I forgot to sprinkle the lovage on the eggs until after I had taken the picture
The ramp fest continued into breakfast the next morning.
The bacon and the eggs were from Millport Dairy Farm (the wonderful German-oriented produce of these Pennsylvania Amish folk reminds me more and more of the beautiful, rich Wisconsin dairy farms of the each of my parents’ families). The leeks were from Berried Treasures, the dried pepper was crushed Itria-Sirissi chilies (peperoncino di Sardegna intero from Buon Italia), the chopped lovage I later scattered over the eggs was from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and the toast was from a loaf of Eric Kayser’s demi-Vendôme (whose ingredients are, simply, de farine de froment, de levain, de germe de blé).
I’ve always gone pretty easy on the amount of ramps I use in a meal, because it hasn’t occurred to me that I could but more than one bunch at a time; because I always improvise both the occasions and the amounts when I incorporate ramps into a meal; and because I’ve assumed that if a little goes a long way, a lot would probably go too far.
Recently however, while looking at formal recipes which feature this much-prized wild leek, I was surprised to see that generous quantities were usually specified.
At the Greenmarket on Friday, for the first time ever, I bought my leeks ‘by the pound’. On Saturday I used 8 ounces of my new treasure, and another few ounces found their way into a bacon and eggs breakfast the next morning.
I’m feeling good about this.
The recipe is pretty simple, although I was still able to overlook performing one small move, which probably explains why some of my pasta stuck to the bottom of the pan immediately, and none of it ever browned. My blunder was that I didn’t toss the cooked and drained spaghetti with olive oil before introducing it into the hot pan. The browning would have made the flavors a little more complicated, added an additional color to a dish which was already pretty colorful.
- the ingredients I used in the pasta were 8 ounces of Afeltra spaghettone; 8 ounces of ramps from Berried treasures; chopped mint from Phillips Farm (I had on hand only half of the 1 ounce specified, so its effect was more subtle than it could have been); 4 ounces of a California (Clarksburg) white, David Akiyoshi Chardonnay Clarksburg 2014, from Naked Wines; a fourth of a cup of grated ‘Organic Parmigiana Reggiani Hombre’, from Whole Foods; and a sprinkling of micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine was a California (Clarksburg) white, Karen Birmingham 2015 Pinot Grigio
- the music was again from the Eighth Blackbird album, ‘Hand Eye‘, this time specifically works of Christopher Cerrone and Jacob Cooper
The monkfish recipe is absolutely terrific. I had already been a big fan of couscous, and my enthusiasm had been magnified by my two earlier experiences with this Sicilian treatment of coda di rospo. Somehow joining these few ingredients results in one of the sweetest food marriages I have ever witnessed.
We hadn’t enjoyed chard at home for some time, and this bunch of rainbow chard (larger than we cold consume in one meal, so there will be another appearance) was just about the most beautiful I had ever seen; also, it turned out, possibly the most delicious. Unfortunately it is the very last of this farmer’s bounty we will be be privileged to have on the table: Nevia No’s wonderful Bodhitree Farm has retired.
- one 17-ounce monkfish tail from Blue Moon Fish, prepared using a David Pasternak recipe which includes M’hamsa Couscous from Tunisia (purchased at Whole Foods), olive oil, sliced garlic from Whole Foods, some superb Mutti baby Roma tomatoes from Eataly (also available at Whole Foods), and a handful of Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, cracked green olives from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, and almost all of one whole crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero from Buon Italia), the fish cooked, because of its size, much longer than specified in the recipe (15 minutes?)
- rainbow chard from Bodhitree Farms, sautéed with olive oil, finished with juice from an organic lemon, and most of another crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili
- the wine was an Italian (Sardinia) white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013
- the music was a great evening of Q2 streaming, and included ‘Continuum II’ by Jane Antonia Cornish, and ‘Muistin pitka jyrina’, by Riikka Talvitie
This is a pretty tasty way to serve mackerel, Michael White’s very simple Sicilian-inspired recipe, and it’s a pretty simple process, which may help explain why I still haven’t come up with many alternatives for this wonderful fish, except for the time I tried an excellent one by Gordon Ramsey.
- Boston mackerel (seven 2-ounce filets) from Blue Moon Fish Company, washed, dried, brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, pan grilled over high heat for five or six minutes, turning once, transferred to plates and topped with a salsa of quartered Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, which had been tossed with olive oil, wild capers in brine which had been rinsed and drained, some organic lemon juice, salt, and pepper
- about half a pound of a mix of potatoes, mostly Yukon Gold from Whole Foods, and one Red Norland from Lucky Dog Organic, boiled until tender, drained, cooled slightly, cut into quarters, placed in a skillet and cooked over high heat for about 5 minutes (or, ideally, until the potatoes had just begun to brown, but the tubers had been boiled too long this time, or had cooled too long, and so were unable to), one medium clove of thinly-sliced garlic from Whole Foods added, the heat turned down, the potatoes cooked slowly until they had (or might have) browned fully, about 3 minutes longer, seasoned with salt and pepper and kept warm until the fish had been cooked
- a few tender collard greens from Lani’s Farm, washed, drained, and braised very lightly in a heavy pot in which two halved garlic cloves from Whole Foods had been allowed to sweat in some olive oil, the dish finished with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a French (Rhône) white, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2014
- the music was from the album, ‘William Lawes: Royall Consort Suites‘, with Monica Huggett conducting the Ensemble Sonnerie
It was one of the 6 anniversaries as a couple which we celebrate each year (yeah, ‘6‘!), in this case the 24th anniversary of what we refer to, somewhat discreetly, as the night of ‘the Magic meal’.
The meal had to be special, but when I was planning it we didn’t expect our oven would be again be operational by that day, so that ruled out the baked pasta from the original menu of over two decades before, which was Johanne Killeen and George Germon’s Conchiglie al Forno, with shiiatake mushrooms, a head of radicchio, 3 (or 4) different cheeses, cream, and some fresh sage.
I consulted the muse, and when Barry suggested going with a good steak, I realized the rest of the meal was going to be just as easy as the featured player.
Meanwhile, I had been seduced by the color of the beet pasta spotted inside a display counter near the door of a pasta shop I passed on my way to Dickson’s Farmstand, so I realized that would take care of the first course, and it also made a second contorno unnecessary, allowing me to concentrate on the steak, and the celtuce which I had found at the Greenmarket the day before. The color of the pasta was more subdued, as I expected, after it had been cooked, but the taste was not.
- six ounces of beet fusilione (large-scale corkscrew) dry pasta from the small Rana Pastificio store in the Chelsea Market, briefly boiled, until al dente, drained, swirled around in several tablespoons of good butter, seasoned, served in low bowls and sprinkled with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
- the celebratory wine, enjoyed both before and during this first course, was a delicious New Mexico (Sierra County) sparkling, Gruet Blanc de Noirs
- one 14.5 ounce New York strip steak from Dixon’s Farmstand, brought to room temperature, dried with paper towels, pan grilled for 4 or 5 minutes on each side, scattered with a little sea salt and freshly-ground Telicherry pepper (once it had been turned over), divided into two pieces and removed to warm plates, drizzled with a little ramp butter (ramps from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, quickly par-boiled, dried and chopped, mixed with softened butter, organic lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper, then placed in the refrigerator until ready to be used)
- the very small stems of a ‘head’ of celtuce from Lani’s Farm (far smaller than the last time I prepared this vegetable), the ‘stalks’ cut into 2-inch sections and very quickly par-boiled, then dried, minced and rolled in a little butter over a moderate flame for a minute or two, along with some wild garlic, also from Lani’s Farm, followed by the celtuce leaves which had been torn off of the stems earlier, washed several times and drained, both stems and leaves served on plates with a sprinkling of pine nuts which had earlier been heated in a cast iron pan until they had begun to brown
- the wine was a Washington (Columbia Valley) red, Katy Michaud Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2013
- the music on this very frustrating New York State primary day was some delightful early 18th-century country music composed by Joseph-bodin De Boismortier, ‘Divertissements De Campagne’