It was a twenty-four hour sojourn to Martine’s quintessential New England home with one of my best girlfriends, Connie, who introduced us. There we were, three fine women sitting alongside the Quaimbog Cove in Stonington, Connecticut, fully present, laughing often, and chit-chatting about life over good wine in each other’s much desired good company.
My favorite part: listening to Connie perform Beyoncé spoken word poetry.
A worldly interior designer, not only is Martine’s home a thoughtful and cozy respite from the real world, she innately knows how to spoil her houseguests. A smattering of vino verde here; a cheese & pâté plate with lightly dressed heirloom tomatoes there; and, to top it all off, an al fresco braised fish dinner rummaged from the fresh fish finds of the day before. (Say that five times fast.)
A Frenchwoman, and bona fide French shopper at heart, Martine makes daily market runs to find, as she so ardently says, “what swam around today!”
Be it fresh vegetables or cut flowers just a short jaunt down the road from Wehpittituck Farm or seafood sourced locally in-town from Sea Well Seafood, once the provisions are procured her culinary creativity naturally unfolds by itself. When you start with quality ingredients, it can only taste so darn good.
With scallops and flounder foraged from Stonington, Martine braised her fish in a brothy tomato and fresh herb sauce, finishing the stew with capers for just the right bite. As soon as the first spoonful touched my lips, I was in a frenzy of flavor. Prepared the night before, all these gals had to do was pop it in the oven to reheat and voila! If you’re looking for easy dinner recipes, this otherworldly fish dish can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, in bulk and a day in advance (because there’s no time like the present, especially with your adored girlfriends).
Plus, it’s one of those dishes that longer it sits, the better it gets.
It’s without a doubt this recipe is one of my summer staples. I’ll always be transported to the memory of three saucy ladies returning from a kayaking adventure, sitting on a deck at sunset, with a perfect view of Quaimbog Cove, every single time I prepare this dish. Yet another discovery of why I cook.
Martine’s Braised Fish with Rice Pilaf
Makes four to six portions
1.5 lb. white fish of choice (I used cod)
1 lb. small to medium scallops
1 medium vidalia onions, diced
3-4 garlic cloves
1 cup white wine
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh sage, finely chopped
1 good bunch of thyme, stems removed
1 tsp. red chili flakes (to taste)
2 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of water, if needed to thin sauce
salt & pepper
1 6-oz. box rice pilaf
In a saucepan, prepare rice pilaf according to instructions. Get creative by adding fresh herbs and sautéed onions. Cook for approximately 20-25 minutes.
In a large sauté pan, add onions and garlic cooking until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Deglaze with white wine, scraping seared bits off the bottom until mostly evaporated. Add tomatoes, fresh herbs, red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Filet or cut your white fish into chunks. Lightly salt on both sides. Add fish, scallops, and capers to sauce, braising for 10 minutes or until cooked through. If sauce is thick, add water to create a brothier texture.
Plate your rice pilaf and top with your tomato braised fish. Garnish with thyme and serve immediately with, in retrospect, a baguette lathered in a rouille.
3-qt Sauté pan
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