I wasn’t originally going to post this breakfast, since there was nothing special about it, but then I realized how seldom chervil appears on these pages – or anywhere for that matter, outside of France. It’s a subtle herb, and even more subtle as ‘micro chervil’. It’s also delicate in appearance; that and the combination of anise and parsley flavors interest me, and it has a particular affinity for eggs.
- the ingredients which ended up on our plates were eggs from Tamarack Hollow Farm, bacon from Millport Dairy Farm, small red scallions from Hawthorne Valley Farm, fresh habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and toast from slices of Orwashers sourdough with Moroccan olives
- the music was Wagner’s 1841/1852 opera, ‘Der Fliegende Holländer‘, James Levine conducting the Metropolitan Opera orchestra and theMetropolitan Opera Chorus, with Ben Heppner, Deborah Voigt, Jan-Hendrik Rootering, Birgitta Svendén, Paul Groves, and James Morris, heard streaming on Yle Klassinen, beginning just before we sat down
Pasta has a wonderful affinity for any smoked food, whether meat, fish, or vegetable, and this recipe, in which I had incorporated smoked monkfish the first time I worked with it, is an excellent exemplar.
- one small pink onion (“I like to call them rosé onions”, Tyler, who grew them, told me) from Alewife Farm, thinly-sliced, and half a dozen sliced small red scallions from Hawthorne Valley Farm, sautéed together in 4 ounces of olive oil inside a large, high-sided tin-lined copper pan for 4 minutes, the juice of one and a half organic lemons from Whole Foods Market then added and the pan kept over a decent flame for another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring, the heat then reduced to low and a pinch of sea salt, some very good red pepper flakes (remaining from the delivery of an excellent Waldy’s Wood Fired Pizza a few days earlier), plus 4 or 5 chopped fresh medium-size habanada peppers from Norwich Meadows Farm stirred into the sauce until both the hot and sweet peppers had become pungent, 8 ounces of Afeltra Pasta di Gragnano linguine from Eataly which had been just cooked until barely al dente, added, along with – pouring very gradually while blending – almost a cup of reserved pasta water, continuing to stir until it had emulsified, one thinly-sliced 2 or 4-ounce piece of smoked swordfish from P.E & D.D. Seafood added and tossed with the sauced linguine, the dish transferred to low serving bowls, drizzled with a little olive oil around the edges, sprinkled with lemon zest and more red pepper flakes, and garnished with homemade toasted breadcrumbs
There was a small cheese course, but, for no reason in particular, I didn’t photograph it.
- an Ardith Mae fresh chevre, served with freshly-ground black pepper, crushed pink peppercorns, micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge on the side, and lightly-toasted slices of a She Wolf Bakery sourdough baguette and an Orwashers sourdough with Moroccan olives
Thursday’s meal started with some really luscious inguazato (basically a tomato couscous with capers, chilis, and green olives) left over from an earlier meal. We both thought that a grilled meat might give it a fresh take the second time around. Then I thought of a Roman dish that had always sounded intriguing, but had so far eluded me: lamb chops scottadito. The problem had always been finding chops thin enough for the authentic experience (about one centimeter, or less than a quarter of an inch thick), since so many prosperous Americans have long been accustomed to thick chops, lamb or otherwise, and that’s all that can be found today, even among the meats offered by local farmers in the Greenmarket.
That day I was headed that day for Ottomanelli’s anyway, to order a wild hare for Thanksgiving dinner, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask our local – and very traditional – master Italian butchers to cut some chops exactly for ‘costolette d’agnello a scottadito, last night con inguazato.
My inspiration was Lorenza de’ Medici‘s simple outline inside her beautiful book, ‘Italy the Beautiful Cookbook‘.
The tradition would be to use rib chops, as they would be juicier than loin chops, less likely to dry out while cooking on a hot grill (or grill pan in my case), and because they would be easier for the diners to pick up, although risking the ‘burned fingers’ of the dish’s title, but Frank left a good amount of fat on each, and we were expecting to eat with knives and forks anyway.
I resisted the temptation to add something, an herb or a spice, to the lamb, because I wanted the dish to be authentic, and the taste of some very good lamb to be fully appreciated. It all worked, and the dish was delicious, but I might not be so restrained the next time.
- six lamb loin chops, cut one quarter of an inch thick, with a good amount of fat retained and including the flank sections, tucked in and secured with toothpicks, placed in one layer inside the well of a large plate, the juice of almost half of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market squeezed over the top, followed by a 3 tablespoons or so of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, allowed to marinate for almost an hour, turning several times, removed from the plate and dried on paper towels, pan grilled on each side, on a 2 burner-size cast iron ribbed pan for about a total of 6 minutes, turning several times, arranged on the plates, seasoned with a bit more salt and pepper, and a little more lemon juice drizzled on top
- a handful of fresh mizuma from Alewife Farm scattered on the plate and dressed with olive oil , sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
- inguazato remaining from an earlier meal, reheated in a little olive oil, and also drizzled with a little water to loosen the couscous and its sauce (and the mix tasted at least as wonderful as it had 2 days earlier)
- the wine was an Australian (Barossa Valley) red, Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz/Grenache 2012, the gift of a visiting Australian artist friend
- the music was an extended broadcast of work by Elliott Carter, from Counterstream Radio, streaming
For some time I’ve been telling myself that I should devise a way to indicate, at least for my own information, those meals that worked out particularly well, meals, or plates in some cases, that were absolutely scrumptious. I’m going to try something out for the first time with this post: I’ll use a red asterisk above the first line of text for those special cases. This meal deserved it, perhaps even more for my having begun it with no special expectations. There wasn’t anything really new in the ingredients or the processes, and yet each of the 3 elements in the main course was absolutely delicious, and each was a perfect compliment to the other 2. The cheese and the fruit were equally excellent, although I had nothing to do with making either, and the wine was absolutely extraordinary!
- * one small (12-ounce) duck breast from Hudson Valley Duck Farm, the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast then sprinkled top and bottom with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, left standing for almost an hour, then seared/pan-fried inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan over medium heat, the fatty side down first, for a total of 9 minutes or so, turning once, draining the oil after the first few minutes [to be strained and used in cooking later, if desired], removed when medium rare, cutting it into 2 portions to confirm that the center was of the right doneness (and, as usual it was still undercooked, so the 2 halves were briefly returned to the pan), then left to sit for a couple minutes before being finished with a drizzle of juice from an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, a little chopped rosemary from S. & S.O. Farm, and a drizzle of olive oil [NOTE: the tenderloin had been removed from the breast before it was marinated, but seasoned like the rest of it, then fried very briefly near the end of the time the larger section was cooking]
- * a handful of fresh mizuma from Alewife Farm scattered on the plate and dressed with olive oil , sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
- * one medium head of Treviso radicchio from Tamarack Hollow Farm, washed, the liquid drained and wiped off, cut lengthwise into four sections, arranged one cut side up on a medium Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan (after securing the leaves with toothpicks), covered with lots of thyme branches from S. & S.O. Farm, seasoned generously with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, drizzled with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, baked in a pre-heated 400º oven for 10 minutes or so, turned to the other cut side and returned to the oven for around 8 minutes, then turned uncut side up and baked for about 2 minutes more, arranged on the plates, drizzled with a very small amount of balsamic vinegar
There was a small cheese course..
- * ‘Bigelow’, a goat cheese from Ardith Mae, very thin toasts from a loaf of ‘8 Grain 3 Seed’ bread from Rock Hill Bakery, and a few chopped leaves of rosemary from S. & S.O. Farm
- * Niagara grapes [vitis labrusca ‘Niagara’] from Troncillito Farms