I was going to write about the bouillabaisse I made for Valentine's Day when I realized I'd already put up the recipe for fish soup. It sounds better in French: Soup au poisson. Fish soup sounds a bit downmarket. But it is very satisfying and not difficult, if somewhat time consuming.

This batch was different though. Rather than a pureed smooth soup, I left large pieces of fish intact in the broth. In a real bouillabaise restaurant, these would have been served seperately, ahead of the soup-broth course.

So, into my garlicky, tomatoey fish broth went two fillets of red snapper and four large shrimp. Off to the side I'd steamed a dozen mussels in a little water and chopped shallot; they went in, along with the mussel broth. I then sauteed a couple of really big scallops in some very hot butter, and in they went.

I got out my griddle and and got it hot, and brushed some slices of ciabatta with olive oil, and grilled them til grill marks appeared. I can think of nothing that isn't improved by grilled bread.

The rouille was good and garlicky.

(Lady enjoying "fish soup")
I made brownies for dessert, sprinkled with flakey sea salt before baking them.

Minimalist Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons-- quartered lemons mixed with salt and left to marinate for a few weeks-- are a staple of Moroccan cuisine (and a nice addition to tuna salad, it turns out).

When Mark Bittman announced his retirement from the NY Times Minimalist column last week, the paper published a pastiche of his most viewed videos. I was intrigued by his recipe for "quick" preserved lemons. Cutting the lemon took a couple of minutes only, then a quick stir with some salt and sugar (2:1) ratio and then let it sit for an hour.

A tablespoon full made a great addition to a chicken and chickpea tagine, whose leftover sauce became the base for a pot of harira (which also benefited from the addition of the lemon).

The lemons are tart but also sweet, and offer a pleasing, tight texture.