Cast Iron Seafood & A Fresh Cocktail

by Chef Golda Ewalt

Cast iron pans are an essential in my kitchen and are making a comeback because of their affordability and versatility. Once seasoned and properly cared for, a cast iron pan will last a lifetime. One of the features I like the most about cooking with cast iron is their rugged, non-stick surface, which doesn’t scratch like other non-stick pans. It’s chemical-free, you can use less oil and fortify your food with iron, an essential mineral. Here is a tasty fish recipe made in cast iron—best served with garlic bread to soak up the juices! 

Baked Fish with Fennel & Tomatoes
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients
¼ cup olive oil
1 large yellow or red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons Pernod
2 tablespoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2½ pounds thick white-fleshed fish fillets, such as halibut or cod, cut into serving size
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. 
  2. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and tilt the pan around to coat it evenly. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for three minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the fennel and cook for two minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, orange juice, Pernod, zest and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the fennel is crisp-tender.
  3. Generously sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Place the fish on top of the vegetables and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is slightly translucent in the center and registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer. Serve immediately. Garlic bread pairs great with this dish!

Here’s a cocktail recipe to get the party started! A classic margarita meets some bubbly to create a fresh, light cocktail. I first sipped this cocktail on a whim while on a Mediterranean cruise and have made it many times since.

Champagne Margarita
Makes 8 six-ounce drinks

Ingredients
1 cup fresh lime juice (6 large limes)
Zest from 2 limes
1 cup Cointreau or triple sec
1 cup silver tequila 
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 lime, cut in half for serving
Kosher salt, for serving
1 bottle Champagne or other sparkling wine, chilled

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, combine the lime zest, lime juice, Cointreau or triple sec, tequila and sugar. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least one hour.
  2. Just before serving, strain the mixture to remove the zest, and pour enough salt into a saucer to cover the bottom. Rub a lime half over the rim of each champagne glass and upend into the salt to crust it lightly. Pour about three ounces of the tequila mixture into each glass, fill the rest of the way with cold Champagne or sparkling wine. Serve immediately. a&s

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