Recipes: Cooking for the Pope

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the potatoes until almost tender, about 10 minutes. If roasting one large fish, keep the potatoes undercooked, as they will cook longer with the fish. Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes in half, then cut a thin sliver from the round part of each potato half so the potato sits flat, cut side up, during roasting.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Use the garlic-infused oil to grease two heavy, large (at least 22 -by-18 inches) roasting pans, or a larger roasting pan if preparing the large fish. Brush each fish on both sides with the olive oil mixture and enclose the tails in aluminum foil. Place one lemon, one bay leaf, thyme and rosemary in the cavity of each fish or all in the cavity of the large fish. Arrange the fish in the prepared pans, leaving as much space between them, and between the sides of the pan, as possible. Arrange the potato halves around the fish so as not to overlap with each other.

Season the fish and potatoes with salt and add the wine evenly to the pans. Bake until the fish and vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes (or more if the fish is large -- for about 40 to 60 minutes), drizzling occasionally with about ½ cup of the garlic-infused oil. (The rest of the garlic-infused oil will be used as the base of a sauce to be served with the fish.)

Stir the lemon juice and parsley into the remaining garlic-infused oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Place one whole fish on each plate and flank with the potatoes. Spoon any sauce from the baking pan over each serving; you can save any remaining sauce for a bowl to set in the center of the table and serve as the fish is being passed around the table.

To garnish this fish, use one head of white, crunchy frisee, cleaned and washed. Break the leaves in half and set a few leaves of the frisee on top of the potatoes.

Apple Strudel With Caramelized Walnuts

Recipe courtesy Lidia Bastianich

Makes a large strudel serving 10 or more

For the strudel dough:

1¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for working with the dough
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons water or as needed

For the filling:

1 cup golden raisins
4 tablespoons dark rum
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs o
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1½ cups sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped into 1/4-inch bits
3 pounds tart green apples, such as Granny Smith
2 small lemons
10 tablespoons very soft butter, or more if needed
2 tablespoons cane sugar crystals

Recommended Equipment:

A rolling pin or heavy wooden dowel
A linen tablecloth or sheet, or other smooth cloth (a yard square or larger)
A half sheet pan (12-by-18 inches) or a similar large, rimmed baking sheet, lined with baking parchment


Mix the strudel dough several hours or the day before baking. In a large bowl. toss together the 1¼ cups flour and salt with a fork. Drizzle the oil all over and toss with the flour. Sprinkle the water over and toss it in, a tablespoon at a time, then mix vigorously to bring the dough together. Incorporate more water in small amounts if the dough seems dry or won't stay together.

Turn the dough out on a work surface and knead with your hands until the clumps have disappeared and the dough is smooth and elastic, about three minutes. Add flour only if the dough remains sticky after you've been kneading for a minute or more.

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