Month: September 2015

bluefish, tomatoes, leek, basil, parsley; cavolo nero


I suppose it should not really be surprising, but every time I prepare this dish, using pretty much the same recipe, it both looks and tastes differently than it ever did before.  This one may have been the best yet.

Oh yes, I have to say again how sorry I am that some people haven’t learned to appreciate the (possibly acquired) full-flavored taste of this extraordinary fish.

  • one 15-ounce bluefish fillet from Blue Moon Fish, baked (more or less along the lines of this recipe) in a glazed ceramic pan at 450º for about 20-25 minutes above and below a variety of sliced heirloom tomatoes from Lani’s Farm, two sliced young leeks (rather than the scallions specified in the recipe) from Ryder Farm, more than a little olive oil, some torn Gotham Greens Brooklyn rooftop basil from Whole Foods, removed from the oven and placed on two plates, finished with chopped parsley from Paffenroth Farms, the pan juices drizzled on top of the now-divided fillet
  • cavolo nero, or black kale, from Bodhitree Farm, briefly wilted with olive oil and two halved Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, which had first been heated in the oil
  • the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Saladini Pilastri Falerio 2014, from Phillippe Wines
  • the music was Haydn’s ‘8 Nocturnes

husk cherries, fennel; salmon, herbs; sweet peppers



Note to self: All elements combined to make this a terrific meal, and it looked dazzling as well.


I’m not really trying to serve fish almost every night, but I find that, for me at this time, having at least a small portion of either seafood or meat makes it easier to build a good vegetable accompaniment (it’s an ‘accompaniment’, so it has to accompany something), and meat just doesn’t interest me as much as fish does right now.  I also still think that it’s very often more interesting to serve wine with an entrée which includes something other than just vegetables, although that too may change for me.

On my way uptown to a recital early this evening I thought about the fact that I hadn’t really planned what I was going to prepare for dinner, and the fact that that seemed to have been a conscious decision.  Then I quickly made the connection between the subway route we would be taking home and the fact that the Whole Foods on the corner of 24th and 7th always has wild northwestern salmon, and it’s often on sale.  Barry had mentioned that we had a larger supply of good pinot noir on hand than usual, and I thought of the dill flowers in the refrigerator door, and the bag of Corno di Toro sweet peppers in the crisper which I was anxious to try.  Salmon sounded absolutely right.

  • one 12-and-a-half-ounce fillet of wild Coho salmon from Whole foods, cut into two servings, placed in an oval, enameled cast iron pan in which about two tablespoons of unsalted butter had been allowed to heat until the foam began to recede, but not introduced before a small handful of slightly-crushed ramp fruit from Berried Treasures had been warmed in it, the pan with the salmon then placed in a 450º oven for about 7 minutes, the fillets flipped a little more than half way through, removed when barely cooked through, arranged on plates, sprinkled with Maldon salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and – most importantly – some fresh dill flowers from Crock & Jar/Rise & Root, in the Union Square Greenmarket, where almost everything else mentioned in these ‘pages’ has been found
  • delicious Corno di Toro long sweet frying peppers (red and yellow) from Campo Rosso Farm, stemmed, split, seeded, the piths remove, sliced lengthwise once or twice, fried in olive oil pressed under a weighted pan, first skin side down until blistered, then turned and fried, again under a weighted pan, for another 30 seconds or so, a small handful of washed and dried whole basil leaves and a splash of (medium quality) balsamic vinegar added to the pan, stirring for a few seconds until the herb is wilted and the vinegar has sort of exploded in the heated oil, which was then removed from the heat and the vegetable served
  • a salad of husk cherries from Oak Grove Plantation, arugula from Phillips Farm, and a generous amount of fresh fennel seed – and pollen – from Lani’s Farm, dressed with good olive oil, lemon juice, Maldon salt, and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper [the only quibble I have with the entire meal is that, while the husk cherries look great whole, they’re very difficult to pick up with a fork;  next time I’ll try to remember to slice them in two before adding them to the greens]
  • the wine was an Oregon red, Elk Cove Vineyards ‘La Sirene’ Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011, the gift of a friend
  • the music was Haydn, Symphonies No, 20 and 21, performed by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra under Adám Fischer

grilled squid, oregano, lemon; lima beans with mint


I actually was a little disappointed that the lima beans didn’t retain the hues they showed when they first came out of their pods (see below), but the earth and woodsy tones of their river stone disguises pretty much made up for it.

I was new to cooking this ancient South American vegetable as a fresh ingredient, having limited myself until now almost exclusively to working with its frozen form, and that was decades ago.  When I picked them up at the Union Square Greenmarket I thought preparation would be a cinch, but once home I found almost nothing about limas (or butter beans, an alternative name for the legumes) in any of my cookbooks and, as I was interested in something minimal, almost nothing useful on line.  To illustrate my dilemma, one site outlined at least three major steps for extracting the bean, and a cooking process that would have stretched on far beyond an hour’s time.  It was only when I turned to my half-century-old copy of  Craig Claiborne‘s classic opus, ‘The New York Times Cookbook’ [$25 new here; $10 to $15 here, at Strand], that I was finally reassured about both the ease and the simplicity with which these delicious beans could be prepared.

Both peas and beans can vary in size, tenderness, and freshness, so it may not always be easy to prescribe cooking times or amounts to buy (especially when they are being purchased in the shell or pod), and there is also the question of individual tastes. Claiborne’s short entry reads, simply, “Place the [shelled] beans in a small amount of boiling water, cover and boil rapidly until tender, about twenty to thirty minutes.” [Note: I checked the beans while they were boiling, and ended draining them after something closer to fifteen minutes]  He advised allowing two pounds – or more – for four servings.  I bought a pound of unshelled beans, and that would have been more than enough for the two of us, except that they were so good; even as little as half of a pound might have been enough if there were another vegetable on the plate.

I decided to do little to interfere with their natural flavor, but, in addition to some olive oil, I did go for the addition of some chopped mint (Claiborne had suggested butter and thyme), and, naturally, a squeeze of lemon, perhaps thinking the three might convert the very American lima bean into an Italian dish.

One more thing.  Squid remains one of the least expensive of any seafood available today;  the cost of two generous servings was far less than the cost of this excellent vegetable (a price I was totally happy to pay, even before their goodness had been fully confirmed and enjoyed).

  • tiny squid bodies and tentacles from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, marinated for about half an hour (half of that time in the refrigerator) in a mixture of lemon zest and lemon juice, thinly-sliced garlic from Keith’s Farm, olive oil, pungent dried Italian oregano from Buon Italia, salt, and pepper, then removed from the marinade and pan-grilled briefly over high heat, arranged on plates, sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and some chopped parsley from Stokes Farm  [a recipe for the squid, with more specific instructions appears here]
  • fresh organic lima beans from Norwich Meadows Farm (Im tasted one at the stand, and was immediately sold on them, although I had not cooked these particular legumes in many years, parboiled until tender (about 15 minutes here), drained, dried in the same glass pan, then mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and peppermint from Phillips Farm
  • the wine was an Italian (Campania) white, Falanghina Feudi di San Gregorio 2014
  • the music was excerpts from the album, ‘Steven M. Miller: Between Noise And Silence


The pictures below show the beans as they appeared at the Greenmarket, and then as they looked after podding and before cooking.



lamb chop, ramp fruit; yellow pole beans; tomatoes


It was a pretty colorful meal, and a tasty one, but, while enjoying the herbs – and the savory buds – I could not help thinking of all that I will miss once this summer is past.


  • two thick loin lamb chops from 3-Corner Field Farm (two servings), thoroughly dried, cooked on a very hot enameled cast iron grill pan for about 4 minutes on each side, seasoned only after having been seared, then removed from the pan and each topped with about a dozen slightly-crushed ramp fruit from Berried Treasures, the ‘buds’ having been heated earlier in a bit of olive oil, the chops finished with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil

  • yellow flat pole beans from Norwich Meadows Farm, blanched, drained and dried, then reheated in oil, finished with salt, pepper, and fresh fennel seed from Lani’s Farm

  • orange and green (two kinds) heirloom tomatoes from Berried Treasures, sliced thinly and arranged in low bowls with a bit of good olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and torn local (Brooklyn) basil leaves, Gotham Greens Rooftop packaged basil, from Whole Foods

  • the wine was a luscious super California red, ROX Scott Peterson All Blacks Sonoma County 2013, which includes five different black grapes from Sonoma; when I tasted it I thought that it almost certainly included some Zinfandel, but not in the usual heavy, scary California form which is incompatible with almost any food, and I just learned on line, from Scott Peterson, the maker, that it’s close to these percentages: 34 % Sonoma Coast Syrah; 
44% Old Vine Zinfandel Russian River/Dry Creek Sonoma County;
 11% Petite Sirah Dry Creek Sonoma County; 
6% Grenache
; 5% Mourvedre

  • the music was from the 2015 Nordic Affect album, ‘Clockworking

Prior to the meat course, there was a primi, a revisit of a pasta from three days earlier boasting the addition of some fresh herbs (spearmint from Lani’s Farm and summer savory and lovage, both from Keith’s Farm) and a drizzle of good olive oil.

There was also a cheese course, which included two cheeses from Consider Bardwell, ‘Manchester’ and ‘Slybro’, both made from goat milk, served with some very, very thin slices of ‘Integrale’ bread from Eataly, toasted in our McGraw Electric Toastmaster (introduced in 1936, the year our apartment building was completed).

cauliflower frittata, with cayenne, parmesan, tomato


It was a cauliflower, frittata, and we both love anything cauliflower, including this dish.  Apparently not everyone shares our enthusiasm, because, in his description of this primi, which I used as my rough guide, Kyle Phillips tells us that the great Italian cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi definitely did not think much of the vegetable, writing in an introduction to his nineteenth-century recipe, “You will need to know the quantities if you are to make a good frittata with a vegetable as insipid as this.”

  • one 21-ounce head of golden cauliflower from Norwich Meadows Farm, separated into flowerettes, sautéed in butter and olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron pan until beginning to carbonize, seasoned with salt and pepper, some of the torn green pointed leaves which enclose the head added near the end, then, once the vegetable had begun to color, eight small-ish eggs from Millport Dairy beaten with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese from Eataly, seasoned with salt, pepper, and some very good cayenne from Spices and Tease in Chelsea Market poured into the pan, followed by the addition of thin slices of one ripe red heirloom tomato from Norwich Meadows Farm placed on top, the mix allowed to cook, unflipped, on top of the range until done
  • the wine was an Australian sparkling rosé, Taltarni Taché 2011, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, from southeastern Australia
  • the music was the second half of Vivaldi’s ‘Atenaide’, in a performance by Modo Antiquo, conducted by Federico Maria Sardelli