steak, thyme/fennel; celeriac/potato/paprika frites; chard

Last night we celebrated Barry’s newly-restored ability – after two successive carpal tunnel operations – to cut his food using both hands.

It was a great steak! The fact that everything else on the plates as well had at least some red in it was purely coincidence.

The fact that the beef was more rare-to-medium-rare than merely medium-rare was also not by design, but fortunately for us this delicious Black Angus cut took very well to that option.

  • a Black Angus rib eye/Delmonico steak (.91 lbs) from Greg and Mike of Sun Fed Beef (Maple Avenue Farms) in the Union Square Greenmarket, brought to room temperature, dried very well, seasoned with a generous amount of freshly roughly-ground black pepper, placed on a very hot cast iron pan grill for just about 10 or 12 minutes, turning twice, salting each side after it had been seared, removed and arranged on the plates, a little juice from an organic Whole Food Market lemon squeezed on top, sprinkled with some chopped fresh thyme from Citarella and dried Sicilian organic wild fennel pollen from Buon Italia, drizzled with a little olive oil and garnished with purple micro radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge

  • eight ounces of celeriac from Norwich Meadows Farm and about the same weight in medium size German butterball potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into crescent wedges, tossed inside a large bowl with a little olive oil, a half teaspoon of Spanish paprika picante, a small crushed section of medium-dark dried habanada pepper, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, spread onto a medium-size Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan [the image above was taken at that moment], roasted at 400º until brown, crispy on the edges, and cooked through
  • a small amount of red chard from Citarella (some of the leaves had unaccountably frozen in the crisper, so I had first removed those sections, which accounts for the small portion), wilted in a little olive oil in which one halved Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm had first been heated and slightly softened, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, and finished with a drizzle of Portuguese olive oil from Whole Foods Market and a bit of lemon juice
  • the wine was a California (Los Carneros) red, Sin Fronteras Los Primos Red Wine California 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was a modern reconstruction/pastiche of a 1739 opera by Handel, ‘Giove in Argo’, once thought to have been totally lost, Alan Curtis conducting Il Complesso Barocco

bacon and eggs, this time almost ‘straight up’, so to speak

I usually throw all kinds of stuff into what for most folks would be a simple breakfast of bacon and eggs, but this one escaped from the kitchen [relatively] bare-bones.

  • the ingredients on the plate photographed above included thick bacon from Millport Dairy Farm, Ameraucana chicken eggs from Millport Dairy Farm, Cultured Pastured Butter from Organic Valley, a little bit of sliced scallion from Phillips Farms, freshly-ground black pepper, sea salt, plus Maldon sea salt for finishing, part of a crushed dried golden/orange habanada pepper bought fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm last fall, Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ (from Maine, near Skowhegan) via Whole Foods Market, chopped fresh thyme from Citarella, organic dried wild fennel pollen from Buon Italia, pea shoots from Windfall Farms, and toasts of 3 different breads: a ‘Mediterraneo’ (whole rye flour, stone-milled wheat flour, 5 seeds, plus millet and faro) and a ‘rustic classic’, both from Eataly, and a corn rye boule from Hot Bread Kitchen
  • the music was Bach’s St. John Passion, John Eliot Gardiner conducting the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir

eggplant ravioli with shallots, olives, parmesan, pea shoots

The shock absorbers in the cook’s left knee seem to have torn, reducing his mobility. For a while the ingredients in these meals will be sourced less from local producers, and more from local retailers. This means that instead of buying from local farmers in the Union Square Greenmarket, he will be visiting the shops that are nearest to his kitchen. He’ll also be able to lean on the most over-qualified kitchen helper, ever.

So this meal was transitional.

  • three cloves of roughly-sliced Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm heated with a tablespoon or more of olive oil inside a large tin-lined high-sided pot until softened, then 2 shallots and a bit of crushed dried golden/orange habanada pepper added, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, 8 or 10 pitted oil-cured olives from Buon Italia stirred in, and 16 ounces of gently-cooked eggplant-filled ravioli from Citarella (no cheese inside) added, followed by some reserved pasta cooking water, in small amounts, stirred with the mix until the liquid had emulsified, the sauced ravioli served in shallow bowls, sprinkled with a Parmigiano Reggiano Hombre from Whole Foods Market, garnished with pea sprouts from Windfall Farms, finished with a final drizzle of olive oil around the edges
  • the wine was an Italian (Tuscany) red, Farnetella, Chianti Colli Senesi 2015, from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was Bruckner’s Symphony No. 0 (Linz Version, 1865-66), Georg Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

kassler, scallion, garlic oregano jelly; potatoes; mustard

Is it still ‘Kassler‘ even when it’s not entirely German? I’ve made a working-executive decision: It is.

The only thing I worry about when I prepare a meal with smoke pork chops without heating them inside some Sauerkraut is whether they will be juicy. I’ve come up with the solution: keep them covered, and even the tiniest bit of liquid will do the trick.

They were definitely juicy last night.

And so were the vegetables.

  • a small amount of frozen rendered goose fat, the gift of a friend, that I had mixed with some juices from a dinner of which included squab bruschetta in which I had used it, heated inside a heavy, medium-size tin-lined copper skillet, where it had softened the chopped white sections of a scallion from Phillips Farms, the green section reserved for later, after which 2 smoked loin pork chops from Schaller & Weber were added, the pot covered with a universal copper lid, kept above a very low flame (just enough to warm the chops through, as they were already fully-cooked), turning the meat once, then, near the end of the cooking time (I went 8 minutes this time), the green parts of the onion, which had been set aside earlier, now also sliced, added for a minute or so, the pork removed, arranged on the plates, brushed with a little garlic oregano jam from Berkshire Berries, and sprinkled with both the white and green onion pieces
  • red mustard from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in olive oil in which 3 cloves of Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic had been gently sautéed until they had begun to brown, finished with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
  • six ‘Pinto’ potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, boiled, unpeeled, in generously-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried in the still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed there with 3 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ [12 grams of fat per 14 grams, or each tablespoon, of butter], seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, arranged on the plates, sprinkled with chopped parsley from Eataly, some toasted homemade breadcrumbs scattered on the top
  • the wine was an excellent German (Pfalz) white, Becker Family Pinot Blanc, 2013, which our local purveyor at the time, Appellation Wines, was kind enough to special order for us when we asked them
  • the music was Handel’s 1737 opera, ‘Berenice’, with Alan Curtis conducting Il Complesso Barocco

herb and habanada-baked sea bass; tomatoes; cavolo nero

Together we opted for the simplest of the recipes I’ve used in preparing sea bass, because the cook was tired, but also because this time the muse wanted something more like comfort food than delicate display. Ironically, the finished meal described in the picture above looks pretty basic, if not minimal (even to the absence of any of my usual micro green garnishes this time).

  • two 7-ounce black sea bass fillets from American Seafood, rinsed, dried, and placed skin side down inside a tin-lined copper au gratin pan in which a teaspoon or so of olive oil had been poured and brushed around the surface, the fish seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with a mix of parsley from Eataly; lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge; sage and thyme, both partially-dried, from Phillips Farm; mint from Windfall Farms; and a bit of a home-dried heatless, orange/ gold Habanada pepper (from fruit grown by fresh Norwich Meadows Farm last fall), the fish topped with a coating of homemade bread crumbs, and drizzled with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, placed inside a 425º oven for 9 or 10 minutes, arranged on 2 plates, finished with a squeeze of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a light drizzle of olive oil
  • three Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, halved, arranged around the bass inside the pan in the last 3 or 4 minutes of their cooking, placed on the plates next to the fish, finished with chopped parsley