Mackerel are not endangered, not expensive, very good for you, and very delicious.
After so many previous outings, how much more can I say about this great mackerel preparation? It’s Michael White’s very simple Sicilian-inspired recipe. I can usually vary the tomatoes, depending on what may be available, and sometimes at the very end I sprinkle something on the top (last night, for the first time, a micro bronze fennel), but even more important is the freshness of the fish and my luck in getting the correct flame and timing the cooking right.
Tomatoes and eggplant too: not endangered, not expensive, very good for you, and very delicious.
I love grilling somewhat larger eggplant, but I always smile when I spot ‘fairy tale’ eggplant (a name I’ve usually shortened to ‘fairy eggplant’) in the Greenmarket. They have the disadvantage of not lending themselves to being scored before grilling, but they have the advantage of not lending themselves to being scored before grilling (scoring takes a little more time, but only a little more time). Both larger and smaller eggplant can be combined with another vegetable, and tomato is a natural, but I kept it simple this time.
- four 3 to 4-ounce Spanish mackerel fillets from Blue Moon Fish, washed, dried, brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, pan grilled over high heat for 6 or 7 minutes, turning once (the skin side down first), removed and completed with a salsa consisting of 1/2-inch diced heirloom tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm tossed with olive oil, wild brined capers which had been rinsed and drained, juice from small Limoneira lemon from Trader Joe’s, salt, and pepper, and sprinkled with ‘micro bronze fennel’ from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- several handfuls of fairy tale eggplant from Stokes Farm, sliced in half, tossed with oil, chopped young (juicy) garlic from Alewife Farm, salt, pepper, fresh budding oregano from Stokes Farm, grilled on a large ribbed cast-iron pan and garnished with more of the oregano
- the wine was an Italian (Sicilian) red, Catarratto Bosco Falconieria 2013, produced by Bosco Falconeria, from Astor Wines
- the music was Antonio Vivaldi’s opera, ‘Tito Manlio’, performed by the Accademia Bizantina, directed by Ottavio Dantone
I wanted a sausage to accompany the beans I had cooked the night before, and the only sausage I had on hand was a package of frozen chorizo. I should probably have used it as part of a composed dish, since these links were far more spicy (really hot!) than I expected of a brand marketed as broadly as Niman Ranch is. In addition, the dried chilis I tossed into the salsa which accompanied it, while ostensibly the same as a supply I had just exhausted, were much hotter.
Fortunately, the beans at least had no spiciness (only a real herbiness). I also put some rich moist black bread on the table, and both were helpful in refreshing taste buds somewhat dazed by the other 2 elements of the dinner, enabling us to enjoy the good wine.
[Note: After the picture above was taken, the juices from each of the 3 elements began to run toward the center. It was more than picturesque, it was a perfect objective for the bread, which had now become even more useful.]
- Four links of Niman Ranch chorizo sausage, pan grilled for a few minutes over a medium flame until heated through
- a tomatillo and tomato salsa composed of 3 chopped tomatillos from Alewife Farm and 2 chopped heirloom tomatoes (one red, one yellow) from Norwich Meadows Farm, sliced red scallions (including some of the green stems) from Paffenroth Gardens, some dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero), chopped garlic from Alewife Farm, sea salt, a pinch of vanilla bean-infused turbinado sugar, some juice of a small Limoniera lemon from Trader Joe’s, and chopped parsley from Stokes Farm
- shelled Black Turtle beans from Norwich Meadows Farm (somewhere between fresh and dried, probably since they had been in the crisper for a while), washed, cleaned, added to a pot in which sliced red scallions from Paffenroth Gardens and sliced garlic from Alewife Farm had been sautéed in olive oil, water then added to cover, the mix slowly cooked for 3 or 4 hours the night before, water added as needed, until the beans were done, and some pungent dried Italian oregano from Buon Italia introduced during the cooking process, after which they were refrigerated, reheated the following evening, gradually adding some good vegetable broth, made from a concentrate manufactured by Better Than Bullion, to thin the condensed sauce, some chopped oregano buds from Stokes Farm stirred in while it was heating, and more, not chopped, used to garnish the beans
- the bread was an absolutely wonderful Hudson Bread pumpernickel boule from Citarella
- the wine was a California (Sonoma) red, The Cooper’s Art Timothy Olson Syrah 2015 [the link is to an earlier vintage]
- the music was Jean-Baptiste Lully’s ‘Armide’, Philippe Herreweghe directing La Chapelle Royale Paris, and the Collegium Vocale
Once the scallops, 2 vegetables, and 2 herbs had been washed and dried, the tomatoes and oregano chopped, and the basil torn, this meal came together in about 10 minutes, and pumping a minimum of heat into the kitchen.
- fourteen medium scallops from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, washed, drained and very thoroughly dried on paper towels (twice), generously seasoned with salt and pepper, pan grilled for about 90 seconds on each side, finished with a squeeze of a small sweet lemon from Trader Joe’s, a scattering of budding oregano from Stokes Farm, most of it chopped, and a drizzle of good olive oil poured on top
- small okra from Lani’s Farm, sautéed over a high flame in a large cast iron pan with a little olive oil and some crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero), stirring, seasoned with sea salt
- one chopped heirloom tomato from Eckerton Hill Farm and 2 quartered Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, dressed with a Campania olive oil, Maldon salt, Tellicherry pepper, a little balsamic vinegar, and tossed with some torn basil leaves from Sycamore Farms
- the wine was a New York (North Fork) rosé, Bridge Lane Rosé 2015
- the music was Johann Adolf Hasse’s 1725 opera, ‘Marc’ Antonio e Cleopatra’, in a performance by le Musiche Nove, Claudio Osele conducting
Gamey. The duck was definitely more gamey this time than we remember it ever being, but for us that’s a good thing. The next day, I described it to one of the people I see regularly behind the Hudson Valley Duck Farm counter in the Greenmarket. He told me that the breed of duck they raise hasn’t changed [in many years] and then asked me how large the breast had been, suggesting that it might have been because of the age of the duck, but we both agreed that one pound was not out of the norm.
Apparently it was just a gamey duck, a very good gamey duck.
- a one-pound boneless duck breast from Hudson Valley Duck Farm, the fatty side scored in cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast then sprinkled with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and a littl bit of turbinado sugar (which, in our kitchen, means infused over time with a vanilla bean), the duck left standing for 45 minutes or so before it was pan-fried, fatty side down first, in a tiny bit of oil over medium heat, draining the oil part of the way through (to be strained and used in cooking later, if desired), removed when medium rare and cut into the 2 portions at that time to be certain of its doneness, left to sit for several minutes before finishing it with a drizzle of organic lemon, a sprinkling of micro beet greens from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and a bit of Campania olive oil (the tenderloin, removed earlier from the breast and also marinated, is always fried very briefly near the end of the time the breast itself is cooking)
- about a quarter to a third of a pound of green snow peas from Norwich Meadows Farm, sautéed in olive oil with a little sea salt for a minute or so, then a couple of spring shallots from Lani’s Farm (including some of the green stem), sliced on the diagonal, added, along with a pinch of sugar, and tossed with the peas, which were sautéed for another 2 minutes or so, the heat turned off, and the zest of half of a small organic lemon from Trader Joe’s, some chopped spearmint from Lani’s Farm, a bit of freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and a little lemon juice stirred in
- the wine was a California (Sonoma) red, Jacqueline Bahue Cabernet Franc Clarksburg 2014
- the music was Johann Adolf Hasse’s ‘Cleofide’, William Christie directing the Cappella Coloniensis
And no toast!
I think I went a little overboard with the condiments this time. It was supposed to be just bacon and eggs, but I think I was inspired by a new (well, actually, antique) master salt I had just brought home and I went looking for a second kind of salt to serve with our favorite finishing salt, Maldon. Then I found more things, both dry and fresh, to put on the table in little dishes, and a meal that might otherwise have been pretty standard breakfast/lunch fare had become almost exotic.
The image below is of the eggs (which were smaller than usual) looked just before they had finished frying in my heavy iron pan. It had been a little too hot when I cracked the eggs into it, so the thinner layer of whites almost immediately bubbled up as they set, giving them a slightly weird appearance. I did however get every one of them onto the plates with yokes intact, something I’ve not always been able to manage.
- the ingredients were 6 eggs from Millport Dairy Farm, half of a pound of thick bacon, also from Millport, a Bien Cuit baguette from Foragers Market, some Maldon Salt and some ‘Sel Magique‘, Tellicherry pepper and ‘India Special Extra Bold’ Tellicherry peppercorns, a wonderful middle-eastern aromatic seasoning blend called L’eKama, and 6 differetn chopped herbs: parsley from Stokes Farm; garlic chives from Lani’s Farm; fennel fronds from Tamarack Hollow Farm, and tarragon, oregano buds, and flowering thyme from Stokes Farm
- the music was the album, ‘Alfonso X El Sabio: Cantigas De Santa Maria’, with Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XX, and La Capella Reial de Catalunya