Every week, show announcements pour over the dining room table. There is always something opening and closing in the city. In a few weeks, my dad will have his show at Leigh Morse Fine Arts. He moves between the kitchen, studio and framer now. I find him staining his frames with care in the late afternoon.
Whenever I see young children at art openings, I can’t help but think of myself and how I liked to wrap my arm around my mother’s leg when I was getting tired and wanted to go home. She liked to wear her silk blouses slightly unbuttoned, partly out of haste and partly out of something I didn’t know about then. After she ignored my tugs, I went back to weaving through the crowd. I tried to catch peeks of paintings over shoulders, between knees and behind ears. When I was more curious than restless, I hunted for fire escapes and smelled the exposed brick in gallery hallways. Sometimes people would stop me and steady their hand in the air to show me how much I’ve grown since the last time they saw me. I began to see getting in and out of the room as a game of elegant escape. I occupied myself with club soda. Now, it’s a little different. For one, I’m taller. But I still can’t see very well.
Last Sunday I made a fish stew with tomatoes, capers, carrots and potatoes. I unfroze a chicken stock that I simmered a few weeks back. I also added some great kale. The meal was perfect for the sudden cold New York weather we got over the weekend. My dresses never left my suitcase. I grabbed a sweater and bouquet garni instead.
Like most meals, the stew is great with a crusty baguette and white wine. Tilapia was great to use for this recipe because it was firm and held together well. It’s important that you don’t add the fish until the very last 3-4 minutes. There’s no reason to cook the fish longer than that before serving it. Remember that the fish cooks in your bowl!
My dad especially likes this type of meal. He reminisced about his finest meal being a bouillabaisse in Paris. Now, this stew is no bouillabaisse but it’s still delicious. I like it with a lot of cracked pepper and even some red chili flakes.
Fish Stew with Capers, Thyme, Basil & Orange Peel
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1 28 oz can organic whole tomatoes with their juice
- 3 gloves garlic, sliced
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil for sautéing, coating and drizzling in soup.
- 1/4 cup white wine
- salt, pepper to taste
- 1 quart homemade chicken stock
- bunch of fresh kale
- 1 1/2 pound of tilapia
- 1 bouquet garni: three sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 orange peel wrapped together with kitchen string
- Heat the olive oil and garlic in a dutch oven and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring. Sprinkle chili flakes (optional) and salt while cooking. When the onions and carrots are soft, pour 1/4 cup white wine and 3 tablespoons capers into pot. Cook, stirring until flagrant.
- Add potatoes and stir.
- Add tomatoes with juice and cook, stirring.
- Pour stock into pot, add bouquet garni, kale leaves and stir.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 45-50 minutes.
- Coat fish with olive oil and cracked pepper.
- Once potatoes are soft, add fish to the pot and stir.
- Remove garni and serve with crusty bread, wine and a good story.