Month: December 2014

a 10 minute meal: chickpeas, chorizo, garlic, sherry


This is warm meal preparation reduced to almost a bare minimum.  The recipe comes from Mark Bitman’s list, Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less”,   but the catalog is not just for summer.

We’ve enjoyed this fragrant dish many times.  It’s delicious, the ingredients can always be kept on hand (and I do) for ’emergencies’, making a last-minute trip to the market unnecessary, and it really does take only ten minutes, unless you slow-heat it as I did this time, which I really recommend.

The only thing I added to Bittman’s formula was the parlsey, from Stokes Farm, chopped and sprinkled on top of the bowl.

  • Mark’s instructions for his number 40:  “Put a large can of chickpeas and their liquid in a medium saucepan. Add some sherry, along with olive oil, plenty of minced garlic, smoked pimentón (I used dulce) and chopped Spanish chorizo. Heat through.”   Note: I used chorizo from Millbrook Farm, and it was wonderful.
  • the wine was a Portuguese red, Casa de Santa Eufemia Perene Tinto Douro 2012

mushroom ravioli, shallot, radicchio, pinoli, lovage


[only a little bit of] assembly is required

This entrée, as with others involving the assembly of similar well-made filled pastas (as, Agnolotti, pansotti, tortelli or tortelloni, to name a few) purchased commercially, is so easy to put together that it’s downright embarrassing, especially since it, and others like it, can be incredibly delicious – and also incredibly quick.   Because it takes so little time, it’s best to turn on the heat under the pasta water as soon as you’ve even thought of making this dinner, then pour a glass of wine and bring out the breadsticks, because it will only take five minutes or so to prepare the rest of the ingredients.

These meals are also almost impossibly pretty, something I think is important in presenting a meal.

Note:   Last night we had already sat down and begun eating before I realized I hadn’t shaved some good Parmesan cheese over the pasta after it had been placed in the bowls (it had been a while since I had served mushroom-filled pasta, and I may just have been out of practice).  I didn’t go back to the kitchen, but I promised myself I’d remember the next time; I believe Parmesan cheese tends to appear on Italian dishes more often than it really should, but this is one of those ‘should’ times.

  • torn leaves of a head of radicchio from Eataly, warmed in a broad sauce pan with olive oil and a small chopped shallot (Keith’s Farm) it had softened, and joined by toasted pine nuts just as a package of Rana mushroom-filled ravioli from Eataly had finished boiling in a large pot of water for two minutes, been drained and moved into the pan, where everything was stirred together with some of the reserved pasta water,  the mixed pasta and sauce placed in shallow bowls and sprinkled with lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, chopped
  • the wine was an Italian red, Tenuta Rapitlà Nero d’Avola Campo Reale 2013

braised lamb shank; polenta; Brussels sprouts



This meal and the first evening of winter made a perfect pairing, although there wasn’t any snow, and the temperature never got anywhere near freezing (I think).  The recipe is from the first of the terrific Gray and Rogers cookbooks, “Rogers Gray Italian Country Cook Book“.

I just now noticed that the recipe appears all over the internet, in most cases without crediting Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray.  This site furnishes both the recipe and a proper attribution, but I heartily recommend buying all three of their books; I refer to each of them regularly, and find some of the simple recipes indispensable.

  • lamb shank from 3-Corner Field Farm, braised with red onions from Norwich Meadows Farm, chopped garlic from Migliorelli Farm, chopped fresh rosemary from Phillips Farm, and a significant amount of both balsamic vinegar and a decent red wine
  • coarse polenta, stirred with milk and water, finished with butter and Gorgonzola cheese from Eataly
  • brussels sprouts taken home on a stem from Oak River Plantation, roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • the wine was a superb California red,  Mazzocco Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Dry Creek Valley

sautéed flounder, tomato butter; cavalo nero


I love flounder anyway, but I have no idea why Barry and I both found this fillet even more delicious than usual.  I’d even say it was the best I have ever had.  It was serious, with an intense flavor which included a hint of shellfish.   Flounder is normally a delicate fish, easily filleted and easily prepared, but I now have serious respect for the flavor alone.

The fillet I bought from the fisherman that afternoon weighed in at slightly over one pound.  That in itself was unusual for our table, but was it the reason it tasted so grown-up?  Or was it the fact that I sautéed it in both butter and, my usual choice, olive oil?  Maybe it was that tiny bit of Chianti white oak-aged vinegar.  Wait, I just did a web search, and found suggestions that Winter Flounder itself, a local species, is particularly desirable for its flavor.

I used a recipe I found on the LA Times site, and made only a few adjustments.

  •  Long Island flounder fillet from P.E.&D.D. Seafood, divided into two parts, seasoned, cooked in a pan over high heat for a few minutes, turning once, then placed on plates, a couple of spoons of ‘tomato butter’ [see below] placed on top.
  • tomato butter made by cooking in butter a tiny amount of shallot from Keith’s Farm, then letting the flavored butter cool slightly before being poured over fresh large cherry tomatoes, ‘Cocktail Tomatoes’ from Maine via Whole Foods, chopped, which had been combined  with torn basil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and drops of red wine vinegar
  • cavalo nero (Racinato kale) from Keith’s Farm, braised with garlic, finished with salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil
  • the wine was a California white, Rock.Face Chenin Blanc Clarksburg 2012

pizza, fast food that can welcome a good wine


if it’s art, is it a grid?

Sometimes you don’t miss tomato, even when it’s about pizza.  In fact, until I thought of writing this post, I don’t think it occurred to me that one of our favorite pizzas is never kissed by the red fruit of the nightshade.

Pizza is our usual go-to, emergency, fast food alternative whenever there’s absolutely no time to cook, meaning when there’s a performance, protest, or other event which lasts until late in the evening.  Rocco’s Pizza Joint, which is only a few blocks from us, has a ‘Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pizza Pie’, and it is often our preference these days – when we can get it. It’s a rarity on our table because Rocco’s usually closes before we have a chance to order, but I think that means it’s appreciated even more when we are able to enjoy it.

It may be at least as rare on other tables as well, and not just because rapini, or broccoli di rapa, may not be to everyone’s taste: Our particular favorite pie doesn’t actually show up on the shop’s site.  It can be found on however.

One of the charms of ‘pizza night’ for us is the opportunity it gives, not only to pick out a wine appropriate to each of the pie’s variants, but for a low-key, unhurried appreciation of the wine and the pairing.  Also, pizza leftovers are always a good thing, and there are always leftovers, sometimes with the wine as well.

One more note.  I will never confuse Rocco’s product with my own white pizza outing some five years back, either for convenience or taste.  Mine wasn’t delivered, and since it took longer, it was no solution for a late supper.  I humbly confess however that if I can remember it correctly, I preferred my ramps and guanciale version, with a crust I had rolled out from dough bought at Whole Foods.  It was beginner’s luck, plus, really, ‘ramps and guanciale”?  How can you go wrong?

  • Rocco’s Broccoli Rabe & Sausage [white] Pizza, seen here as a rectangular pie in its box, lying on top of the covered burners of our range; later there would be chile flakes
  • the wine was an Italian red, Mirafiore Dolcetto d’Alba 2011