Selecting the recipe for our weekly cooking playdate seemed like a no-brainer. Ceri and I were in a "fingers" mood (as in chicken and fish) for their ease and crowd pleasing appeal, and we'd personally witnessed Esme eat an entire box of the organic, frozen kind. (She may have a Coney Island hot dog eating contest somewhere in her.) So Ceri found some great, fresh organic tilapia and we prepped the girls with the usual cheer of, "So much fun…We're cooking together today."
Everything seemed fine when we got to Ceri's until it was time to, well, cook. You would have thought we'd asked them to erect The Great Wall of China rather than bread some fish. The bickering started instantly, but we persevered and made some pretty damn good fish sticks. This wasn't your elementary school's Friday lunch. It was yummy.
2 filets of Tilapia
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of shaved, fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
This recipe can be baked or fried. We did both.
Preheat the oven to 400 and paint a non-stick sheet with the olive oil or heat the oil in a frying pan. When baking, cook for 10–15 minutes, turning once to brown on both sounds. The tilapia should be a milky white to signal that it is cooked through.
Here's a rundown on a few of the early squabbles:
I don't want to share my piece of frozen bread. (Don't even bother asking why they wanted to eat frozen bread.)
I want that chair, not this chair.
I want to crack the egg.
In an attempt to keep them engaged, Ceri told the girls that whoever made it to lunch without fighting, whining or crying got their very own pet elephant. Not sure where that came from but it worked. They chilled out.
We started by making our own breadcrumbs from dried spelt bread. Scarlett and Esme worked as a team on this task.
Beat the egg in a bowl. This was one of those points of contentions, so the girl's stirred the egg together. This was the look on Julian's face (Esme's sweet baby brother) as the girl's rumbled over breaking the egg.
Since we didn't have a chance to cut the fish prior to beginning the recipe (slice them into one inch strips and place to the side), the girls lost interest and had a tea party.
Ceri shaved the parmesan cheese and lemon zest.
I was able to coax Scarlett back to the kitchen when I reminded her about earning an elephant (where the hell was I going to get a friggin elephant! Thanks, Ceri.) to place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl and then mix in the cheese, zest and pepper. Dip the fresh fish into the egg and then coat with the breadcrumbs.
We placed half the fish on a baking sheet and placed it in the oven while the other half was fried in oil.
We served the girls a few sticks of both along side some mashed sweet potato (that was Julian's lunch and Ceri saved the excess in her ice trays). Esme and Scarlett both ate each with the same conviction, but Ceri and I agreed that the fried ones tasted a bit better. Go figure.
After the little ladies finished their plates, they both asked for their elephants. Crap. They remembered. We gave them chocolate cream puffs instead.