This simple meal became a standard in our kitchen from the day I first tried it. It follows a classic and delicious Mark Bittman recipe which can be put together entirely with ingredients normally always on hand, meaning it’s perfect for those times when the cook has not had a chance to get to a market of any kind. Bittman describes the parsley ‘garnish’ as optional, and so the dish maintains my boast, but I can’t imagine not including what is the most common herb in the kitchen, if at all possible.
- spaghetto with a tuna sauce of canned San Marzano tomatoes, chopped, chopped onion from Hoeffner Farms, crushed dried red pepperonini, salted capers which were rinsed and drained, black pepper, good olive-oil-packed Italian tuna, and parsley from Eataly, chopped, prepared after a recipe of Mark Bittman
- the wine was an Italian red, Geggiano Pontignano Chianti Classico 2010
The storm which hit the eastern end of Long Island much more dramatically than had in New York City kept my normal source of fresh fish away from the Greenmarket today, so I headed for the Lobster Place, where I was a little overwhelmed by the choices I had. I rarely find Striped Bass in Union Square, so I decided to splurge a bit, even if the fillet which I pointed to this afternoon weighed a little more than I really needed for the two of us.
I’m now reminded once again why this fish is so prized. It’s the taste, the texture, and the amenability to any number of herbal and vegetable treatments and accompaniments (okay, there’s also the lack of bones). But I didn’t always appreciate that. Years ago, when this fish had supplied the conclusive argument which destroyed New York City’s Westway project. I think that I had thought the ‘Stripers’ cause was advanced mostly in the service of sport fishermen, even though (or perhaps because) I was then living in Rhode Island, where Striped Bass were known as both game fish and available, both whole and in fillets, in the fish markets I occasionally patronized on the docks in both Newport and Providence (I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t yet become really comfortable with cooking fish).
- La Ratte fingerling potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, halved, tossed with olive oil, rosemary from Eataly, salt, pepper, and whole garlic cloves from Lucky Dog Organic, spread in an enameled cast iron pan and cooked at 400º until tender and browned, removed from the oven and the vegetable, garlic and herb pushed aside in the pan, allowing room in the center for the fish, and halved Backyard Farms cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods placed on the top of the potatoes
- Striped Bass fillet (just under one pound, for the two of us) from Lobster Place, placed in the pan skin side down, scattered with rosemary leaves, salt, pepper, some homemade dry bread crumbs sprinkled over the top,and a dribble of olive oil added before the pan was returned to the oven for about ten more minutes
- small Brussels sprouts from from John D. Maderna Farms, tossed with salt, pepper, and some olive oil, roasted in a 400º oven for twenty minutes or so, chopped spring garlic from Rogowski Farm added during the last minutes, removed from the oven and drizzled with a little bit of lemon juice
- the wine was a Spanish white, CVNE Cune Monopole Rioja Blanco 2013
This meal was successful way beyond our expectations. We were enjoying ourselves with another of Target Margin Theater’s Gertrud Stein ‘lab programs’ in Bushwick until some time after 9, so it was almost 10 o’clock by the time I could begin to assemble what I had originally thought would be no more than a decent ‘square meal’ to reward our wait for dinner (the alternative, had we dallied on Starr Street even a little longer, would have been to call in a good pizza (and not one from my own oven).
The ingredients were prime, the recipes were familiar and among my favorites, especially that for the pork, and I was paying attention to what I was doing, even with the distraction of Mozart, but the dinner was definitely still more delicious than either of us had expected (this time I mean, really good ). I’m sure it was largely because all of the ingredients were entirely Union Square-Greenmarket fresh and local (except of course for the salt, pepper, lemon, and olive oil).
And, yes, it was also pretty pretty to look at.
- two pork chops from Flying Pigs Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt, and pepper, seared in a very hot, heavy enameled cast-iron pan, half a lemon squeezed over them, then left in the pan with them while they were roasting in a 400º oven for about 14 minutes (flipped halfway through and the lemon squeezed over them once again), finished with the pan juices, in which a sprinkling of the last bit of fresh sorrel from Rogowski Farm, sliced thinly, had been introduced and stirred
- orange and red carrots (four of each) from Monkshood Nursery and Gardens and two leeks from Lucky Dog Organic, both halved, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted in a ceramic pan for about half an hour at 400º (the leeks added near the end)
- collard greens (the last of the season), also from Rogowski Farm, cut as a rough chiffonade, then braised in a heavy pot in which crushed garlic from Lucky Dog Organic had been allowed to sweat with some heated olive oil, the dish finished with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was an Italian white, le Salse Verdicchio di Matelica 2013
- the music was Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’, in a terrific performance by Renée Jacobs and the Berlin Akademie für Alte Musik
I got a bit carried away last night with a recipe I had enjoyed twice before in more simple forms. The recipe that had started as ‘baked eggs with mushrooms, and Gruyère’ on New Years Day was delicious, and the slightly more elaborate, ‘baked eggs with mushrooms, Gruyère, scallions, and tomato’ with the addition of two eggs and some tomato, was different, but probably equally good. Last night I may have gone a bit too far, with ‘baked eggs with mushrooms, leeks, tomato, and cress, or maybe I just lost my balance, but the dish didn’t quite shine, and not only because the egg yolks ended up cooked through rather than just a little runny.
I think I had eventually missed the minimal point of the original, sensible recipe, and made it a bit top heavy, but the dish did make a reasonable, and colorful, picture. That may be the only excuse for this post.
- Shiitake mushrooms from John D. Maderna Farms, sautéed for a few minutes over medium high heat before the addition of garlic from Migliorelli Farm, minced, thyme from Manhattan Fruit Exchange, chopped, both heated for a minute or two and placed in a buttered ceramic baking dish, replaced in the pan by one leek from Lucky Dog Organic, sliced thinly and sautéed before also being placed in the baking dish, after which six eggs from Millport Dairy were cracked open on top, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with shredded cheese (Swiss Le Gruyère from Trader Joe’s), and dotted with halved ‘Cocktail Tomatoes’ from Maine, purchased at Whole Foods, the entire surface drizzled with a bit of heavy cream, and the dish baked in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the whites were set and the yolks were (ideally) still barely runny, placed on plates and tossed with upland cress from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine was a Poruguese red, Periquita Original 2011 Jose Maria de Fonseca Setúbal
I’ve decided that soups are photogenic.
But here’s the background to this soup.
It wasn’t the recipe for Sauerkraut I had learned from Mimi Sheraton (and used for years), although I had worked with this new one before and been pleased by its speed, its simplicity – and its taste. This time, when I prepared it on Thursday, I had to add enough water to bury two good-sized smoked pig knuckles in the Kraut. I ended up with nearly a quart of extra, very aromatic juices which I didn’t need on the plates. I poured it into a container and placed that in the refrigerator, thinking it might make a good winter soup base for a lunch in the next few days.
Today that’s exactly what it did – what I did.
Our lunches are really casual. Most of the time (almost always) I don’t actually cook anything, and by the time either of us is hungry, there’s very little time for a fuss in any event. I totally improvised this meal, and I worked fast. The idea was to use some of the things, leftovers large and small, which I already had available, and which might not have found a purpose otherwise.
I started with the Sauerkraut-without-the-Sauerkraut, and added something over a cup of good beef broth. I added the outside leaves of a white cabbage from Foragers, which I had boiled for three minutes or so, drained and cut as a chiffonade. In addition, I added some small pieces of celery, from Migliorelli Farm, cut up and briefly sautéed; the heal of a spicy sopressata, almost minced, which had been leftover in the preparation of a frittata a few days ago; some rich, almost syrupy tomato juices left from a can of ‘Muti’ Baby Roma tomatoes, whose fruit had been used in a fennel-tomato compote nine days ago; and, once in the bowls, I garnished the soup with the parsley, now chopped, which I had washed and dried for an entrée of whole fresh trout which had to be aborted two days after that dinner.
The soup was delicious; it was also surprisingly spicy. The resulting rich color was a surprise. I think the image above manages to describe the taste visually, if anything could. I wish I could give it a name, but I’m unlikely ever to recreate it.
This meal demonstrated the amazing impact fresh herbs can make on three very different food groups, as well as the blessings of a good larder regularly restocked. Working out the larder part is pretty easy when the kitchen is used regularly.
The herb part is just as easy, but, again, that assumes frequent meals at home. The Pacific salmon had been frozen before it arrived at Whole Foods, the Italian-grown beans arrived in my kitchen already cooked and sealed in a jar (and in fact they had been opened and half used two weeks earlier), and the sweet potatoes had been dug out of the ground in Kinderhook some time last year. None of the three had been harvested the day before, and none would have come fully into its own without the help of a fresh herb.
- wild Coho salmon fillet from Whole Foods, roasted in butter in a shallow enameled cast-iron pan (for one pound of salmon, use two tablespoons of butter), seasoned, then finished with a little shredded sorrel (yes, after three meals from the same bunch, and I still have some left!) from Rogowski Farm
- tiny cooked Italian beans (‘Fagiolina del Trasimeno’) from Eataly, warmed with olive oil in which thinly-sliced garlic from Migliorelli Farm had been heated until it began to brown, along with whole sage leaves from Eataly
- Japanese sweet potatoes from Samascott Orchards tossed with olive oil, rosemary leaves, salt, and pepper, placed in an unglazed ceramic pan with some whole, unpeeled garlic, also from Samascott Orchards, and roasted at 400º for about half an hour
- the wine was an Austrian red, Fritsch Zweigelt vom Donaulöss 2011
Since I had planned ahead by defrosting four links of Kielbasa overnight, and as we were blessed with Sauerkraut leftover from the Schweinshaxen dinner a few days ago, there wasn’t much question about what was going to put on the table tonight when we returned from Ryder Ripps’ opening at Postmasters Gallery.
The sausage came from the Amish people who sell their exceptionally high-quality meat, cheese, eggs, and picked vegetables in the Union Square Greenmarket. By the way , most of their excellent produce reflects the community’s origins in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Germany, so I have no idea how they ended up with the delicious chorizo we’ve enjoyed so often, but that Spanish sausage has become our favorite. Now if I could only persuade them to make Morcilla, or at least Blutwurst.
- Kielbasa links from Millport Dairy, grilled on a ribbed enameled pan before being buried in a pot in which leftover sauerkraut was being heated, very aromatic from being cooked with vegetables and spices, and served with German mustard
- German Butterball potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, boiled, drained, dried, stirred with butter and tossed with the last, tiniest bit of Savoy cabbage from Hoeffner Farms, shredded, and parsley from Eataly, chopped
- the bottled Munich beer was Spaten Münchner Hell
We both really like skate, and I have no idea why it’s not more popular than it seems to be. Part of the problem may be the paucity of restaurant treatments known to most people who might otherwise be inclined to prepare this delicious fish at home, and part of it may be that not everyone has access to the really small, tender wings as do the patrons of our local Greenmarkets, which are supplied by fisherman off the eastern end of Long Island. Last night, for the two of us, I cooked five of them. They weighed approximately only 2 1/2 ounces each, and they all managed to fit into my 12-inch iron pan with very little space to spare.
The vegetable, collard greens, was a very late season cache from Rogowski Farm (probably the very last I’ll see there until fall). from which I was able to reserve enough for one more January meal.
It’s amazing to me, and hugely appreciated by myself and I hope many other market fans, that so many of what I will describe as ‘green vegetables’, perhaps generously in some cases, are still available here fresh at the end of January, and how coveted they are by our local home and restaurant chefs who scour the Union Square Greenmarket four days a week.
“Winter greens’? Not may years ago the produce in the stalls (far fewer in number) would have been pretty much limited to potatoes, onions, bread, preserves, maple syrup, cider, and apples. Today, in a symbiotic relationship with their city patrons, our local Greenmarket farmer neighbors, who had already become very creative in offering new produce, have managed to adopt and create new growing methods and environments, while continuing to provide the hands-on attention and care which allow these living things to thrive. Even in the month of January it is still possible (or has been, until almost this day) to find there kale, collards, leeks, Brussels sprouts, cabbage of several kinds, fennel, spinach, tomatoes of several kinds and colors, scallions, some delicate greens (including sorrel and cress), radicchio, sage, rosemary, thyme, and an occasional aberration like the baby leeks and fresh garlic I found on Friday, also at Rogowski Farm.
While I’m crazy about root vegetables, and every year I look forward to the winter sweetness they offer, they can really shine in the company of a fresh foil, even if it’s a tiny one.
- skate from Pura Vida Fisheries, dredged in a coarse polenta from Citarella, seasoned with salt, and pepper, very briefly fried in a bit of olive oil until golden brown, removed from the pan, the heat turned down, knobs of butter, some chopped shallots from John C. Madura Farms and finely-minced garlic from Migliorelli Farm added, the aliums stirred and cooked (‘sweated’) briefly, the flame then turned off entirely, and lemon juice, shredded sorrel from Rogowski Farm and a bit of chopped parsley from Eataly added to the pan along with a little more butter, all of it stirred once again until the butter melts, the sauce then scattered over the fish
- sweet collard greens from Rogowski Farm, cut in a rough chiffonade, then braised in a heavy pot in which crushed garlic from Migliorelli Farm had been allowed to sweat with some heated olive oil, the dish finished with salt, pepper, a sprinkle of fresh lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a Spanish white, the wine was a Spanish white, Shaya old vines, vedejo Rueda 2013
Hey, is this even the same restaurant serving as the one serving the meals uploaded here over the last few weeks? Yes, of course it is; it’s just that my ancient German roots pop up every so often, sometimes when I least expect it.
I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve grown attached to the delicious plenty offered by the wonderful Amish folks of Millport Dairy in the Union Square Greenmarket. On a recent visit and conversation with John Stoltzfoos at his stall, I brought back two beautiful smoked pork knuckles, weighing about 20 ounces each. When I had spotted the Haxe on his table that day, I had immediately imagined them cooking, slowly, in a large pot of sauerkraut and aromatic vegetables. Ideally this would be on a wintry January evening.
It should have been much colder than it was, but I couldn’t wait any longer, so tonight became the occasion for our modest Bavarian feast. Aside from the tasting itself, this may have been the best moment: It was about an hour into the slow cooking when I was able to share his pleasure when Barry walked into the aromas of the apartment after a ‘meetup’ earlier in the evening in Gowanus.
- two geräucherte Schweinshaxe (smoked pigs knuckles) from Millport Dairy, placed in a pot with about seven cups of drained and rinsed sauerkraut (here a mixture of Bubbies, and Schorr’s Pickles brands), chopped onion from Hoeffner Farms, chopped carrot from Monkshood Nursery and Gardens , whole allspice berries and pepper corns,one large bay leaf, salt, and enough water to cover everything, brought to a boil and simmered for about one and a half hours before being divided onto plates
- German Butterball potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, boiled in heavily-salted water, drained, dried in the still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot, (I love that entire beautiful old stove-to-icebox set!), halved, tossed with a little butter, and some parsley from Eataly, chopped
- the wine was a quite good, but very inexpensive Austrian white, Kremser Weinzierl Grüner Veltliner Trocken 2011 from Winzer Krems, in lower Austria
Everything looked terrific at the American Seafood stall in the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday, but, having no idea of what I would want to prepare that night after Barry and I returned from listening to Laura Poitras speaking at Artists Space, I decided to take two beautiful six-and-a-half ounce flounder fillets (I figured they would give me some creative elbow room). A few minutes later I saw the bunches of sorrel Jim had spread out on one of the Rogowski Farm tables. My dinner was now a plan. As I already had several kinds of boiling potatoes on hand, and a small amount of mixed kales, I was able to return home with an unusually light bag.
- flounder fillets from American Seafood, seasoned, dotted with butter, placed in a ceramic oven dish with a modest amount (1/4 cup for the two) of white wine poured over the top, placed in a 375º oven for 10 minutes, removed and placed on the plates, the juices added to a small pan containing about a fourth of a cup of very good Crème fraîche, which was then boiled quickly until slightly reduced, half of a bunch of shredded sorrel then added and stirred into it before it was spooned over the fish on the plates
- German Butterball potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm (scrubbed but unpeeled), boiled, drained, halved, buttered, and added to the plate
- two kinds of kale (green and purple) from Tamarack Hollow Farm, wilted with olive oil in which thinly-sliced garlic from Migliorelli Farm had been heated
- the wine was a California white, Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay Arroyo Seco Monterrey 2012
The second course was simply sections of a very ripe, luscious Bosc pear from Migliorelli Farm, with its bruised area cut off, served with small amounts of two cheeses, sheep milk Brebis Bleu from 3-Corner Field Farm, and goats milk Slyboro from Consider Bardwell Farm.
- we continued with the Wente Chardonnay with this course
While it’s possible I may still see some Bosc pears in the Greenmarket this winter, I was assured today by the farmers that I was enjoying the last of the both the sorrel and the kale. All of which makes me particularly happy that I still have half of Jim’s savory rumex acetosa, as well as an equally sweet-looking bunch of collard greens (apparently also the very last of the season), picked up at Rogowski Farm today as well.
Regarding the earlier part of the evening, being in that crowded room tonight with Laura was an enormous privilege, but it was also a powerful reminder of just how much this country has lost, primarily since 9/11.