The tautog, or blackfish, is one of my favorites, and it has a close association with one of my favorite places in all the world, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
This is the treatment I use most often for this noble fish.
Tonight it was also one of the most successful.
- * two 8-ounce filets of Blackfish/Tautog from Blue Moon Fish, prepared mostly as described in this recipe by Melissa Clark, laying the fish skin side down according to the instructions, and kept it there (although, perversely, the recipe’s image seems to suggest it should be cooked with the skin up); also, necessarily in these sad times; I had to substitute a mix of Nigerian cayenne pepper and Spanish paprika (picante) for the ‘Aleppo Syrian red pepper’ the recipe specified; and then to be specific about the other ingredients I used, the fresh sage was from Phillips Farm; the olives were a mix of black oil-cured ‘Moroccan’ and Gaeta, both from Buon Italia, and the lemon juice was squeezed from a Whole Foods Market organic fruit
- * a bit of sweet upland cress from Paffenroth Gardens, dressed with a drizzle of a good Puglian olive oil, Alce Nero DOP ‘Terra di Bari Bitonto’ from Eataly, Maldon salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
- * twelve or so ounces of sun chokes from Max Creek Hatchery, trimmed, scrubbed, sliced very thinly (1/8-1/4 inch), tossed with barely a tablespoon of olive oil (I think the small amount is somewhat critical to ensuring maximum crispiness), sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, one fresh chopped habanada pepper, two halved bay leaves from Westside Market, then spread in one layer onto 2 large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pans (a single one wasn’t enough, since they had been cut so thinly and they really should show a lot of surrounding surface to become crisp), roasted at 425º for about 30 minutes, or until they were brown, tender, and crispy on the edges
- the wine was a California (Napa) white, Scott Peterson S.P. Drummer Napa Chardonnay 2016, from Naked Wines
- * the music was Luigi Rossi’s ‘Orfeo’, with the Choir and Orchestra of Les Arts Florissants, in a performance which, more than any I had ever before experienced, told me what a brilliant artist can do to raise a great work of art from the sleep to which it might otherwise might have remained condemned forever (the opera’s 1647 premier in Paris was a triumph, but the composer’s history in France was abbreviated by the full-scale rebellion of the Fronde; Rossi returned to Italy and never wrote another theater piece)
I had asked Barry to pick up some Sülze from the German market on Second Avenue while he was uptown in Yorkville, but last night that German head cheese became ‘coppa di testa‘, virtually indistinguishable from the northern European versions, by the time I served it as the course precedding a fiore di zucca ravioli as a major element of what was very much a nothern Italian meal.
- a section of a German Sülze, on this night passing for a northern Italian coppa di testa, from Schaller & Weber, served with a few leaves of salanova lettuce from Neversink Organic Farm, dressed with Maldon salt, freshly-ground black pepper, juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon, a very good olive oil (Alce Nero DOP ‘Terra di Bari Bitonto’ from Eataly), and torn leaves of lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge; one pickled red egg from Millport Dairy Farm; some Sir Kensington’s Mustard; and a few slices of an organic multigrain baguette from Bread Alone
- twelve ounces of boiled fresh Fiore di Zucca crescent ravioli (with a filling of butternut squash, ricotta, grana padano, and breadcrumbs) from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron location, slipped into a large high-sided tin-lined copper pan in which a sauce had been made with 6 or 8 fresh sage leaves from Phillips Farm warmed in several tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ (with 12 grams of fat), topped once inside shallow bowls with some grated ‘Organic Parmigiana Reggiani Hombre’ from Whole Foods Market
- the wine was an Italian (Tuscany/Maremma) white, Tenuta Sassoregale Vermentino Maremma Toscana 2015
We ended the meal, each with a Satsuma orange-mandarin from Whole Foods Market.
I’ve prepared essentially this same meal a number of times before. Although there are always small variations among the secondary ingredients, if not in both the fish and the greens, I have no idea how one of those meals can end up as exceptionally delicious as the one I put together tonight.
If I had to make a guess, I’d say it was because this time I had incorporated a fairly generous amount of fresh habanada pepper in the coating for the fish, and that these particular Chinese greens, which I had never used before, were pretty extraordinary.
In a related note to file, this cook asks, ‘whatever did cooks do before lemon?’
- * two 8-ounce hake fillets from P.E & D.D. Seafood, dredged in local North Country Farms Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour which had been seasoned with plenty of sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then dipped into a shallow bowl in which one egg from Millport Dairy Farm, about a tablespoon of Trickling Springs Creamery milk, and one chopped fresh habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm had been beaten together with a fork, the filets sautéed in 2 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ along with 5 or 6 large sage leaves from Phillips Farm inside a heavy rectangular enameled cast iron pan for about 7 minutes, turning the hake half of the way through, sprinkled with organic lemon juice from Whole Foods Market and the small amount of pan juices that remained, arranged on 2 plates, garnished with chopped parsley parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm and chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, served with lemon wedges on the side
- * purple yu choy sum from Lan’s Farm, washed several times and drained, roughly chopped, wilted inside a large enameled cast iron pot in a tablespoon or so of olive oil in which 2 bruised and halved cloves of Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm had first been allowed to sweat and begin to color, the greens seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, arranged on the plates and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and more olive oil drizzled on top
- * slices from an organic multigrain baguette from Bread Alone
- the wine was a California (Lodi) white, Jacqueline Bahue Albarino California 2015, from Naked Wines
- * the music was a tour de farce, exciting virtuoso performances of an exciting series of baroque arias written by 1733 for Johann Adolf Hasse’s, ‘Siroe, Re di Persia, George Petrou conducting Armonia Atenea, with Julia Lezhneva, Franco Fagioli, Mary-Ellen Nesi, Max Emanuel Cencic, and others
It was Little Thanksgiving, as in Little Christmas?
Anyway it both looked and tasted like Thanksgiving, and it came with a lot less bother, and with almost no planning required.
- four partially-boned (a treat for both cook and diners) Plantation Quail, from Greensboro, Georgia, purchased at O. Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market on Bleecker Street, dried on paper towels and rubbed with sea salt and one crumbled dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, placed breast-side-down over medium-high heat on a two-burner cast iron ribbed pan, a number of sprigs of fresh thyme from S. & S.O. Farm scattered over each, grilled for about 5 minutes, turned and, ensuring that they were now resting on top of the thyme, grilled for another 5 minutes, served with a squeeze of Whole Food Market organic lemon and a drizzle of olive oil
- quince and dried cherry chutney, made following this theKitchn.com recipe, using a shallot from Keith’s Farm, a garlic clove from Stokes Farm, quince from Red Jacket Orchards, dried sweet cherries from Whole Foods, fresh ginger from Lani’s Farm, and apple cider from Locust Grove Fruit Farm
- one 5-inch black futsu squash from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, halved, the seeds removed, divided into one-inch wedges, brushed lightly with olive oil and rubbed with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and one section of a golden dried habanada pepper, arranged on a large, unglazed, well-seasoned ceramic pan and roasted on one side at 450ª for 15 minutes, turned onto the other side and allowed to roast for 15 more minutes, removed from the oven and the pan and stirred inside a sauté pan in which 2 cloves of Keith’s Farm garlic had been gently heated in a bit of olive oil along with some roughly-chopped sage from Phillips Farm
- a small amount of red kale from Campo Rosso Farm, washed, drained, and wilted inside a large enameled cast iron pot in a tablespoon or so of olive oil in which one bruised and halved clove of Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm had first been allowed to sweat and begin to color, the greens seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and arranged on the plates and a little more olive oil drizzled on top
- the wine throughout was a California (Lodi) red, David Akiyoshi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, from Naked Wines
There was a simple fruit course.
- Niagara grapes from Locust Grove Fruit Farm
We took a break from fried eggs at breakfast today. I baked eggs, and a few other odds and ends, inspired in part by the rare appearance in the refrigerator of both crème fraîche and heavy cream, not to mention some very ripe tomatoes and a wonderful sturdy and crusty bread.
It started with leeks.
- four or 5 chopped thin leeks from Willow Wisp Farm, cooked with 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter inside a tin-lined heavy copper sauté pan until they were tender, approximately a third of a cup of chopped herbs added and stirred in (thyme, rosemary, and parsley from S. & S.O. Farm; peppermint and sage from Phillips Farm; tarragon from Willow Wisp Organic Farm; oregano from Keith’s Farm; and lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge), plus 2 chopped fresh habanada peppers from Norwich Meadows Farm, after which leeks, herbs and peppers transferred to a buttered glazed ceramic oven dish, the mixture spread evenly on the bottom, 6 eggs from Millport Dairy Farm cracked on top, a couple handfuls of golden cherry tomatoes from Phillips Farm scattered about, and dollops of Ronnybrook Farms crème fraîche, which had been stirred with a little heavy cream from the same local maker, dropped on the surfaces around the eggs and the tomatoes, the dish seasoned with good sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a bit of crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino, a pinch of dried fenugreek fromBombay Emerald Chutney Company, the pan set on a rack in the middle of an oven that had been preheated to 400º, until the eggs had set and the cream almost entirely absorbed, served on 2 plates atop 4 thick slices of a whole wheat sourdough Miche from Bread Alone bakery that had been toasted on my no-bread-too-thick ‘Camp-A-Toaster’ [see this post], and garnished with purple micro radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the music was the entire album of music by Johann Adolf Hasse, ‘Salve Regina’, with Barbara Bonney and Bernarda Fink, Reinhard Goebel conducting Musica Antiqua Cologne