The book:  Fresh from the Farm, by Susie Middleton (Taunton Press, $28.00 – here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Roasted Parmesan-crusted cod with baby potatoes

Why I tried it: love cod – the silky, dense, smooth, thick, moist flakes and subtle scent of the sea.  But since it’s become endangered, cod has been a rare treat for me.  When I do get it, I want a recipe that’s worth it.  And if I’m substituting halibut, I want a recipe that’s worth it.

There are two things I love about Susie Middleton recipes: 1) They always work.  And 2) They have flavor in places other recipes don’t even have places.  They’re like that stylish person you glimpse at a party who has actually taken the trouble to wear a hair accessory, and probably a scarf too, in a color that complements her shoes.  Truly amazing, people like that.  But I digress.  The point is, I thought this recipe would be worth it.

Why I loved it:  Here are some details you and I might not have thought of: whizzing an English muffin in the blender for easy, tender bread crumbs.  Gluing the crumbs to the fish with mayo that’s been doctored with mustard for more flavor.  Roasting the veg not just with oil, but balsamic and honey!  When it’s done, a dizzy flavor spins up out of the pan, like you’ve just walked across your herb garden, crushing the thyme underfoot.

Estimated preparation time:Just over 1 hour: 20 minutes of prep, 25 minutes of inital roasting while you do a litle more prep, 20 minutes of final roasting.

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Roasted Parmesan-Crusted Cod with Baby Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Onions & Thyme
Serves 4

8 ounces small fingerling or baby red potatoes(smallest size you can find), cut in half lengthwise
1⁄2 medium bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small or medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
10 to 12 pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt
Big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces firm-ripe cherry tomatoes (about 20) cut in half
3⁄4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from 1 English muffin, blitzed in a food processor; a little extra is fine)
1⁄4 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1⁄2 pounds cod (or other firm white fish fillet like striped bass or halibut), cut into a few pieces to fit more easily into the pan

Heat the oven to 425°F. Combine the potatoes, peppers, onions, olives, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon thyme, the balsamic vinegar, honey, 3⁄4 teaspoon salt, and crushed red pepper in a mixing bowl and toss well. Spread in one layer in a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Roast for 25 minutes. Reserve the bowl that the veggies were in and add the cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon thyme, and a pinch of salt. Toss well.

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmigiano, the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, the remaining 1⁄2 tea-spoon thyme, and a big pinch of salt. In another small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and mustard. Lay the fish on a plastic cutting board and season with salt. Spread the mayo-mustard mixture over the top of the fish and along the sides.  Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan of roasted vegetables and stir to combine.

Push the veggies to the edges of the pan to make room for the fish. Nestle the fish amongst the veggies; then pat the breadcrumb mixture over the fish pieces. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 20 to 22 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the crust on the fish is golden. Cut the fish into serving pieces with a metal spatula and arrange on four plates. Spoon the veggies, along with the pan juices, around the fish. Serve right away.

Reprinted from Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton. Copyright (c) 2014 by Taunton Press.