sautéed sea bass, chili mushrooms; endive, balsamic butter

This blog has been silent for two months, so I can’t blame my neglect on the plague abroad in the land today.

Going forward however, I’m going to invoke the impact of the coronavirus as at least a part of the explanation for why these posts ae going to be more abbreviated than they were in the past.

I’m still going to be cooking almost every night, and I will be trying to make each meal as tasty as I can, and interesting enough to share, even if I won’t always get around to doing so.

So far we’ve been able to enjoy some pretty wonderful meals, thanks to my ability to continue accessing the sources that had made their equivalents possible in the past.

last night’s meal was one of the best.

The local black sea bass was sautéed simply, with no seasoning other than salt and pepper, and it was perfectly delicious, and crispy too; the blue oyster mushrooms, also sautéed, were joined by a tiny bit of dried hot smoked chili and only slightly more of a terrific seasoning pepper with no heat, then a bit of fresh lemon juice and fresh chopper parsley; the sautéed yellow endive was finished with a pretty simple balsamic vinegar butter and topped with a sprinkling of fresh oregano

The wine was a Mâcon-Lugny Les Charmes 2017

The music was a recording of Brahms’ complete string quartets and his piano quintet, by Quatuor Strada and Éric Le Sage

grilled lamb chops, habanada/thyme parsnips, cabbage

So perfect, and so delicious, and it’s also so very easy to arrange both.

  • four lamb loin chops (1.21 lbs) from Shannon Brook Farm, dried thoroughly, cooked on a very hot enameled cast iron grill pan for about 5 or 6 minutes on each side, seasoned with salt and pepper after they were first turned over, finished with a squeeze of juice from an organic California Whole Foods Market lemon, scattered with chopped rosemary from Philipps Farms
  • two parsnips from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, trimmed, cut roughly into 3 inch lengths, half inch widths, tossed with olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, a little crushed dried habanada pepper, and branches of thyme from West Side Market (Uncle Vinny’s), spread in a single layer onto an unglazed ceramic oven pan, roasted at 400º until done (20 to 25 minutes)
  • one small Savoy cabbage from Tamarack Hollow Farm, washed, quartered, cored, sliced into one-half-inch ribbons, sautéed in a scant tablespoon of olive oil inside a large enameled cast iron pot until wilted but still crunchy, stirring occasionally, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, a teaspoon and a half of just-toasted cumin seed mixed in, finished by stirring half of a teaspoon of Columela Rioja 30 Year Reserva sherry vinegar, then cooked for another couple of minutes
  • the wine was a French (Rhône/Ardèche) red, Michel Savel (Herve Souhaut) Marecos Red 2016, from Copake Wine Works
  • the music was an album of Shostakovich piano concertos, Anna Vinnitskaya accompanied by the Kremerata Baltica

tuna after “I Like Tuna Cooked, Not Raw” Dave Pasternak

I borrowed the recipe from David Pasternack, who’s known for his his love of raw seafood, and in particular crudo, something I can share with him, although mostly only as a concept, but the title of the New York Times article where I found it is, ‘THE CHEF; I Like Tuna Cooked, Not Raw‘.

So our tuna belly was cooked that Saturday, although it arrived home beautifully crude.

I pretty much went with the Esca chef’s formula, except for the overnight marinating, and a few substitutions that were necessary because I didn’t have an ingredient he had specified.

  • the sources of the ingredients I did use were 15 ounces of tuna belly (ventresca), which I believe was albacore, or longfin tuna, from P.E. & D.D. Seafood; the fisherman Phil Karlin’s own sea salt; freshly ground black pepper; one large clove of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, smashed; a little more than half of a cup of olive oil; 2 sprigs of thyme from West Side Market (‘Uncle Vinny’s’); one ‘Uncle Vinny’s’ bay leaf, possibly Columbian in origin, also rom Westside Market; 2 large salted and well rinsed Sicilian anchovies from Bon Italia; 8 ounces of LaRatte fingerlings from Norwich Meadows Farm; some genuinely wild native cress from Lani’s Farm; 1 very small red onion, sliced paper thin; one fourth of a cup of parsley leaves from Phillips Farms; 2 tablespoons of lovage; and 2 tablespoons of Sardinian red wine vinegar
  • the wine was an Italian (Piedmont) white, Ferrando, Cariola Erbaluce di Caluso 2016, from Flatiron Wines 
  • the ocean music [“The flavour of the sea pervades the three recent compositions heard here…” – from the program notes] was an album of music by the St. Petersburg composer Victor Kassine, ‘Between Two Waves’, with performances by Gidon Kremer and the musicians of Kremerata Baltica

sea bass with mussels, tomato, saffron; tardivo, rosemary

Surf and surf.

There wasn’t enough sea bass left in the bucket at the market, so, beating Paul to the punch this time (he usually asks, “anything else?” even when I’ve already selected 2 full portions of something, I added a bit of shellfish that had also been harvested from our local waters.

It’s now been 3 weeks since I prepared this meal, and I don’t remember whether I had found the recipe that I ended up (mostly) using while I was still at the fish stand deciding on whether to buy the mussels, or that evening, when I was ready to prepare the meal. My memory of the details of the cooking are also necessarily a little sketchy, but I can describe the origin of most of the ingredients:

  • two 5-ounce portions of local sea bass fillet from Pura Vida Seafood; eight ounces of local mushrooms, also from Pura Vida Seafood; fresh thyme from West Side Market (Uncle Vinny’s brand). two medium orange local heirloom tomatoes that I’d ripened on the windowsill, from Eckerton Hill Farm; a stalk from the greens of a celery root from Norwich Meadows Farms substituting for fennel; equal parts Millport Dairy Farm yogurt and a local Organic Farms whole milk substituting for double cream; a bit of wild cress from Lani’s Farm substituting for the samphire or sea beans; micro celery from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • tardivo from Willow Wisp Farm, washed under cold running water, the moisture shaken off, cut in 4 sections lengthwise and a V-cut made most of the way through the root end, allowing that part to cook more rapidly, tossed with a little olive oil, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, arranged inside an enameled cast iron pan over medium-high heat, one of their cut sides down, each covered with a couple of rosemary sprigs from Stokes Farm, cooked for a few minutes then turned onto a second cut side and cooked for a few more, and finally turned and cooked briefly onto the third, before they were arranged on the plates [this beautiful chicory can be served warm or room temperature after cooking]
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Vinho Verde/Monção and Melgaço) white, Quinta do Regueiro, Regueiro Alvarinho Reserva 2018, from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was Berlioz’s ‘La Damnation de Faust’, John Nelson conduting the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, with singers including singers Michael Spyres, Joyce DiDonato and Nicolas Courjal

bresaola, wild cress; tagliolini, rock shrimp, chili, fennels

It was New Years Eve, so in our tradition there would be a delicate meal which included seafood in some form, and/or maybe an equally light pasta. This year it was both, with some excellent local bresaola substituting for the more common first course of oysters.

  • Some wonderful bresaola (2.5 ounces) from Salumeria Biellese, a 95-year-old business whose store is still located 5 short blocks north of our apartment, although the factory is now in Hackensack, New Jersey, purchased from Eataly, which is 2 long blocks east of us, dressed with a little Greek olive oil, ‘Demi’, produced in Laconia, Velles, in the Peloponnese, purchased from John at the 23rd Street Greenmarket last summer, a bit of organic California lemon juice, and some cracked pepper, surrounding tiny plants of wild cress from Lani’s Farm, which were also drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice
  • slices of a She Wolf Bakery baguette

The choice for dressing a pasta dish was made that same day, at the market, the market in this case being our local Eataly, since I hadn’t found anything special in the Union Square Greenmarket earlier (because of the holiday, Wednesday venders were there on Tuesday that week, as they had been the week before, when Christmas Day had also been a Wednesday).

The recipe I bounced off, ignoring the first section, which describes a bonito butter, was from Bon Appétit.

  • the ingredients I used included 12 ounces of fresh tagliolini pasta (eggs, semolina flour, water) from Eataly;  one small green (unripe) Marzano spicy pepper from Windfall Farms, seeds removed, finely chopped; 2 wide strips of lemon peel and a tablespoon of juice from an organic Whole Foods Market California lemon; 8 ounces of sweet Florida rock shrimp, peeled and deveined, from Eataly; a bit of Sicilian Hyblaean Mountains wild fennel seed; one Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farms, the green parts only and thinly sliced; and a garnish of bronze fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge