Roast for food and warmth


Hilda and Beez chilling in Puerto Vallarta

Monday:          Arugula with Roasted Zucchini, Strawberries, Almonds and Feta. Left-over Tagliatelle with Ragu Bolognese


Tuesday:          Ribbolita (Tuscan Cabbage and Bean Soup), Grilled Bread


Wednesday:    Pot-Roasted Pollock with Chick Peas and Chorizo

Thursday:        Sausage and Shallots Pizza, Green Salad


Friday:             To Mexico -ceviche and bloody marys by the pool for lunch.  Room service with superb guacamole, quesadillas, chicken tacos for dinner


Tim with our hosts Hilly and Dick

Saturday:         Epazote – Nuevo Mexicano cuisine – Ceviche of Rib Eye Steak – Octopus


Golf in Paraiso – The Nicklaus Course at Vedanta Vayarta

Sunday:           Costa Arena – More great guacamole and, wait for it, onion rings and a burger

“There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot” – Steven Wright

[The above quotation is dedicated to two dear friends of ours who are often seen standing on the shore and who are no fools, although they do wear silly hats when fishing]

Everyone knows that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he can feed himself for life.  It is less well known, however, that if you teach him how to roast a fish with appropriate and pleasing accompaniments, he will eat like a king.  And eating like a king is, of course,the point of this blog.

Apologies to those in the Dry Tortugas, Equatorial Guinea and those places where roasting is something the weather does to you, not something you do to food.  But you will remember that we decided to devote the chilly days of January to roasting – perhaps the perfect way to cook at this time of year in Pittsburgh.  In this last post of the month, we remind you not only that  you can roast fish, but that you should.  And once you’ve tried Tom Kerridge’s recipe for Pot-Roasted Pollock, you’ll be cooking it regularly, like we do.

You also need to try Ribolitta, the “Mother of All Minestrones,” in the words of Mario Batali.

By the way, if you need to build up your forearms and wrists, buy some of Batali’s cookware – enameled and coated cast-iron and heavier than anything you lift at the gym.



(adapted from Tom Kerridge’s recipe in Proper Pub Food)


If you’re using dried chickpeas (garbanzos) – which I highly recommend – you’ll soak them the night before you cook this dish and cook them for about 2 hours before cooking the rest of the recipe.

If you’ll be using canned (pre-cooked) chickpeas, you’ll need about 3 hours – 1 ½ hours to marinate the fish and another 80 minutes to cook the dish.

Ingredients:                 Serves 4

1 fillet of pollock, skinned and pin bones removed (you will not find Atlantic pollock, outside major fishing ports – don’t use Alaskan pollock, a different fish – we used Halibut which would be my favorite substitute, but you could also use cod or any firm fleshed, substantial white fish)

Scant ¾ cup of dried chickpeas (garbanzos) or 1 or 2 cans of garbanzos (pre-cooked)

4 cooking chorizo sausages – this is the firm sausage you can buy in packages.  (We used the fresh sausages from Whole Foods which means taking the casings off and breaking them into lumps – if you can get the firmer chorizo, cut it into ¼ inch disks)

¾ Cup of Chicken Stock

4 Tablespoons Sea Salt Flakes

Pinch of Saffron

½ Cup Olive Oil (we used about 7 Tablespoons and that worked well)

2 garlic cloves grated (we used one clove, minced – I would not skip the garlic.  It cooks for a long time and there is no chance of it being too strong if it’s minced or grated.  It adds a nice base note to the taste)

2 fresh red chilies, chopped with seeds and all (use green jalapeños, if you can’t find red)

2 Onions, finely chopped (I’d use 1 ½ if you’re buying the large honkers we get at W.F. or Giant Eagle)

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon Smoke Paprika

1 can of chopped or diced tomatoes

1 bag of spinach

Salt and Pepper to taste (you will need to taste and adjust)


If using dried chickpeas, soak in a covered pot overnight, with water to cover by 1 inch.

On the next day, drain, return to pot, cover with water by 2 inches, bring to a boil, skimming the surface as needed, then reduce heat to very low and cook, uncovered for 2 hours.  Remove from heat and leave the chickpeas to cool in the water –  they will keep absorbing water.

About 3 hours before you plan to eat, marinate the fish.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter.

Mix the sea salt flakes and the saffron and place half of the mixture on the plastic wrap.

Unwrap the fish and pat it dry, then place it on top of the salt mixture and pat the rest of the salt mixture on top of the fish.  Refrigerate for 1 ½ hours.

Break up or slice the chorizo

Finely chop the onions

Chop the chilies


Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch Oven over medium.  Add the onions, chilies and garlic and fry, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened – about 7 minutes.

Add the chorizo to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes – perhaps a bit more if you’re using the soft sausage from the casings.  The cayenne and paprika in the sausage will color the onions.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Stir the bay leaves, the cinnamon stick, cumin and paprika into the onion mixture and cook for 3 minutes.

Drain the chickpeas and add to the pot, then add the tomatoes and pour in the stock.

Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pot and put it into the oven for 45 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven at that point, taste and add salt if needed.

Now rinse the fish thoroughly, pat dry and place on top of the chickpeas and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

To serve, carefully (you’ll probably need two spatulas) remove the fish to a serving dish.

Stir the spinach into the mixture until it wilts.

Spoon the mixture over and around the fish and serve.

EXTRA                                  Tuscan Cabbage and Bean Soup

(Adapted from Molto Mario – Mario Batali)

You can add tomatoes, other vegetables, sausage, chicken and the kitchen sink to this recipe – all variations on this base will taste good.  Once you have the basic recipe down, explore.

Timing:                        Overnight and 2 hours, if using dried cannellini.  About 50 minutes with

canned (per-cooked) cannellini


¾ cup dried cannellini beans – or 2 cans of cannellini (pre-cooked)
2 Spanish onions, cut into 2” dice
2 Leeks, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
2 carrots, cut into ¼ inch dice
2 ribs celery cut into ¼ inch dice
2 waxy yellow potatoes, cut in ½ inch dice
1 lb. black cabbage, kale or collard greens, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
½ lb. white cabbage, chopped as above
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (we used one clove)
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
Slices of peasant bread
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Consider using chicken stock, instead of water, for a richer soup


If using dried cannellini, soak ¾ cup of beans in water to cover overnight.

Before cooking the soup, put beans in a pot with water to cover by 2 inches and
bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer about 45 minutes, until tender.

Clean and chop vegetables


If using dried beans, after they are cooked and set aside (keep them in their cooking water, until ready to use.)

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high until oil begins to ripple.  Add onions, leeks, carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic and herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 5 minutes.

Add the cabbages and greens and cook until softened and wilted – about 10 minutes.  You may need to add in two batches to fit into the pot.

Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato paste and stir until well distributed.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes

Now drain the beans, if you’ve used dried ones, and add them to the pot.  Do not add canned beans, if you are using them, at this time.

Add cool water to cover by 2 inches or as much as the pot allows.  (You can use chicken stock for a richer soup).  Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes [If using canned beans, add them  during last 10 minutes]

Just before soup is finished, broil bread until  golden brown, then rub with garlic if you wish (we didn’t).

Serve soup in warmed bowls with the grilled bread.  Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmigiano.