Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

Thank you to my Editor Caitlin for publishing this weeks article about Stocks.  Stocks are the foundation for soups, stews, sauces, and most braising dishes.  However, due to our need for the quick fix, because you know we are just so "busy" droves of people are turning to sodium-loaded store bought stocks.  In this article I show how one pot of wholesome homemade stock yielded 3 dishes.

There Is Nothing Stock About It

Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

This week I am happy to introduce Trix from Tasty Trix Culinary Comforts.  I stumbled upon, no pun intended, Trix's blog a few months ago.  I immediately related to it.  Finding a great new blog is like meeting someone new, it is a visceral reaction, a connection.  With Trix the culinary talent jumps off the screen.  Here's a good example of what I mean Kenyan Curried Fish.  Her cuisine is about the process, technique, and sustainability.  Everything I stand for.  Plus she is a big fan of Silvia from Citron et Vanille so you know she has great taste.

Please check out Tasty Trix I know you will be impressed.

I was so pleased - and of course flattered - when Lazaro asked me if I'd like to do a guest post. And I am not merely being polite when I express my admiration for him and his creative cooking.  Lazaro is a blogger with a conscience, someone who is really thinking about the effect that his food choices have on  the world.  I am particularly happy to see a fellow food lover who is so vocal and passionate about sustainability and the humane treatment of animals. But if you're one of his regular readers,  you already know all that good stuff.

I knew right away that I wanted to make a fish dish for my guest post - and of course the fish had to be an eco-friendly choice. I went with branzino, also known as bronzini, Mediterranean sea bass, or loup de mer. I was attracted to its small (1.5-2 pound) size, the flaky, almost sweet flesh, and the promise of a crispy skin - if cooked properly.

You should know that like so many seafood species,  the sustainability of the branzino depends largely upon the aquaculture methods that are used to farm it. It's not yet listed by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Program,  one of the leading consumer guides to sustainable seafood. In fact, Monterey Bay is working on a study about it, and a spokesperson for the aquarium told me that until it's published your best bet is to make sure that you procure your branzino from a purveyor you trust. And so that's what I did.

But on to the recipe! It's loosely (and possibly inaccurately) based on one I saw in an old issue of Bon Appetit, a magazine I usually only read when I'm at the hairdresser. There I was, being a total girl - sipping on some tea with my head covered in highlights and foils, flipping through magazines - and then I saw this dish, my stomach growled loudly, and  I knew I had to make it. So I hurriedly scrawled the recipe down in  my notebook, hoping to get it all down before I had to get my hair rinsed.  When I got home, I realized that I could hardly read my own writing, so I had to fill in the blanks as far as amounts go. 

My illegible writing didn't matter in the end. It turned out beautifully - the fish was juicy and tender, and the fennel and red onions imparted an incredibly aromatic quality to the dish. You should definitely serve this to guests at your next dinner party. I don't know if the photos capture it, but this baby has got a real wow factor!

Roasted & Stuffed Whole Branzino with Fennel, Tomato, & Olives
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 1.5 pound branzino, scaled, gutted and cleaned. (The fish guy unfortunately left the fins on, so you should probably ask to have them removed.)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups white wine
2 bulbs fennel, sliced and fronds reserved
1 large red onion, sliced
AP flour, for dusting
8 cloves garlic
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup oil cured black olives, pits removed
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Boil the wine until it's reduced by half. Meanwhile, cover a large baking tray with the fennel and onion slices. Lightly salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Next, rinse the fish and pat dry:
Salt and pepper the inside and outside of each fish, and lightly coat with AP flour. Fry at medium high heat in the olive oil, until both sides are nice and crispy. (I definitely need a bigger skillet!)
Gently place each fish on top of the fennel and onions, and stuff each one with half of the parsley and garlic:
Pour the wine over the vegetables. Roast uncovered in the oven for 35-40 minutes, and then add the tomatoes and olives:
 Roast for another 15 minutes, and then take out the fish and cover to keep warm. Turn the heat up to 475 degrees, and roast for another 10 minutes. To serve, garnish with  chopped fennel fronds.

This dish is like the Mediterranean on a plate. It's balanced and healthy and fresh and tastes of going on holiday.  Even if you're a little squeamish about working with a whole fish, I hope you'll give this a try. The branzino is very manageable, and not at all intimidating, I promise!

Thanks for having me Lazaro - and thanks to everyone  for checking out my guest post!

Don't forget to drop by Tasty Trix sign up to follow her awesome posts!


  1. Gorgeous photos! I just love stuffed fish like this. Brilliant!

  2. Can you reserve the fish head for me? LOL
    I just love them and this Mediterranean seafood plate looks really great to miss out!
    Thanks,Trix and of course Lazaro (who really knows where to dig out the quality guest posts).


  3. Trix,

    Thanks you for sharing your considerable talent with me. I love that you cooked the whole fish. What a wonderful way to honor the fish. Your recipe is spot-on. Your choice of Branzino was inspired. It has wonderful depth of flavor.

    I think my intro said it are one of my favorites.


  4. Hi Guys! oh you managed to make me very hungry, love love whole fishes and especially branzino with bones and everything else. This is my kind of recipe with fennel and olives, very Mediterranean. Now I wish more people were a lot more conscious about the sustainability of what they eat, like both of you...maybe this post will help. Great job!

  5. Trix - I am so very impressed that you chose to cook a whole fish, when the tide goes the way of the fish fillet!

    Love the Mediterranean flavours exploding all over this gorgeous dish, especially the use of fennel. Beautifully executed. Brava!!!

    Thanks Lazaro for shining the spotlight on the very talented Trix today!

  6. What a great post! I've always been way too scared to cook a whole fish, but I feel my confidence level rising with this post. Sounds delicious.

  7. Thanks so much Lazaro (and everyone) for your kind words! And don't worry - I saved the head and the bones to make stock!

  8. Wow what great presentation, instructions and Trix you out did yourself again....a true fan of hers here, if your not a fan your missing out on this one...true talent that again has shined like a beacon here...fabulous fish! one of our favorites we always get Sea Bass in Miami when we get down there....awesome job! great choice in guests post lazaro~

  9. Great to have Trix here, love her recipes and this one is just a fish lover's dream.

  10. This looks delicious! Thanks for the introduction to Trix!


  11. Lovely and impressive post.
    Well done to Trix.
    Great job ♥

  12. good stuff--i do love how lazaro thinks of the larger picture of his food and when choosing guests!

  13. Great Post! Love the way you prepared the fish :)

  14. I recently had a trout stuffed with mushrooms and leeks! It was my first experience being served a WHOLE head to tale fish! I love the hands on action shots and your dish came together beautifully!

  15. What a wonderful meal here- love to stuff fish when we catch it fresh, but I wish hubby loved olives, because they really make the dish!

    Love this pictorial lesson, love it!

  16. I adore brazino, and this looks like a great Mediterranean dish. Impressive that a 12 year old helped with this.

  17. This is the perfect way to cook fish, whole it just makes the flavor pop nad a wow presentation great guest post..


  18. Trix, you are right it does have a wow factor! Gorgeous dish! I feel like you are talking to me about the whole fish haha. While reading I was thinking oh whole fish; not sure if I want to try as I'm intimidated by it! This dish with a flair of Mediterranean got me itchy and your words, oh my, motivate me I can deal with the fish :) Great guest post and wise choice of picking a sustainable fish!

  19. Your whole roasted Branzino with fennel, herbs and olives is Mediterranean soul food at it's finest, the photographs are beautiful and show off the delicious savory nature of this dish, what a wonderful guest post, my hairdresser has mostly people magazines, not much cooking inspiration there!

  20. Hi Trix,
    Gorgeous recipe! I love when fish is cooked whole :)
    Can't wait to read more of your posts.

    Thanks Lazaro for the introduction! Btw, loving the new blog layout!

  21. Wow, nice fish dish...I never had stuffed fish like this, a whole fish. From the description and pictures I am sure that the fish taste fantastic...beautiful pictures as well :-)

  22. This dish looks so elegant but not in that over-complicated, too-fancy way. Love it! :)

  23. I am salivating!!!! Looks amazing. I love whole fish dishes.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

  24. Wonderful dish, and beautiful presentation!

  25. WOW!!! This just looks and sounds amazing. The presentation is beautiful and for someone that grew up with mainly the breaded style fish sticks, very dramatic I might add. =)


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