I thought the pasta might end up being too easy, so I decided to add an anti.
- an uncured Salchichon, from a package of Colameco’s ‘Spanish Brand Deli Selection’, drizzled with a bit of a good Campania olive oil (Lamparelli O.R.O.), served with red dandelion greens dressed with the same oil, Maldon salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a squeeze of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market
- slices of a Grandaisy filone from the Grandaisy store in Tribeca
While the sauce with the spaghetti was pretty easy, the taste was pretty complex.
Thanks to some wonderful ingredients..
.., and a slow cooking process.
- the amounts of each ingredient can be adjusted without sacrificing the essence of this recipe, but I tossed approximately 4 cups of small and slightly larger whole Eckerton Hill Farm heirloom tomatoes in a mix of colors and sizes, together with almost 2 cups of shishito peppers from Alewife Farm; 5 or 6 unpeeled cloves fresh Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic; half a cup of a loosely packed mix of cut chives from S. & S.O. Farm, leaves from a Full Bloom Market Garden basil plant from Whole Foods, and marjoram buds from Norwich Meadows Farm; half a teaspoon of sea salt, a dash of black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, arranged everything on a large seasoned Pampered Chef oven pan, placing it on a 375º oven for almost 45 minutes, then mixed it inside a large antique high-sided copper pot with 10 ounces of ounces of cooked and drained Afeltra 100% grano italiano spaghettoni, produced in Gragnano, from Eataly Flatiron, stirring it over medium-high heat with some of the reserved pasta cooking water, until the liquid had emulsified, arranged inside low bowls, garnished with chopped very fresh rosemary from Lani’s Farm, finished by drizzling olive oil around the edges
- the wine was an Italian (Sardinia) white, Sella & Mosca Vermentino di Sardegna La Cala 2016, from Garnet Wines
- the music was the Brooklyn Rider album, ‘Spontaneous Symbols’
I couldn’t get to the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday because there were a lot of workmen coming and going in the apartment, so I did what I have done under similar circumstances if I want to keep it a seafood day: I picked up some wild salmon from our local merchant down the block. As I’ve lamented before, unfortunately this treat can no longer be found in our local waters, so, yes, my carbon footprint was a little embarrassing.
Once in a while Whole Foods Market signage will advertise their fillets as “fresh” (that is, not frozen), which is how the coho I bought yesterday was described. It came with the skin, of course, but I removed it before cooking, in order to create the optimum ‘canvas’ for the spicy crust promised by the now-familiar recipe I had decided to use.
- one 14-ounce piece of a fresh wild coho salmon fillet from Whole Foods Market, brought to room temperature, rinsed, the skin removed by the cook, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and, on what had been the flesh side, pressed with a mixture of freshly-ground or grated coriander seeds, cloves, cumin, and nutmeg, sautéed in a little olive oil over a medium-high flame inside a heavy oval enameled cast iron pan over medium-high heat, the spice-coated side down, for 2 minutes or so, then turned over and cooked for another minute or so, arranged on the plates [this time without a squeeze of lemon or the addition of olive oil at the end, to avoid ruining the crurst, but instead a few drops of olive oil were added to the juices remaining in the pan after the fillets had been removed, scraped them around the surface with a wooded spatula, then poured what had accumulated onto the plates at one end of the salmon
- a garnish of bronze micro fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge at the side of the fish
- red dandelion from Norwich Meadows Farm, dressed in a good Campania olive oil, Lamparelli O.R.O., Maldon salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a bit of juice form a Whole Foods Market organic lemon
- a large sturdy seasoned steel skillet with enough olive oil to cover the bottom placed above a high flame, then, just before the oil was ready to smoke, 13 ounces of some very sweet ‘Yummy’ peppers (that’s actually the varietal name) from Central Valley Farm, cut into halves, their few seeds and membranes removed, added (in 2 batches this time, with the cooked peppers gently reheated while the salmon was cooking), skin side down and not crowding, the peppers sprinkled with salt, the heat reduced some, and a heavy weight (a slightly-smaller foil-covered cast iron skillet) placed on top of them for 30 seconds or so, then removed and the peppers pushed around with bamboo tongs to see they were blistered more or less evenly, after which they were turned skin side up, a small chopped section of a red serrano pepper thrown in, and the weighted pan added again for another 30 seconds, or up to a minute, until the peppers were just about cooked, but not too limp, finished with the addition of some whole basil leaves from a Massachusetts Full Bloom Market Garden live plant (a Whole Foods Market purchase) and less than a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, both stirred with the peppers
- the wine was an Oregon (Umpqua Valley) red, Scott Kelley Oregon Tempranillo 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Vivaldi’s 1718 opera, ‘Armida al campo d’Egitto’, Rinaldo Alessandrini directing the Concerto Italiano
Shishito peppers, and their Spanish cousins, pimientos de padron, have probably developed as many different reputations as they have individual consumers. There is no one typical experience with the fieriness of these unpredictable capsicums, but for those who make it through unharmed, or at least undaunted, there may be no more exciting appetizer.
And so it’s been for me, since Barry and I first encountered pimientos de padron, in northern Spain 11 years ago, in the Basque coastal town of Getaria, in Gipuzkoa. While I don’t seek out real heat in any kind of pepper, life would be less interesting if I thought, when presented with a plate of shishito or padron, there wasn’t a chance I’d at least come across a suggestion of the kind of fire for which the Scoville scale was invented.
We’ve both found that the peppers sold by Alewife Farm this year fit that bill perfectly.
- just the right amount (I didn’t count or weigh them, but I still have some remaining in the crisper) of shishito pepers from Alewife Farm, washed, drained, dried, then sautéed over medium high heat in a broad cast iron pan for a few minutes, stirring, seasoned with Maldon salt, arranged on the plates, more of the salt added, to taste (the crystals can be seen in the image above)
- slices of a really seductive Pain d’Avignon multi-grain loaf from Foragers
I was going to write that the pasta was just a good artisanal squid ink strozzapreti with some tomatoes and herbs, but when I started composing the narrative for the recipe I realized that description was a little too simple.
- a handful of thinly-sliced celery stalk from Neversink Organic Farm sautéed in a little olive oil inside an antique, high-sided tin-lined copper pot until softened, and one large fresh clove of spring garlic from Alex’s Tomato Farm (it had survived very well in the crisper of the refrigerator), and one Keith’s Farm clove of rocambole garlic, both squished, heated until they had begun to color, a bit of crushed dried pepperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia added, the mix stirred a little before half a pound of squid ink pasta (8 ounces of Severino squid ink strozzapreti from Whole Foods Market) that had just finished cooking, al dente, was added, the mix stirred again, now with some reserved pasta cooking water, over medium high flame until the liquids had emulsified, and a mix of small heirloom tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm, halved or sliced, several times, depending on their size, sprinkled with whole medium basil leaves from a Full Bloom Market Garden plant from Whole Foods Market, arranged inside 2 shallow bowls, finished with micro bronze fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge, a bit of olive oil poured around the edges.
- the wine was an Italian (Abruzzo) white, Cantina Zaccagnini Pinot Grigio 2016, from Philippe Wines
- the music was the last of the 6 CD’s from the set, ‘Haydn: The “Sturm & Drang” Symphonies’
I was going to write that this wasn’t a German meal. The Sauerkraut came with turmeric, the Pellkartoffel were mixed with some celery and a bit of serrano pepper, and the Bratwurst was surprisingly spicy and almost sweet (even after all the time I’ve spent in Germany, my personal reference remains the uncooked Sheboygan white brat of my larger German-American family). Also, there was pickled okra!
Then I remembered that Germany is a big place, was once a way bigger place, and is surprisingly cosmopolitan today; also, its hoary cooking traditions are tweaked, both inside and outside its borders, sometimes.
- four links (one pound) of Møsefund‘s wonderful fully-cooked mangalitsa pork Bratwurst, purchased at the farm’s stand at the Saturday 23rd Street farmers market (they are normally set up there once a month), seared inside an enameled oval cast iron pan until blistered and heated through, served with a classic German mustard, Löwensenf Medium
- ten or 12 ounces of really delicious Pinto (or Pinto Gold) new potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, boiled with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while inside the large, still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware glass pot in which they had cooked, a tablespoon or so of butter added, plus half a cup of thinly-sliced celery from Neversink Organic Farm and a bit of chopped fresh green serrano pepper from Central Valley Farm, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, garnished with chopped parsley from Keith’s Farm
- some Hawthorne Valley Turmeric Sauerkraut from a jar I had selected, I would have to say, uncharacteristically, at their stall in the Greenmarket a while back, probably overcome by the entire stand’s aura of healthiness (also the color of the cabbage)
- pickled okra from Millport Dairy Farm, also in the Union Square Greenmarket
- the last slices of a She Wolf Bakery miche that had been waiting in the bread box for just this occasion
- the wine was an Austrian (Lower Austria) red, Zweigelt, Erdenlied 2016, from Astor Wines
- the music was Nicola Porpora’s 1732 operatic masterpiece, ‘Germanico in Germania’