Chappaqua Farmers Market: Maria Reina’s creates a cilantro and cashew-encrusted fish

The Market runs every Saturday from 9am to 1:30pm at St. Mary’s, next to Bell.
January 13, 2012
by Pascale LeDraoulec

On an impulse, and because my contractor friend had some free time on his hands, I decided to remodel my kitchen during the holidays.

What was I thinking?!?!

Actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There’s something kind of humbling—and liberating—about being reduced to sub-flooring and pipes during what’s supposed to be the busiest time of year in the kitchen. The contractor has been kind enough to leave my stove and bare-bones sink hooked up during the makeover, even though the rest of my kitchen is now in my dining room. (My girls think it’s really cool that our fridge is in the living room).

All this to say that these days I’m keeping the cooking really simple. Never have I been more appreciative of having access to farmers market products on a weekly basis—and in the winter no less! I’ve said it a million times, I know, but, truly, fresh, local ingredients are so inherently flavorful they don’t require much fussing in the kitchen.

A friend who is giving me some advice on layout dropped by this week and was surprised to smell a Stone Barns chicken roasting in the oven along with some Newgate Farms fingerlings and some cumin-dusted cauliflower. “I can’t believe you’re cooking when you’re kitchen is gutted,” she said. I literally put everything in a pan, added salt and pepper, olive oil and cumin, and was done in five minutes. But the payoff was grand.

Local personal chef Maria Reina ( is also a big advocate of keeping things simple in the kitchen. She will be doing a cooking demo at the market this week using fresh fish fillets from Pura Vida, encrusted with cilantro and sea-salt onion cashews from Tierra Farms and topped with a savory jam from Renee’s Jams (also here this week). Stop by her table for a taste and a copy of the recipe (reprinted below).  Maria can also answer any ingredient or cooking questions you may have while shopping.

For a quick and easy lunch these days, I’ve been subsisting on sandwiches made with Bread Alone ciabatta or levain bread with cheese from Amazing Real Live Food Co. This week they are having a 30-percent-off special on their nutty Stella Valis Tomme cheese. Make sure to pick some up!

Lucky for me, I stocked up on some of Renee’s savory jams, like pineapple habanero, and some of Bombay Emerald’s plum chutney last month. Good condiments make such a difference! Just like that, they can turn a sandwich into a simple pleasure. Speaking of good condiments, make sure to pick up some Guyank Brand mango hot sauce this Saturday.

Roaming Angus is also back this week. If you’re a fan of their grass-fed beef, this is your chance to stock up. They won’t be back until January 28th.

Also back after a long absence is Little Croc Bakehouse! I hate to even mention that many of her baked goods are gluten-free and/or vegan because I don’t want to turn people off. Trust me, you would never know her teacakes and lemon bars are “missing” anything. They are divine…which is why baker Suzanne Whitney has such a loyal following all over Westchester.

See you at the market—and come early if you want some of those Stone Barns eggs!

Keep your knives at home - Knife Sharpener is back next week (January 21)!

Nut Crusted Fish Fillets with a Spicy Sauce

Makes about 1 ½ cups, enough for 4 fillets


1 cup Tierra Farm Organic Dry Roasted Sea Salt & Onion Cashews

¼ cup Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs

2 cloves of Garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons Cilantro, finely chopped

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for the pan

Zest and juice of 1 Lemon, separated

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

4 Fish Fillets of your choice, about 1 pound

Pineapple Habanero Sauce, recipe follows


Pulse the cashews in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped. Take care to not completely puree them to a paste. Mix the nuts, garlic, cilantro, zest, olive oil, salt and pepper tossing well to combine.

Lay the fillets out on a cutting board. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide the nut crust between the 4 filets and pack down well. Let the fillets sit for a few minutes to bring the crust together.

In a non-stick pan heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot carefully lay the fillets, crust side down, in the pan and leave for 2-3 minutes. (Resist the urge to move it or poke it with the spatula, you want the crust to set up under the fish.) Once the crust gets to be a nice golden brown carefully flip the fillets over and add the lemon juice to the pan. Sauté another minute until the fish is cooked through.*

Top with sauce and serve immediately.

Pineapple Habanero Sauce

Pineapple-Habanero Jam, Renee’s Jams and Jellies
½ -1 tablespoons of Cilantro, finely chopped

Place 2 ounces of jam (½ of the jar) in a glass bowl. Add 4 ounces of water. Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove and mix well, allowing it to cool slightly. Add cilantro to taste and use over the fish.

*Cook’s Note: if using very thick filets you may need to finish cooking them in the oven.


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