This is one of the easiest meals I get to put together, and I do something like it pretty often. It’s easy because the recipes are simple, because I’ve assembled each of them a number of times, and, it’s even easier this time because one of the 3 things on the plate had been prepared earlier – 5 days earlier in fact, as a part of another meal.
The finish for the pork chops this time might be the most spectacular garnish I’ve ever used, at least on this dish, red amaranth, here, while still at the Greenmarket, looking a bit like a map of the Iberian peninsula.
The green was a very sweet (late winter/early spring?) bunch of very sweet, tender collards.
This is a grainy blowup from the earlier appearance of the inguazato, which at that time included monkfish tails.
- two small pork chops (8 ounces each) from Flying Pigs Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned well with salt and freshly-ground pepper, seared quickly on both sides inside a heavy enameled cast-iron pan (a small amount of a dried orange-golden habanada pepper added as each side was sealed), then half of an organic lemon squeezed over the top and left in the pan between the chops, the pan placed in a 425º oven for about 14 minutes (flipped halfway through, at which time the lemon was squeezed over them once again and replaced between them), removed from the oven and arranged on plates, the really luscious scant pan juices spooned over the meat, which was finished with a flourish of red micro amaranth from Windfall Farms
- a serving of a couscous dish, chef David Pasternack’s ‘inguazata’, a precious leftover from this meal [the recipe can be found through a link of that page], enjoyed earlier in the week
- collard greens from Lani’s Farm, torn into small sections (the stems were tender enough to include in the cooking), washed several times and drained, transferred to a smaller bowl very quickly, in order to retain as much of the water clinging to them as possible, wilted inside a heavy oval enameled cast iron pot in which 2 halved garlic cloves from John D. Madura Farm had first been allowed to sweat in a bit of olive oil, a little crushed dried Sardinian pepperoncino from Buon Italia along with them, the greens finished with a little salt, freshly-ground pepper, a bit of sweet local lemon juice from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a California (Sonoma) white, Jacqueline Bahue Carte Blanche Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma Valley 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Marin Marais’ 1789 opera, ‘Sémélé’, Hervé Niquet conducting Le Concert Spirituel
Great, great stuff. As delicious as it looks.
The cod was very fresh, and very sweet, as were the potatoes and the gorgeous micro amaranth.
I didn’t have enough of any one kind of potato to produce a dish I’ve made many times before, and each of the 2 varieties I ended up using was considerably smaller than any I’d ever used. Also, I inadvertently used more olive oil to bake the potatoes than I should have.
So they weren’t big, and they didn’t turn out crispy, but they were really luscious.
I don’t have an image of the tiny fingerlings, but here are the small Carola, still at the farmer’s stand, in a light rain.
Also, because I think potatoes always look so good, here are both kinds, tossed, with seasonings, inside the largest of a nest of vintage Pyrex bowls,
and inside a glazed Terracotta dish, on their way into the oven.
- one 17-ounce fillet of cod from Blue Moon Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, prepared more or less from a recipe from Mark Bittman which I originally came across 12 years ago: the cod washed and rinsed, placed on an ironstone platter on a bed of coarse sea salt, more added on top, until it was completely covered, set aside while preparing a bed of potatoes for them by slicing to a thickness of less than 1/4 inch, about 11 ounces of 2 kinds of potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled, some small Carola potatoes from Lucky Dog Organic Farm and a slightly less amount of tiny fingerlings from Phillips Farm, tossing them in a large bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a large pinch of golden home-dried Habanada pepper [acquired fresh last fall from Norwich Meadows Farm], arranging the potatoes, slightly overlapping, in a rectangular glazed ceramic oven dish, cooking them for 20 or 25 minutes in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced, meanwhile, before the potatoes had fully cooked, the cod was thoroughly immersed in many changes of water for about 15 minutes in order to bring down the saltiness (incidentally the soaking process somehow gives the fish more solidity, which can be easily felt while handling it at this point), divided in half, drained and dried before being placed inside the pan on top of the potatoes, skin side down, drizzled with a little olive oil, some freshly-ground pepper scattered over the top, returned to the oven for 8 to 12 minutes more (the time would depend on the thickness of the cod), removed from the dish with a broad spatula, along with as much of the potatoes as can be brought along with each piece, everything arranged on two plates as intact as possible, followed by the remainder of the potatoes, splashy red micro amaranth from Windfall Farms scattered over the top
The mustard greens were phenomenal, and gorgeous resting on the farmer’s stand.
- frizzy purple mustard greens from Bodhitree Farm, wilted inside a large enameled cast iron pot in a little olive oil in which 2 cloves of garlic from John D. Madura Farm, halved, had been allowed to sweat, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a very small amount of crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, finished on the plates with a drizzle of juice from a sweet local lemon (Fantastic Gardens of Long Island), and a bit of olive oil
- the wine was a California (Lodi) white, David Akiyoshi Reserve Chardonnay 2015
- the music was Vivaldi’s 1726 opera, ‘Il Farnace’, in an extraordinarily beautiful performance led by Jordi Savall; it was at least our second hearing, not counting this one, from over 12 years ago, in which Vivaldi’s music accompanies Muntean/Rosenblum’s ‘It Is Never Facts That Tell’, the collaborative’s digital projection of a great world emptied and reduced to an enormous landfill, achingly beautiful, even without the music which accompanies its hooded figures
Whenever I have enough time in the kitchen to come up with a new treatment of a familiar ingredient, I go for it, but it doesn’t happen often enough. I repeat myself more often than I want to, even if there are always at least slight variations in the repetitions. I’d like to be more innovative, especially as I become more confident, but if a plan is in order, even if the product is supposed to seem like it just sort of ‘happened’, more time is needed than I usually allow myself.
I’ve always found it’s easiest to be innovative with pasta, for reasons related to its role as a ‘vehicle’ for incorporating any number of other ingredients. It’s made even more simple by having access to excellent local products (using local grains and vegetables) like those produced by Sfoglini.
The ‘other ingredient’ this time, aside from the grain of the pasta itself, was an Asian cucumber that I had picked up at the Greenmarket on Friday, but it was only the jumping off point for creating a dish I had never seen or eaten before.
The antipasto was a proper foil to the primi: I happened to have on hand a small stash of smoked wild salmon, some delicious sweet baby arugula, and a sweet Balthazar small whole wheat boule from Whole Foods
- three ounces of Brooklyn’s Acme Smoked Fish Corporation ‘Ruby Bay’ smoked wild-caught King salmon, from Whole Foods, arranged on 2 plates with a bit of a simple sauce of crème fraîche from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, chopped wild garlic stems from Lani’s Farm, and a little zest and juice of a sweet local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island
- baby arugula from Windfall Farms, dressed only with a little olive oil from Campania, Syrenum D.O.P. Peninsula Sorrentina
- slices of a Balthazar whole wheat boule purchased at Whole Foods Market
We were able to enjoy the pasta only a few minutes after finishing the antipasto because I had already prepped much most of the ingredients, including bringing the pasta water to a boil.
- one chopped spring garlic from John D. Madura Farm and one chopped Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm softened in a little olive oil inside a large enameled cast iron pot, before adding one ‘Asian’ cucumber from Shushan Valley Hydro Farms, cut into 2-centimeter pieces and already sautéed, also in olive oil, inside a separate tin-lined copper pan until it had begun to brown and blister, additionally, one tablespoon or so of ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘, and some juice of a local sweet lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, everything stirred together, and 8 ounces of Sfoglini ‘rye blend trumpets’, cooked seriously al dente, tossed in, along with some of the reserved pasta water, and stirred, some zest from the same lemon, plus a tablespoon or more of white balsamic vinegar and some chopped lime basil from Lani’s Farm added, and finally, one or two more tablespoons of butter, winding up with the contents of the pot stirred over a low-to-moderate flame for a couple of minutes to blend the flavors and the ingredients, the pasta served in shallow bowls and sprinkled with red wasabi micro radish from two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine throughout the meal was an Italian (Sardinia) white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2015
- the music was a pretty obscure 1717 opera by Antonio Vivaldi, ‘L’incoronazione di Dario’, in a performance by Ottavio Dantone and the Accademia Bizantina (a terrific recording, one we had first enjoyed last July)
I had just picked up the scallops when I spotted the mushrooms. They were irresistible, so I decided they would join the shellfish for dinner.
I already had some beautiful purple mizuna at home that I had picked up on Friday from some of my favorite farmers, just returned to the Greenmarket after being away for the winter.
And so the meal came together, the work itself being little more complicated.
- fourteen sea scallops (12 ounces) from P.E. & D. D. Seafood, rinsed, dried thoroughly, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, briefly pan-grilledy (90 seconds on each side), finished with a squeeze of juice from a sweet local lemon grown by Fantastic Gardens of Long Island and a drizzle of olive oil, placed on top of a bed of golden oyster mushrooms (8 ounces from Blue Oyster Cultivation) which had just been prepared, starting with roughly slicing the 2 ‘heads’ and sautéeing them inside a large enameled cast iron pan in a tablespoon of butter for about 4 minutes, one medium chopped finely-chopped shallot from Norwich Meadows Farm and one finely-chopped garlic clove from John D. Madura Farm added and stirred with the mushrooms for 2 minutes, a bit of crushed dried habanada pepper stirred in, almost a quarter cup of a dry (fino) sherry poured in and simmered, stirring, for another minute or two, the pan removed entirely from the heat and a tablespoon of butter, divided into small pieces, added and stirred until it had melted into its contents, the scallops sprinkled with a little very colorful ‘Bull’s Blood Beet’ from Windfall Farms after they had been arranged on the mushrooms
- purple mizuna from Bodhitree Farm, wilted in a little olive oil in which one bruised and halved garlic clove from John D. Madura Farm had first been allowed to sweat and begin to color, the greens seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, a very small amount of crushed dried crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, arranged on the plates and a little more olive oil drizzled on top
- the wine was a French (Loire) white, Jerome Choblet Fief Du Chant Baron Vieilles Vignes Muscadet Cotes De Grandlieu Sur Lie 2015, from Chelsea wine vault
- the music was the magnificent 1846 piece which Hector Berlioz’ called a “légende dramatique”, ‘La Damnation De Faust’, Myung-Whun Chung directing the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Philharmonia Chorus, and the Eton College Boys’ Choir, with soloists Keith Lewis, Anne Sofie von Otter, Bryn Terfel, Victor von Halem, and David Nicklass
More than bacon and eggs.
- There were eggs and bacon from Millport Dairy Farm, the eggs dusted with a little dried dark habanada pepper, chopped thin stems of wild garlic from Lani’s Farm, Maldon salt, Tellicherry pepper, and a bit of red wasabi micro radish from two Guys from Woodbridge; there were 3 Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, heated in a little olive oil, mixed with a little thyme from Eataly, salt, and pepper, garnished with chives from Phillips Farm; and there was toast, Balthazar’s small whole wheat boule, from Whole Foods
- the music was 3 Bach cantatas, ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’, ‘Ach Gott! wenn wirst du mich einmal’, and ‘Hort, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen!’, Sigiswald Kuijken conducting La Petite Bande