Fish Tacos

I am on a mission.  A mission to make the perfect fish taco.

For years I have been hunting, experimenting and tweaking fish taco recipes....I may be a tad bit obsessed!  I am not sure what makes the perfect fish taco, I just know that when I taste it I will know, a cook's intuition you could say.  I am seeking the perfect blend of delicate flakiness and hearty crunch, a spicy bite with a cool touch, and dang it I will find it!  

So what am I tweaking this time?  The fish.   Usually I just grill the fish fillets but this time I decided to try something I have been wanting to try for years, a potato chip "breading".  I thought it would add a kick of crunch that was missing....and it did!  The fish had a surprising crunch that added a depth to the taco that it so needed.  Combined with the spicy cilantro creme and cabbage it was a huge step towards perfection! 
Super easy and slightly unexpected make these tacos a joy to dive into on a warm summer evening, especially when paired with a nice cold beer!

Crunchy Fish Tacos
  • 2 fillets of white fish (I used cod but any white fish will work)
  • 2 limes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • Several handful of potato chips (that is a very scientific measurement by the way!  :)  )
  • Corn tortillas
  • Shredded cabbage blend (I used a cole slaw blend to make it easy)
  • Cilanto Creme (recipe follows)

Marinate the fish fillets in the juice of two limes and minced garlic for 30 minutes, set aside.  Place  the potato chips in a plastic zip bag and crush until they are pretty fine, but still large enough to recognize that they are potato chips.  If they are too big they will not stick onto the fish fillets.  Place crushed potato chips onto a plate.  Beat two eggs in a small bowl and set aside. 

After the fish have marinated cut into smaller pieces, I cut down the center of the fillets creating smaller fish stick sized pieces.  Dip the cut pieces into the eggs and turn to coat, drain off excess.  Transfer to the crushed potato chips and turn to coat.  Place breaded fish into a pan with about 2 tablespoons oil set over medium heat.  Fry for approximately 5 minutes each side or until fish is golden and flaky.  Set aside on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

In a lightly oiled pan over medium heat fry the corn tortillas, a couple minutes on each side.  Again place on paper towel to absorb oil.

To assemble your tacos place 2 tablespoons Cilantro Creme down the center of tortilla.  Place the fried fish on creme and top with the cabbage blend.  If you want to add a bit more flare and color, add a couple of whole cilantro leaves on top!  Enjoy!!

Cilantro Creme
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/2 Serrano pepper, or more depending on how hot you want it
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor place cilantro, scallions, and Serrano pepper (minus the seeds) and blend until finely chopped.  Add sour cream and continue to blend until mixed well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before trying, the longer it chills the better it is!


Zucchini alla Parmigiana

It is time to celebrate!

Celebrate what you ask?  Zucchini season!

Yep, this is the time of year when the stores and farmer's markets are filled with the delicate loveliness of zucchini.  I happen to be a huge fan of this vegetable (did you know that zucchini is technically a fruit, I never knew).  It can be used in a variety of ways, both savory and sweet, and all are perfectly wonderful.  Personally I love to saute it simply with olive oil and garlic, but this past weekend I decided to do something a bit more. 

Zucchini tends to be the supporting dish, always pushed aside for the main dish....this time I wanted to make it the star of the show...what I am trying to say is, nobody puts zucchini in a corner (love that movie quote!!) at least not this time.  Zucchini alla Parmigiana is a beautiful combination of all things Italian: lightly fried zucchini, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmigiano-reggiano cheeses, and last but certainly not least fresh basil!  A one dish wonder that is certainly the star of any dinner. 

Just in case you are a fan of eggplant feel free to substitute it for the zucchini as this dish is originally made with eggplant.  I think you will find it equally as fantastic!

Zucchini alla Parmigiana
     adapted from: Melanzane all Parmigiana
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups (approx.) of canned tomatoes, crushed
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4-5 medium-sized zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour (approx.), used for dredging 
  • 1 medium mozzarella (4 oz), diced, or the 12 oz tub of bocconcini -sized mozzarella, quartered
  • 12 oz (approx.) Parmigiano, grated
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a sauce pan over medium heat saute the garlic in a bit of olive oil until slightly browned.  Add the tomatoes, salt, sugar and basil.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  

Slice the zucchini lengthwise.  Try to keep the thickness consistent, around 1/2 inch is good.  In a small bowl beat the two eggs, pour out onto a plate.  On another plate place the flour.  Heat a good amount of oil in a large frying pan.  Dredge the zucchini slices in the flour, turn to coat and then dip each slice into the eggs, turn to coat.  Fry the zucchini for around 3 minutes each side, be careful not to crowd the pan.  Set aside each slice on paper towels to absorb excess oil. 
In a large, greased 9 x 13" baking pan spoon a generous amount of tomato sauce.  Set the fried zucchini in a single layer, top with mozzarella and parmigiano.  Repeat for a second layer, tomato sauce, zucchini, mozzarella, parmigiano.  Finish by topping with the remaining sauce, parmigiano cheese (be generous) and fresh basil.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 more minutes.  It is now ready to eat and enjoy. 


The Season for Ice Cream

Who doesn't like ice cream...that is what I want to know?  Creamy, wonderfully sweet, and most importantly on summer days, it is COLD!...

(Unlike my forehead, the steering wheel or sidewalk!)

Ice cream and summer, they just go hand-in-hand.  It is undeniable, you can't have one without the other.  It is impossible...I have tried...it wasn't pretty!

Do you have a favorite summer ice cream memory?

Mine has to do with a certain smurf-blue bubblegum flavor.  When summer rolled around the ice cream shops opened and that was always my first choice.  It was a kid's dream...ice cream and bubblegum, holy sweetness overload!

And just like my childhood, once the summer hit, my ice cream maker opened for business!  I chose a super sweet, caramel-y flavor for the first of the season,  dulce de leche.  I am not going to lie, this recipe requires some patience.  The dulce de leche part of this creamy concoction takes 45 minutes of attention.  I suggest doing the dulce de leche and the first part of the the ice cream recipe the day before, chill it over night and pop it in the ice cream maker the next morning.  Made the long process not so bad! 

Believe me when I say that it is so worth it.  I enjoyed every second of it, plus it was fantastic with the home made apple pie that was on hand!

Dulce de Leche
  • 2 pt (4 cups) milk
  • 12 oz sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine milk, sugar and baking soda in a heavy sauce pan.  Over medium heat bring to a slow boil.  DO NOT STIR!

As the mixture approaches a boil it will start to rise.  Take it off the heat before it foams over.  Stir.

Set the pan over low heat and cook slowly, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon for about 45-60 minutes.  The mixture will slowly caramelize.

When the mixture turns a rich caramel-y brown and thickens (if  you wipe your finger over the back side of the spoon and it leaves a path then it is thick enough) but is still pourable remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Cool thoroughly.

Beginning of the process, milk is still thin and white in color

Starting to caramelize but still too thin

Final product...yummmm!

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream (pt. 2)
  • 3 cups milk
  • Dulce de Leche you made above
  • 6 oz heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Heat milk and the dulce de leche mixture in a heavy sauce pan until the dulce de leche is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients.  Chill well.

Place mixture in the bowl of an ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturers instructions for your particular ice cream maker.  I churned mine for about 30 minutes.  Place in a container with a air tight lid in freezer to continue the freezing process. 


Tomato Sandwiches

A fantastic couple, tomatoes and basil.  I can't think of a better match.  Well, maybe chocolate and caramel....oh crap! That is besides the point!

What I mean is....

Tomatoes and basil are perfect for one another. Tomatoes are great on their own, delightful in fact, but add basil and...BAM!  They are freaking fantastic. They bring out the best in each other, kinda like peanut butter and jelly....oh crap, another great match!

So....yeah...tomatoes and basil - I think I am their # 1 fan...and perhaps...I may even be accused of obsessing a bit. I am always trying to find new ways to combine the two.  For the summer I have the perfect dish to satisfy my obsession - a tomato sandwich with an Italian touch.
Tomato Sandwiches
  • Ciabatta bread (or any type of bread that is a favorite)
  • olive oil
  • tomato slices, the fresher the better
  • pesto, this can be home made or store bought which ever you prefer
  • mayo
  • salt & pepper to taste
Slice the Ciabatta bread into fairly thin slices.  Brush one side of each slice lightly with olive oil.  Place oil side down on a grill pan (I just have this thing for grill marks...so cool!) or a griddle.  Toast to desired level.  In a small bowl mix about a tablespoon, or more depending on the size of your bread slices, each of mayo and pesto.  Since I love pesto I add just a touch more pesto than mayo...up to you.  Slice the tomatoes about 1/4-1/2" thick.  Spread pesto/mayo mixture over the toasted bread.  Layer the slices of tomatoes and top with salt and pepper to taste. 

There you have it a fantastic way to celebrate the union of two great ingredients...and super easy too!  Enjoy!!!