Month: January 2018

herb-marinated breaded swordfish; arugula; roast squash

There were no smaller pieces, like those I would usually buy, inside the fisherman’s bucket when I stopped by yesterday, but since the swordfish looked so good (and Warren indicated it was a cut close to the belly), and the price was also very good, I didn’t feel guilty about coming home with a pound and a quarter of such goodness.

Fortunately, that evening I was able to prepare the steaks suitably and grill them à point, but then, unless you fall asleep in the middle of the process, it’s really hard to mess up a swordfish steak.

  • two thick 10-ounce swordfish steaks off of Scott Rucky’s fishing vessel, ‘Dakota’, from American Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, marinated for more than half an hour in a mixture of olive oil, maybe half a teaspoon of super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, a small amount of crushed dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, and a chopped section of a Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, drained well, covered on both sides with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs, pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side, removed, seasoned with a little sea salt, a little juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon squeezed on top, garnished with purple micro radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge [although they were not drizzled with a little olive oil this time, out of consideration for thos beautiful crusty breadcrumbs, I think I really should have]
  • one 5 or 6-inch ‘sugar dumpling’ squash from Tamarack Hollow Farm, scrubbed, halved horizontally, the seeds removed, divided into one-inch wedges, tossed lightly in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and one section of a golden dried habanada pepper, then arranged on a large, unglazed, well-seasoned ceramic Pampered Chef pan and roasted on one side at 450ª for 15 minutes, turned onto the/an other side and allowed to roast for 15 more minutes, removed from both the oven and the pan, once they had softened inside and the edges of the skin somewhat carbonized and crunchy, stirred inside a large heavy tin0lined copper sauté pan in which 2 whole bruised cloves of Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic had been gently heated in a bit of olive oil before joined by some roughly-chopped sage, also from Phillips Farms
  • hothouse-grown local baby arugula from Eckerton Hill Farm, sprinkled with a tiny bit of Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper, drizzled with a bit of a very good Sicilian olive oil, from Agrigento, Azienda Agricola Mandranova
  • the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Fontezoppa Verdicchio di Matelica 2016, from Garnet Wines
  • the music was Mozart’s 1772 opera, ‘Lucio Silla’, Leopold Hager conducting the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Salzburg Radio Chorus, and the Salzburg Mozarteum Chorus., with an amazing cast, Edith Mathis, Helen Donath, Arleen Augér, Werner Krenn, Julia Varády, and Peter Schreier

salume; spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino; formaggio, tosta

The pasta part of this dinner of 3 small courses was another opportunity to show what a real difference a very good artisanal pasta can make.

The antipasto that precede it was identical to one we had enjoyed 2 days earlier, except that there was a different bread this time.

While I’m looking at the image above, of the pasta, I’m reminded of how much I like what happens to the whole little peperoncini after they mix with some warm oil: they assume a luscious candy apple metallic red surface and color I’ve always associated with vintage 50s hot rods..

The course was almost as simple as it gets: Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino, but, as I’ve written before, the ingredients have to be the very best available or the dish won’t be what it’s supposed to be, which is, really really great.

  • three minced Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm heated gently over medium-low heat  inside a large antique tin-lined copper pot until softened and beginning to turn golden, 2 salted Italian anchovies from Buon Italia, thoroughly rinsed, filleted, and chopped, added, stirred in and mashed with a wooden spoon, followed by 2 whole dried peperoncino Calabresi secchia, along with one crushed section, from Buon Italia, and one half of a quarter cup of chopped parsley from Westside Market plus a few ounces of the pasta cooking water, the sauce allowed to simmer for a minute or two before 8 ounces of boiled Setaro spaghetti from Buon Italia, drained while it was still a little chewy in the center, was introduced into the pot, the heat turned up and the mix stirred over the flame for a minute or so, or until done to taste (maybe forget the “to taste” part, as that might be impossible to determine at this juncture), arranged in shallow bowls and the remainder of the chopped parsley sprinkled over the top

There was a third, simple cheese course to match the minimalism of the first two.

  • two cheeses from Consider Bardwell Farm, ‘Danby’, a goat milk cheese, and  ‘Pawlet Reconsidered’, from cow’s milk
  • toasts from the last of a loaf of 12 Grain & Seed bread from Bread Alone


baked pollock, capers, chervil; grilled celery; potato, savory

This is an absolutely terrific fish, and I did particularly well by it on Monday night, thanks to a wonderful recipe I’ve used often, with some variations, but whose origin I no longer remember.

  • *one 20-ounce fillet of pollock from P.E.&D.D. Seafood, rinsed, dried, halved, and seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, placed skin side down inside a buttered an oval tin-lined copper gratin pan, spread with a mixture of softened unsalted Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ mixed with zest from most of an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, a very little chopped Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, slices of part of one Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, and part of a piece of a  crushed orange/gold home-dried Habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm (harvested fresh last fall), the fish baked for about 15-17 minutes at 350º, removed to 2 plates, the cooking juices poured over the top, and a teaspoon or so of Sicilian salted capers, which had first been rinsed, drained, dried and heated briefly inside a small antique enameled cast iron porringer in a bit of olive oil, scattered over the fillets, with that oil, the pollock finished with a garnish of micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • *Nicola potatoes from Tamarack Hollow Farm, boiled with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the large still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with 2 tablespoons of rich Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and then some chopped winter savory from Stokes Farm

a salame antipasto; paccheri and Mrs. Nic’s tomato sauce

I was introduced to this dish probably 30 years ago. I won’t repeat the story here, but I described it at length in this November, 2015 post.

It’s an absolutely delicious tomato sauce, although so simple that you feel like you’re not actually cooking, just watching the sauce cook itself, and the pasta is pretty special too. Like all cooking, and especially the most minimal dishes, the goodness depends as much on the quality of the ingredients as on the professionalism of the cook. I try really hard when assembling this one.



In an enameled cast iron pot or other non-reactive pan, large enough to hold the pasta after it’s been cooked, sauté 2 or 3 cloves in 4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil, but only until the garlic is pungent.

Add one 28-ounce can of real San Marzano tomatoes (already-chopped or whole, and ideally without basil), crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon if they are whole,  sauté uncovered at high heat for 5 minutes, stirring a few times to reduce the liquid (yes, the juices will spatter a bit; I use a black apron and check the surrounding environment after this step).

Reduce the heat to very low, so the sauce is barely bubbling, add sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste, and simmer for a full 30 minutes.

Add a few whole leaves of fresh basil and continue simmering for 15 minutes more, again stirring occasionally.

Note: The sauce can be prepared a little ahead of time, to avoid any competition with the boiling pasta.

When the pasta has cooked, drain it and add it to the pan, or mix sauce and pasta in a warm bowl.

Serve, but do not add cheese.


  • On Sunday I halved the recipe and used Setaro Paccheri from Buon Italia, cooked barely al dente, a point which is just about perfect for this perfect, very rich sugo. It was the very same pasta I’d first seen for the first time many  years ago in a storage room filled with imported foods inside the West Village hair salon run by Nic Soccodato, my barbiere Salernitano/sometime backroom Importatore di prodotti Salerno. I asked him what kind of sauce would accompany these large loops and he generously shared his wife’s recipe for a sauce his family enjoyed as a special treat – on Sundays! I started the sauce in a large enameled cast iron pot with 3 tablespoons of Whole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil and 3 large cloves of Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm (more garlic than I usually use), one 14 oz can of Afeltra Pomodoro S. Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino D.O.P. (which is from Nic’s patria) from Eataly, and because it was winter I used 3 whole basil leaves taken from a package of Gotham Greens Rooftop basil from Whole Foods that I had carefully stored frozen between sheets of waxed paper last year. And that was it.


There was an antipasto, one of the rewards of serving such a simple main course.

  • slices of local salame Biellese sallumeria from Eataly, served with a bit of watercress, also from Eataly, both drizzled with a little Whole Foods Market in-house Portuguese olive oil
  • slices of ’12 Grain & Seed bread’ from Bread Alone in the Union Square Greenmarket


eggs, habanada, scallion, chervil, tomato, bacon, toast

I was trying to find something novel about this fast breaker, so I was going to mention the chervil, or actually, micro chervil, but it seems this wasn’t the first time I had included it with eggs.

So there is no novelty, but the whole thing was delicious, because how can you go wrong with bacon and eggs, even if you add a few fussy things to the combination.

The eggs themselves weren’t a novelty, but they were incredibly delicious. I credit the Americauna chickens, and the Amish farmer(s) who got them to New York as fast as they could.

  • on or near the plate above there were small blue-shell Americauna chicken eggs and thick bacon from Millport Dairy Farm, Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, most of the chopped green section of a Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, crushed dried orange/gold habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm, Maldon salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a pinch of nearly-dried chopped winter savory from Stokes Farm, micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge, toasts from both a loaf of ‘8 grain 3 seed’ bread from Rock Hill Bakery and a She Wolf Bakery sourdough bâtard, and rich Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’
  • the music was the album, ‘In Excelsis Deo’, described as “Church music, court music and the historical memory of folk songs, 1702-1714”, including works by the Catalan composer Francesc Valls (1671-1747) and Messe à deux chœurs et deux orchestres by the French composer Henry Desmarest (1661-1741), plus “Music from the Time of the Wars between Spain and Catalonia”, all performances by La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concerts des Nations, Jordi Savall conducting