So… that happened.
A few days ago, Labor Day came and went, oblivious to its surroundings, including a fake hurricane on Long Island (Earl who?), an accepted proposal (congrats, Laura and Peter!), a subsequent celebratory family dance party (work it, Aunt Lissie) and, finally, the end of my employment in the Hamptons (yes! Not that I didn’t like it. I’m just, you know, glad it’s over).
To be honest, as jobs go, this one wasn’t all bad; I got to cook everyday, and I got paid to do it. I learned how best to accommodate a family with different preferences and tastes, and how to cook for a crowd on short notice. I got to experiment with menu ideas and recipes, and discovered that I make damn good biscotti. And scones. And coconut cake.
Living and working in someone else’s house in a town miles from anyone you know and love, though, can feel pretty isolating. And by “pretty isolating,” I mean “real effing lonely.” So when Labor Day finally rolled around, I left my post in Bridgehampton and scooted as quickly as possible to Gramma’s house in Montauk, to soak up the last days of summer with some good food, a hammock, and, best of all, my family.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love my family, but, if you’ll indulge me, I think it bears repeating. My family is big (and getting bigger – welcome, Jeannie and Peter!), loud, and wonderful. We celebrate with gusto. We joke, we eat, we dance around a beer bottle. We watch the sun set on the beach and then sit on Gramma’s deck, under the stars, our heads back, watching shooting stars paint the open sky.
Laura and Peter’s Engagement Fluke
(see what I did there? Eh? Ehh? Zing.)
- 2 lbs jumbo fluke fillet (or any other white fish, such as halibut), skin removed
- 3 medium sweet onions
- 1 large bulb fennel and a handful of chopped fennel fronds
- olive oil
- 1.5 tsp dried tarragon
- 1.5 tsp dried thyme
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup white wine or triple sec
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Peel the onions, and cut each one in half. Then, slice the onion halves thinly, into 1/4- or 1/8-inch slices. Set aside. Cut off the fennel fronds and chop a handful of fronds for later. Slice the bulb in half. Use a knife to cut out the tough fennel core, then slice the fennel like the onion, into thin slices. Mix the fennel slices with the onions, and then put a layer of onion/fennel slices at the bottom of a large glass, aluminum or metal baking dish. Drizzle the layer with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the fluke fillet(s) on top of the fennel/onion bed, and drizzle again with olive oil. Season the fish with some salt, pepper, tarragon and thyme. Cover the fish with the remaining fennel and onion, and repeat the olive oil drizzling & salt/pepper seasoning process. Pour the wine or triple sec around the fish fillet, and sprinkle the fennel fronds on top of it all.
Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through and the fennel/onions are crisp at the edges.
Serve with sautéed zucchini, grilled corn, and a diamond ring, if at all possible.