Chilean Sea Bass in Papillote

Presents are the best. You could wrap a rock beautifully and I'd be happy to receive it. Wrap a meal, and I'm giddy with excitement. This wrapped fish was also part of my birthday meal -- it's a Chilean sea bass with lemon, thyme, capers and cherry tomatoes, tied up in parchment paper.

By placing the fish on top of lemon slices and adding a touch of olive oil, you set the stage for a deliciously simple sauce to form while the fish cooks. The result is a soft and flaky fillet, surrounded by flavorful ingredients that compliment the lightness of the fish. The presentation (present-ation) is unbeatable as well: each individual gets a piece to unwrap, and a sweet, lemony aroma escapes as the parchment is opened. We served this with homemade polenta, but it could go well with a side salad, any fresh vegetable, and even rice or pasta. For something with such panache, it's extremely easy to make. Check out the recipe from Epicurious here, or just read on.

Ingredients (serves 4):
3 tbs olive oil
4 (6 oz) fillets Chilean sea bass with skin (should be about 1-inch thick)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 thin lemon slices
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tbs drained bottled capers

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400. In a heavy skillet, heat oil, then sauté garlic until pale golden (about 30 seconds). Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt and sauté until tomatoes are softened, about 1 minute. Stir in capers, then remove from heat. Lay out 4 (12 to 15 inch) squares of parchment paper. Drizzle center of each parchment square with a little olive oil, then top with a fish fillet. Slide lemon slices under fish and top with thyme sprigs. Spoon tomato mixture over fish. Gather parchment up around fish to form a pouch, leaving no openings, and and crimp closed (or tie tightly with string and make a bow so that you can untie it easily). Put pouches in a large shallow baking pan and bake until fish is just cooked through, about 12 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness of fish). Transfer fillets with lemon slices to plates using a spatula and spoon tomatoes and juices over top. Serve immediately, discarding thyme before eating.