lots of herbs
and unltimately lots of alliums as well
The meal tasted far more luxurious than the amount of money which exchanged hands at the fishmonger today would have suggested. Also, the availability of ramps and asparagus made for an entrée fit for a king, or at least a somewhat unpresuming monarch.
- four 3-ounce Porgy fillets from Blue Moon Fish, pan-seared over medium heat in a bit of butter with thinly-sliced spring garlic from Bodhitree Farm and salt, the fish basted at least several times with the the garlic butter for about 2 minutes, then turned over, the heat reduced to low, a cover placed on the pan and the filets cooked for about another minute or two, the cover removed, 2 or 3 tablespoons of mixed fresh herbs thrown in (I used parsley, mint, lovage, savory, thyme, and oregano this time) and the basting continued for about another minute, or until the fish was cooked through (the recipe was slightly modified from one written by Melissa Clark)
- an equal mix of ramps from Berried Treasures and asparagus from Phillips Farm, rolled in olive oil with salt and pepper, the ramp greens separated from the bulbs, and the asparagus and bulbs pan-grilled until cooked through and grill marks appeared, removed, replaced briefly by the ramp greens, then all of the vegetables combined on a warm platter and distributed to plates
- the wine was a California (Clarksburg) white, Richard Bruno Clarksburg Chenin Blanc 2015
- the music was from the album, ‘Barbary Coast’ (Red Light New Music), and mostly just Liam Robinson, Chris Cerrone, and Ted Hearne
In all of Italy, couscous is a tradition only in Sicily and in Sardinia (apparently with the exception of somewhere in Rome): In Sicily it’s cooked with fish, in Sardinia with lamb; we were right on target this evening.
- a small serving of a rich couscous (prepared with Sicilian olives, garlic, dried peperoncino, cherry tomatoes, and juices from the monkfish with which it had been prepared a few days ago), a mix which, having survived the earlier feast, was now gently reheated while small amounts of a good stock were added to the mix, and served in shallow bowls
- four absolutely superb small lamb loin chops from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, cooked on a very hot grill pan for about 5 or 6 minutes on each side, seasoned with salt and pepper after they were first turned over, finished with juice of a local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of New Jersey, chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, chopped winter savory form Stokes Farm, and a drizzle of olive oil
- a large handful of micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge, washed, drained, allowed to dry, then gathered on two plates where they were drizzled with a good Umbrian olive oil (Luciana Cerbini Casa Gola from Buon Italia), a squeeze of the same local lemon used on the lamb, salt and pepper
- kale rabe from Alewife Farm, washed, drained, and braised in a heavy pot in which two halved garlic cloves from Whole Foods had first been allowed to sweat in some olive oil, the dish finished with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a very special California (Sonoima) red, Scott Peterson Rumpus Cabernet Sauvignon California 2014 from NakedWines.com
- the music was Aulis Sallinen’s Symphony No 5, Ari Rasilainen conducting the Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra
untitled (rose scallops) 2005
I forgot to return my memory card to the camera before I shot, or thought I had shot, pictures of this meal, so there is no pictorial record of it; the image above describes several forms of shellfish, and last night we had only scallops, but I like the photograph. I captured it in a fish stall, Pura Vida Fisheries, over 10 years ago at the Union Square Greenmarket.
The scallops were not big, and so would have been less successful on a pan grill than when the are larger, and I was aching to use my new 10-inch tin-lined copper skillet, so that’s where they found themselves last night, sautéed, however briefly, inside a luxury French vessel. I decided to top them with some ramp butter when they were done, mostly because it was there. It was a remainder from preparations for a steak dinner a few days before. It contained both lemon zest and lemon juice, so nothing more would be needed to finish the scallops, except that I also had a lot of micro beet greens left from a container bought last Friday (it was the smallest they had at the time), so they ended up dressing up the flavors – and altering the color scheme.
The tomatoes were sautéed whole, and spring garlic finished the dish; it was an allium from Nevia No’s just-retired Bodhitree Farms, bought on her last day in Union Square, and it and the remainder of the bunch will be my final physical connection with her genius.
The rainbow chard was also from Nevia’s farms, and it was as sweet and beautiful as the first half of the same bouquet had been.
- twelve medium scallops from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, rinsed, dried very thoroughly, sautéed in a heavy tin-lined copper pan, 2 minutes on one side, 1 on the other, removed to 2 warm plates, spread with a ramp butter (ramps from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, quickly par-boiled, dried and chopped, mixed with softened butter, organic lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper, then placed in the refrigerator until ready to be used, but removed one hour before the meal, to soften), micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge scattered over the top
- eight Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, each punctured with a small skewer, sautéed in a little olive oil until they began to soften, seasoned with salt and pepper, removed to a warm bowl, then 1 stem of spring garlic from Bodhitree Farms, thinly-sliced bulb and wider-sliced greens, immediately tossed into the still-warm pan in which the tomatoes had cooked, stirred a few seconds, then the garlic and tomato juices poured on top of the tomatoes themselves, followed by a sprinkling of chopped oregano from Eataly and lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- rainbow chard from Bodhitree Farms, sautéed with olive oil, finished with a squeeze of juice from an organic lemon, some crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili
- the wine was an Oregon (Willamette) white, Scott Kelley Pinot Gris Willamette 2015
- the music was Aulis Sallinen’s Piano Trio, Op. 96, and his Symphony No. 4, Op. 49
The duck and its preparation was very familiar (except for a little fillip at the end), but this time it seemed juicier than ever. It may have been the fact that I sautéed it in a new tin-lined copper skillet this time instead of the enameled cast iron pan I have always used before (although I really love that older pan), or the fact that I cooked it a little more slowly than I normally do.
The nutty ozette potatoes are always a treat, especially roasted.
The green vegetable however was entirely new to me. I’m pretty open almost any new greens by this time in the year, and the flowering Pak Choi I saw in the Greenmarket on Friday looked pretty spectacular.
- one 14-ounce duck breast from Hudson Valley Duck Farm, its fatty side scored by a very sharp knife with regular cross-hatching, sprinkled with a mixture of salt, crushed telicherry peppercorns, and a bit of turbinado sugar (which had been infused over time with a vanilla bean), the breast left standing for about an hour before it was pan-fried over medium heat with a very small amount of olive oil, removed when medium rare (cutting it into the two serving portions at that time to be certain of its state) finished with a squeeze of organic lemon, a small amount of tomato butter (improvised from elements prepared for an earlier entrée), and chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- ozette potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, halved lengthwise, tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary leaves from Stokes Farm, roasted at 450º for about 20-25 minutes, tossed in the pan, as soon as they emerged from the oven, with thinly-sliced spring garlic from Bodhitree Farm, finished with a sprinkling of micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- flowering pak choi from Alewife Farm, washed, drained, and braised very lightly in a heavy pot in which four tiny garlic cloves from Trader Joe’s had been allowed to sweat over low heat in some olive oil, the dish finished with a bit of crushed Itria-Sirissi chilies (peperoncino di Sardegna intero from Buon Italia), sea salt, a squeeze of organic lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a California (Mendocino) Zinfandel, Paul Dolan Zinfandel Mendocino County 2013
- the music was the last hours of ‘Symphomania‘, a 24-hour marathon of 21st-century symphonic music curated by Will Robin, and presented on Q2 Music
I forgot to sprinkle the lovage on the eggs until after I had taken the picture
The ramp fest continued into breakfast the next morning.
The bacon and the eggs were from Millport Dairy Farm (the wonderful German-oriented produce of these Pennsylvania Amish folk reminds me more and more of the beautiful, rich Wisconsin dairy farms of the each of my parents’ families). The leeks were from Berried Treasures, the dried pepper was crushed Itria-Sirissi chilies (peperoncino di Sardegna intero from Buon Italia), the chopped lovage I later scattered over the eggs was from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and the toast was from a loaf of Eric Kayser’s demi-Vendôme (whose ingredients are, simply, de farine de froment, de levain, de germe de blé).