I can’t call this meal a complete success, since I ran into some difficulty in grilling the halibut steak. I was trying to avoid a preparation which involved heating an oven on an exceptionally warm spring day, so I opted for grilling it. I thought it had finished cooking, but when I took the steak off the enamelled cast-iron grill pan and tried to cut into it, both to confirm my assumption and to divide it into two equal portions, I realized my mistake. Then, in trying to remove the cross-shaped bone in the center, I ended up breaking it into a number of different-size pieces which I then returned briefly to the hot pan. Ugh.
The aesthetics of the presentation (not to mention the condition of the pan I left in the sink) left something to be desired, but the good news is that the deconstructed halibut actually tasted great, and so honored the shared sacrifices of the very-worthy two vegetables which accompanied it.
- grilled halibut steak from Whole Foods, with chimichurri sauce (oil, lemon, garlic, shallots, red-pepper flakes and parsley); served with a couple handfuls of really tiny (one-quarter inch to an inch round) potatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket (I think it was the Mountain Sweet Berry Farm stand), quickly-boiled, dried and finished with oil, garlic and chopped rosemary; and green kale (California, organic) from Whole Foods braised with garlic and oil
- wine: NAIA 2007 Rueda (Verdejo) by Jorge Ordonez, from K&D Wine
This one is really simple, really delicious, and can be assembled in minutes. I bought the meat and the greens at the Houston Street Whole Foods on the way home from the opening at Scaramouche. It was also done pretty much on the cheap (I figure it cost a total of about $16.50 for the two of us, without wine).
- remaining slices of white pizza made with ramps and guanciale, gently heated in our tiny microwave for 30 seconds.
- pan-grilled thick top loin (New York strip) steak on sale at Whole Foods, finished with shallots, parsley and oil; served with terrific Shushan hydroponic tomatoes purchased in the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday, cut, rubbed with salt and pepper, pan-grilled and finished with oil and balsamic vinegar, along with braised organic rainbow chard (California) also from Whole Foods, finished with crushed peppers and salt and pepper.
- wines: NAIA 2007 Rueda (Verdejo) by Jorge Ordonez, from K&D Wine with the pizza, Perrin Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2007 from Manley’s Wines with the entree.
- home-made white pizza with ramps and guanciale, using frozen pizza dough from Whole Foods, prepared and covered with shredded mozarella, ramps from the Union Square Greenmarket briefly parboiled, with the addition of chopped and slightly pan-warmed fresh guanciale from the Murray’s Cheese located at Grand Central Market, and finished with grated Parmignano-Reggiano before sliding it all into a hot oven.
- wine: Venaccia di San Gimignano “Rondolino” 2006 from Philippe Wine
It was the first time I’d ever attempted a pizza of any kind, with any kind or form of dough, and until I had put it into the oven on a previously-heated stoneware pan I thought it was going to be a total disaster. Instead, I think it may have been the best pizza I’ve ever had.
[est. total cost of meal for two, without wine: $10.00]
There is a related post on jameswagner.com.
[images by Barry]
If you’re afraid of animal fats, stop here. But if butter holds no terrors for you, and you like very simple, very good food, read on.
I went to the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday and was very surprised to find that, although the calendar said it was still early April, I was able to collect most of the makings for our next three evening meals, all except the lamb shanks, destined for [Easter] Sunday, which I was able to pick up at Whole Foods later in the afternoon. Early in the evening Barry and I went off to several gallery openings on 27th street. When we returned home I still had plenty of time to put together a pretty sophisticated dinner. I would have been happy describing it simply as, well, . . . sublime, if it weren’t for the fact that it was also exceptionally easy and very quick to prepare.
- a thick Yellow Tilefish steak (20 ounces) from the Union Square Greenmarket smothered with one whole stick (1/4 lb.)* of melted butter and sprinkled with almost a cup of fresh, seasoned breadcrumbs (using a heal of a loaf of “Organic Seeduction” from Whole Foods, in-house, which I happened to have on hand), placed in a small, oval, Colombian black pottery pan [La Chambra cookware] and baked for fifteen minutes in a hot oven, using Mark Bittman’s recipe “Roast Halibut With Butter and Bread Crumbs”, from his book “Fish” (although I added some chopped fresh thyme after it came out of the oven); served with the first tender leaves of baby Russian Kale from the Union Square Greenmarket (next time I have to get the farmer’s name), briefly sauteed in oil with bruised garlic cloves.
- wine: Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Henri Bourgeois (Chavignol/Sancerre) from Philippe Wines
In fifteen minutes, all the butter had completely disappeared. I had been completely absorbed into the fish and the bread crumbs, but it was clearly a big plus in enhancing the pleasure of the dish. After all, butter and other animal fats are part of what made classic French cooking great, but because of both real and alarmist health concerns, they are also partly responsible for its relative eclipse over the last few decades. Also, the recipe was minimal enough to ensure that the natural flavor of this delicious fish was honest and not tricked up. It helped that I somehow managed to time it perfectly.