Last night I brought to the table two aspects from two different summer squash, purchased on two different days, from two separate farmers. Oh yes, there were also pan-grilled tuna steaks.
Note: The Sierra pepper was pretty mild, by nature, so I eventually added more of the colorful chopped morsels, but unfortunately only after snapping this picture.
- two 7-ounce sections of tuna loin from Blue Moon Fish Company, rubbed on both top and bottom with a mixture of fennel seed and dried peperoncini, ground together, further seasoned with salt, and pepper, then pan-grilled for only a minute or so on each side, finished with a good squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil
- a large handful of organic squash leaves, buds, and stems picked up from Zaid at Norwich Meadows farm on Monday, sautéed in olive oil with slices of one small organic garlic clove from Trader Joe’s, then reserved and later added to a broad pan in which chunks of yellow summer squash collected from Gwen Rogowski at Rogowshi Farm that day had been sautéed with another organic garlic clove from Trader Joe’s, this time just split in two, and then, just as the squash was caramelizing, three thin scallions from John D. Madura Farm, sliced, and one sierra pepper from Whole Foods, chopped, added, the vegetable finished with chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm
- the wine was a California rosé, David Akiyoshi Sangiovese Rosé Lodi California 2014
- the music was the two Haydn cello concertos
I had never heard of celtuce before visiting Zaid and Haifa’s stand in the Greenmarket on Monday, but I will say it was a revelation, for me a wonderful new vegetable (and new vegetables must be encouraged). It was terrific. The flavor might be described as a slightly nutty take on celery and bok choy. I don’t really need any analogies myself; I do know that from now on I will be looking for every opportunity to enjoy it again.
After talking to Zaid about the stalks he had arrayed on a table, I went home with three of them, which turned out to be the exact number I needed for the treatment I ultimately settled upon, a dressing for a good artisanal short pasta. After only a bit of research on line, in order to learn something more about what I had brought home, I decided I could risk going forward. The recipe I used was entirely my own.
It was delicious, possibly the most delicious mix of greenery and pasta I had ever put together, and I think I’m something of a veteran in that kind of campaign. The colors and the textures were a bonus.
Note: I don’t know of any reason why olive oil couldn’t be used to brown the celtuce ‘coins’, making this dish entirely vegetarian, and I don’t even know why I didn’t use it myself yesterday.
- the top greens of three stems of celtuce from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in a pot along with a little olive oil in which one clove of sliced organic garlic from Trader Joe’s had been sweated, the greens then reserved while the stems themselves were prepared by being shaved from a vegetable peeler, cut into beautiful green ‘coins’ (they’ll look a bit like sliced kiwi fruit) and parboiled for about 7 or 8 minutes, after which they were drained, sautéed in a large enameled pot in a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with a generous handful of pine nuts which had previously been pan-roasted in a cast iron pan on the top of the range, the boiled pasta (Afeltra Ziti Corti Rigati 100% Grano Italiano) introduced into the pot at this point and stirred with the greens – and their delicious liquor – which had been reserved earlier, along with a little chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm, served in shallow bowls with more chopped lovage and a fresh drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was an Italian white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013
- the music was that of Gerald Busby, our neighbor across the road in the Chelsea Hotel
The image above is of the display of celtuce at the Norwich Meadows Farm stand on Monday.
It was not a Greenmarket day, so there was no fish in the house, and I didn’t feel like preparing meat on the first day of summer. I always have both dry and fresh (frozen) pasta, and I did have a small baby fennel bulb, an enormous amount of fennel fronds, some cherry tomatoes, and some spring red onions, and I was fain to use these seasonal gifts before they turned [there, I did it; I used ‘fain’ in an conventional context; it’s something I always wanted to do, although I knew I’d never have the nerve to use it in speech].
As it turned out, what I didn’t have, was a simple package of penne or any other stubby pasta. I didn’t want to use long pasta, so I reached for the squid ink penne I’d been saving for something particularly appropriate to its strengths.
it wasn’t a completely successful improvisation, but, because it looked so exotic in the picture, I decided to post it anyway
- a few Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods, partially cooked down in olive oil, one red spring onion from Tamarak Hollow Farm, split and pan-grilled, one young fennel bulb from Bodhitree Farm, sliced, along with its root, then also pan-grilled, and some dried red pepper flakes, all tossed with boiled Penne Rigate al Nero di sepia from Rustichella d’Abruzzo SpA, and finished with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped fennel fronds
- the wine was an Italian white, Villa Antinori Toscana 2012
Once again last night I had the chance to appreciate why striped bass are so popular, and part of the reason why they command a somewhat premium price in the local markets. The daily limit is still strictly controlled, on Monday my fishmonger told me it had been slightly relaxed for the size of their operation, so we may be able to enjoy a little more this year (meaning I won’t have to show up at the Greenmarket at dawn to bring home part of their catch (not that I ever have).
As for the recipe I used this time, because I had no interest in turning on the oven on a hot and humid evening, I consulted my files for a formula which could be implemented on top of the stove. I did not however take advantage of Martha Stewart’s suggestion that the dish I ended up producing with her simple recipe could have been served at room temperature, mostly because I wanted it to relate to the temperature of the tiny fresh peas I had also picked up that day.
- one 15-ounce striped bass fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, marinated for half an hour (half of that time in the refrigerator) in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, thyme branches from Eckerton Hill Farm, squashed organic garlic cloves from Trader Joe’s, then removed from the marinade, and allowed it to drip dry (with the help of a paper towel) placed on an enameled grill pan on top of a medium-high flame, skin side down, seasoned with salt, grilled until skin was lightly browned and starting to crisp, before being turned and cooked through, or about 10 minutes, and garnished with chives from Lani’s Farm cut in 3/4-inch lengths (also one chive flower, prominent in the picture above) and lemon wedges.
- thinly-sliced red spring onion bulbs from Tamarak Hollow Farm cooked in a little butter until softened, tiny shelled peas from Lani’s Farm added along with a little bit of water and simmered until tender, seasoned with salt and coarsely chopped pepper
- a small number of flowers and buds of ‘organic green leaf squash’ (per Zaid Kurdieh’s sign at his stall) from Norwich Meadows Farm, sautéed in olive oil until softened, then seasoned with salt and pepper
- the wine was a French white, Château la Rame, Bordeaux 2014
- the music was Haydn’s last, and not-quite-completed, 1791 opera, ‘L’anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice‘
We were enjoying a beautiful foggy evening on the Hudson last night until some time after ten, part of the GORUCO (Gotham Ruby Conference) ‘Yacht Party’. We didn’t arrive back home until 10:30, but I had promised us ahead that we would still have a good dinner at home (it wasn’t a ‘school night’, so the prospect of a late dinner was reasonable).
Duck can be pretty quick work, as can wilting some fresh greens, and that was my plan. I had anticipated the meal when I bought a small (11-ounce) breast the day before; I was also anxious to taste an unusual find at the Greenmarket broccoli greens! The amounts of both were modest, so we were able to enjoy a cheese course, and some more of the crusty sourdough bread from the day before.
By the way, the little ‘finger’ of duck below the larger piece is one half of the tenderloin; it had been seasoned as well, and was added to the pan only for a minute at the end of the cooking.
- one small duck breast from Pat LaFrieda at Eataly, the fatty side scored, covered with salt, pepper and a bit of turbinato sugar (which had been infused over time with a vanilla bean), then left standing for about half an hour before it was pan-fried, finished with a squeeze of lemon, chopped rosemary from Phillips Farm, and a bit of olive oil
- broccoli greens from Tamarack Hollow Farm, wilted in a covered pan in which organic garlic from trader Joe’s had been slowly warmed in olive oil, then seasoned and drizzled with some more oil
- thick slices of Trucio from Sullivan Street Bakery ensured that the juices wouldn’t languish on the plates
The cheese course included the same good bread, and three artisanal cheeses, in ascending order of strength:
- Ardith Mae’s ‘Bigelow’ goat cheese; Consider Bardwell’s ‘Danby’; and also their ‘Slyboro’