Pan-fried tilapia with Sicilian lemon white balsamic vinegar

Tilapia or other mild white fish
Vine-ripened tomatoes, 1, chopped
Basil, 4-5 leaves, torn or chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
Sicilian lemon white balsamic vinegar, 2-3 tbsp (I recommend buying the real thing...but alternatively, substitute white balsamic vinegar and juice of 1/2 lemon)

1. Sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, and sugar.
2. Pan fry in a drizzle of olive oil until fish is opaque and flaking.
3. Place tomatoes, basil, butter and white balsamic vinegar. Heat until balsamic is just sizzling. Tomatoes should be warm but not cooked through.
4. Serve with generous sides, possibly crushed potatoes (I prefer lemon thyme to rosemary, though, or just salt and pepper) and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, and a good chilled white wine.

The story:
Most weekends, I like to walk to our farmers' market and pick up a few things for the week. My son is an early riser: we are usually the first people there, so it's quiet, and the air is refreshingly cool and crisp. I usually try to stay away from the elaborate pastries, exotically floral jams, and imported olive oils - too easy to be tempted! - but this weekend, my son wanted to taste everything, and so we did. I love vinegars in general and balsamic specifically, but the Sicilian lemon white balsamic vinegar was above and beyond delicious. I could have sipped it from a cordial glass. I had to have it. Fortunately, it proved at least somewhat practical, in that it makes cooking outstanding fish extremely simple, as I think this dish proves.


Thai chicken with quinoa

Check out the original recipe here!

Quinoa, 1/2 cup, rinsed
Chicken breast, 1, cooked and shredded
Carrots, 1/3 cup, chopped
Edamame, 1/3 cup, shelled
Spring onions, 1/3 cup, chopped
Peanuts, 1/4 cup, chopped
Cilantro, 1/4 cup, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Sweet chili sauce, 2 tbsp
Rice vinegar, 1 tbsp
Coconut milk, 1 tbsp
Brown sugar, 1/2 tbsp
Creamy peanut butter, 1 tsp, melted
Garlic clove, 1, chopped
Lime, 1/2, juiced
Ginger, 1/8 tsp, freshly grated

1. Prepare quinoa according to directions, substituting chicken stock for water.
2, While quinoa is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and whisk well.
3. Once quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid, stir in the sauce and toss well to coat. 
4. Stir in chicken, carrots, edamame and spring onions. 
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
6. Toss in half of the peanuts and cilantro and pour into a large bowl for serving.
7. Sprinkle with remaining peanuts and cilantro.

The story:
This recipe comes courtesy of my sister and her recent healthy-eating kick (which has made her more adventurous than ever!), with a little help from Pinterest. It is extremely delicious, which earned it a spot in my blog. It is also very toddler-friendly!

The 6- and 5-year old future amazing chefs (my sister is on the right) at the National Zoo, c. 1988



Vine-ripened or plum tomatoes (best available), 2, diced in 1 cm pieces
Garlic cloves, 1-2, crushed and finely chopped
Olive oil, 1-2 tbsp
Basil, 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Ciabatta, sliced in half lengthwise

1. Toast ciabatta lightly in the oven, preheated to 350˚F.
2. Mix tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil.
3. Gently warm mixture in microwave for 1 minute.
4. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to bring out flavors.
5. Spoon tomato mixture over toasted bread and serve.

The story:
Civita: "I found ciabatta in Amy's refrigerator..."
Amy: "I had ciabatta in the refrigerator?"
Civita: "Yes, don't you remember? I bought it for you to make panini. Well, since it had a been a couple months, I thought it needed to be used."

Pesto genovese and crema di pesto

Pesto sauce
Basil, 6 oz
Garlic cloves, 4
Pignoli (pine nuts), 2-4 oz, divided in half
Olive oil, 2 tbsp
Parmigiano-reggiano, finely grated, 1/2 cup

Crema di pesto
Butter, 2 tbsp
Heavy or double cream, 3/4 cup
Boursin Gournay garlic and herb cheese, 2 tbsp

Pasta of your choice (suggest artichoke "leaves" or foglie di carciofo from Maestri Pastai or tortelloni)
Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Purée basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil in a mini food processor.
2. Blend in parmigiano for classic pesto and season to taste. If making pesto alla crema, stir purée, parmigiano, butter, cream and garlic and herb cheese together over low heat.
3. Set aside sauce, keeping crema version warm while the pasta cooks.
4. Lightly toast remaining pine nuts (it really enhances their flavor; optionally, you can toast all the pine nuts at the beginning of the recipe) and stir into sauce.
5. Toss cooked pasta with sauce.
6. If desired, crisp prosciutto in a microwave or pan over medium-high heat and crumble over pasta.

The story:
Amy: "You really don't have a pesto story?"
Civita: "The story would be that I don't usually put pine nuts in pesto. But you do."
Amy: "Silence. I love pine nuts. Pine nuts are the best thing ever."