It’s between you and the Fish Man

This is how you roast a fish:  Exit home.  Enter market.  Choose a whole fish (1 1/2 pounds for two) with clear eyes and red gills that doesn’t have that leftover, loose skinned look, like it’s been up all night drinking alcohol.  Ask to have it gutted, scaled and rinsed.  Purchase a lemon, a head of garlic, and a few sprigs of rosemary.  Go home.  Get out a pan the fish will fit in, your best olive oil and kosher salt.  Spill the salt into a little dish.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of the pan.  Unwrap the fish and dry it with paper towel.  Slice two or three garlic cloves (no need to peel) and lemon slices.  Pour a little olive oil all over the fish, inside and out.  Sprinkle with a little salt, inside and out.  Set the fish in the pan.  Stuff it with lemon slices, rosemary sprigs and garlic slices.  Put a few more lemon slices and garlic slices on the top.  Roast for about 20 minutes.  Check that the fish flakes with a fork in the thickest bit, by the head.  (you wouldn’t need a knife to take a bite.)  It will continue to cook when it comes out of the oven.  Lift the whole fish onto a serving plate.  Swirl a tablespoon of unsalted butter into the juices in the pan, and pour over the fish.  Serve with orzo and sauteed leeks and garlicky sauteed asparagus.  This is delicious with yesterday’s bread ripped into two inch pieces and thrown into the oven for the last few minutes to toast.  Sprinkle bread with olive oil and salt and serve alongside the fish.

Cherry Compote for Caroline

This is for my sweet and spicey friend. (adapted from my new favorite cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Luques)

In a piece of cheesecloth, gather a few sprigs of thyme, one bay leaf, 1 pepperoncino, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, and 3 black peppercorns, and tie with cotton string.  Add slightly heaping 1/4 cup of sugar to a non aluminum saucepan, along with 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then add 1/2 cup of red wine, and 1/2 cup of orange juice and 1 1/2 cups of pitted cherries.  Add the cheesecloth bundle.  Simmer about 7 or 8 minutes until the cherries are just tender. Strain cherries and reserve.  Reduce the liquid in the pan by setting it over a high heat until slightly thickened.  Strain.  Stir the cherries into the liquid.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Swirl in a tiny bit of butter.