I have no idea how people bike commute throughout the winter. I’ve started biking to work again, after a long respite from it. I no longer go to mega-gym, I’m going to a much closer, much more down-to-earth, much more personal gym that a friend of mine opened and because of how convenient it is to work and my house, I feel alright about biking home in the dark and cold. I bought some real dorky winter biking gloves to try to keep my hands from freezing like they were at the end of my biking run last fall. Well, they don’t cut it. And neither do my snowboarding-in-0-degrees mittens. If it’s in the low to mid 20s in the morning, at about 1 mile into the trip, my fingers start to get really cold and numb and by the time I get to work I can barely feel the brake levers. As soon as I get into the office, the blood all comes rushing into my fingers and it hurts so incredibly bad I can’t help but yell and scream and grasp my hands in pain and pace back and forth around the office. My coworkers think I’m insane. I just think I’ll probably have some sort of evolutionary benefit from this. Either that or it’ll create some sort of permanent malfunction. Or one morning my fingers will just fall off with a big fuck you.
The first weekend of March I’m going to New York City to meet up with the newly engaged and frazzled Samantha. See, no one could possibly replace me in Samantha’s life when I left Boston, and she doesn’t want to shop for wedding dresses herself or with any of her second-rate friends, so we and her mom are making a weekend of it. We’re not only compiling possible dress shops to go to, but restaurants of course. It’s hard to know where to start. Plus, it’ll be a week after my 30th birthday, so I think we can make the case for a birthday dinner. Oh, and we’re going to the Tenement Museum. Samantha and I both have independently wanted to go there for a long time and what a perfect excuse to go (or was it the other way around?). I really love period houses and maybe especially period houses in cities, where those people’s ways of lives are so incomprehensible today. I sure hope I don’t get lectured on the evil capitalist builders who forced those poor people to live their squalid lives in those apartments. But of course I will.
So, food. Braised cod. It’s not as neat a recipe as my blogger friend Mark’s salt cod. He’s way cooler than I. But still, it’s butter and oil and lemon and thyme and fennel and garlic braised cod. I had to stop myself from eating the braising liquid like it was soup. I got The River Cottage Meat cookbook for Christmas and I’ve been kinda wanting to get all of that guy’s cookbooks. Here is a recipe from his Fish book that I saw Serious Eats do. Totally had to try it.
While I thought this recipe was pretty perfect, Joe suggested some heat. We sprinkled some red pepper flakes on after serving and I agree, it was real nice with some spice. If you like that, add 1/4 teaspoon or so to the braising liquid. You could change this by using lime juice in place of lemon, cumin in place of fennel, and oregano for the thyme. Omit the wine. Serve this with crispy potatoes, please. Broccoli is good for sopping up the sauce. I didn’t make the full 2 pounds as I write here, just 1, but you’ll be happy with more. I also increased the braising liquid from the original recipe because you’ll find yourself spooning it into your mouth and feel terrible when there’s hardly any left to serve with the fish.
adapted from The River Cottage Fish Book, serves 4
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon water
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 3 sprigs fresh
3 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pounds Alaskan cod, or other white fish, cut into 1-inch thick sections
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Combine all but the last two ingredients in a large sauté pan. Bring to a simmer.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cover and cook for 5 – 6 minutes, flipping once.
Serve with ample helpings of the sauce and those crispy potatoes you whipped up.