you should not need extra salt - but please flavor to your tasting! You can substitute other fish for the code, keeping in mind the ingredients will work best with a heartier white fish. Pour a nice dry white wine and enjoy!
Until later-

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