I had decided to assemble a frittata. I already had on hand just about anything I might want for it; as usual, the only question was which ingredients to include – and which to leave out.
Although it’s pretty difficult to mess up a frittata, it seems I really made the right calls this time. It was terrific.
I could point to the wonderful eggplant, but then how could I ignore the other first-class ingredients, the juicy garlic, the anaheim peppers, the two different kinds of perfectly-ripooe heirloom tomatoes, the sweet onions, and of course the eggs, the herbs, and the micro greens?
I just assembled the thing.
[In the interest of transparency, if it may not already have been obvious, I have to be clear that each of us enjoyed two servings like the one in the picture above]
This is what it looked like when it was removed from the broiler.
one large garlic clove from Race Farm, roughly chopped, sautéed slowly inside a 10″ seasoned cast iron pan in a little olive oil with 2 small sliced fresh ‘green onions’ (fresh white onions) from Berried Treasures, two green Anaheim peppers from Lower Hayfields, a friend’s Hudson Valley garden, until these ingredients were all softening and had become fragrant, followed by also sautéing until softened and colored one Sicilian eggplant from Phillips Farm, chopped, and the addition of 8 eggs from Millport Dairy Farm which had been whipped with 3 tablespoons of water, sea salt, freshly-ground pepper, and a mix of chopped herbs (parsley, lovage, and tarragon, from Keith’s Farm; dill from Willow Wisp Farm; marjoram and thyme from Stokes Farm), the surface topped with slices of two ripe heirloom tomatoes and a handful of halved heirloom black cherry tomatoes, the mix cooked slowly on the top of the stove, the egg allowed to set at the edges, before it was placed under a broiler for a couple of minutes, or until the center was [judged to be] no longer runny, the pan removed, scattered on top with some micro purple radish greens from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and allowed to cool for a few minutes before serving
- the wine was a California (Lodi) rosé, Karen Birmingham Rosé Lodi 2015
- the music was Q2 Music, streaming, and it included Meredith Monk‘s ‘New York Requiem‘ and a piece by Ken Ueno, ‘On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis‘
For some reason I can no longer remember, I had persuaded myself long ago that I had no interest in blowfish. In any event, after last night’s meal, that’s changed.
I had seen recently on Twitter that these little guys were back in town (thanks to our hard-working Long Island fishermen and the Union Square Greenmarket). Thinking it was probably timer to give them another chance, I looked for a simple recipe.
I found it, and I think it would probably be a mistake to stray far from its austerity, the fish itself is so tasty.
Blowfish is a bit like fried perch, and, since I grew up in the midwest, I’ve had a lot of fried perch (even caught some), and I also miss it a lot. The texture is like perch as well, especially when lightly batter-fried. Where it differs most from [Perca flavescens] is in its reputation for danger (undeserved, at least as respects fish caught in our waters). There’s also the popular enthusiasm about consuming it as finger food, probably because of their size and shape, and the absence of any substantive bone but the spine (we passed on the finger thing).
We used forks and fish knives (less messy, and for a leisurely pace much more suitable for enjoying the wine).
- 12 blowfish tails from Blue Moon Fish Company, dredged in seasoned coarse stone-ground flour, pan-fried in olive oil (about an eighth to a quarter a large in depth) inside a very large cast iron pan, turning once, for about 2 minutes to each side (or until golden), served with lemon wedges
- 2 Sicilian (heirloom) eggplants, from Phillips Farm, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds, brushed with olive oil, pan-grilled, turning 3 times, removed to a platter, brushed with a mixture of olive oil, finely-chopped garlic from Berried Treasures, chopped marjoram from Stokes Farm, lemon zest, and pepper, drizzled with a little olive oil and kept at room temperature, for a short while while the fish was fried.
- slices of an ‘olive demi baguette’ from Hot Bread Kitchen in the Greenmarket
- two small ripe red heirloom tomatoes from Lani’s Farm, sliced, mixed with a very good Campania olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper, and torn New York City basil from Gotham Greens via Whole Foods, served in bowls on the side of the entrée.
There was a small cheese course, and it gave me the opportunity to pull out my other favorite toaster, the trusty ‘Camp-A-Toaster‘, to get maximum crustiness from some odd slices of bread.
- small bits of Consider Bardwell ‘Barden’ blue cow cheese, via the Greenmarket, and ‘Bergflichte’ a washed rind cow cheese from Thurgau, northern Switzerland, via Eataly
- micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- toasts from a 3-day-old loaf of Bien Cuit baguette from Foragers Market
- The wine was a California (grapes from the Sacramento River Delta with a small amount of Viognier from Lodi) white, Miriam Alexandra Chenin Blanc California 2015
- the music was Q2 Music, streaming, including Jörg Widmann’s violin concerto, and Eight Etudes and a Fantasy by Elliott Carter
Comfort food: plain fish and potatoes.
Cod, to be specific; salted cod, but not ‘salt cod‘.
And Carola, to continue with specifics; originated in Germany, even better than Yukon.
I know there are absolutely no cod on the shores of Liguria, so the name of this recipe, ‘Ligurian Cod’, isn’t authentic, but the taste sure is. The recipe is called ‘Ligurian fish and potatoes‘, although its author appears to have been pretty casual about the origin of the fish varieties he suggests; I assume it’s about availability this far from the Mediterranean.
It’s Mark Bittman’s recipe (or at least the one that appears in his 2004 article in the New York Times is my source), but I’ve been using it for so long I think of it as an adopted child.
This is another of those meals that we usually have to wait for cool weather to enjoy, because there’s definitely an oven involved.
It’s a wonderful dish, and very easy to put together.
The picture above was taken just before the cod was placed in the oven.
- one 17-ounce cod fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood at the Union Square Greenmarket, prepared along the lines of a recipe from Mark Bittman which I came across almost 12 years ago: I cut the fillet into three pieces (2 of them equaling the weight of the third, and laid them on a bed of coarse sea salt, then completely covered them with more salt, setting them aside while I sliced, to a thickness of less than 1/4 inch about 14 ounces of small carola potatoes (yellow flesh, creamy) from Keith’s Farm, tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper, scatterd them in a ceramic baking pan, cooked them for 30 minutes or so in a 400º oven, or until they were tender, meanwhile thoroughly immersing the cod in several changes of water and drying the two pieces before placing them in the pan on top of the potatoes, topping the fish with a little olive oil and scattering them with some freshly-ground pepper, returned the pan to the oven for 8 to 12 minutes (the time would depend on the thickness of the cod), arranged on 2 plates, chopped parsley from Keith’s Farm sprinkled on top, finished with a scattering of purple micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- Chinese cucumbers from Norwich Meadows Farm, sliced into bitesize pieces, sautéed in olive oil until lightly browned, seasoned with sea salt, sprinkled with chopped dill from Willow Wisp Farm
- the wine was a Spanish (Rueda) white, Naia D.O. Rueda 2014, from Verdejo old vines
- the music was Q2 Music, streaming
It was cool that night, so I had no hesitation in firing up the oven to cook some lemon pork chops. The recipe is a favorite, normally enjoyed only in cool weather, and we’ve enjoyed these dark red (‘black’) cherry tomatoes before, but this variety of sweet peppers was new to me.
The peppers were Juicy, sweet, with a distinctive taste, and an oddly chewy texture – not at all unpleasant. I’m thinking they look surprisingly like egg noodles in the picture above, as they did on the table. For more clarification I thought I’d add an image of what they looked like as they finished cooking, but here they may look even more like noodles, maybe Spätzle.
- two 7-ounce bone-in loin pork chops from Flying Pig Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt and pepper and seared quickly in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan before half of a lemon was squeezed over the top (then left in the pan between them, cut side down), the chops placed in a 425º oven for about 14 minutes (flipped halfway through, when the lemon was squeezed over them once again and replaced between them), removed from the oven, sprinkled with micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge, the luscious pan drippings, by then mixed with tomato juices [see below], spooned over the top
- sweet heirloom orange peppers, described by the farmers as from southern France, from Campo Rosso Farm, sautéed in a large enameled cast iron pan until beginning to caramelize, joined part of the way through by some a small red Calabrian pepper, also from Campo Rosso Farm, and 2 red scallions from Norwich Meadows Farm, chopped, sprinkled with chopped oregano from Stokes Farm, finished with a bit of balsamic vinegar, the vegetables stirred to mix with it and the herb, before being arranged on the plates, some of the green parts of the scallions, chopped, tossed on top
- half a dozen or so halved black cherry tomatoes from Berried Treasures Farm, tossed into the pan in which the chops had cooked just after they were placed on the plates, stirred into the pan juices, the heat softening the tomatoes before they were removed to the plates and sprinkled with some torn New York CIty basil leaves from Gotham Greens via Whole Foods
- the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Pievalta, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, 2014
- the music was Q2 Music, streaming, part of their Shostakovich 24-hour marathon
The weakfish is a noble fish, but it is not a trout. It’s generally marketed as ‘ocean trout’, since ‘weakfish’ apparently projects a less-than-positive image to potential consumers. The ‘weak’ part is actually only the fish’s jaw, which tears apart easily when it is hooked (ouch), meaning it can easily escape from an angler.
I spent 20 years in Rhode Island, around waters where it was a familiar catch, and the Narragansetts‘ name for the species, ‘Squeteague‘, sounds right to me.
It’s delicious whatever you call it.
- small Squeteague fillets from Pura Vida Seafood, marinated for almost an hour in the refrigerator, in a mix of a little olive oil, a crushed bay leaf, one minced garlic clove, and 6 different herbs, drained, allowed to come to room temperature, sautéed/fried for about 2 minutes in a large lightly-oiled cast-iron skillet which had been pre-heated to medium-hot, skin-slide down first, the fillets then turned and cooked for another minute, until opaque and firm, drizzled with a rich vegetarian garum-like liquid consisting of savoury juices I had retained from earlier meals
- various kinds of small green and yellow summer squash from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut into 1/4″ slices, tossed in olive oil, sea salt, and freshly-ground pepper, pan-grilled, removed to a bowl where the they was tossed with a few pitted and sliced Kalamata olives, one small finely-chopped red Calabrian pepper from Campo Rosso Farm, a little lemon juice, and chopped peppermint from Stokes Farm
- the wine was an Italian (Sardinia, Argiolas) rosé, Serra Lori Rosato Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2015
- the music was Q2 Music, streaming