baked cod, parsley, micro radish; sautéed cucumbers, dill

ligurian_cod_cucumbers

Comfort food: plain fish and potatoes.

Cod, to be specific; salted cod, but not ‘salt cod‘.

And Carola, to continue with specifics; originated in Germany, even better than Yukon.

I know there are absolutely no cod on the shores of Liguria, so the name of this recipe, ‘Ligurian Cod’, isn’t authentic, but the taste sure is.  The recipe is called ‘Ligurian fish and potatoes‘, although its author appears to have been pretty casual about the origin of the fish varieties he suggests; I assume it’s about availability this far from the Mediterranean.

It’s Mark Bittman’s recipe (or at least the one that appears in his 2004 article in the New York Times is my source), but I’ve been using it for so long I think of it as an adopted child.

This is another of those meals that we usually have to wait for cool weather to enjoy, because there’s definitely an oven involved.

It’s a wonderful dish, and very easy to put together.

pan_ligurian_cod

The picture above was taken just before the cod was placed in the oven.

 

  • one 17-ounce cod fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood at the Union Square Greenmarket, prepared along the lines of a recipe from Mark Bittman which I came across almost 12 years ago: I cut the fillet into three pieces (2 of them equaling the weight of the third, and laid them on a bed of coarse sea salt, then completely covered them with more salt, setting them aside while I sliced, to a thickness of less than 1/4 inch about 14 ounces of small carola potatoes (yellow flesh, creamy) from Keith’s Farm, tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper, scatterd them in a ceramic baking pan, cooked them for 30 minutes or so in a 400º oven, or until they were tender, meanwhile thoroughly immersing the cod in several changes of water and drying the two pieces before placing them in the pan on top of the potatoes, topping the fish with a little olive oil and scattering them with some freshly-ground pepper, returned the pan to the oven for 8 to 12 minutes (the time would depend on the thickness of the cod), arranged on 2 plates, chopped parsley from Keith’s Farm sprinkled on top, finished with a scattering of purple micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • Chinese cucumbers from Norwich Meadows Farm, sliced into bitesize pieces, sautéed in olive oil until lightly browned, seasoned with sea salt, sprinkled with chopped dill from Willow Wisp Farm
  • the wine was a Spanish (Rueda) white, Naia D.O. Rueda 2014, from Verdejo old vines
  • the music was Q2 Music, streaming

pork chops, lemon, micro radish; peppers, scallion; tomato

pork_chop_tomato_peppers

It was cool that night, so I had no hesitation in firing up the oven to cook some lemon pork chops. The recipe is a favorite, normally enjoyed only in cool weather, and we’ve enjoyed these dark red (‘black’) cherry tomatoes before, but this variety of sweet peppers was new to me.

The peppers were Juicy, sweet, with a distinctive taste, and an oddly chewy texture – not at all unpleasant. I’m thinking they look surprisingly like egg noodles in the picture above, as they did on the table. For more clarification I thought I’d add an image of what they looked like as they finished cooking, but here they may look even more like noodles, maybe Spätzle.

french_peppers

  • two 7-ounce bone-in loin pork chops from Flying Pig Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt and pepper and seared quickly in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan before half of a lemon was squeezed over the top (then left in the pan between them, cut side down), the chops placed in a 425º oven for about 14 minutes (flipped halfway through, when the lemon was squeezed over them once again and replaced between them), removed from the oven, sprinkled with micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge, the luscious pan drippings, by then mixed with tomato juices [see below], spooned over the top
  • sweet heirloom orange peppers, described by the farmers as from southern France, from Campo Rosso Farm, sautéed in a large enameled cast iron pan until beginning to caramelize, joined part of the way through by some a small red Calabrian pepper, also from Campo Rosso Farm, and 2 red scallions from Norwich Meadows Farm, chopped, sprinkled with chopped oregano from Stokes Farm, finished with a bit of balsamic vinegar, the vegetables stirred to mix with it and the herb, before being arranged on the plates, some of the green parts of the scallions, chopped, tossed on top
  • half a dozen or so halved black cherry tomatoes from Berried Treasures Farm, tossed into the pan in which the chops had cooked just after they were placed on the plates, stirred into the pan juices, the heat softening the tomatoes before they were removed to the plates and sprinkled with some torn New York CIty basil leaves from Gotham Greens via Whole Foods
  • the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Pievalta, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, 2014
  • the music was Q2 Music, streaming, part of their Shostakovich 24-hour marathon

sautéed herb-marinated squeteague; squash, olives, mint

weakfish_squash

The weakfish is a noble fish, but it is not a trout. It’s generally marketed as ‘ocean trout’, since ‘weakfish’ apparently projects a less-than-positive image to potential consumers. The ‘weak’ part is actually only the fish’s jaw, which tears apart easily when it is hooked (ouch), meaning it can easily escape from an angler.

I spent 20 years in Rhode Island, around waters where it was a familiar catch, and the Narragansetts‘ name for the species, ‘Squeteague‘, sounds right to me.

It’s delicious whatever you call it.

  • small Squeteague fillets from Pura Vida Seafood, marinated for almost an hour in the refrigerator, in a mix of a little olive oil, a crushed bay leaf, one minced garlic clove, and 6 different herbs, drained, allowed to come to room temperature, sautéed/fried for about 2 minutes in a large lightly-oiled cast-iron skillet which had been pre-heated to medium-hot, skin-slide down first, the fillets then turned and cooked for another minute, until opaque and firm, drizzled with a rich vegetarian garum-like liquid consisting of savoury juices I had retained from earlier meals

summer_squash_platter

  • various kinds of small green and yellow summer squash from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut into 1/4″ slices, tossed in olive oil, sea salt, and freshly-ground pepper, pan-grilled, removed to a bowl where the they was tossed with a few pitted and sliced Kalamata olives, one small finely-chopped red Calabrian pepper from Campo Rosso Farmo, a little lemon juice, and chopped peppermint from Stokes Farm
  • the wine was an Italian (Sardinia, Argiolas) rosé, Serra Lori Rosato Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2015
  • the music was Q2 Music, streaming

shrimp with chipotle, saffron, cumin; fennel and tomatoes

shrimp_spanish_tomato_fennel

Our very own shrimp: local (Newburgh, NY), fresh (not frozen), sustainable (farmed), safe (purest water, natural nutrients), environmentally sound (small footprint), and delicious.

I just checked, and I realize that last night it had been the better part of a year since we had been able to enjoy Jean Claude Frajmund’s wonderful local shrimp, the harvest of his Eco Shrimp Garden. Incredibly delicious then, they seemed even better this time, although it may be that I now had some experience under my belt. The experience includes both research and practice in dealing with the difficulty of shelling shrimp, especially when they area as fresh as his, after they have been cooked in their shells.

But the shrimp was also “sort-of-Spanish”, and the wine definitely was.

I had been inspired by and persuaded to try Mark Bittman’s simple recipe, ‘Last-Minute Sort-Of-Spanish Shrimp’, last year. This is my November, 2016 post. Last night I headed for it again.  His full, entertaining discussion of its origins appears here.

It’s a wonderful recipe, really very simple, and substitutes can be used for ingredients not on hand.

The image of raw shrimp just below is from this older post.

The baby fennel, purchased yesterday was phographed at the farmer’s stall.

baby_fennel

The tomatoes in the photograph below are on our breakfast room windowsill (only the deep red cherry tomatoes were incorporated into this meal).

black_cherry_tomatoes_and_others

The next two images were captured during the cooking process, the shrimp in a very large cast iron pan just after they had been turned the first time, the vegetables in a slightly smaller copper pan just after I had added the tomatoes.

shrimp_cooking

fennel_tomato

  • one teaspoon of chopped garlic from Berried Treasures Farm, heated inside a (13 1/2″) cast iron pan over a very low flame until the garlic had colored nicely, a pinch of Spanish saffron, one whole dried chipotle pepper from Northshire Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket (do not squish it) and a teaspoon of freshly-ground cumin seed added, all of it stirred for a minute or two, then 13 ounces (14 count) of Hudson Valley farmed shrimp from Eco Shrimp Garden (cut all along their backs, from head to tail, for ease of shelling later) added, seasoned with salt and pepper, the heat brought up a bit, and the shrimp cooked until firm while turned twice, served with a generous squeeze of lemon, garnished with parsley from Keith’s Farm, finished on the plates with purple micro radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge [the micro greens are my addition to Mark Bittman’s recipe, and may seem like overkill, but they really work with the other flavors, and they are gorgeous]
  • a handful of baby fennel from Alewife Farm, trimmed at the top, stems and bulbs cut into 3 cm lengths, sautéed over medium high heat along with one roughly-chopped garlic from Berried Treasures, one small Grenada seasoning pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm (the best flavor of a habanero, with a fraction of the heat), and a teaspoon of Italian fennel seeds, until the fennel began to color, the heat lowered, the pan covered, cooked for another 5 or more minutes, the cover removed and 7 or 8 halved Black Cherry tomatoes from Berried Treasures Farm added, stirred, allowed to soften just a bit, the pan set aside until the shrimp had been cooked, divided onto the plates and garnished with the chopped fronds of the fennel
  • the wine was a Spanish (Rioja) white, CVNE Cune Monopole, Rioja Blanco 2015, from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was 3 concertos by Franz Josef Haydn and Leopold Hofmann

prosciutto, arugula; penne with tomato, basil, micro radish

prosciutto_arugula

penne_tomato_basil_micro

Still looking like summer (but also of the pig slaughtered last fall and cured).

The appetizer included 2 ounces of a salume on each plate, a bit of wild greens, and some phenomenal bread.

  • Applegate prosciutto from Whole Foods, drizzled with a very good olive oil from Campania (Syrenum D.O.P. Peninsula Sorrentina), served with ‘wild arugula’ from Max Creek Hatchery, the greens also drizzled with the olive oil but also a little white balsamic vinegar, served with slices of Eric Kayser’s ‘Pain aux Céréales’

The main course pasta included no fish or animal products: Small amounts of a certain number of seasonings enriched just 2 basic ingredients, an excellent pasta and a great heirloom tomato at the peak of its ripeness.

  • two garlic cloves from Berried Treasures Farm, roughly cut, two very small red pearl onions from Paffenroth Farms, and one small yellow Grenada seasoning pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, all heated inside a large, enameled cast iron pot until they had become pungent and softened, the flame turned off, 8 ounces of Afeltra Penna Rigata, from Eataly, cooked al dente, added and mixed in, followed by a one-pound German Stripe heirloom tomato from Tamarack Hollow Farm, chopped, the mix seasoned with salt, freshly-ground pepper, and a generous amount of torn New York CIty basil from Gotham Greens, via Whole Foods, served in 2 shallow bowls, sprinkled with purple radish micro greens from Two Guys from Woodbridge