Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fish en papillote

This is a bit belated, but I'll blame my still ailing computer for the that.

Ailing computer, wrapping presents, holiday travels, and cookie parties.  Especially cookie parties.  Because cookies totally take priority over real food.  At least before the holidays.

But after, whew, don't we all need a break?  Maybe just a little one?

Whenever you reach the space between "All I want for dinner is leftovers and cookies" and "I can't look at another container of leftovers or tray of cookies", I've got a light and elegant dinner that will make you feel alive, rejuvenated, and downright fancy.

This was what I made for Matt for dinner on our wedding anniversary!  That was December 10th.  Two weeks ago.  Like I said, belated.

Since our anniversary was on Monday, we declared Sunday, the 9th, our day of celebration.  We went to the church where we were married, had a nice brunch with my parents, and splurged on cupcakes at their house (the same kind we had at our wedding!).  We spent the afternoon browsing around shops in a cute nearby town before enjoying an incredibly romantic dinner at the country club, where our reception was held.  Truly a perfect day, so full of meaning!

Monday was a much more low-key day, but I still wanted it to be special.  Thanks to the media's obsession with all things Royal and Kate Middleton, I've had our anniversary dinner planned for months and knew exactly what to make.  Fish en papillote, or fish in paper!

For those of you who don't know, each anniversary is associated with a certain material.  Paper is the material of choice for the 1 year milestone.  I read that Princess Duchess Kate made it for the Duke, so I bookmarked it to make for Matt.

Much to my surprise, this was possibly the easiest and least stressful fancy dinner I've ever made.  No pile of dirty dishes or a hair-brained cook dreading cleaning said dishes.  Just a neat little pocket of parchment to pop into the oven.  P-p-p-p-p-retty, right?

Simply a handful of quality ingredients, wrapped up in a neat little heart, and baked to flaky and fragrant perfection.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of asparagus, but two things encouraged me to buy it for this recipe.  First, Matt loves, loves, LOVES asparagus.  And, second, I'm constantly trying to trick myself into liking previously unappealing (to me, anyway) foods.

Boy, am I glad I psyched myself out because I am about thisclose to saying I'm an asparagus girl!  So tender and flavorful, with hints of lemon and rich butter.  And the fish just about fell apart as soon as my fork touched it.  Flaky without being overcooked, that's the magical formula for fish, I tell ya.

This is a present anyone will want to open, even if it's after Christmas.  Or, in my case, especially if it's after Christmas and my diet has consisted of cookies 24/7.  Not hatin', just sayin'.

Fish en Papillote
(adapted from The Novice Chef)
-serves 2

2 6-ounce tilapia filets
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Garlic salt
Black pepper
3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 lemon, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut two large hearts (or just have half circles) out of parchment paper and set aside.  On one half of one piece of parchment paper, place half of the trimmed asparagus.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Dot with butter.  Top with one piece of fish, season again with salt and pepper and dot with butter.  Top fish with three or four slices of lemon and sprinkle with rosemary.  Place parchment pouch on baking sheet.  Repeat with second piece of parchment and remaining ingredients.

Tightly roll the edges towards the fish to ensure no juices leak out while cooking, sealing package tightly with folds.  At this point you can either bake it right away or refrigerate it for up to 4 hours before baking.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove and plate pouches.  Open right on your dinner plate and enjoy!

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