speck; spicy lobster tomato spaghetti; cheese; cheese cake

It was St. Valentine’s Day, so there was a lot of red, -ish.

The antipasto was created elsewhere, although assembled in our kitchen.

  • five or 6 ounces of thinly-sliced Recla Speck Alto Adige IGP, from Bolzano, purchased at Eataly, drizzled lightly with a very good Sicilian olive oil, from from Agricento, Azienda Agricola Mandranova (exclusively Nocellara olives), arranged on a fan of sorrel leaves from Two Guys from Woodbridge, sprinkled with Maldon salt and freshly-gorund black pepper, also drizzled with the Sicilian olive oil
  • slices of a rustic whole loaf of bread which included both potato and oregano, from Eataly

The pasta course was also dominated by goodies from Eataly, since that afternoon I had neither the time nor the energy to wander any further abroad for ingredients. The dish was based on an Epicurious recipe I found on line once I returned home, which I then proceeded to halve for just the two of us.

  • I added a little cognac just before introducing the tomatoes to the pan, and then turned the heat up high to evaporate its alcohol, but otherwise I made almost no changes to the recipe; the ingredients included approximately 9 ounces of fresh spaghetti pasta from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron store,   sea salt, Portuguese olive oil from Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’, half of a shallot from Norwich Meadows Farm, half of a teaspoon of crushed dried pepperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, 9 ounces of  ripe Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, just under half a pound of picked cooked lobster meat (almost entirely claw meat) from Eataly, freshly ground black pepper, half a teaspoon of zest from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, garnished with parsley from Whole Foods Market, with lemon wedges served on the side once the pasta had been placed on the table

There was a small cheese course that featured absolutely nothing red-ish.

  • ‘Mammuth’ goat cheese from Ardith Mae
  • toasted slices of a loaf of French sourdough, ‘Levain’, from Bread Alone


The sweet was put off until the next day (I had actually forgotten to serve it), but I still want to include it here.

  • two heart-shaped chocolate cheese cakes with a raspberry froufrou on top that had been sprinkled with sugary glitter

culotte steak, with thyme; herb-roasted potatoes; sprouts

Dinner was culotte/coulotte steak and French fries potatoes, with Brussels Belgian sprouts, to re-classify a few classics, all favorites of ours.

  • one 16-ounce culotte (the American spelling) steak from Greg and Mike of Sun Fed Beef/Maple Avenue Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket, cut crosswise into 2 pieces, brought to room temperature, seasoned on all sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, seared briefly on the top, or thick fat-covered side (much of the fat is rendered in the cooking, and the rest makes it taste wonderful), inside an oval enameled cast iron pan, then cooked for about 4 minutes on each side, to medium-rare, after which the narrow bottom side was seared briefly, removed from the pan, placed on warm plates, drizzled with juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon and some decent olive oil, sprinkled with chopped thyme from Westside Market, and allowed to rest for about 4 minutes

  • roughly a pound of French fingerling (also known as ‘Roseval’) potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, that had been maturing inside our pantry for over a month, halved lengthwise, tossed with a little olive oil; sea salt; freshly-ground black pepper; sage leaves from Phillips Farms; 3 small bay leaves from Westside Market, broken into pieces; and a small amount of crushed dark, home-dried habanada pepper, arranged cut side down on a large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, roasted at about 375º for 15 or 20 minutes,, garnished with Micro red chard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • two large Brussels sprouts from Philipps Farms, each halved, tossed with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and two Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, roasted in the same 375º oven until browned and crisp on the outside
  • the wine was a California (Napa) red, Sin Fronteras El Mechon Red Blend California 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was the proto-romantic, “opéra en un acte et en vers imité d’Ossian, Livret de Bin de Saint-Victor“, ‘Uthal’, which was composed by Étienne-Nicolas Méhul and premiered in Paris at the Théâtre de l’Opéra-Comique in 1806, Christophe Rousset conducting the Lyric Talens and the Chamber Choir of Namur

spicy salmon; roasted carousel squash; Brussels sprouts

I never have to worry about cooking good salmon: It always comes out well, usually very well, regardless of how I approach it, but this recipe has become a favorite. In fact, I just now realized that this meal was almost identical to one we enjoyed in the beginning of January.

I do feel guilty however about the carbon footprint involved in serving wild salmon, since the fish I cook comes from the Pacific northwest. Eating local wild salmon (once superabundant from New York to Newfoundland, born and spawning in the clean, fast-running waters of hundreds of unspoiled rivers) has been out of the question for a very long time, since the species was virtually eliminated by industrialization, river barriers, overfishing, poor land practices, and air pollution.

There may however be good news for the future: There may be some hope for the restoration of our local genus Salmo, although it’s no sure thing, and even if it shows up in the local market, will it even be the real thing?

But there were local vegetables on the plates, to relieve the pangs of conscience somewhat.

  • a 17-ounce section of a wild (previously frozen) fillet from a Pacific Sockeye salmon from Whole Foods Market, skin left on, halved, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, the flesh side only pressed with a mixture of ground coriander seeds, ground cloves, ground cumin, and grated nutmeg, sautéed, coated side down first, inside an enameled, cast iron oval pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes or so, turned onto the skin side and cooked 3 or 4 minutes minutes more, finished on the plate with a little squeeze of organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a drizzle of a good olive oil
  • one 6-inch Carousel squash (a hybrid of sweet dumpling and acorn) from Tamarack Hollow Farm, scrubbed, halved horizontally, the seeds removed, divided into one-inch wedges, tossed lightly with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and one section of a golden dried habanada pepper, then arranged on a large, unglazed, well-seasoned ceramic Pampered Chef pan and roasted on one side at 450ª for 15 minutes, turned onto the other side and roasted for about 10 more minutes, removed from the oven and from the baking pan once they had softened inside but with their edges slightly carbonized and crunchy, then stirred inside a sauté pan in which 3 whole cloves of Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic had been gently heated in a bit of olive oil with some roughly-chopped sage from Phillips Farms
  • Brussels sprouts from Philipps Farms, tossed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then roasted in a hot oven until browned and crisp on the outside (at which point they taste surprisingly sweet and a bit nutty)
  • the wine was a California (Lodi) red, Jacqueline Bahue Cabernet Franc Lodi 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was the album, ‘Eloge du vin et de la vigne de Rabelais à Henri IV, performed by the ensemble, La Maurache

truffle ravioli; mustard-braised veal ribs; Brussels sprouts

It was Friday afternoon. While returning from the Union Square Greenmarket with a fine haddock fillet inside my insulated bag, which I would cook for dinner that night, I stopped by our local Eataly Market for something incidental. I had already decided that on the next day I would cook some veal riblets which were waiting for us in the freezer compartment, but when I spotted the black truffle ravioli in Luca Donofrio’s pastificio, I knew I had to find room for it in the schedule somewhere.

We were both lucky that the space I found described this simple primi I prepared to introduce the complexities of the main course, because if I had been tempted to add more elements to the ravioli, the subtleties of the noble fungus would have been lost.

  • eight and a half ounces of small fresh ravioli (with a filling of ricotta, fresh black truffle, and porcini mushroom) from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron, briefly boiled, then, a cup of the pasta water reserved, drained and immediately slipped into a vintage medium size, high-sided tin-lined copper pan in which 3 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ (with 12 grams of fat) had been melted, then seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper, portions divided into two shallow warm bowls, where the past was garnished with micro mint from Two Guys from Woodbridge

The main course was already cooking on and inside the ancient Magic Chef when we sat down to the primi.

The 1990 recipe I followed was essentially the same one I had used once before, ‘Country Mustard Braised Veal Riblets‘, and had found on the Los Angeles Times site.

  • I halved the original recipe, but otherwise changed very little, merely adding a little of a very complex Nigerian cayenne pepper to the smoked Spanish pimentón ‘pikant’ specified, introducing 5 or 6 rosemary sprigs to the mix, and substituting a little local apple vinegar for the apple juice called for, and which I did not have on hand; the ingredients I used, and their sources, were: local whole wheat flour from the Blew family of Oak Grove Mills in the Union Square Greenmarket; 5 or 6 rosemary sprigs rosemary from Stokes Farm; 20 ounces of veal rib (6 ribs) from Tony, of Consider Bardwell Farm; a very sturdy dark mustard (Maille Old Style Whole Grain Dijon Mustard); a medium onion from Norwich Meadows Farm; 3 tablespoons of local apple vinegar from Race Farm; organic lemon juice from Whole Foods Market, a bit of Linden blossom honey from Tremblay Apiaries; zest from the Whole Foods organic lemon, garnished with micro red chard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • Brussels sprouts from Phillips Farms, washed, trimmed, dried, tossed with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and several whole unpeeled Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith;s Farm, roasted in a 400º oven on a small unglazed Pampered Chef oven pan until they were browned and crisp on the outside, or for about 20 minutes, drizzled as they came out of the oven with a little bit of warmed (to protect the hot ceramic pan) balsamic vinegar
  • the wine was a great Italian (Piedmont) red, Roagna, Barbera d’Alba, 2012, the generous gift of a friend
  • the music was from two very different eras (Louis XIIIe and Napoleon 1er, but performed by the same ensemble: through much of the meal, it was an album of French instrumental court music from 1601 to 1650, ‘L’Orchestre de Louis XIII 1601-1643’, performed by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations  (“Ces musiques de cour aux saveurs populaires, toujours imaginatives et colorées, sont à la recherche constante de souplesse et de grâce, de grandeur et d’élégance.” – Savall); after a pause, this was followed by a very spirited performance of Beethoven’s third symphony, ‘Eroica’, also performed by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations

potato-shallot-tomato-roasted haddock with sorrel butter

We don’t see haddock in the stalls of our local fishers very often, but I’m always anxious to bring some home when I do.  A beautiful and very delicious white-fleshed fish, It’s usually offered in the form of fillets. Even now, when it seems to be somewhat more appreciated than it had been in the past, it’s usually less expensive than its cousin cod.

I think the recipe I used last night is one of the easiest, and probably the least stressful, of several that I’ve used for haddock. It’s  inspiration was actually a recip for cod, Mark Bittman’s ‘Emma’s Cod’, which I found inside his book, ‘Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking‘.

While the description below uses many lines, the process actually isn’t complicated, and it’s pretty unfussy, and forgiving.

Anyway, this outing was sublime.

  • *one pound of rather small Nicola potatoes (I had thought I would be boiling them when I chose the size) from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, washed, but not peeled, sliced thinly, pushed around inside a 12″ glazed ceramic rectangular oven pan with two tablespoons of butter that had already been melted in the pan over a low flame (surprisingly, while it’s only ceramic, that ‘seasoned’ veteran pan can actually be safely used over a burner, so long as it isn’t shocked by the flame, although I almost never test that assertion myself), adding some salt, and pepper, after which it was spread evenly on the surface and roasted at 425º for about 12 to 15 minutes (when they had began to brown), sprinkled with 3 or so sliced shallots from Norwich Meadows Farm, tossed again and returned to the oven for another 12 or 15 minutes and near the end of that period, a few Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, each sliced horizontally into 3 sections and lightly seasoned, added to the pan, and when that time segment was up, the vegetables topped with a one-pound fillet of haddock from Pura Vida Seafood, which had been divided into two equal-size pieces, the fish dotted with softened knobs of one or 2 tablespoons of butter, plus some sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, and returned to the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the fish was just done, arranged on 2 warm plates and served with a rough chiffonade of sorrel leaves from Two Guys from Woodbridge which had been not quite  ‘melted’ in a little butter
  • the wine was an Italian (Piedmont) white, Angelo Negro, Roero Arneis Serra Lupini, 2016, from Flatiron Wines
  • *the music was Rossini’s beautiful 1821-1822 melodramma giocoso (opera semiseria) ‘Matilde di Shabran’, Riccardo Frizza conducting the Orquesta Sinfonica di Galicia, with Annick Massis and Juan Diego Florez