Fennel and Cod in Soy Lime Sauce

Only five ingredients in this beauty!

Like I said, this recipe only uses five ingredients (not counting salt and pepper).  So if you’re thinking that this is a fancy, experience-required recipe, you can guess again!

Before we get to the recipe I would like to show you how I cut my fennel, in case there are some of you at home (or at work now) who are not familiar with cutting this flavorful, licorice-tinged vegetable.  Some of my friends are interested in cooking (here’s looking at you, Olivia!) and have become quite good at it.  Other good friends of mine are either too busy, don’t see the point, or are intimidated by getting started in the kitchen.  I used to fall into the latter category.

But I think you have to ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?  You will fail miserably – that is almost inevitable in your early cooking career.  But you will also pick yourself up and try it again, and once you get the hang of it you’ll find that you’re not only good at it, but that it’s also more rewarding than you ever imagined.

Anyways, to properly cut fennel, first start with a full stalk, which you can buy at most grocery stores.  Smell the fennel – perhaps it will remind you of those black licorice-flavored Twizzlers you never liked?  Don’t worry, that flavor is very mild once mixed with the soy sauce, lime, and honey.

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Oil- and Honey-Filled Avocado with Mint

If you like avocados you will surely like this recipe; it is simple and straightforward, and the beauty of each ingredient (keep in mind there are only five!) really comes out.  Because of the simplicity of the dish, it is a good idea to round-up the best quality of everything you can find – ripe avocados, local honey, and good quality olive oil.  In my case, I used a fruity olive oil from Provence, that I gave to my sister Yasmin as a gift.  I haven’t asked if she agrees with me, but I think the complexity of the oil, combined with the sea salt, honey, and mint, helps to turn this appetizer from something good to something noteworthy.  However, I invite you to try this recipe with whatever you have on hand, a ripe and creamy avocado will never taste bad, especially when filled with honey, oil, and fresh mint!

I think this dish proves what a lot of people, including myself, are constantly discovering: that the best food is always the most simple, optimally made with local and seasonal ingredients.  If you’re like me, and you live nowhere near mint bushes or avocado trees right now, hopefully you are somewhere near a town or country that does grow them!  This is great as an appetizer, served before pasta or fish. 

Boooon appétit!

Oil-and Honey-Filled Avocado with Mint – Serves 1
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon of your favorite honey
1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Optional: 1 lemon (for to squeeze the juice out of)
1.  Cut the avocado in half lengthwise.  Remove the pit, and place each half, cut side up, on a plate.
2.  In a small bowl, combine the honey, mint, and salt.  Whisk in the olive oil one tablespoon at a time.  Adjust seasoning to taste, add more olive oil or honey if desired, and some lemon juice if using.
3.  Pour into each avocado cavity; serve immediately.

>Honey and Hazelnut-Crusted Salmon

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Ingredients: Salmon, Honey, Dijon Mustard, Hazelnuts

I got the idea for this either last night, or at some point today while I was daydreaming, of course, about food.  The dish is so simple (there are four ingredients), but because each component has such a distinct flavor, the end result is very tasty. 

I ate this with some steamed artichokes, but I think this would also go great with some lentilsbrussel sprouts, steamed broccoli, or roasted potatoes.  The choices are endless, and of course depend on your tastes.   Additionally, I had a package of hazelnuts which I have been itching to use for the past two weeks, which I why I chose this particular nut.  However, I think many other variations, such as almonds, pistachios, pecans, or walnuts, would also complement the salmon.

Enjoy!

Honey and Hazelnut-Crusted Salmon – serves 1

1 6-oz. (170 g) salmon fillet
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4-cup (80 g) crushed hazelnuts, roughly chopped.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
1. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil; place salmon on foil, skin-side down.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the honey, dijon mustard, a dash of salt, and a dash of pepper.
3.  Rub mixture all over the salmon (bottom too); press the hazelnuts into the top and sides of the fish, and bake until cooked through, about 12-14 minutes.
4.  When removing the salmon from the tray, gently detach the salmon from its skin (if it’s cooked through it should detach easily).  Serve.