It’s not Valentine’s Day yet, but nevertheless, last night I cooked a beautiful dinner for James and I from my friend Sarah Copeland’s brand new release, The Newlywed Cookbook. Between now and Valentine’s Day, a bunch of Sarah’s pals and I are taking part in a virtual Valentine’s Day blog tour, with each of us cooking and blogging about a recipe from the book.
Sarah has spent years in the kitchens of the Food Network, testing and developing recipes for various cooking programs as well as Food Network Magazine. It’s hard work that takes patience, discipline, and serious cooking chops. There’s a reason that Sarah has been a valued mainstay at Food Network for so many years: not only is she an inspired cook, but when she signs off on a recipe, you can trust that it works exactly how she says it does.
Because of her job, Sarah is comfortable cooking in a variety of styles, from American comfort food to Italian to French, even Hungarian. She’s also a dedicated gardener, with her own plot in Astoria, Queens, and a fan of all things locally grown. For all of these reasons, I couldn’t wait to get her book.
The book is aimed at couples, but Sarah’s simple, sensuous, and trusty recipes are great for anyone who loves good food. Here are some of the easily elegant dishes that you’ll find in the book: Oatmeal Yogurt Pancakes with Blackberry Crush ~ Roasted Beets with Ricotta and Pistachios ~ Two-For-Two Cheese Soufflé ~ Grilled Lamb Chops with Melted Polenta ~ Cast Iron Skillet Steak ~ Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding ~ 1000-Layer Chocolate Cookies ~ Olive Oil Cake with Tangerine Marmalade.
Win a copy of The Newlywed Cookbook: Now that I’ve tantalized you with these juicy details, I suspect you’ll want to get in on my giveaway of The Newlywed Cookbook! Between today and February 13, post a comment describing your ideal Valentine’s Day menu, and I’ll choose one winner at random.
Below is the halibut recipe I made from The Newlywed Cookbook. James and I ate every last bite of the fish, carrots, and yogurt sauce, it was that good. In the process of making the dish, I learned some useful cooking techniques, and picked up a main course, side dish, and sauce to add to my repertoire. I’ll be making all three again. The recipe is a good example of Sarah’s classic yet surprising cooking style: she turns yogurt into sauce with the addition of grated ginger and toasted mustard seeds, and transforms halibut into an exotic dish with a simple spice blend made of ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. With this dish, her recommended wine pairing is a Torrontes, Sylvaner or Cabernet Franc.
Seared Halibut with Coriander & Carrots
From The Newlywed Cookbook. Reprinted with permission from Sarah Copeland and Chronicle Books
Season after season, I continue to be captured by the multicolored array of carrots that can be found at the farmers’ market in all shapes and sizes, and am always looking for new ways to make them shine. Coriander and carrots make music together as a complement for meaty halibut. Dip your toe into the exotic flavors of Indian spices like coriander and turmeric with this lively, colorful spring supper so pretty you’ll want to bring out your finest platter and pour some wine for two.
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Two 6-oz/170-g Alaskan or Pacific halibut fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 small bunches orange, red, or yellow baby carrots, trimmed and peeled
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
3/4 cup/180 ml whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Prepare the halibut: Toast the coriander and fennel seeds in a medium frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and crush with a mortar and pestle, or transfer to a clean spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder. Add the turmeric and cayenne. Set aside 1/4 teaspoon of the spice blend; reserve the remaining spice blend.
Lay out your halibut on a baking sheet/tray and season with salt and pepper. Brush or drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rub the remaining spice mixture over the fish on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Prepare the carrots: While the fish rests, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, fill another bowl with ice and water to create an ice bath. When the water boils, add the carrots and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer them to the ice bath with a slotted spoon. Pull them out after about 2 minutes and set aside.
Make the yogurt sauce: Toast the mustard seeds in a pan the same way you did with the coriander and fennel seeds. Crush or grind and stir together with yogurt, olive oil, and grated ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl.
When the table is set, heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the halibut fillets to the pan and let cook untouched until they begins to release easily from the pan, about 4 minutes. Gently flip and cook the other side until the fish is just cooked through but still slightly translucent in the center. Remove the fish to the platter.
Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in another large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the carrots and toss to coat. Season with salt. Add the shallot and cook until just beginning to soften but still purple, about 2 minutes. Pull from the heat and transfer the carrots to a plate or platter. Add the 1/4 teaspoon reserved spice blend to the residual oil in the pan. Spoon the flavored oil over the carrots and finish with parsley.
Serve fish and carrots on 2 pretty plates. Drizzle with yogurt sauce or serve the sauce in a small bowl alongside.