This rather simple meal was one of the best I’ve ever put onto a table.
Both the fish and the vegetable were extraordinarily fresh, which is a great start, and I’d already worked with both of the recipes fairly often.
Swordfish had been a favorite of mine since I was quite young (I can hardly believe we enjoyed it as often as we did, in 1940’s and 1950’s Detroit), and I’ve always been fond of peas, except when they arrive in metal.
When I was growing up there was only one kind of pea, pisum sativum, and it usually arrived in the kitchen as a frozen box, an innovation of Clarence Birdseye had introduced almost a hundred years ago. Years later, along with other Americans, I discovered snow peas [pisum sativum var. saccharatum], which I still associate with wok cookery, although they had been cultivated in Europe since the nineteenth century, and it seems like only yesterday that the sugar snap pea [pisum sativum var. macrocarpon] arrived on the scene, although apparently it was actually the late 70’s.
- one thick 13-ounce swordfish steak from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, halved marinated for more than half an hour in a mixture of olive oil, a tablespoon of a mix of fresh spicy oregano from Windfall Farms, a small amount of crushed dried pepperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, about the same amount of crushed dried golden/orange habanada pepper, and a thinly-sliced section of a spring red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, after which it was drained, covered on both sides with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs, pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side, or until barely cooked all of the way through, removed, seasoned with a little Maldon salt, a bit of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon squeezed on top, a bit more sliced spring red onion, drizzled with a little olive oil, garnished with micro bronze fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge, lemon wedges on the side
- small sugar snap peas from Sycamore Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket, washed, their stems and strings trimmed, parboiled for just over a minute inside a large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot, drained, dried in the same pot, shaking it over a low flame, then set aside, and just before serving, warmed inside a heavy, broad, tin-lined copper pot in which a small sliced stalk of spring garlic from Berried Treasures Farm had first been softened with a little olive oil over a moderate flame, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, tossed with chopped spearmint from Keith’s Farm
- the wine was a Portuguese (Douro) white, Crasto White 2016, from Garnet Wines
- the music was the album, ‘Antonio Rosetti: Piano Concerto; 2 Symphonies‘
Steak and potatoes, and tomato too. Also the return of the ramp.
- two 7-ounce dry-aged grass-fed Angus beef sirloin tip filets from Greg and Mike at the Sun Fed Beef/Maple Avenue Farms stall in the Union Square Greenmarket, brought to room temperature, dried, sprinkled on both sides with a generous amount of freshly roughly-ground black pepper, placed on a very hot cast iron grill pan for just about 9 minutes, turning twice, salting each side after it had been been turned, removed and arranged on the plates, finished with dabs of mosty-thawed ramp butter that I had put into the freezer almost 2 months ago, using small, first-of-the-season woodland ramps from Lucky Dog Organic, part of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, and some Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’
- fourteen ounces of Red Gold new potatoes from Berried Treasures Farm, washed, scrubbing lightly, boiled in well-salted water, drained, dried in the still-warm vintage glass pot, rolled in a little olive oil, seasoned with Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper, garnished with micro red basil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- two medium plum tomatoes from Stokes Farm, halved, the cut sides generously seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-grilled above a medium-high flame, face down, for a couple minutes, turned and grilled briefly on the other side, finished with a dab of olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar
- the wine was a Portuguese (Dão) red, Quinta da Pellada Dac Red Blend 2014, from Garnet Wines
- the music was Bruce Brubaker’s January, 2018 album, ‘Codex’
We’re really crazy about tuna steaks prepared this easy way, and I don’t object to the fact it’s simpler than pie to do. What surprised me this time was how formidable a rival the vegetable accompaniment I’d chosen turned out to be. It too could hardly have been easier to prepare, which was also a surprise, since I normally go through all kinds of contortions to bring out the best in treviso, or any of the other chicories I love so much.
- two 8-ounce tuna steaks from American Seafood Company, rinsed, dried, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then rubbed, tops and bottoms, with a mixture of a tablespoon of a wonderful dry Sicilian fennel seed from Buon Italia that had been crushed in a porcelain mortar and pestle along with a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, ending, also on both sides, with little more than a pinch of dried golden/orange habanada pepper, pan-grilled above a medium-high flame (for only a little more than a minute or so on each side), finished on the plates with a good squeeze of the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a drizzle of olive oil, garnished with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- a small handful of golden cherry tomatoes from Alex’s Tomato Farm, in Carlisle, New Jersey, at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street, washed, halved, heated inside an antique enameled cast iron porringer in a little olive oil, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, garnished with micro red basil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- one very-thinly-sliced spring garlic stem from Berried Treasures Farm or/and one spring red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm (and maybe a small piece of shallot, also from Norwich Meadows Farm), heated in a tablespoon or more of olive oil inside a heavy pan until softened, before 2 medium heads of early, loose-leaf) treviso from Campo Rosso Farm, roughly chopped, added to the pan, along with some sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, stirring all along until the radicchio had mostly wilted, finished with barely a splash of balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine was a Portuguese (Alentejo) white, Esporao Monte Velho White 2016, from Garnet Wines
- the music was New Sounds, streaming
We haven’t had what we call a home picnic in a long time. in fact, as I look at the search box on this site, unless I haven’t always been posting these simple meals, it appears it’s been a very long time.
These dinners can normally be assembled without any planning, since we usually have on hand most of what might be needed to set out such a meal.
- on Tuesday what we had on hand included 4 ounces of Applegate Naturals prosciutto from Whole Foods Market, some leftover sweet soppressata from Buon Italia, Orwasher’s ‘Ultimate Whole Wheat’ bread from Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market, some water buffalo brie from Riverine Ranch, Consider Bardwell Danby cheese, some purple leaf lettuce from Tamarack Hollow Farm with some previously-toasted pine nuts from Buon Italia, golden tomatoes from Alex’s Tomato Farm with Berried Treasures Farm spring garlic and Two Guys from Woodbridge lovage and micro red basil
- the wine was an Italian/Austrian (Alto Adige/Südtirol) white, Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2016 from Garnet Wines
- the music was an album of partitas, sonatas and sinfonias composed by Franz Ignaz Anton Tuma (1704-1774)
My recipe says ‘sea bream’ but my fish monger says ‘porgy’. They’re both right, as it turns out.
- their presentation began with a salsa prepared by heating 3 tablespoons of a Portuguese house olive oil from Whole Foods Market inside a vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot pot over a gentle flame, adding 5 ounces of tomatoes, a mix of red grape tomatoes from Kernan Farms and golden cherry tomatoes from Alex’s Tomato Farm, and 2 ounces or so of pitted whole kalamata olives from Whole Foods Market, seasoning the mix with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, stirring for a minute or 2, the pan set aside to cool, and some chopped fresh lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge and an equal amount of chopped fresh spicy oregano leaves from Windfall Farms (several tablespoons altogether) were, reserving some for garnish, stirred into the salsa, the juice of half of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market added and the salsa stirred once again before being set aside while the fish was prepared
- four 3 and a half-ounce porgy fillets from P.E & D.D. Seafood, their skin slashed with a very sharp knife in 2 or 3 places each, placed, skin side down, in a little very hot olive oil inside a large rectangular enameled cast iron pan sitting over a high flame, the flesh side of the fish seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, cooked for 2 or 3 minutes until the flesh was dark golden and the skin crisp’, the fillets turned over, cooked on the other side for 1 minute, basting with the oil in the pan, if any, until the fillets were just cooked through, arranged on the plates on top of the salsa described above, garnished with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge
I saw these bunches of celtuce (aka ‘stem lettuce’ or ‘asparagus lettuce’) in the market that same afternoon. In fact I had a choice of 2 inside Lani’s Farm tent. One was more green than the other, and looked like what I would expect to find. Its sign read, I think, only, ‘celtuce’. The other was labelled, ‘Purple Sword celtuce’. I asked the helper near the tables in that area of the stall which one I should pick. He gave it a thought for a couple seconds, then replied that I should probably go for the latter, adding, before I could ask why, that, because it was purple, it would be richer in antioxidants. I really have no idea what that means, but I generally trust the farmers.
- one bundle of some small-diameter ‘Purple Sword celtuce‘ from Lani’s Farm, the leaves, removed from the ‘stalks’, washed several times, wilted in a bit of olive oil and set aside, then the stalks, scrubbed, cut into one-inch sections, briefly par-boiled, drained and dried, sautéed in a little olive over a moderate flame for a minute or two, along with some chopped spring garlic from Berried Treasures Farm, the celtuce leaves reserved earlier now gently reheated and distributed onto the plates as a bed for the cooked stalks, some chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge sprinkled about on both, and some toasted pine nuts that had earlier been heated, stirring, inside a cast iron pan until they had begun to brown scattered on top
- the wine was a California (Santa Lucia Highlands/Monterey County) rosé, 99 Barrels Derek Rohlffs Santa Lucia Highlands Rosé, from Naked Wines
- the music was Rossini’s 1817 opera, ‘La Cenerentola’, Riccardo Chailly conducting the Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra and the Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus