breakfast with pullets and other good things

The eggs were small; I presume they were pullet eggs, “..from chickens who are just getting the hang of laying eggs.”, but they were quite tasty, rich, sweet, and very fresh, as was everything else about this breakfast.

  • its elements were: 6 small eggs from Alex’s Tomato Farm, Mullica Hill, NJ, scattered with tarragon and lovage, both chopped, from Keith’s Farm; Maldon salt flakes and Tellicherry peppercorns; thick-cut smoked bacon from Millport Dairy Farm; a few Ontario Province orange cherry tomatoes from Whole Foods Market, with torn leaves from a basil plant from Stokes Farm; part of a stem of green garlic from Lani’s Farm, chopped; purple micro radish from Windfall Farms; tarragon blossoms from Windfall Farms; and toast from a loaf of a Balthazar rye boule from Schaller & Weber Market
  • the music was that of the Lisbon-born Portuguese/Brazilian composer, Marcos António da Fonseca Portugal, his 1811 ‘Matinos Do Natal’ (Christmas Eve prayers), performed by Ensemble Turicum

wild bass, herbs/lemon; chicory, anchovy; fava beans, mint

I managed to get the last piece of striped bass in the Greenmarket on Friday. Fortunately, because it’s probably the most expensive fish in any East Coast market these days, it was exactly the right, modest proportion for the two of us. I blame the high cost on demand, and a general lack of imagination on the part of my fellow consumers, but it really is a great fish, beginning with its appearance, seen here lying on our kitchen counter before I started dinner.

I can’t continue without mentioning the near death of the species, mostly because of over-fishing. By the 70s and 80s, ‘Stripers’ were considered endangered, but then there was a rescue, described by Paul Greenberg in a 2008 New York Times article, ‘Bass Market‘:

“In a major conservation act, a consortium of states halted striped-bass fishing in the ’80s, and a program was introduced to rebuild the breeding stock in the Chesapeake Bay. … Today striper populations are listed as “fully rebuilt…”

The vegetables, as special as the fish, were Castelfranco radicchio (cichorium intybus excultus?) and fava beans (vicia faba).

  • one twelve-ounce striped bass fillet from Pura Vida Seafood, rinsed, drained, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, placed, skin side down, in a little olive oil inside a pre-heated heavy tin-lined copper pan over a medium-high flame, a similar heavy pan, oiled on the bottom, pressed on top of the fillet for the first 2 minutes to flatten it and assist in rendering the skin crisp (actually, I’m not sure the process worked, but, hey..), the fish turned over after about 5 minutes in the pan and cooked for another 2 or 3 minutes, removed and arranged on the plates, brushed or spooned with a mixture of chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm. leaves torn off of a live basil plant from Stokes Farm, the zest from half of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, and enough olive oil to barely make a liquid sauce
  • fava beans (I would have to say there are never enough of these emeralds, especially considering how little is left after laboriously shelling over a pound in the shell) from Alewife Farm, added to a vintage Pyrex transparent glass pan in which one thinly-sliced red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm had been heated in olive oil and softened, the vegetables seasoned with sea salt and frehsly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and tossed with chopped peppermint from Lani’s Farm
  • one head of Castelfranco radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, washed, quartered, tied with string to keep the leaves together, dipped in seasoned olive oil then pan grilled briefly (only 30 seconds on each of the 3 sides), arranged on the plates, the strings cut and removed, drizzled with a dressing composed of one salted anchovy, thoroughly rinsed and filleted, a teaspoon of white wine, 2 tablespoons of oil, one and a half tablespoons of juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, and a generous amount of chopped parsley from Phillips Farm
  • the wine was a California (Andrus, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta) white, Jacqueline Bahue Albarino Gomes Vineyard California 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was Claudio Monteverdi’s 1642 opera, ‘L’Incoronazione di Poppea’, René Jacobs conducting the Amsterdam ensemble, Concerto Vocale

lemon-herb veal; tomatoes, ramps; garlic scapes, tarragon

I’ve lately been enjoying the challenge of picking out meats in the Union Square Greenmarket from one of my favorite cheese makers (cow and goat milk), beginning with the serendipity that goes with it: The exercise seems a bit like hunting, since they have a limited supply of animals, and at they are only occasional available, since the farm’s main occupation is making cheese.

But it’s always rewarding.

On Monday I picked out 2 small frozen veal chops; on Wednesday evening I took them out of the freezer; last night we enjoyed them, immensely.

I used a terrific, and very simple recipe that I cobbled together from several on-line sources.

The vegetables were also pretty special. Some beautiful red-orange cherry tomatoes from a new arrival at the Greenmarket, Neversink Organic Farm, and a handfull of tender garlic scapes from one of the oldest, Keith’s Organic Farm.

  • a tablespoon of olive olive drizzled onto a small oval platter, then mixed with whole sage leaves from Keith’s Farm, whole rosemary leaves from Phillips Farm, and one chopped garlic clove from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, the platter set aside while 2 small but quite thick veal rib chops (8 ounces each) from Consider Bardwell Farm, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper and drizzled generously with olive oil, were placed on an enameled cast iron grill pan pre-heated above a moderately high flame and cooked, turning once, about 6 minutes per side for medium doneness (with a tent of aluminum foil for much of the time, because of their thickness), transferred to the platter with the garlic, oil, and herbs, and turned to coat, more olive oil added, the chops allowed to rest for about 3 minutes, again tented with foil, this time to keep them warm, while several thick slices of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, brushed with olive oil, were added to the grill pan, cooked until warm and beginning to char, turning once, the veal chops arranged on two plates, along with much of the sage/rosemary oil, and the lemon slices placed on top
  • fourteen or so orange-red cherry tomatoes from Neversink Organic Farm, each punctured several times with a thin poultry lacing pin to help them cook evenly and to keep them from exploding when cut on the plate, rolled inside a high-sided tin-lined copper pan in which half a dozen sliced ramp bulbs from Berried Treasures had been allowed to soften and become fragrant, the pan removed from the heat as soon as the tomatoes had shown signs of softening themselves and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, tossed with chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm and torn basil from a plant purchased from Stokes Farm
  • a few garlic scapes from Keith’s Farm, tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then pan grilled, arranged on the plates and garnished with tarragon blossoms from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was a really wonderful California (Amador) red, made with the Portuguese Touriga grape, Ana Diogo-Draper Amador Touriga 2015, from Naked Wines
  • the music was the album, ‘Le Concert Spirituel’, Jordi Savall conducting Le Concert Des Nations [the album title is a homage to the 65 years (1725-1790) of eponymous Paris concerts which were the first public concert series in history (“..to provide entertainment on religious holidays when the other spectacles {the Paris Opera, Comédie-Francaise and Comédie-Italienne} were closed.”]

marinated squeteague; tomato; romano beans; wild berries

The return of Squeteague (aka ‘Weakfish’ or Sea/Ocean Trout) to our table.

The reappearance of some wonderful tomatoes.

The first pole beans of summer.

  • one 15-ounce fillet of Squeteague (aka ‘Weakfish’ or Sea/Ocean Trout) from Blue Moon Seafood Company, cut in half, marinated for about half an hour on the kitchen counter in a mix of a little olive oil, 2 minced cloves of green garlic from Lani’s Farm, and 7 different herbs (1 crushed fresh bay leaf from West Side Market, parsley and rosemary from Phillips Farm, peppermint and thyme from Lani’s Farm, lovage and tarragon from Keith’s Farm, and epazote from Windfall Farm), drained, pan-grilled inside an enameled cast iron grill pan which had been pre-heated to medium-hot, skin-slide down first for 3 minutes, the fish then turned and cooked for another minute, until opaque and firm, drizzled with the juices and some of the marinade, served with a garnish of tarragon blossoms from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • three halved medium tomatoes from Alex’s Tomato Farm, Mullica Hill, NJ, purchased Saturday at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market, heated in warm olive oil with a little bit of chopped shallot from Berried Treasures inside a vintage small Pyrex glass skillet, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper and mixed with some chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm
  • purple Romano beans from Lani’s Farm, parboiled for a few minutes, drained, dried, reheated in a heavy tin-lined copper pan with a bit of finely-chopped  in oil, the vegetable then finished with salt, pepper, chopped copper (or bronze) fennel fronds, and lovage, both also from Berried Treasures
  • the wine was a French (Bordeaux) rosé, Château de Fontenille Rosé Bordeaux 2016, from Chelsea Wine Vault

And a very special dessert.

Seen here as they appeared on the forager’s table in the Greenmarket. The small fruits barely visible just above the strawberries are ‘Nanking Cherries’ [prunus tomentosa].

 

Brotzeit (meat, cheese, tomato, salad, egg, bread)

Barry and I used to call meals like this ‘picnics’. More recently, in the case of particularly German versions, I’ve labelled them ‘Picknicks‘ on this blog. In fact, the appropriate German term would be ‘Brotzeit‘, and that’s how I’ve described this one.

The gorgeous lettuce included on the plate is a purple variety whose name was not indicated on the stand where I purchased it. The only lettuce image I snapped that afternoon was actually of a green version of the same breed, and at the time it just happened to be boasting a single purple leaf from its neighbor.

  • with the exception of the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, butter, and confiture, the items included on the plate were essentially from local sources: Blutwurst or Zungenwurst, a variation of head cheese, from Schaller & Weber; a dollop of Italian (Asiago) Lingonberry Jam (a berry much like the German ‘Preiselbeeren‘) [not pictured]; purple lettuce from Norwich Meadows Farm, dressed with an Italian olive oil, Alce Nero DOP ‘Terra di Bari Bitonto’, from Eataly, an Italian whitel wine vinegar, Aceto Cesare Bianco, from Buon Italia, Maldon salt, and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper; orange cherry tomatoes grown in Ontario, from Whole Foods Market; large red cherry tomatoes from Alex’s Tomato Farm; Isny Allgäu ‘Adel Egger’ raw milk cheese, from Schaller & Weber, and ‘Danby” goat cheese and ‘Rupert’ cow cheese, both from Consider Bardwell Farm; 2 Rot-gebeizt pickled eggs from Millport Dairy Farm; slices of a Balthazar rye boule from Schaller & Weber, and ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘ [not pictured]
  • the wine was a German (Mosel) white, Weingut Axel Pauly Trinkfluss 2014
  • the music was the album, ‘The Palais-Royal‘, compositions from the Paris palace and court of Phillip II, Duke of Orléans, Regent during the long minority of Louis XV, and a composer himself

Phillippe II, Duke of Orléans, detail of a 1706 portrait attributed to Jean-Baptiste Santerre [image from Online Galleries]