Ever since I saw this recipe in The Herbfarm Cookbook, I’ve wanted to make it. Just give me some scissors and a chance to cut out paper valentines and I’m a happy girl. Fish cooked in a parchment envelope is so simple even instruction-challenged people like me can figure it out. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you some photos, since I could have used a few.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Start by cutting off a 20″ piece of parchment from a roll. The roll is 12″ wide. Fold in half lengthwise and cut out the largest heart you can make (hopefully you made these in school and can remember how). Cut out one heart for each fillet you are baking. Salt and pepper both sides of the fillet and place on the right side of the heart toward the center. Put herbs, lemon, butter — whatever flavorings you want, on top. I used chives, ribbons of sorrel, thin-sliced lemon and a pat of butter. Fold the left side over to line up with the right.
Starting at the top left corner, fold over the edges about 1″ deep a few inches long and then crease. Continue around the edge of the heart this way overlapping each fold until you have a pointy tail at the bottom. This part is hard to describe, but as you start following the edge, you will know how far to go with each fold. Just keep in mind the purpose is to completely seal the packet. Take your pointy tail and twist it several times. These packets can be prepared and stored in the fridge for up to 4 hours.
Place packets on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your fish. The only drawback to this method is not being able to tell if it is done without unwrapping. Mine were done perfectly in about 12 minutes. Open your “heart” and breathe in the lovely herbal aroma.
I made a luscious “hollandaisesque” sauce for the asparagus. It is similar to homemade mayo but uses butter (only 2 tablespoons) instead of olive oil and is served warm. I was being polite when I took the photo of my dinner plate — trust me — I put it on everything, not just the asparagus.
Boil asparagus in a large pot of salted water for 4-6 minutes. Find a stainless steel bowl that fits inside the pot without touching the water. After removing the cooked asparagus, place the mixing bowl over the boiling water. In the bowl, whisk together 4 large egg yolks, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, 3/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper. After 2-3 minutes of whisking, the sauce begins to thicken and becomes very foamy. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of butter. Once it is fully mixed, add 2 tablespoons of chopped tarragon and remove from the heat. It can be poured at this point or put in a bowl to serve. This dangerously delicious sauce is from The Herbal Kitchen, the second book by my herbal guru, Jerry Traunfeld.