Oven-Roasted Halibut With Cherry Tomatoes

Oven-Roasted Halibut
Considering how healthy it is, I don’t make fish enough at home. Part of it could be the cost. Chicago is located on Lake Michigan, but most fish is flown in meaning high prices. The other reason I avoid fish in my kitchen is the lingering smell it can leave behind after the meal is finished. I have figured out cooking fish in the oven avoids any residual odor, and it is a more foolproof method than pan-frying.

With the garden on our back deck flourishing in the summer sun, we had oven-roasted halibut with cherry tomatoes for dinner the other night. I made a special trip to the fishmonger to find a mild white fish and left with halibut. As the tomatoes baked, they burst creating a sauce for the fish with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. This simple one-dish meal was ideal for a weeknight.
Oven-Roasted Halibut
Oven-Roasted Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 2

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for halibut
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 6-ounce halibut fillets
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a square baking dish and toss in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes.

Brush the halibut filets with olive oil and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Place the filets in the baking dish with the tomatoes. Sprinkle the basil on top and cover with aluminum foil. Roast the fish for 10 minutes until opaque and cooked through. Garnish with additional basil before serving.

Cherry Peach Butter

Cherry Peach Butter
At one of our favorite brunch spots I always get more excited about the accompaniments than the main part of the meal. All the dishes are served with a warm buttermilk biscuit and a tiny ramekin filled with seasonal jam made from scratch. The servers may call it jam, but I am not convinced that’s the right word. The spread has an incredibly smooth, butter-like consistency to go along with its bright fruit flavor.

Unlike jam, fruit butter is a puree of cooked fruit that is reduced to a silky, creamy texture. I kept with my stone fruit kick and made a batch of cherry peach butter. I started by simmering chopped cherries and peaches until they were soft enough to be passed through a food mill. Then I added sugar and lemon juice and continued cooking the mixture over low heat. Once the butter was ready, I slathered it on a slice of oatmeal bread. 

Cherry Peach Butter
Cherry Peach Butter
Adapted from Food & Wine

Makes about 1 pint

1-1/2 pounds cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1 pound peaches, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Place the cherries, peaches and water in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Cook the fruit until it is soft, about 15 minutes. Run the fruit through a food mill to remove any skin and return to the saucepan.

Add the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the puree until it has reduced to a thick consistency, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator up to 4 months or in the freezer up to 6 months.

Grilled Corn Salad

Grilled Corn Salad
Last week J. and I realized that we had yet to have sweet corn this summer. Considering July is nearly gone, we agreed this needed to be remedied ASAP. Even though cobs simply slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt would have satisfied our craving, I felt like I needed to concoct something a bit more involved to celebrate the first bites of the season.

I started with 6 shucked ears of corn on the grill. Once they were cooked with a few signature grill marks, I sliced off the kernels and tossed them into a bowl along with black beans, red onions, Sun Gold tomatoes, cilantro and serrano chiles for heat. This crisp, refreshing mix became a grilled corn salad that I finished with a zippy cumin lime dressing.

Grilled Corn Salad
Grilled Corn Salad

Serves 4-6

For salad
6 ears corn, shucked
Canola oil for corn
1-14.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For dressing
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat a gas or charcoal to medium high heat. Brush the corn with oil. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 15 minutes. Let the corn cool before cutting the kernels from the cobs.

While the corn is cooling, make the dressing. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, cumin, salt, black pepper and honey. Slowly whisk in the oil.

In a large bowl, combine the corn, black beans, onions, cherry tomatoes, serrano chiles, cilantro, salt and pepper. Stir in the dressing.

Almond Plum Buckle

Almond Plum Buckle
My quest has begun to make W. an adventurous eater, something that I was not during my childhood years. At 7 months old, he is now sampling solids, and that has me seeking out a variety of organic fruits and veggies to puree for his meals. I have realized that there is lots of different produce I want W. to try that I actually don’t eat myself, so I decided that these first foods for him will be reintroductions for me.

I can’t remember when I tried a plum, but it didn’t have much of an impact on me because I don’t think I have had one since. I whipped up a batch of plums for Will, and they turned out a vibrant deep fuchsia. Inspired, I baked an almond plum buckle. Plum slices were pressed into the top of the nutty cake. It would have been perfect with any stone fruit, but I will definitely make it with plums again. 

Almond Plum Buckle
Almond Plum Buckle

Adapted from Bon Appetit July 2006

Serves 8

Non-stick cooking spray
3/4 cup almond flour
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3-4 medium plums, halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch diameter cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and spread into an even layer. Arrange the plums skin side up in a radial pattern in the batter.

Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes. Run a pairing knife along the edge and remove from the pan. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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