This dish has appeared on this site at least twice before, which is a testament to its appeal, but also to its usefulness. I always have a number of types of pasta on hand, and several kinds of dried chilies, and of course I’m never without parsley, but tomatoes and leeks are a sometime thing, and sometimes they can’t wait any longer to be part of an entrée.
That, and a desire for an uncomplicated single-dish meal, was the background to this simple dinner.
- one large lightly-smashed Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm and one and a half dried chilies from Buon Italia, sautéed together in olive oil until the garlic browned, the chilies removed, and 6 smallish leeks from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, trimmed, split, washed, and sliced, added to the garlic oil and stirred until they wilted, freshly-ground black pepper and 5 Maine Backyard Farms tomatoes from Whole Foods added to the pan and cooked, stirring occasionally until the leeks appeared to began to brown, the sauce tossed with about 9 ounces of Setaro ‘spaghetti chitarra’ cooked al dente, and then more olive oil, some reserved pasta water, and a generous amount of chopped parsley from Phillips Farm
- the wine was an Italian (Tuscan) white, Vernaccia di San Gimignano D.O.C.G. 2014
- the music was Bach’s viola di gamba/cello suites [on “original and unoriginal instruments” – Louise Dubin], a part of the WKCR Bach Fest‘s ‘gamba show’
picture of the skate, about a minute after being place in the new skillet
This was a fairly simple meal, and an extremely good one. Its remarkable goodness was actually a surprise for me. We enjoy skate and Romanesco broccoli very much, and I serve each with some regularity, but they were both more tasty this time than they had ever been before.
I can’t account for the exceptional goodness of the skate and its sauce, except to consider the fact this was my first outing with a beautiful new copper skillet, and that might have contributed something to the result. The only thing novel about the preparation of the it-looks-like-cauliflower broccoli was the fact that I inadvertently tossed the florets with less olive oil than I had in the past, and that, combined with their feathery tops, meant that there was more opportunity for them to develop a nutty, slightly toasted flavor.
- two skate wings from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, each divided into two sections, coated with a coarse polenta which had been seasoned with salt and pepper, sautéed in olive oil for a few minutes, removed from the pan, the pan wiped with a paper towel, then some butter, chopped shallots from Phillips Farm, and sliced garlic from Berried Treasures introduced into it and stirred over a heat which had first been lowered, followed by the addition of a little more butter, juice from half of an organic lemon, and chopped parsley from Phillips Farm
- one fairly small Romanesco broccoli head from Phillips Farm, broken up into florets which were then tossed in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and pepperoncino, spread onto a ceramic oven pan, roasted at 400º for about 25 minutes, removed from the oven, and, when the pan had begun to cool down, drizzled with olive oil and stirred
The entrée was followed by a small cheese course, because, well,.. because the cheese was there, and because we didn’t want one of my favorites, Karen Weinberg’s, ‘Shushan Snow‘, from her family’s 3-Corner Field Farm, to mature beyond its perfection.
- one section of a round of ‘Shushan Snow‘ sheep cheese from 3-Corner Field Farm, served with thin toasts made from a 4-day-old loaf of Grand Daisy Pugliese Pane, from Whole Foods
- the wine throughout was a Canadian (Quebec) white, Maurice Dufour‘s, Vinifie Chez Maurice Dufour Le Charlevoyou Muscat Osceola 2014 (the grapes are Osceola Muscat, a small, very winter-hardy white Muscat-type grape developed in Wisconsin, which M. Dufour purchases from Royarnois Estate, a vineyard a few kilometers from his home and chai [it’s a very limited production (we bought it à la maison, just outside Baie-Saint-Paul late last spring), and it’s not available in the U.S., but if it were possible I would buy a case today]
- the music was once again a streaming of the continuing WQXR annual 10-day, year-end Bach Festival, this time a broadcast of the composer’s dramatic ‘Johannespassion‘, BWV 245, in a performance by the Dunedin Consort which included an ‘ideal’ of the original Lutheran vesper liturgy (here, organ and congregational chorales, organ prelude, responsory, collect, blessing, another responsory, another chorale, and a final congregational chorale; it was awesome!
almost the definition of a rich dish (with a fresh spicy green as foil)
A significant part of this meal was composed of leftovers, and that explains the quirkiness of the order of courses. Also, my heart was in the bruschetta; the pasta was essentially an afterthought.
I was able to extend our enjoyment of the squab another night by putting together the makings of a bruschetta. It all got a little confusing during the process because I had also decided to prepare a rich broth with the necks and the gizzards; because of the late hour, I ended up doing both at the same time, and there was a duplication in the remaining ingredients of the chopped liver and the stock. There was lots of, ‘which pan does this go into?’
The stock I made, almost as important as what the squab contributed, as a rich pâté, to the first course of this meal, will stretch these birds still further, to at least to one more visit.
Finally, I can’t say enough about the importance of the goose fat to this meal, to that of the night before, and to those that are yet to come. Thank you Michelle.
- a little goose grease, the gift of a friend, heated until hot in a small non-reactive pan, in this case a vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot, the heat turned off, and two squab hearts from the birds enjoyed the night before, halved, and two livers seared for 30-45 seconds or so, removed from the pan, which was returned to the heat and sliced shallots from Phillips Farm, chopped thyme from Stokes Farm added to the goose fat and cooked for a brief minute or so, a bit of cognac introduced to deglaze the mix, boiled down for a minute or two, or until the alcohol has evaporated, removed from the pan, seasoned with a bit of salt and finely-ground pepper, and finely chopped together with the liver an heart pieces, a small amount of zest from a very small lemon/lime citrus fruit from Fantastic Gardens, spread on top of two pan-toasted slices of Grand Daisy Pugliese Pane from Whole Foods (there should probably been some chopped thyme or parsely on the top of the pâté, and I should have first rubbed the toast with cut garlic cloves, but I forgot to do both in my rush)
- cress from Max Creek Hatchery, dressed with good olive oil, lemon/line juice from the same tiny fruit, salt, and pepper
- the wine was an Italian (Sicily) red, Tenuta Rapitlà Nero d’Avola Campo Reale 2013
- Rana ‘Ravioli Caprese Duet‘ (two colors and two fillings: tomato mozzarella and basil pesto) from Eataly, boiled for about 2 minutes, stirred into a bowl with a sauce, prepared in a small non-reactive pan, with a little olive oil, chopped garlic, half of one pepperoncino, 4 large-ish Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved, spicy arugula from Keith’s Farm, torn, finished by tossing with some ricotta Liuzzi Angelini from Eataly
- the wine was an Oregon white, A to Z Oregon Chardonnay 2013
- the music throughout was the continuing WQXR annual 10-day, year-end Bach Festival
sometimes the classics are enough, but they can always take a bit of a tweak
It was the Feast of St. Stephen, a holiday in many Christian parts, suggesting the need for a special breakfast to begin the day. We really wanted eggs, and we had all the fixings. Somehow we had already misplaced all of the morning hours by the time we discussed this, so, while it looks like breakfast, I’ll call the meal lunch, in fact it was a late lunch.
- the eggs were from Millport Dairy, as was the thick, ‘country-style’ bacon; the cress was from Max Creek Hatchery, and it was dressed with a good Umbrian olive oil (Luciana Cerbini Casa Gola), from Buon Italia and a small squeeze of a small lemon/line citrus fruit from Fantastic Gardens; the toast was Grand Daisy Pugliese Pane, from Whole Foods; the eggs were sprinkled with half of one not-so-very-hot Cayenne thin red pepper from Oak Grove Plantation; there was salt and pepper on both the greens and the eggs;
- there was Trickling Springs Creamery whole milk, and afterwards, espresso
- the music was still more of WQXR‘s annual 10-day, year-end Bach Festival, which will be streaming until midnight, New Years Eve