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braised lamb shank; polenta; Brussels sprouts

2014 December 22
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by james

 

lambshank2_polenta_sprouts

This meal and the first evening of winter made a perfect pairing, although there wasn’t any snow, and the temperature never got anywhere near freezing (I think).  The recipe is from the first of the terrific Gray and Rogers cookbooks, “Rogers Gray Italian Country Cook Book“.

I just now noticed that the recipe appears all over the internet, in most cases without crediting Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray.  This site furnishes both the recipe and a proper attribution, but I heartily recommend buying all three of their books; I refer to each of them regularly, and find some of the simple recipes indispensable.

  • lamb shank from 3-Corner Field Farm, braised with red onions from Norwich Meadows Farm, chopped garlic from Migliorelli Farm, chopped fresh rosemary from Phillips Farm, and a significant amount of both balsamic vinegar and a decent red wine
  • coarse polenta, stirred with milk and water, finished with butter and Gorgonzola cheese from Eataly
  • brussels sprouts taken home on a stem from Oak River Plantation, roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • the wine was a superb California red,  Mazzocco Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Dry Creek Valley

sautéed flounder, tomato butter; cavalo nero

2014 December 21
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by james

flounder_tomato_butter_cavalo_nero

I love flounder anyway, but I have no idea why Barry and I both found this fillet even more delicious than usual.  I’d even say it was the best I have ever had.  It was serious, with an intense flavor which included a hint of shellfish.   Flounder is normally a delicate fish, easily filleted and easily prepared, but I now have serious respect for the flavor alone.

The fillet I bought from the fisherman that afternoon weighed in at slightly over one pound.  That in itself was unusual for our table, but was it the reason it tasted so grown-up?  Or was it the fact that I sautéed it in both butter and, my usual choice, olive oil?  Maybe it was that tiny bit of Chianti white oak-aged vinegar.  Wait, I just did a web search, and found suggestions that Winter Flounder itself, a local species, is particularly desirable for its flavor.

I used a recipe I found on the LA Times site, and made only a few adjustments.

  •  Long Island flounder fillet from P.E.&D.D. Seafood, divided into two parts, seasoned, cooked in a pan over high heat for a few minutes, turning once, then placed on plates, a couple of spoons of ‘tomato butter’ [see below] placed on top.
  • tomato butter made by cooking in butter a tiny amount of shallot from Keith’s Farm, then letting the flavored butter cool slightly before being poured over fresh large cherry tomatoes, ‘Cocktail Tomatoes’ from Maine via Whole Foods, chopped, which had been combined  with torn basil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and drops of red wine vinegar
  • cavalo nero (Racinato kale) from Keith’s Farm, braised with garlic, finished with salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil
  • the wine was a California white, Rock.Face Chenin Blanc Clarksburg 2012

pizza, fast food that can welcome a good wine

2014 December 20
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by james

Roccos_sausage_pizza

if it’s art, is it a grid?

Sometimes you don’t miss tomato, even when it’s about pizza.  In fact, until I thought of writing this post, I don’t think it occurred to me that one of our favorite pizzas is never kissed by the red fruit of the nightshade.

Pizza is our usual go-to, emergency, fast food alternative whenever there’s absolutely no time to cook, meaning when there’s a performance, protest, or other event which lasts until late in the evening.  Rocco’s Pizza Joint, which is only a few blocks from us, has a ‘Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pizza Pie’, and it is often our preference these days – when we can get it. It’s a rarity on our table because Rocco’s usually closes before we have a chance to order, but I think that means it’s appreciated even more when we are able to enjoy it.

It may be at least as rare on other tables as well, and not just because rapini, or broccoli di rapa, may not be to everyone’s taste: Our particular favorite pie doesn’t actually show up on the shop’s site.  It can be found on Seamless.com however.

One of the charms of ‘pizza night’ for us is the opportunity it gives, not only to pick out a wine appropriate to each of the pie’s variants, but for a low-key, unhurried appreciation of the wine and the pairing.  Also, pizza leftovers are always a good thing, and there are always leftovers, sometimes with the wine as well.

One more note.  I will never confuse Rocco’s product with my own white pizza outing some five years back, either for convenience or taste.  Mine wasn’t delivered, and since it took longer, it was no solution for a late supper.  I humbly confess however that if I can remember it correctly, I preferred my ramps and guanciale version, with a crust I had rolled out from dough bought at Whole Foods.  It was beginner’s luck, plus, really, ‘ramps and guanciale”?  How can you go wrong?

  • Rocco’s Broccoli Rabe & Sausage [white] Pizza, seen here as a rectangular pie in its box, lying on top of the covered burners of our range; later there would be chile flakes
  • the wine was an Italian red, Mirafiore Dolcetto d’Alba 2011

prosciutto, radicchio; warmed clam sauce linguine

2014 December 20
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by james

prosciutto_radicchio_lovage

I thought I was going to be eating as a bachelor earlier this week, so I had expected to only have some leftover linguine with clam sauce from two nights earlier (sans the clams themselves, which had disappeared in the first round.  Then Barry IM-ed me that he would be home earlier than planned, and would join me for dinner.  Anticipating such a possibility, or the need for improvisation on some other night, I fortunately had fixings on hand for a decent first course.

  • Colameco’s prosciutto from whole Foods, drizzled with good olive oil
  • radicchio from Eataly, dressed with the same oil, a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper
  • slices of Rustica Classica from Eataly

linguine_with_clam_sauce_leftover

  • leftover linguine alle Vongole in Bianco (now bereft of the clams), gently oven-heated in a cazuela, then drizzled with olive oil and dusted with fresh chopped parsley (both after this picture was shot)
  • the wine was an Italian (Südtirol) white, St. Michael Eppan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2013

tuna steak with fennel seed, chiles; two kales

2014 December 20
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by james

tuna_steak_two_kales

I knew it had to be quick, because we were going to be at an Ensemble Pi concert that night;  my instructions were to pick up something at the Greenmarket that did not involve much time to prepare when we got back from NoHo, probably a bit after ten o’clock.   The next day’s schedule included an early rise for at least once of us;  that meant that the night before would be what Barry and I call a ‘school night’, meaning  getting to bed at a decent hour, or at least what we have come to call a decent hour.

I think I heard the words, ‘scallops’ and ‘tuna’ just as I stepped out of the apartment, but when I arrived below 17th Street around noon it was the tuna that attracted my attention first, although for no particular reason, as I love both dishes.

  • tuna steak from Blue Moon Fish, rubbed with a mixture of fennel seed and dried peperoncini, ground together, seasoned with salt, and pepper, then pan-grilled for only a minute or so on each side, finished with a good squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil
  • two kinds of kale, green and purple, from Tamarack Hollow Farm, braised with olive oil and a clove of garlic from S.S.&S.O. Farms which had been split and heated in the oil until starting to color, the vegetable then seasoned with salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was a northern Italian (south Tirol) white, J. Hofstätter Pinot Grigio Südtirol-Alto Adige 2013

linguine alle Vongole in Bianco (linguine, clams)

2014 December 19
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by james

linguine_con_vongole

There are so many ways to make this dish, it hardly merits mentioning any of my own, and I have a number of variations myself, but this is what I did on this one night.  I bought the shellfish rather than fish when I was at the greenmarket on Monday because that night I was going to have to put together something using leftover Guinea fowl, but I wanted to have some kind of seafood the next day (which was not a Greenmarket day) and I knew the clams would still be alive and fine then.

  • Afeltra linguine tossed in a large pot in which two garlic cloves from S.S.&O. Farm, minced, and one crushed peperoncino had been heated in some olive oil before being joined by little neck clams from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, along with their cooking juices after they had been steamed open in a separate pot, the entire mix sprinkled with a bunch of parsley from Stokes Farm, chopped
  • the wine was an Italian white, Bricco del Sole Langhe Chardonnay 2011

cabbage, fennel, radicchio, Guinea Hen, gorgonzola

2014 December 16
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by james

red_cabbage_salad_gorgonzola

This past Saturday I noticed a smallish glass container on the middle shelf of the refrigerator: The meat leftovers for the meal of Guinea fowl! I wasn’t really worried about the time it had spent on the shelf, especially since it was very well sealed, and it looked very fresh.  I tasted it nevertheless;  it was really delicious.  I couldn’t use it that night, or even the next, because I already had fresh fish at home for the first night, and two fresh lamb chops for the second.

This meant that I had time to do some planning, and the first thing that came to mind for an entrée that would use my surprise package was, almost naturally for me, a salad, certainly using some fresh greenery stuff.  Then I realized that I had bought a large red cabbage on Saturday, expecting it would be good for at least two meals, even if I had not yet imagined them.  I checked on line, hoping for a brilliant idea which would combine cabbage, fowl, and other ingredients I had on hand or could easily gather.  I found one on Epicurious.com, but I’m afraid my idea of working with the freshness of the meat got lost in my enthusiasm for its ingredients.  The ‘salad’ recipe however was terrific.

In the list of ingredients for “Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Roast Chicken and Gorgonzola Cheese” the chicken (or Guinea fowl) could well be substituted with pork or some other meat, or it could remain entirely vegetarian.  In fact it’s so incredibly rich, this ‘salad’ almost cries out for a green salad accompaniment!

The recipe is actually pretty simple, and, once you line up the ingredients, takes very little time.   In order to hurry the process along later in the evening, I had roasted the walnuts before we left for what turned out to be a terrific 8 o’clock Wet Ink Ensemble concert three blocks away, but we were back at home a little after 10, and sat down to dinner a little after 11.

  • red cabbage from Tamarack Hollow Farm, a small fennel bulb from Norwich Meadows Farm, a small head of radicchio from Eataly, one small red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, all the vegetables sliced thinly and placed in a large bowl along with coarsely-chopped toasted walnuts, one small carrot from Norwich Meadows Farm cut into matchstick-size pieces, a small Bosc pear from Caradonna Farms, cut into eight wedges, everything mixed together with a dressing of garlic from S.S. & O. Farm, chopped, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil, the whole sautéed until the mix is warm and the cabbage slightly wilted, with cooked Guinea fowl, broken into bit-size pieces, added near the end, all served in large shallow bowls and topped with bits of gorgonzola cheese and a sprinkling of chopped fennel fronds
  •  the wine was a French (Alsatian) white, Gentil HUGEL 2013 AOC Alsace

lamb chops, garlic, rosemary; roasted roots; greens

2014 December 15
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by james

lamb_chop_roasted_roots_radish_greens

This meal is pretty straightforward, so I can’t think of anything to say about it, other that the fact that the other two lamb chops from the package of four I bought on Saturday are waiting in the freezer for another meal, and that I also still have more of all the roots which accompanied the meat in this dinner.

  • two lamb chops form 3-Corner Field Farm, seasoned, brushed with garlic from S.S.& O. Farms and rosemary from Phillips Farm, both chopped, then pan-grilled
  • roots (celery root, parsnips, and carrots from Norwich Meadows Farm, and German Butterball potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm) together with shallots from Keith’s Farm, all roasted together, then finished, before they were removed from the oven, with chopped garlic from S.S. & O. Farm, and chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • radish greens, from a Greenmarket source I did not record this time, dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar
  • the wine was a French red, Clos Chanteduc Côtes-du-Rhône 2011

haddock on sage and garlic potatoes, roasted; tatsoi

2014 December 14
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by james

baked_haddock_potatoes_tatsoi

I’ve certainly prepared haddock before, but apparently never entered a meal which included the fish into the Food Blog.  It’s quite similar to cod in flavor and texture, and so quite delicious (yet somewhat less expensive), so it was easy to think of a dish which involved potatoes sliced thinly and baked with a savory herb.  This recipe I used was inspired by one in Mark Bittman’s discussion of how to cook white fish fillets.

  • a mix, four each, of Reba potatoes from Garden of Spices Farm and German Butterball potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm (I was improvising from what I found in the larder), washed, but not peeled, sliced thinly, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread onto an oven dish and roasted at 425º for about 25 minutes (when they have begun to brown), sprinkled with sage and garlic, both from S. & S.O. Farms, both chopped, topped with a single haddock fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood and two tablespoons of oil, and returned to the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is just done
  • a small shallot from Keith’s Farm, thinly sliced, stirred briefly in a pan with olive oil, before joined by the leaves of four beautiful tatsoi ‘heads’ from Tamarack Hollow Farm, the vegetables salted, then cooked until wilted but still bright green
  • the wine was a California white, Amador County Sobon Estate Viognier 2013

baked eggs with prosciuto, tomato, and kale

2014 December 14
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by james

baked_eggs_prosciuto_tomato

It was an off day, meaning it was neither a Greenmarket day (so no fresh fish) nor one on which I wanted to serve any significant amount of meat.  A simple vegetarian pasta dish would normally have been in order, but then I thought about the fresh eggs, perfectly ripe tomatoes, thinly-sliced prosciutto, and a bit of some very sweet kale which I had on hand, , so I looked around for a formula.

Mark Bittman again.

His 2007 recipe, “Baked Egg With Prosciutto and Tomato” became my starting point.  I had stashed the clipping in my ‘breakfast/lunch’ folder, but I had never used it, perhaps because it suggested only one egg for each portion.  I never totally forgot it however, even though I rarely actually cook breakfast, and seldom cook lunch;  by the time either of us is thinking of those meals, neither is willing to hold off hunger to wait for the prep.

But I love eggs, and I can appreciate them with any meal, so I took another look at the recipe and decided that adding two more eggs to the cazuelas would not corrupt it. Bittman’s text also suggested adding cooked spinach or asparagus to the bottom of each vessel;  I had some purple kale and was sure it would do just fine.

It made for a pretty decent dinner.   Breakfast or lunch even.

  • casuelas, each brushed inside with olive oil and layered with purple kale from Lucky Dog Organic, already braised, drizzled with a little cream, small Maine tomatoes (backyard farms.com), sliced, sliced prosciutto, both the tomatoes and the prosciutto from Whole Foods, three eggs from Knoll Krest Farm broken onto the surface, and finally one half of a chopped raw Brussels sprout (found all alone in the crisper, having escaped inclusion in an earlier meal), the whole baked until the eggs were set, the whites solidified, then seasoned with good salt and pepper
  • the wine was a Spanish Rioja, Ermita de San Felices Crianza 2009