I love, love, love weekends in Vermont. I lived here as a small child then again as a teenager and the sight of these mountains can still break my heart. I came up to visit my friend Arianna who had a baby, Rafael, two weeks ago. And no weekend in the Green Mountains is without culinary exploration.

My dad picked me up from the airport in Burlington Friday evening and told me we’d be having dinner at home with Bonnie, my step-mom. Bonnie is an excellent cook; a quick call to her en route from the airport revealed she was at City Market picking up fiddleheads and we were told to take a pound of shrimp out of the freezer when we got home. Yes ma’am!

Bonnie has a collection of Gourmet magazines from the 80s and 90s on a bookshelf in her kitchen and most meals begin with her at the table flipping through them for inspiration. This meal was no different, although by now she has this particular recipe almost committed to memory.

We were making “Christina’s Shrimp Seascapes,” sautéed shrimp with tomato, cilantro, and feta, from Gourmet’s May 1992 issue (only $2.50 back then), with chocolate ice cream on the cover. Good living. Along with this, sautéed fiddleheads and an avocado salad. Bonnie and I work well together in the kitchen, she as chef, me as sous-chef. I volunteer to chop garlic and onions, clean fiddleheads (colander or lettuce spinner in case you’re wondering), crumble feta. My dad cleans shrimp and in warmer months, mans the grill. Bonnie oversees the operation, makes any necessary sauces, tweaking recipes as she goes along, making notes in the margins.

Just as we were sitting down to eat, Arianna called unexpectedly. She was 5 minutes away in her car, Rafael in tow, and could she stop by? Could she! We got to coo over the little one, feed a hungry momma, and share this fantastic, but easy meal. Perfect start to my Vermont weekend.

Christina’s Shrimp Seascapes

(Sautéed Shrimp with Tomato, Cilantro, and Feta)

1/2 stick (1/4 c) unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

4 minced cloves garlic

4 tbsp dry white wine

1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tomatos, diced

heap of cilantro

4 oz feta, crumbled

In a large skillet heat the butter, olive oil, garlic, and wine over moderate heat until butter is melted. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, and cilantro and sauté for 3 minutes or until shrimp is just firm to touch. Turn off the heat, and add feta.

Serves 4.

Note: it’s good to have some crusty bread or even foccacia on hand to sop up the buttery tomato sauce left in the pan or on your plate.

Sautéed Fiddleheads

1 lb fiddleheads

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/4 olive oil or butter

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 c white wine

salt and pepper

Steam fiddleheads until just tender. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil (or butter) in a large frying pan and sauté the shallots and garlic until softened, a few minutes.

Mix together the soy sauce and wine. Add to the pan along with the steamed fiddleheads, turning to coat them. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Avocado Salad

2 ripe avocados, pitted and cut into small pieces

1/2 small red onion or whole shallot, chopped

2 minced cloves garlic

handful of cilantro

lime or lemon juice

olive oil

salt, pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, dressing with the lemon/lime juice and olive oil just before serving.

Arianna and Rafa