7.15.2012

Summer

If summer, real summer, is the three month period that runs from June 1st through the end of August – not by the calendar, of course, but by the way we feel it – then today, July 15th, is the halfway point.  I like to think that we’ve been doing it up right so far, what with picnics, and ceiling fans, and flip-flops, and barbecues.  On Friday afternoon, we met some friends by the river, and someone brought a rhubarb cake with creamy, cooked polenta baked right into it.  We ate it from paper cups, and Mia tasted her first blueberries, and when we walked home around seven, there was a breeze off the water, and also the feeling that we still had the whole night ahead of us.  We’ve even had a few decent thunderstorms, the kind that explode out of nowhere and soak you to the core in your tank top and canvas shoes.  We were out walking, the three of us, a few weekends ago when the skies opened up, and we ducked beneath some scaffolding to watch the storm and wait for it to pass.  We had seen the sky darkening in the distance, but there’s a new bakeshop in town and we were already on our way, and inside there was a chocolate walnut cookie that the man behind the counter insisted I try.  If only I had skipped that cookie, we might have made it back before the rains came, so technically I guess it’s my fault that we were trapped out there, not three blocks from home.  Mine or the cookie’s, that is.  But we got to count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, and see Mia’s eyes go wide when the sky would light up, then rumble and crash.  Thank you, chocolate walnut cookie.  Also, you were delicious.

Today, we spent the morning on a beach.  It seemed a proper way to mark summer’s midpoint, but I must say, we were fools to wait this long.  We live about an hour from the North Shore, and we left early enough to get to the water when the beach opened at 8am.  My sister came along, and the roads were practically empty, and so was the sand when we arrived.  The water was a brisk 62 degrees, but by 9:00am it was hot enough that I flung myself out into it and happily let it swallow me, whole.  We sat Mia down on the packed wet sand, and when the first wave came in and lapped at her feet, she looked concerned.  Really, though, she was just checking, – she likes to check these days – looking up at me to make sure that this was what the ocean was supposed to do.  I gave the all clear. Then, she couldn’t get enough.

It’s summer, and every other Tuesday night, when Carolyn is at the market selling her husband’s fish, we eat haddock for dinner.  I prepare it the way Carolyn suggested once last year, brushed with olive oil, seasoned, and baked beneath a mantle of tomatoes and lemon.  It’s everything you’d expect from the recipe I’ve just described, light and fresh, nice with bread and a bit of cheese, my kind of summer meal. 


p.s. -- This photo's worth clicking for a bigger, better view.

Baked Haddock
Carolyn’s recipe

A note about the herbs in this recipe:  Last year I made it with parsley most of the time, and this year I'm on a basil kick.  Tarragon is always lovely with fish, so you might try that, and I think cilantro would also be nice.  I made it once with thyme and, instead of scattering the chopped leaves over the fish at the last possible moment, I stuck a few stems in and around the tomatoes and lemons before baking.  Be careful if you go the thyme route.  I find that it can taste kind of mossy when you have too much of it.

2 half-pound haddock fillets
1 tomato
1 lemon
Olive oil
Kosher salt or Maldon salt flakes
Black pepper
Fresh herbs (see note, above)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking. 

Slice the tomato into ¼-inch rounds and the lemon more thinly than that. 

Lay the fish fillets on the prepared pan and brush them with olive oil.  Layer the tomato and lemon slices on top – I like 2-3 thin lemon slices per fillet and a lot more tomato – and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakes when you nudge it with a fork. 

While the fish is baking, wash, dry, and chop your herbs, and sprinkle over the fish, together with a pinch more salt and pepper, just before serving.

Serves 2.

20 comments:

Žiupsnelisdruskos said...

Oh what a beautiful picture of summer. Something we in London can only dream about. So far, there's been two days of sunny picnic in the park, the rest consisted of the following 1) rain 2) rain 3)rain 4) rain. I want my money back!

Irene said...

Sounds wonderful, thank you!

Lisa Sanchez said...

Happy summer, Jess! Thinking of you (and now also dreaming of baked haddock and little Mia's wide eyes).

megan said...

Oh, wow. Wow wow wow. This one I can probably do, minus the haddock. Anyone have a Pacific fish to recommend?

Summer is so great. Summer with you guys is just the best -
xx

Jess said...

Žiupsnelisdruskos - Oh, that is not right at all. Fingers crossed here that you'll get a taste of real summer before the season ends.

Irene - You're very welcome!

Lisa - Hello, hello. Will have to get some photos off to you, soon.

Megan - I think any white flaky fish will work. How about Pacific cod? It's only officially summer once you've passed through, you know. That must be why now summer feels so suddenly on. xo.

molly said...

The description of Mia at the ocean, which is really parenting in general, all through, every age? Priceless.

Happy summer, happy waves, happy new around every corner.

GG @ Quieting Life said...

Lucky Mia! A North Shore beach (Plum Island) was my very first, when I was Mia's age (a million year ago). Other beaches have come and gone, but I still have a special fondness for that part of the world. Something about the light, the smell...

Clear Pink said...

We were just recently at the north shore with my husband's sister and her crew. The kids love it there, very different from the jersey beaches near us and the sc beaches that we take them for their summer beach vacation. The water is so cold and crisp, I do not know how they go in.

Thanks for the recipe, always looking for new dishes to make the kids. They love seafood. While we were north we took them to the Daily Catch in the north end for some fabulous seafood and pasta and it is now their new favorite place. Sadly for them it is five hours away. We already had one request to go back for a birthday dinner.

Jess said...

Molly - You just made me so excited to know Mia forever and ever. Which I was already, of course, but sometimes it just hits you, you know?

GG - I've never been to Plum Island, but based on the name alone (and on your recommendation, of course) we'll have to plan a trip. Good thing we've still got another half a summer ahead of us! The summer light, the smell -- I know what you mean. New England grows on me more and more.

Clear Pink - Yes, at the beach on Sunday Eli and I were talking about how different New England beaches are from the ones we knew in New York and New Jersey as kids, and the ones in Florida, and the ones in other parts of the world that we've visited. You're right, the water is cold, but like your kids, I couldn't resist! (And Mia's face when I jumped in over my head, then shot back up above the surface -- priceless!) I hope you'll enjoy the recipe. You know, we've never been the The Daily Catch, so thank you for the recommendation! I'll have an extra helping for you and your kids.

Sara said...

wonderful post..will try the fish when it cools down outside. Dwelltime looks delicious.Worth a trip to Cambridge.

alanachernila said...

Oh, sweet Mia with her "checking"! Makes me sound old, I know! But just hearing that perfect description makes me miss my own girls when they were tiny, now that they're big and charge right into the water without a look back. It's a good missing though- I love this. Such a beautiful post.

Jess said...

Sara - Thank you! Yes, it's worth a trip, I think. I had the spicy egg salad sandwich for lunch there a couple of weeks ago (not so spicy, but that was fine with me) and I'm looking forward to having it again.

Alana - You're not old. You were just a young mama back then! Soooo... I pulled your cornbread out of the oven about about an hour ago and eureka! It is good. I'm going to wait to say more, because I've got a post up my sleeve, but I will tell you this: I forgot the butter. As in, melted it, set it next to the bowl where I'd combine the wet ingredients, and then just left it there. I didn't realize it until I set the cake down on the cooling rack -- right next to that sorry little puddle of butter. And yet! The bread still came out beautifully. Eli and I just ate it smeared with softened butter, and he said, "You know, it doesn't even need the butter!" He's right, I think, though of course I'll add it in the next time around (uh, tomorrow?). More soon on this lovely specimen...

la domestique said...

I'm usually not a summer person, but this year I've been savoring the season more than in years past. Here in Colorado we have a short growing season and seem to lag behind everywhere else. Once August arrives it's as if summer produce is all harvested at once. I do enjoy a simple fish dish like this one, and tend to add a few slices of chorizo on top.

Julie said...

Well. I can see this making it into my regular rotation. Thanks!

Michele | Cooking At Home said...

What a lovely way for the three of you to spend your summer.Love the haddock recipe.

Hannah said...

Pacific Cod, if you can get it MSC certified, would be perfect! And Jess, what a yummy summer.

talley said...

I think we should give thanks to chocolate walnut cookies more often. A delectable bite that transitions into a thunderstorm and wide eyes - I'd take it everyday. There's nothing quite like summer a thunderstorm or babies at the beach to make me feel all warm and cozy on the inside. You've got me thinking about cookies and sandy babies (why oh why do they always seem to eat it?) and fish under a blanket of tomatoes. Heavenly Jess. This is what summer is about! And you're right, that photo is fabulous big!

Jess said...

la domestique - Oooo, I bet August can't come soon enough for you! It's just around the corner...

Julie - We just had this again for dinner tonight (every other Tuesday, you know) and Mia tasted it for the first time. Now I think it will be in her regular rotation, too!

Michele - We're doing our best to soak it up! Glad the recipe looks good to you.

Talley - The weird thing to me about the sand eating is how she kept going back for more! I mean, you'd think that the first gritty mouthful would have deterred her. And if not, that perhaps the second one would have... or the third?? Silly girl. (Re: the photo -- thanks!)

HRH Sarah said...

That picture is fabulous! And the recipe's not too shabby either ;)
I love summer, and thunderstorms, and days at the beach, sigh.

Jess said...

HRH Sarah - Thank you! Yes, I hope we'll get some more of all of these things before the summer is out.