This weekend was so social, if felt like we were making up for all those weekends in January and February we spent holed up in our apartment.  From out of town visitors, to multiple meals out and a housewarming party- it was non-stop. On top of that, the weather could not have been more perfect (though I could have done without the sunburn).

I had every intention of making these fish tacos last week, but my recent schedule has unfortunately afforded me less time than usual in the kitchen.  After back to back days of dining out, I was very glad to get back into our dinner making routine last night.

I am a lover of fish tacos.  Well, good ones (I’ve had a handful of bad).  After trying various versions of this dish in different restaurants, I’ve come to the conclusion that when preparing this type of taco, simple is best. There shouldn’t be a slew of toppings, only a handful of quality ingredients- one of which should always be a slaw of some sort.  This recipe is inspired by City Oyster in Delray Beach, Florida, which serves the best fish tacos I’ve ever had.  Their tacos consist of lightly seasoned fish, topped with a spicy slaw, fresh salsa, and lime crema.  Though slightly different, this recipe hits all the flavor notes of City Oyster’s tacos- crunch and heat in the slaw, creaminess from the guacamole, and tang from the lime and cilantro.  Overall, this meal feels incredibly fresh, which was a welcome alternative after dinners consisting of take out Indian and greasy pizza.

Buttermilk Batter Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw adapted from Bon Appetit  

Serves 4

For the fish:

1 lb tilapia filets, cut into 2 inch pieces

1/2 c flour

1 c buttermilk

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

canola or vegetable oil

For the slaw:

1 head green cabbage, washed and thinly sliced

4 carrots, peeled and grated

handful chopped cilantro

1/2 c good mayo

3 chipotle and adobe peppers (in sauce), finely chopped

2 T freshly squeeze lime juice

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

For serving:

12 corn tortillas


lime wedges, hot sauce, and chopped cilantro for topping

Make the slaw: Toss together together the cabbage, carrots, and cilantro.  Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing, and pour over the slaw mixture.  Toss well, cover, and let sit in fridge for at least two hours before serving.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wrap tortillas in foil and let warm while you prepare the fish.

Make the fish: Stir together the flour, buttermilk, salt, cumin, and chile powder.  Set a large sauce pan to medium heat. Coat the bottom of the pan generously with oil.  Let heat for 5 minutes.  Dip a third of the fish in the batter, and drop into the oil, cooking for 3 minutes on the first side, and 2-3 minutes on the second size.  When the batter turns golden brown, the fish is done cooking.  Let rest on on paper towels, while you cook remaining fish.

Assemble Tacos:  Take a warmed tortilla, place 1-2 pieces of fish inside.  Spoon slaw over fish, and top taco with guacamole, lime juice, hot sauce, and more cilantro.

Putting fruit in salad is nothing new in my cooking, but it’s always amounted to just granny smith apples, dried cranberries, or dates.  This past Sunday I bought two mangoes, with the intention of just eating them as is.  But then, when I was making sesame noodles for dinner one night, it dawned on me that mangoes would be a very fitting addition to the pickled cucumber and carrot salad I was making for the side dish.  Add in a little red onion, and you have the perfect spicy sweet balance.  The other great thing about a pickled salad- the longer it sits, the better.  This makes for excellent leftovers and next days lunches.

Spicy Mango Salad

Makes 4-5 side dish portions

2 mangoes, diced in large cubes

1 English cucumber, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced

1/ 3 c red onion, thinly sliced

3 carrots, peeled and grated

1/3 c rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp grated ginger (optional)

pinch red pepper flake

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing- rice wine vinegar through red pepper flakes.  Set aside.

Place the salad ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Toss gently with the dressing, cover, and let sit in fridge for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.  Can be stored up to 3 days in fridge.

This past Saturday I was reminded of how effortlessly perfect an everything bagel is for breakfast.  Freshly toasted, slathered in cream cheese- oh is that heaven.  Everyone seems to be a on a best burger or best cupcake hunt these days. I am on a perpetual best everything bagel hunt.  Luckily we live just blocks away from Brooklyn Bagel (oddly named since we don’t live in Brooklyn), that makes some of the best everything bagels I’ve ever had.  Another favorite is none other than Murray’s Bagels, thankfully located in my dad’s neighborhood in NY.  In my mind, the key to a good everything bagel is first and foremost a high quality bagel- crispy on the outside, soft and spongy on the inside, as well as the dispersement of seasonings.  The seasonings must go all around the bagel, not just on the top.  Otherwise the bottom is just like eating a plane bagel- I did not sign up for that.

Do you have a favorite bagel shop, or even better, a favorite everything bagel?

I absolutely cannot stomach bananas. I hate the way they smell, the way the feel, even the way they sound when chewed. I’m fully aware that my aversion to this fruit  is likely my most childish quality.

I happen to live with a person who really likes bananas.  He eats them everyday.  They are always in our apartment. Despite my hatred for bananas on their own, I don’t mind and sometimes actually enjoy, banana bread.  Of course that’s the case.  Just add butter and sugar and I’ll like it.

For the past few weeks I’ve been meaning to make banana bread.  Come Sunday there are usually a few sitting in a bowl on our counter, on their last leg.  Usually I’m too slow.  By the time I get around to pulling out the flour and eggs they’ve been devoured by my banana loving roommate.  But yesterday, I managed to reserve two from the bowl, and throw together a small loaf.  An intentionally small loaf, as this bread will mostly be consumed by one person.  I found though, by halving the recipe, the bread created these adorale biscotti shaped pieces of cake, perfect for enjoying with coffee or smearing with peanut butter.  If you’d like a bigger loaf, simply double the recipe.

Banana Bread Stackers adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

2 ripe bananas, smashed

3 T melted salted butter

1/3 c light brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2  tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

1/2  teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 T ground flax seeds

1/2 c all purpose flour

1/4 c whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 30-35  minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

The last two weekends we’ve been kind of lame, and we sort of love it.  We go to bed earlier than we do on the weeknights and find ourselves out of bed by 8:30/9 am. Did you know that when you do this, it gives you so much more time to do things on the weekend? This is BIG news. With this new schedule, I’ve made it the farmer’s market early enough on the last two Saturdays to guarantee access to all the produce before it sells out.  As a result, our meals have been chock full of fresh ingredients. I couldn’t be happier.  Having spent the last three days indulging in everything but vegetables in Las Vegas, I’m looking forward to another trip to the market this weekend, and welcoming an onslaught of salads and fresh vegetables into my meals again.