When I was in Auckland, a strong-minded friend who lives on her own for most of the week advised me to reclaim my dining table. The thing is, unless we had visitors, I hardly ever used the table in this house before Harvey died, except for dinner. The light isn't good enough to read the paper, so I took to sitting in an armchair near the window for breakfast, and often for lunch as well. Harvey sat at the table if he was having porridge, but otherwise his pattern was much the same as mine - a plate on his lap.
And here's the delicious fish stew my friend served me for dinner at her place - she's a brilliant cook. It's a Lois Daish recipe, "Summer Fish Bowl", from her 2005 book A Good Year.
Summer Fish Bowl ( serves 2-3)
1/2 c olive oil
1 large red or brown onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlice, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 c white wine - suavignon blanc or a dry riesling
6-8 low acid tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper
pinch saffron stamens
pinch cayenne pepper
fresh thyme leaves
1 and 1/2 cups fish stock, chicken stock or water with a splash of fish sauce
chopped fresh parsley
Warm oil in heavy pot, and gently fry onion, carrot, celery and fennel for several minutes, then add garlic. Fry briefly again and pour on the wine. Allow to bubble up for 1-2 minutes.. Add tomatoes, seasoning and thyme leaves. Cook for a few minutes then add liquid and simmer for 20 minutes until everything is tender. Check seasonings. Gently reheat 10 minutes before the fish is ready.
500g fresh fish, cut into large pieces (we had bluenose)
salt and pepper
Carefully remove any bones. Place in rimmed roasting pan, brush with olive oil and season. Preheat grill. Slide fish under grill and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness, until fish is barely opaque right through. Transfer fish into heated shallow bowls. Pour any juices from pan into pot of sauce.
Check seasonings in hot sauce, add parsley and ladle over the fish. Serve with steamed white rice, potatoes or bread.