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mushroom ravioli, celery, spring garlic, tarragon

2015 April 24
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by james

mushroom_ravioli_celery_spring_garlic_tarragon

This is another of my favorite placeholders, in the sense that a package of very good filled pasta kept frozen in the refrigerator can substitute for a more ambitious meal when time is short.  Tonight my excuse was our presence at Momenta Art’s 2015 Spring Benefit. A dinner assembled around a prepared fresh pasta is like a night off from the kitchen, and it may seem almost a trifle, but it can be delicious nevertheless.

The sauces I add to the pasta are usually pretty much improvised each time, from among the ingredients I may have on hand, and that was certainly the case here, although they happened to include some of my favorite flavors, celery, tarragon, and any form of spring allium, not to mention a good aged Parmesan.

  • a package of Rana mushroom-filled ravioli from Eataly, sauced simply with a combination of chopped celery from Whole Foods and sliced spring garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, both sautéed, then some freshly-ground black pepper and minced tarragon from Whole Foods added, the shallow bowls sprinkled with freshly-gratesd Parmesan cheese from Buon Italia
  • the wine was a California white, Stephen Millier Angel’s Reserve Pinot Grigio 2014 Lodi
  • the music, or at least some of it, was Hans Werner Henze’s, ‘I Sentimenti di Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’

cannellini bean, tuna, red onion, rosemary salad

2015 April 23
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by james

cannellini_tuna_red_onion

This room temperature main course salad is one of our safe dishes, meaning that it’s one of the ways we still get to eat healthily at home, even if we return to the apartment very late (last night it was the Henry Kaiser/Weasel Walter Large Ensemble at JACK). It’s another one of Mark Bittman’s 111 Quick Meals , entrées which can be prepared – optimistically – in ten minutes or less.  Two months ago I wrote about what I could describe as our most popular winter choice from among the list.  In fact however, either meal is suitable for any season, and each is as delicious as it is quick and easy.

The better the beans, and the oil-packed tuna, the better the salad; I’ve used many different brands of beans, but this time I used Whole Foods’ ‘365’.  The tuna was from Tonnino tuna (I don’t remember where I had picked up the jar).  I also used onions from John D. Madura Farm, and rosemary from Phillips Farm.

The New York Times kitchen wizard would almost certainly approve of any sensitive alteration, even if it might add a minute or two to the timetable.  That could mean including some salad greens placed under or tossed with the bean-tuna mixture, and I’ve occasionally added dried red pepper flakes, or halved ripe cherry tomatoes.  This time I passed on greens, chiles, or tomatoes, and I saved us a couple of minutes.

crab cake, collards, prosciutto; baby potato, savory

2015 April 22
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by james

crab_cake_potatoes_kale

Note to self:  The dinner and wine were both delicious, but the music was extraordinary, plus a huge surprise, since I had thought, as a huge fan of Hans Werner Henze for well over half a century, I was familiar with virtually all the recorded heterogeneous work of this awesome leftist, queer musical and theatrical genius.

 

The fisher folk were not at the Union Square Greenmarket on Monday (possibly because of the storm).  I had been looking forward to a seafood meal, so I was fortunate to have some frozen crab cakes which I keep on hand for such emergencies.  The introduction of some cured pork (prosciutto in this case) to the greens, making the meal a queer ‘surf  ‘n’ turf’, added an additional sturdiness on a stormy night.

  • two crab cakes from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, (ingredients: crab, egg, flour, red & green peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, milk, celery, parsley), heated in a heavy iron pan, four minutes to each side, then placed on a bed of greens (collard and some kale), chopped Applegate Naturals prosciutto from Whole Foods, sliced spring garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, some juice of a lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, in a procedure mostly following the vegetable portion of Emma Ribiero’s recipe.
  • ’18K Gold Nugget’ (actually, ‘Nicola’ in this batch) potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, boiled in salted water, drained and steamed dry, rolled with a small amount of olive oil and freshly-ground black pepper and chopped winter savory from Whole Foods
  • the wine was a South African white, De Wets Excelsior Chardonnay 2014
  • the music was an magnificent performance of Hans Werner Henze’s incredible, ‘Il Vitalino Raddoppiato’  (exceptionally for us during a meal, we hardly said a word through the almost-half-hour duration of the piece)

perch, anchovy; tomato, leek thyme; young kale

2015 April 22
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by james

sea_perch_tomato_kale_2

This is the second time I’ve prepared sea perch, and I’m already growing very fond of it.  Although supposedly not related to the freshwater fish of the same name, it tastes remarkably similar to the species I grew up with on the Great Lakes, and that’s a very good thing.  Also, in Michigan and Wisconsin our perch were never red.

I used a different recipe for the fish this time; it’s ‘Perch with Anchovy Sauce’, like the last one, is from Mark Bittman’s ‘Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking‘.  I can’t say which I prefer, since I’m very fond of both herbs and anchovies.  Right, the anchovies!  Certainly a good reason to distinguish sea perch from freshwater perch:  I mean, would I use anchovy with lake perch?

  • four fillets of red sea perch (15 ounces total) from American Seafood Company, brushed with olive oil and minced ‘music garlic’ from Migliorelli Farm, seasoned, then broiled until the skin is crisp and the fish cooked through, sauced with olive oil heated with rinsed, filleted salted anchovies from Buon Italia until they fell apart, finished with chopped parsley from Rogowski Farm
  • very young and very sweet greens (they tasted like a great dish of Tuscan bietole ), which Ron of Rogowski Farm told me Cheryl had said were White Russian kale, chopped, wilted with olive oil in which one lightly-crushed head of ‘music garlic’ from Migliorelli Farm, cut in two, had been heated, then seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, and drizzled with more olive oil
  • cherry tomatoes from Toigo Orchards, heated with olive oil, one hopped baby leek from Rogowski Farm, and chopped thyme from Eataly
  • accompanied by whole wheat bread, ‘Integrale’ from Eataly, a wonderful addition for savoring the mix of juices or sauces
  • the wine was a California white, Franc Dusak White Wine Mendocino 2014
  • the music was Beethoven’s piano sonata No. 4, Op. 7, played by Soheil Nasseri

duck breast, savory; potatoes, pea sprouts; collards

2015 April 22
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by james

duck_greens_boiled_potatoes

I think if I had to choose to cook and serve but one kind of red meat going forward, I might choose duck breast, and this is a wonderful (and very simple and easy) way to prepare it. I’ve done it many times, usually varying the finishing touches with various herbs, or alliium.  This time I had some winter savory, a good stand-in for the almost-classic rosemary.

  • a small duck breast (11 ounces) from Pat LaFrieda at Eataly, the fatty side scored, covered with salt, pepper and a bit of turbinato sugar infused over time with a vanilla bean, then left standing for about half an hour before it was pan-fried, finished with Long Island lemon from Fantastic Gardens in the Union Square Greenamarket, chopped winter savory from Whole Foods, and a bit of olive oil
  • collard greens from Rogowski Farm, cut in a rough chiffonade, braised in a heavy pot in which crushed garlic garlic from S. & S.O. Produce Farms had been allowed to sweat with a bit of olive oil, finished with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
  • boiled German Butterball potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, boiled in salted water, drained, steamed dry, rolled with a small amount of olive oil, freshly-ground black pepper, and pea sprouts from from Lucky Dog Organic
  • the wine was a French red, Anne de Joyeuse Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
  • the music was an extraordinary piece, ‘Suikinkutsu’ [water-zither-cave], by ethnomusicologist Steven Feld

grilled mackerel, tomato salsa; kale and collards

2015 April 21
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by james

Boston_mackerel_fillets

Mackerel, Spanish or Boston mackerel, is one of the most beautiful fish in the sea [here, some fillets in full sunlight], whether whole or filleted, and one of the most delicious. It’s a pity so many people avoid it because of the adjective “oily’ that is so casually attached to it, generally with a negative connotation.  But it’s precisely the full flavor and, yes, the oiliness of mackerel and other non-whitefish, like salmon, trout, and tuna (as well as the smaller species, such as anchovies, herring, and sardines), that is prized by others, including myself.  Of course there’s also the health factor, but most people don’t actually eat food counsel.

The secret for enjoying mackerel, or any oily fish, is the same as for any other food is finding the right recipe.  This is just one, and it’s very simple.

mackerel_tomato_kale

  • 2-ounce Boston mackerel fillets (a total of 8 for the two of us) from Pura Vida Fisheries, brushed with olive oil and seasoned, pan-grilled briefly over high heat (both sides, skin side down first), then transferred to warm plates and half-covered with a Sicilian-style salsa of halved cherry tomatoes from Toigo Orchards, capers, lemon juice from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, salt, pepper, and a bit of chopped winer savory from Whole Foods
  • a mixture of kale and collard greens from Rogowski Farm, roughly chopped, wilted with olive oil in which one lightly-crushed garlic clove from ‘music garlic’ heads from Migliorelli Farm, cut in two, had been heated, the greens seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, and drizzled with more olive oil
  • the wine was a Spanish white, CVNE Cuna Monopole Rioja Blanco 2013
  • the music was Bach, partitas played by Jeremy Denk

veal tongue, mustard-horseradish sauce; roast roots

2015 April 18
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by james

roasting_roots

The roots came second in the preparation of this meal, not the usual order for me, but the slow-boiled beef veal tongue that they were to accompany had already been long absorbing the flavors of its broth when it was time to place the vegetables in a hot oven.  The picture above shows them just before that moment, and the picture which follows, of the finished dinner on the plate, was taken almost an hour later.

lingua_di_vitello_roots

I love tongue (I’m talking about cooking here).  Most people may think of it as fairly exotic, at the very least.  The fact that it is in the category of ‘offal’, even if the etymology of that word has no relationship to a common like-sounding adjective, doesn’t help its popularity.  If anyone has experienced it at all, it was likely to have been as part of a platter of cold meats, where it might have gone unremarked.

I learned to appreciate it many years ago, as a cold dish and also as a warm entrée.  I was in my 20’s, and already fasciated by the great European cooking traditions, not least those of France and her adopted daughter Julia Child.  I have no interest in consuming really exotic animals, which, to someone still as Eurocentric as I, means anything which would not be found in traditional European kitchens, but I’m game for, well, . . . European game of course, but also offal.

Until this year, my experience with tongue was limited to beef tongue, and that was in my Rhode Island kitchen in the late 60s, 70s and early 80s (my guest-friends back in that era must have thought I was half insane, even before the first of my suckling pig meals).  It was my virtually complete dependence on the Union Square Greenmarket for food sources that recently introduced me to both lamb and veal tongue for the first time.   In almost 30 years I have never seen tongue displayed in the stores in my New York neighborhood, even before it became upscale ; it’s even difficult finding liver, which was always a staple when I was growing up (although it’s possible that offal is finally about to assume its proper place at the upscale meat counter).

I soon learned that if you start looking for a recipe for this cut of meat, or even just some inspiration, you could go on forever.  I jumped on this particular one from Epicurious, for Beef tongue, from May, 2000, because I liked the list of ingredients (and already had them on hand, except for the dill), and, while this may surprise some, it looked pretty straightforward (not too many steps).   Since I had a veal tongue a quarter of the weight of the piece specified, I reduced the amounts of the other ingredients accordingly.

Note: After I had removed the tongue, I strained the cooking broth and placed it in a container in the freezer.  I’ll probably use as the basis of a cabbage soup lunch.

  • one twelve-ounce veal tongue from Consider Bardwell Farms (a perfect size for two people, as it’s rich, and there are no bones), prepared pretty much by following the recipe alluded to above, using, among others, these fresh ingredients: yellow onion from John D. Madura Farm; ‘music garlic’ cloves from Migliorelli Farm; bay leaf from Whole Foods; shallots from John C. Madura Farms; horseradish from Holy Schmitt’s in the Greenmarket; parsley from Rogowski Farm; local lemon juice from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island
  • a melange of root vegetables, including diced celery root from Tamarack Hollow Farm, sliced parsnips from Migliorelli Farm, turnip from Norwich Meadows farm, a little halved or quartered red and yellow onion from John D. Madura Farm, all tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sprigs of winter savory from Whole Foods, the savory placed on the bottom of an oven pan, the roots spread on top, everything roasted at 400º, sliced leeks from S. & S.O. Produce Farms added more than half of the way through, the vegetables removed from the oven when tender and golden (about 45 minutes), then tossed with chopped parsley from Rogowski Farm
  • the wine was a French red, Château Moneins Haut-Médoc 2010
  • the music was, once again, works by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

triangolo di asparagi with tomato, garlic, onion tops

2015 April 8
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by james

asparagus_ravioli_tomato_onion_tops

While I was inside Eataly to pick up some bread yesterday afternoon, I passed the shop-made fresh pasta showcase where I got carried away with the the shape of this pasta and the sign describing the seasonal filling (well, anticipating the season just a bit) of asparagus.  The rest of the filling was simply ricotta and goat cheese, so I knew I’d be able to ‘sauce’ it with the cherry tomatoes remaining on hand, along with more of my new infatuation, onion tops.

  • asparagus, ricotta and goat cheese-filled triangolo di asparagi, tossed with Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods, slightly-sautéed with sliced garlic and freshly-ground black pepper, the bowls scattered with chopped onion (yellow onion) tops from Phillips Farm
  • the wine was a white Italian, Piedmont Wine Project Asinel Bianco 2013 from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was some symphonies of J.C. Bach

Incidentally, there is a short story to the name, ‘Asinel’, and the bottle itself boasts one of the most irresistible wine labels I’ve ever pulled off a shelf:

Asinel_Piedmont_Wine_Project

scallops with onion tops; tomato with oregano; kale

2015 April 8
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by james

scallops_tomato_kale

Hunting and gathering:  I picked up the scallops Monday in the Greenmarket, and I already had some kale, but I also wanted to add something which would both fill out the color palette on the plate and add to the modest amount of the serving, at least psychologically.  I pulled a few tomatoes off of the breakfast room window sill.  The onion tops were totally new to me. When I saw the hand-written sign under the awning of the Phillips Farm stall yesterday I had to check them out (it is still early April, after all), although I already knew there was just no way I was going to be going home without them.

I snap pictures of most of the things I buy at the Greenmarket, usually only to be able to have a record of my sources for the purposes of this blog.  The picture below was one of those snapshot ‘notes’, but I like the sense of place and the pocket drama it suggests, .  Also, this is the first time I’ve ever recorded ‘onion tops’.

onion_tops_sign_Phillips

  • scallops from P.E. & D.D. seafood dried (to ensure grill marks), seasoned and pan-grilled briefly on both sides, finished with a squeeze of juice from a local lemon grown by Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, sliced spring onion tops from Phillips Farm, and olive oil
  • three Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods, sliced, grilled briefly as the scallops finished cooking, seasoned and sprinkled with chopped fresh oregano from Phillips Farm
  • kale from, Rogowski Farm, chopped, wilted with olive oil in which one lightly-crushed garlic clove from Samascott Orchards, cut in two, had been heated, then seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, and drizzled with more olive oil

the wine was a French white, Domaine Paul Buisse Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Chelsea Wine Vault

the music was several of Beethoven’s Opus 18 Quartets

spaghettini with sorrel sauce

2015 April 5
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by james

linguine_with_sorrel_sauce

Note to self:  The rewards of this combination of pasta and green things exceeded its very modest parts.

 

I had been distracted by the need to work with other ingredients ever since I picked up a bag of sorrel at the Greenmarket, but I eventually found myself stressing out over what I would do with this fabulous herb/green before it self-destructed.  Tonight, faced with the need to put together something between a significant seafood meal and a more festive one involving a small rack of lamb,  I decided to take the easy way out and use it to sauce a good pasta.  Sorrel, the new basil!

  • one pound of Setaro spaghettini from Buon Italia cooked al dente, then tossed with a sauce made up of the blending (chopping and then transferring to my vintage Osterizer, since I don’t own a food processor and using my huge iron mortar would have taken too long) of two cups of de-stemmed sorrel from John D. Madura Farm, one third of a cup of parsley from Rogowski Farm, two garlic cloves from S. & S.O. Produce Farms, with the addition of one fourth of a cup of pine nuts and one third of a cup of grated Parmesan, both from Buon Italia, salt, and one fourth of a cup of olive oil
  • the wine was an Italian white, Paolo Scavino Langhe 2013 from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was the first two hours of a broadcast of Rafael Kubelik’s ‘Parsifal’ on WKCR -FM