It was breakfast much as usual, but with fewer accoutrements today. We were hoping to get to Bushwick before sunset, so I was thinking that less would give us more [time in Brooklyn], so I skipped the alliums and tomatoes this time.
- the ingredients that did appear on our plates were half a dozen eggs from 2 local suppliers, 4 from Norwich Meadows Farm and 2 pullet eggs from Shannon Brook Farm; bacon from Millport Dairy Farm; toast from a loaf of Bread Alone’s 12 grain & seed (organic wheat and whole wheat flours); crumbled dried orange/gold habanada pepper: a bit less crumbled dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia; sea salt; freshly-ground black pepper; chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge; a pinch of fenugreek from Nirmala Gupta’s ‘Bombay Emerald Chutney Company‘ at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street; and purple micro radish, also from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the music was probably our first nod to the season this year (I resisted just a little, since my December birthday was still to come, but then I retreated), Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Philippe Herreweghe conducting soloists Michael Chance, Barbara Schlick, Howard Crook, Peter Kooy and the Collegium Vocale
I’ve often put together meals similar to and almost identical to this one, but we never tire of this combination. In fact it’s one of our all-time favorites, and not at all difficult, even the first time out.
This time it was particularly good.
Dave’s potatoes (Max Creek Hatchery) were an important part, and Migliorelli’s December collards were so sweet.
- * one 15-ounce cod fillet from Seatuck Fish Company in the Union Square greenmarket, halved, prepared more or less from a recipe from Mark Bittman which I had originally come across 12 years ago: the cod washed and rinsed, placed in a platter on a bed of coarse sea salt, with more salt added on top until the pieces were completely covered, then set aside while a bed of potatoes was prepared for them by slicing 12 ounces of German butterballs from Max Creek Hatchery to a thickness of less than 1/4 inch, tossing the potatoes in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a large pinch of orange/gold home-dried Habanada pepper [acquired in the fall of 2016 from Norwich Meadows Farm], arranging the potatoes, overlapping, in a rectangular enameled cast iron oven pan, cooking them for 25 minutes or so in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced, then, before the potatoes had fully cooked, the cod was thoroughly immersed in many changes of water, to bring down the saltiness (incidentally, the soaking process somehow gives the fish more solidity, which can be easily felt while it’s being handled it at this point), draining and drying the two pieces before placing them inside the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzling them with a little olive oil and scattering some freshly-ground pepper on top, returning the pan to the oven for 8 to 12 minutes (the exact time depends on the thickness of their), removing the fish with a spatula (or, much better, two spatulas), along with as much of the potatoes as can be brought with each piece, and arranging everything, intact if possible, onto 2 plates, returning to the pan for the remainder of the potatoes, the servings each scattered with chopped parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm and garnished with purple micro radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- * one good-size bunch of collard greens from Migliorelli Farm, stripped of their stems, torn into small sections, washed several times and drained, transferred to a smaller bowl very quickly, in order to retain as much of the water clinging to them as possible, then braised until barely softened inside a heavy enameled cast iron pot in which 2 Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm had first been allowed to sweat in some olive oil, finished with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a little crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a California (Lodi) white, David Akiyoshi Chardonnay Lodi 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Bohuslav Martinü’s Symphony No. 2 (Cornelius Meister conducting the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra in a fantastic performance), composed during World War II (1943), on a commission from the Czech community in Cleveland. It was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Erich Leinsdorf on October 28 that year, which marked the 25th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, then downgraded to a Czech protectorate and Slovak puppet state under German occupation.
This dish was a snap to put together, but it tasted as luscious as it looks.
- fresh spinach and ricotta-filled Agnolotti, or demi-lunes from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron location, served with a sauce that began with heating, until it became fragrant, one halved Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm with a tablespoon or so of olive oil inside a heavy, high-sided tin-lined copper pot, adding 3 tiny scallions from Willow Wisp Farm, chopped, heating them until softened, then stirring in 5 ripe Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, halved, the mix seasoned with sea salt and Freshly-ground black pepper, sprinkled with homemade breadcrumbs, which had first been browned in a little olive oil with a pinch of sea salt, ending up arranged in shallow bowls, garnished with a little purple radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and drizzled around the edges with a bit more olive oil
There was a first course, and it was even simpler to put together than the ‘primi‘.
- a few pounces of La Quercia Ridgetop Speck, drizzled with a small amount olive oil
- a bit of ‘wild cress’ from Lani’s Farm, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, drizzled with a very small amount of olive oil and an and even smaller portion of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon
- slices from a loaf of Eataly’s wonderful, crusty ‘Mediterraneo’ (whole rye flour, stone-milled wheat flour, 5 seeds, some millet and farro)
- the wine throughout was a California (Central Coast) rosé, Keith Hock Central Coast Rosé 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Nicolo Porpora’s 1737 opera, ‘Il Gedeone’, Martin Haselböck conducting the Vienna Academy and the Nova Vocal Ensemble, with Kai Wessel (Countertenor), Ulf Bästlein (Bass), Linda Perillo (Soprano), Henning Voss (Countertenor), Jörg Waschinski (Soprano), and Johannes Chum (Tenor)
(from the oven, skin partially pulled back to accept some grated horseradish)
I don’t know why I haven’t prepared fresh trout in such a long time, unless I was just waiting to teach myself how to butterfly them, in order to solve the potential bone problem (I haven’t learned yet). M any cooks disdain trout unless it is caught wild, and probably for a good reason an indifferent product, with little taste. I don’t have that excuse however: We have access to a wonderful source in Dave Harris, who owns Max Creek Hatchery in East Meredith, way upstate, near Oneonta, and he basically pulls into our backyard once a week (well, into the Union Square Greenmarket, which I do consider our greater backyard).
We began the meal with a small crudité, served on the kitchen counter by the breadbox.
- a few French small French breakfast radishes from Eckerton Hill Farm, scrubbed and trimmed, but with a portion of stem left on [almost] all of them, to make it easier for dipping into a small dish of Maldon salt
This is what the trout looked like just before they went into the oven, with eyes shining and rainbows still glowing.
- two very, very fresh whole rainbow trout from Max Creek Hatchery, gutted and cleaned, placed inside an oiled tin-lined copper au gratin pan, seasoned inside and out with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, the cavities stuffed with sprigs of herbs (thyme from Stokes Farm and parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm) and lined with thin slices of one organic Whole Foods Market lemon, then drizzled with a little more olive oil, and roasted for about for 15 or 20 mins, or until the fish is cooked through (the eyes turn white and the flesh becomes soft to the touch), removed from the oven, the skin on the top side of each pulled back and fresh horseradish root from Gorzynski Ornery Farm grated on top before serving, with additional horseradish placed on the table
- the greens from 2 bunches of French Breakfast radishes (a few of which we had just nibbled on) which had been removed from their roots, to better preserve both roots and leaves, the moment they had arrived from the Greenmarket this week, barely wilted inside a medium-size heavy, high-sided tin-lined copper pan in a little olive oil in which one bruised and halved Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm had first been allowed to sweat and just begin to color, the greens seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a very small part of one crushed dried dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, arranged on the plates with a little more olive oil drizzled on top
- tiny ‘Red Gold’ potatoes from Keith’s Farm, scrubbed, skins left on, boiled inside a large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, dried in the same container while it and they were still-warm, tossed with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm
- the wine throughout the meal was a German (Rheinhessen) sparkling white, Fritz Müller Perlwein
- the music was the album, ‘El Maestro Farinelli’, instrumental and vocal music associated with Farinelli, including compositions by Nicola Conforto, José Nebra, Nicolo Porpora, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, Francesco Corradini, Juan Marcolini, Niccolò Jommelli, and Tommaso Traetta, with Countertenor Bejun Mehta, and Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Concerto Cologne
As usual here, all of the main actors ( and most of the supporting cast) were local, but by mid-December some of them are more difficult to assemble. The scallops don’t really have a season, but the tomatoes would clearly have not been able to make it without the help of some creative farming practices, and the very-late-season spinach was likely to have had a lot of help getting onto our table
- eighteen medium scallops (12 ounces) 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 organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and one piece of crushed orange/gold dried habanada pepper [although I should have added it before they were grilled], chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, drizzled with some good olive oil
- three medium-size ‘Expresso heirloom’ tomatoes from Cherry Lane Farm, washed, dried, halved, heated in a little olive oil inside a 19th-century enameled cast iron porringer, in which the chopped white section of one tiny leek from Willow Wisp Farm had first been sautéed until tender, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and sprinkled with chopped thyme leaves from Stokes Farm
- red-vein spinach (”Red Kitten’) from Alewife Farm, washed in several changes of water, drained, very gently wilted (that is, not reduced too far) inside a large, very heavy, high-sided tin-lined copper pot in a little olive oil in which 2 large cloves of Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, quartered, had first been allowed to sweat, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, drizzled with a little organic lemon and a bit more of the olive oil
- the wine was a California (Sonoma) white, Scott Peterson Rumpus California Sauvignon Blanc 2016
- the music was Handel’s gorgeous 1747 opera, ‘Arminio’, George Petrou directing the ensemble Armonia Atenea, with Xavier Sabata (Countertenor), Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor), Ruxandra Donose (Mezzo Soprano), Layla Claire (Soprano), Vince Yi (Countertenor), Juan Sancho (Tenor), and Petros Magoulas (Bass); count them: 3 countertenors, 3!