I had thought this meal would only be a ‘placeholder’, since I had come down with a cold the night before and on this night I was also going to have to prepare for the arrival of a new refrigerator the next morning, possibly as early as what we normally consider ‘dawn’. I had even contemplated ordering in, since the knock down operation connected to abandoning the old unit had at first looked somewhat daunting.
In the end I decided to cook a meal, knowing that in doing so I would have that much less to worry about keeping cold while switching refrigerators the next day.
Barry was happy we didn’t have to go the takeout route, especially once we had both realized what a great dinner we had on the table in front of us, and I was shocked at how good it turned out.
The sausage was superb, and, as we had learned earlier, far more spicy than anyone might expect from a Pennsylvania Amish family’s farm. I had remembered that curiosity, and the memory was punctuated by the effect their hot pepper, even that contained in the sausage casings, had on my sinuses while they were being grilled.
I pulled out a small jar of an Italian quince confiture while the chorizo was cooking and added a dab of it to the edge of each plate.
The vegetables were also stars. They were pretty much the only ones I had on hand, but they were a perfect compliment to the sausage.
- Four 3-ounce links of a wonderful spicy chorizo sausage from Millport Dairy Farm, pan grilled for a few minutes over a medium flame until heated through, served with an Italian quince confiture from Westside Market, Lazzaris’ Salsa di Mele Cotogne
- one bunch of spring onions from Alewife Farm, trimmed, although with much of their green stems still attached, placed with a tablespoon of butter and a quarter cup of water inside a heavy tin-lined copper pan, brought to a boil, covered, the heat reduced and the onions simmered until the bulbs were almost tender, about 10 minutes, uncovered and cooked a few minutes longer, turning the onions occasionally, until bulbs are completely tender and the liquid mostly evaporated, removed from the heat and 2 tablespoons stirred in, tossed with a generous amount of chopped epazote from Windfall Farms
- two chopped red spring onions from Alewife Farm warmed with a little olive oil until softened inside a large, high-sided tin-lined copper pan, one head of radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, roughly-chopped, added to the pan with some sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper and stirred until the chicory had almost wilted, finished with barely a splash of balsamic vinegar and arranged on the plates
- the wine was a California (Lodi) red, Sharon Weeks Cattoo Lodi Malbec 2015, from Naked Wines
- the music was Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s 1810 opera, ‘Mathilde von Guise’, Didier Talpain conducting the Solamente Naturali
The first cauliflower of the season, and the 4th swordfish dinner of the year. Each was a treat, even before I started cooking!
I could see that the cauliflower was tinged with purple, even before I separated it into florets..
from an earlier encounter with them, I knew about the slightly curious orange-red hue of these tomatoes..
and this time the micro green was actually green.
- one halved 18 and a half ounce swordfish steak from Blue Moon Fish Company (more fish than I would prefer to take home, but it was the last steak and I didn’t want to ask the folks to cut off a piece from it), marinated for half an hour in a mixture of olive oil, part of a finely-chopped shallot from Berried Treasures, some super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, and a very small amount of crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, the steaks then drained well, coated on both sides with some homemade dried breadcrumbs and pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, removed to 2 plates, seasoned with sea salt, drizzled with the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, then with a little olive oil, served on 2 plates garnished with micro fennel from Windfall Farms
- florets of a cauliflower from Eckerton Hill Farm sautéed in a pan in which 3 roughly-sliced green garlic cloves from Lani’s Farm, some crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili, and more than a teaspoon of Italian fennel seeds had first been heated, the cauliflower braised for a few minutes until beginning to soften, at which time it was joined by 5 ounces of halved and seeded orange-red cherry tomatoes from Neversink Organic Farm, the cooking continued, gently, until the tomatoes had been heated and had become a full partner in the mix, finished by stirring in some chopped peppermint from Lani’s Farm
- the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Sant’ Isidoro Verdicchio Matelica Pié di Colle 2015, from Chelsea Wine Vault
- the music was Mendelssohn’s Symphonies No. 1 and 3, from a recording of Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe
While I was putting this dish together I imagined it as a simple pasta with a Mexican touch, or at least a West Coast touch, for the very specific herb, the hot pepper, and the two sweet vegetables.
- one whole dried Cayenne pepper from Oak Grove Plantation, stirred over low to medium heat for a minute or two in a tablespoon or so of olive oil inside a heavy enameled cast iron pot, followed by 2 fairly-thinly-sliced medium-size Walla Walla onions, including most of their stems, from Windfall Farms, which were sautéed until beginning to soften, after which 8 ounces of Afeltra linguine from Eataly, cooked in a large pot of salted water until barely al dente, then drained (reserving 1 cup of the cooking water), was added to the pot and mixed in, the reserved cooking water also added as needed to emulsify the liquid, a generous amount of chopped epazote from Windfall Farms tossed in, served in shallow bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled with homemade breadcrumbs which had first been browned in a little olive oil with a pinch of sea salt
- the wine was an excellent Italian (Campania) white, Fiano Kràtos “Paestum” Maffini 2016, from Astor Wines & Spirits
- the music was the album, ‘Le Journal Du Printemps’, music of Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer performed by the Freiburger Barockorchester [Fischer (c. 1656 – 27 August 1746) was a German (Bohemia) baroque composer, “responsible for bringing the French influence to German music”, although his work is little known today
I feel that I’ve already said almost all I can on these pages about Porgy, so I’ll only mention that last night I tried a new approach to cooking it, one which mostly followed a simple Gordon Ramsay recipe. It was very easy, pretty stress-free, really delicious, and the results were more photogenic than they had sometimes been in the past.
Green asparagus spears were even a more familiar sight on this blog, and in their case, so was the recipe I used.
- a salsa for the fish prepared by heating, inside a small lined copper pan over a gentle flame in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 5 ounces of halved red cherry tomatoes from Stokes Farm and 2 ounces or so of pitted whole Kalamata olives from Whole Foods Market, seasoning the mix with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, stirring for 1 or 2 minutes, then setting the pan aside while chopping a certain amount of lovage from Keith’s Farm and an equal volume of leaves off of a basil plant from Stokes Farm, torn (together ending up as several tablespoons), adding the herbs to the salsa, but reserving some for garnish, stirring to combine, then introducing the juice of half of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market (Ramsey suggests rolling a whole lemon on board “to soften and release the juices”, but individual circumstances may not always permit that step), once again stirring, the salsa once again set aside to allow the flavors to infuse while preparing the fish
- four 4-ounce porgy fillets from P.E & D.D. Seafood, their skin slashed with a very sharp knife in 2 or 3 places each, then a bit of olive oil added to a large enameled rectangular cast iron pan over high heat, the porgy added, skin side down, as soon as the oil had become very hot, the fish seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, cooked for 2 or 3 minutes “until the fish is dark golden and the skin is crisp” (mine did not get crisp, which may mean I was too timid about the intensity of the heat), the fillets turned over (always the risky part), cooked on the other side for 1 minute, basting with the oil in the pan, if any, until just cooked through, finally arranged on the plates in what seems at that moment to be the most natural and aesthetic manner [Ramsey suggests arranging the porgy on the plates on top of the salsa, but, this time at least, I didn’t want to hide its beauties]
- fourteen thick spears of asparagus from John D. Madura Farm, trimmed, the stems peeled, tossed in a couple of tablespoons of butter and about a tablespoon of olive oil, plus a few branches of thyme from Lani’s Farm, inside a second large enameled rectangular cast iron pan (I’m definitely ‘kitchen pan-rich’), then sautéed over medium high heat while frequently rolling or turning them until they were beginning to brown (about 15 minutes), finished with a sprinkling of Maldon salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry peppercorns
- the wine was a French (Chinon) rosé, Domaine Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rosé 2016, from Chelsea Wine Vault
- the music was the album, ‘Bernhard Henrik Crusell: Concertante Wind Works’, with Osmo Vänskä conducting the Tapiola Sinfonietta
The eggs were small; I presume they were pullet eggs, “..from chickens who are just getting the hang of laying eggs.”, but they were quite tasty, rich, sweet, and very fresh, as was everything else about this breakfast.
- its elements were: 6 small eggs from Alex’s Tomato Farm, Mullica Hill, NJ, scattered with tarragon and lovage, both chopped, from Keith’s Farm; Maldon salt flakes and Tellicherry peppercorns; thick-cut smoked bacon from Millport Dairy Farm; a few Ontario Province orange cherry tomatoes from Whole Foods Market, with torn leaves from a basil plant from Stokes Farm; part of a stem of green garlic from Lani’s Farm, chopped; purple micro radish from Windfall Farms; tarragon blossoms from Windfall Farms; and toast from a loaf of a Balthazar rye boule from Schaller & Weber Market
- the music was that of the Lisbon-born Portuguese/Brazilian composer, Marcos António da Fonseca Portugal, his 1811 ‘Matinos Do Natal’ (Christmas Eve prayers), performed by Ensemble Turicum