Red Snapper with Fennel, Tomatoes and Tapenade

Baking a whole fish is an easy way to enjoy a healthy, fat-free and delicious main dish.  As much as I am a proponent of olive oil in almost all my recipes (even in baking at times), I do not use any oil to bake this fish.  Rather, the flavors of the vegetables, olives, herbs and garlic mix in the covered fish pan and infuse the flesh.

20131116-141318.jpgHere, I used a red snapper, but feel free to use other similar fish that you might find at your local fish market.  This is a great dish to serve with some roasted sweet potatoes.

The baking time depends on the weight of the fish. For a 2.5 lbs. fish, I baked it for about 45-50 minutes at a high temperature (425F).  You can prepare the recipe all the way to the point where you would normally put it in the oven but refrigerate it instead for a few hours until you are ready to bake it.

20131116-141417.jpgIngredients:

2.5 lb red snapper
1 fennel bulb
1 large red onion
1.5 lb. tomatoes
1 cup black olives, pitted
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 large garlic cloves, peeled, halved, center removed
6 rosemary springs
1 lemon, sliced, for presentation.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

20131116-141600.jpgPlace the water and vinegar at the bottom of the fish baking pan.

20131116-141651.jpgWash and trim the fennel.  Slice it lengthwise. Peel and slice the onion.

20131116-141736.jpgLayer the onion slices and fennel slices on the rack sitting above the vinegar water.  Add 3 springs of rosemary.

20131116-141843.jpgCut the tomatoes in half or quarters depending on size. Reserve.

20131116-141925.jpgPlace black olives, the leaves of 3 rosemary springs and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

20131116-142007.jpgProcess until the mixture is smooth to obtain a tapenade.

20131116-142059.jpgAfter scaling the fish and cleaning the inside, make three deep incisions on either side, all the way down to the bone.

20131116-142156.jpgFill the inside and each incision with the tapenade.

20131116-142243.jpgPlace the fish on top of the bed of vegetables.  Add a little sea salt and ground pepper.

20131116-142340.jpgAdd the tomatoes and grind a little sea salt on the tomatoes. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes.

20131116-142441.jpgTo serve, lift the rack out of the fish pan and transfer the fish onto a presentation platter.  Surround it by the vegetables, decorate with a few slices of lemon and some of the fennel leaves. Enjoy!

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Pain d’Epice – Honey bread with cinnamon, orange and star anise

A traditional and naturally healthy dense spongy bread. This childhood recipe contains no fat and no dairy, and brings high energy.
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Served at tea time, home from school with a bowl of hot chocolate, as a dessert to accompany poached pears or strawberry soup, or to take along an adventure as an energy snack. This bread keeps well for a few days wrapped at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.
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Ingredients:
It is best to weight the ingredients directly into the mixing bowls (with a zeroing scale) for more accurate quantities, especially when using honey which tends to stick to the sides of measuring cups.
9 oz rye flour
9 oz honey
1/2 cup hot water
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp crushed star anis seed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a Tbsp of grape seed oil to coat the baking pan
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
20130526-095017.jpg Star anis is very hard when dried and it is best to use a mortar and pestle to crush it.
20130526-095102.jpg Crush and ground the star anis until it is reduced to a powder.
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Mix the dry ingredients, adding the baking soda, cinnamon and ground star anis to the rye flour. Zest the orange and add at this time as well.
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In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey and hot water until you obtain a homogenous liquid mixture.
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Add the honey-water to the dry ingredients and mix well to fully incorporate into a smooth batter. The consistency should be thick.
20130526-095246.jpg Oil a baking pan with some grape seed oil and pour batter in the pan. Place in the preheated oven to bake.
20130526-095437.jpg Check after about 30 minutes with a toothpick or the tip of a knife by inserting it into the center of the bread. The stick should come out clean. This bread remains dense and does not rise much. Once cooked, let sit for a few minutes out of the oven until cool enough to handle. Turn the baking pan upside down and the bread should come out easily.
20130526-095534.jpg You might decorate with orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Cut in about 1/2 inch-thick slices. Enjoy!

Root Celery and Grapefruit Salad with Fennel and Avocado

A refreshing blend of root vegetables and tangy citrus. Colorful, crisp and appealing, this salad can be served as an appetizer, or at the end of a meal as a finishing note.

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This dish is prepared in the juices of the grapefruit and requires no additional seasoning, simply dressed with the fennel tips. It contains no fats, no salt and is naturally healthy.

20130331-154647.jpg Ingredients:
1 root celery
1 grapefruit
1/2 fennel bulb
1 avocado

Tools:
Mandolin
Serrated knife
Paring knife

20130331-171932.jpg Peel the root celery, making sure to remove all the ripples with a pairing knife until you obtain a smooth surface. Place it firmly on the prongs of the mandolin holder. Fit the mandolin with the smooth blade on the narrower setting.

20130331-172111.jpg Slice the root celery in paper thin disks.

20130331-172210.jpg Prepare the half fennel bulb the same way and set aside.

20130331-172307.jpg Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scrape the whole half of the avocado out of its skin with a spoon. Slice each half thinly.

20130331-172816.jpg You can start to assemble the plates by displaying the celeriac slices in an overlapping fashion. Add a few slices of the avocado.

20130331-172911.jpg Prepare the grapefruit by cutting the outer skin around it with a serrated knife all the way down to the flesh. Cut all the way around until the grapefruit flesh is entirely exposed.

20130403-184614.jpg Place the knife by the inner membrane to slice down to the core of the grapefruit.

20130403-184735.jpg Continue cutting on either side of the membranes to free the individual sections of the grapefruit.

20130403-184830.jpgPlace a few slices on top of the celeriac on each plate.

20130403-184850.jpg Arrange a few ribbons of the fennel bulb on top.

20130403-184915.jpg Add a few tips from the fennel branches and squeeze the juices that remain in the inner part of the grapefruit over the celeriac.

20130403-185102.jpg That’s it! Enjoy!