Do people still have house warming parties? I remember going to so many house warmings and open houses as a kid. There would be elaborate buffets of food and a pastor would come and bless the house. I was taught to formally greet adults when we’d go out. I would greet any and every adult I saw at these open houses. It was funny to hear them tell me how much I had grown, especially because I’m sure they didn’t have a clue who I was. Like seriously, I don’t know you! HAHA. Last summer, my friend and I went for a hike in Patapsco Park and we ran into a woman who looked like my other friend’s mom. We went over to say hello and she was like ‘oh you’re here, it’s great to see you, have a good hike.’ As soon as we walked away from her, my friend and I turned to each other ‘Uh, that wasn’t her mom! HAHA. Who was that?’ Anyway, as an adult, I feel like I’ve only been to one or two house warming parties. Maybe it’s not as big a deal anymore. When we moved into our current house, we didn’t have a formal house warming. Our first guest was my mom. We prepared a lovely meal and had her over for lunch. This is a photo from that day.
Grilled branzino with fennel and lemon, oven roasted onions, arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette, and spaghetti with mixed herbs.
I like to have my mom over at least once a week for a home cooked meal. Last week she mentioned how she’s never forgotten the first meal she enjoyed in our house. So I went out to Whole Foods and picked up 3 branzini, some fennel, lemons and potatoes and surprised her with this meal.
Fennel stalks and leaves
Fennel bulbs, cut into wedges
Parmiggiano Reggiano, grated
I asked the man at the fish counter to descale and clean the fish. It took a couple minutes so I went around the market to pick up the other ingredients.
The seabass doesn’t actually have that orange glow. I was wearing an Orioles top and it reflected off the branzino skin. Go O’s! HAHA. 😉 I rubbed olive oil, sea salt and pepper on the skin and stuffed the fish with the thinner fennel stalks, leaves and a few slices of lemon. I had 3 whole fish and only 2 fish cages for the grill. So I grilled two and steamed one in foil with a splash of white wine.
I steamed baby gold potatoes and peeled them while they were piping hot. I placed the potatoes in a bowl with a TBSP of Kerrygold butter, a pinch of sea salt, a few roughly chopped pieces of parsley and covered the bowl with cling film. I tossed the potatoes in the bowl a few times until the butter melted. We love potatoes prepared this way!
Finocchi gratinati. Cut off the stalks and outer layer of the fennel bulb. I used the stalks to stuff the fish and the bulb to make fennel gratin. Cut the bulb in to equal wedges. I cut about 6-8 wedges for each bulb. In a pot, pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of whole milk, and 1/4 cup chicken stock. You can use 1 cup of half-and-half if you have that instead. Add in a pinch of salt, pepper, grate in some nutmeg and mix. Add in your fennel and some butter. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium. Cook your fennel on the stove for 10 minutes, then transfer it into a gratin dish or baking tray. You won’t need to use all the cooking liquid. I usually place the fennel in the gratin dish and then cover them halfway with the cooking liquid. Top with generous amounts of grated parmiggiano to create a nice golden crust. Cook in oven at 400F for 25-30 minutes.
This is the branzino I steamed in foil. I made a bed of fennel stalks under the branzino so it wouldn’t burn or stick to the foil. I seasoned and stuffed the branzino the same way I did the ones for the grill. I then topped the branzino with more feathery green leaves before folding the ends of the foil into a little pouch. Just before sealing the pouch, I poured in about a cup of white wine. I placed the foil pouch on the grill for 10-15 minutes. Doesn’t it look beautiful?!
Here is my plate. 🙂 Kevin prefered the grilled branzino. I prefered it steamed. The steamed branzino was so soft! Squeeze over some grilled lemon juice over the fish! Delicious!
All gone! 🙂 Try this fantastic dish on your grill before the summer’s over! What am I saying, we use our grill year-round. Try both methods and let me know which one you prefered in the comment section below.
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