Quick Fish Stew

Today was a DAY.  Like, seriously.  It was possibly three days.  It felt that long.

After bringing Carlitos to pre-school I went to the pediatrician with Xavi because he had a cough that didn’t sound right to me.  The poor kid has basically been sick all fall and winter due to the combination of cold weather, teething and his brother’s pre-school germs.  But this cough sounded different to me.  Unfortunately, I was right.  He has bronchiolitis and they had to put him on a machine with a mask at the doctor’s office.  Well, actually, let me clarify.  They had ME try to put a mask on him and hold him down with the mask over his face while the nurse left the room.  I am not a trained nurse and my arm muscles barely rival a baby’s.  Oh wait, Xavi’s arms are apparently stronger than mine.  All of this to say, this ‘treatment’ was a disaster.  Then I went searching to fill the prescription for  a nebulizer pump to give him every four hours at home.  Then, I finally get both boys home and as I get ready to trek up three flights of stairs with a Duane Reade bag, a diaper bag and Xavi in my arms, I kick the driver’s door shut hard with my foot and then notice, in horror, that Carlitos’ hand is about to be completely smashed.  I wasn’t able to stop it from closing, but I did open it immediately…however, not before I got the eyes-as-wide-as-saucers look from Carlitos, that looked like he wanted to say, “Why would you do that to me, mommy?”  I felt like I’d smashed my heart in that door, too.

Somehow we made it upstairs.  Thankfully, the trauma ended with the bloody cuts on his knuckles.  No broken bones.  A popsicle and some cool, French bandaids seemed to soothe away the last of the pain.

And then she was all kicking the door closed.  And I was all, ‘Mommy! Why did you do that to me?!’ And she was all, ‘I’m so sorry!  I’m so sorry!  I’m so sorry!’  But I’m tough.  It’s all good.  And did you see my bandaids? Yeah, they’re French Spaceboys. Yup, I’m cool.

So, all of this is to say that you can still make dinner even on the really crappy days.  I’m not saying it’s easy, per se.  But it is doable for all of us.  And let me note that it is helpful if you have specifically planned out your meals for the week ahead of time and purchased all of the ingredients.  Nothing guilts you into making dinner like the thought of throwing away fresh ingredients.  Plus, today is the first Ash Wednesday in which I am really participating, so I felt like I had to follow through with eating fish.  I even made it to the 7:30 pm mass after dinner.  Where the priest must have sensed it was my first time.  Because he initiated the heck out of my forehead.

I don’t think anyone could mistakenly come up to me and tell me I have ‘a little something’ on my forehead.  Yes, that is a big, bold cross for the world to plainly see.  Although, never say never, because the cab driver on my way home totally laughed and said, ‘Nice star.’   I held my tongue and didn’t respond with, ‘Nice eyesight.’

Back to the dinner.  I should note that I completely forgot to take photos of the process again.  (C’mon.  I told you.  I had a DAY.)  Annnnnd, I still haven’t figured out my camera.  So here is an iphone photo of the counter after I was done cooking.

Alright, I can admit, it may not be beautiful, like most food blog photos, but it is definitely real.  And I promise I will get there soon with the beautiful photos.  I swear.

And while I am showing you ‘my real,’ here is a photo of my sous chef, whose hand was apparently feeling much better.  Just the thought of one of those sour watermelon slices made the pain go away.  Oh, and don’t mind the tower of Fresh Direct boxes.  That’s our version of an art installation.

And here is the final product…

And heeere is the recipe for ‘Quick Fish Stew,’ adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver. so that you can go ahead and fill your weekday bellies with some easy, healthy food that will have your dining partner(s) bragging about you to everyone they know.  I won’t tell them that it took you less than 30 minutes.

Quick Fish Stew: (Serves 3-4)


Arctic Char (or anything similar) ~ 3-5 oz

Sea Bass (or anything similar) ~ 9-12 oz

Mussels ~ 1/2 lb – 1 lb

Garlic cloves ~ 6

Fennel (bulb, ‘leaves’ or seeds)

Basil ~ 1 bunch


Mayonnaise ~ 1/3 cup

White wine ~ A cup or two

Diced tomatoes ~ 1 or 2 cans

Ciabatta bread

To Make:

Sautée three cloves of minced garlic with the finely chopped stems from the basil and chopped fennel (I just used some dried fennel tops) in some olive oil in a large saucepan.  Once they are soft, add the wine and the canned tomatoes.  Put it at low-med heat.  Cut fish into about one inch pieces and remove any skin or bones.   Then place pieces of the fish, along with the mussels on top of the sauce*.  Top with salt and pepper, cover and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes, until fish looks opaque and mussels are wide open.

*Note: Wash mussels and fish in cold water.  Scrub mussels and throw out any that are cracked or wide open before you’ve cooked them.

While they cook, toast your ciabatta loaf or rolls.  Also, put the mayonnaise in a bowl and add two grated cloves of garlic, the zest of one lemon, the juice of half a lemon, salt, pepper and chopped basil leaves. You have just made a 1 minute aioli!

To Plate:

Put two slices of ciabatta on the bottom of a wide bowl and drizzle them with olive oil.  Spoon on the fish stew and then add a dollop of the aoili.

Carlitos Eli told me it was ‘the bestest dinner he never had in his whole life.’   I should mention he has gotten into the habit of saying this every day, so I am not sure how much weight that statement carries.

However, my husband also loved it.  He made intense eye contact while telling me just how amazingly delicious this stew was.  Much more valid.

Please share with me how YOU felt about this meal after you make it.

And don’t feel like you have to wait for a Terrible, No Good, Horrible day to make this, either.  Any day of the week will do.  Just be sure to enjoy yourself!

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8 Responses to Quick Fish Stew

  1. Penny says:

    I STILL don’t believe the day you had OR that it only took you 30 minutes to cook that meal. Once again, my comment takes the form of a private ovation.

  2. I quite enjoy getting private ovations (do you stand up from your desk while giving it?) from very successful women. It’s a nice way to start the day.

  3. Matt Allison says:

    I feel you, I do, though as of yet I’ve not slammed his fingers in a door, though I did nick one of his fingers while cutting his nails, bad Dad!

    Loving that you planning ahead with your meals, it is the only way I’d be able to do it, normally 3-4 at a time, having Jamie’s app or books really help.



  4. Yes, I think it is inevitable to accidentally (one hopes) injure our children at some point, in some way. It doesn’t really make us feel any better to know it is inevitable though, does it?

    And I totally agree about planning out meals. Once you start doing it this way, it is actually so fun to find different recipes for each night of the week. And things like iphone apps (I totally have Jamie’s) and grocery delivery services make it so much easier to do.

    Thanks for coming by!

  5. You rock! Seriously, that meal is beautiful!

  6. Julie says:

    You are an amazingingly wonderful person, Annie.
    Wow, about the ashes! I have never seen them done like that before! Is the priest from another country perhaps? Agree it is a quite an initial “ashes”. Momentus.

  7. Erin – YOU rock for saying that! THANK YOU

  8. Julie – What an amazingly wonderful thing to say. Thank you.
    And it was at a mass in Spanish, so it is possible he was originally from a different country and did things a different way? But I think mine was even bigger than other people there that night because I could see lots of sideways glances as I walked back to my seat. ha

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