This menu seemed a little premature for September, game and roasted squash being pretty much an autumn meal, but fortunately the weather cooperated (I wouldn’t want to cook or serve this dinner in warm weather), and the the sun actually haded cross the celestial equator and headed south exactly 24 hours earlier.
I want to add that despite its appearances, and while it may be hearty, no butter was harmed in the making of this meal.
- two whole unboned pasture-raised certified organic quail from Abra Morawiec’s Feisty Acres Farm in Jamesport, Long Island, weighing in at a little more than 8 ounces each, washed and dried both inside and out, each cavity stuffed with a quarter of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a half share of the following mix: 4 rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, peeled and bruised a little, the leaves of 2 fresh thyme sprigs, also from Keith’s Farm, the leaves torn from one branch of fresh rosemary from Willow Wisp Farm, and one and a half tablespoons of a house Portuguese olive oil from Whole Foods Market; the quail was then rubbed with olive oil and sea salt, trussed with string (basically just seeing that the legs were held together and the wings kept pressed against the breasts), the birds set aside and allowed to come to room temperature (allowing at least 20 minutes from the refrigerator altogether), at which time they were quickly browned on all sides inside a small heavy enameled cast iron oval pan and, using celery stalks to keep the birds breast-upright while they roasted (alternatively, using sections of fennel stems, or whatever suitable vegetable might be available) inside a 425º oven for about 18 minutes, but most importantly, until an instant-read thermometer registered 150º (the meat should also feel slightly firm, and the juices run pale pink when the bird is punctured with a skewer), the birds removed from the pan when done and set aside on a warm plate to rest for about 10 minutes, loosely tented with foil, while the sauce was assembled, beginning with discarding the celery stems and placing the roasting pan on a burner above medium heat, adding a little chicken stock or wine (I used a sherry, Lustau, ‘Papirusa’ Light Manzanilla Sherry, from Sherry Lehmann), deglazing the pan by scraping any browned bits off the bottom, bringing the liquid to a simmer, then pouring it into a small pot or sauté pan with about half a cup of a (hopefully inexpensive) balsamic vinegar, increasing the heat to high and boiling the liquid down to a syrup, or until it is able to coat the back of a spoon (it will look a bit like a chocolate sauce), the quail served on the plates with the sauce drizzled over the birds
- one 5-inch black futsu squash (I can’t praise these bumpy, heavily ribbed Japanese members of the moschata family highly enough) from Alewife Farm, scrubbed, halved, the seeds removed, cut into one-inch wedges, brushed lightly with olive oil and rubbed with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and one large section of a golden dried habanada pepper, (I actually tossed it all inside a bowl this time, to make it quicker and easier) arranged on a large, unglazed, well-seasoned ceramic pan and roasted in the 425º oven on one side for 15 minutes, turned onto the other side and allowed to roast for 15 more minutes, removed from the oven and transferred to a large copper sauté pan in which 2 cloves of Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic had been gently heated in a bit of olive oil along with some roughly-chopped sage from Echo Creek Farm
- one bunch of broccoli rabe, or rapini, from Willow Wisp Farm, washed and drained several times, trimmed, very roughly chopped, and, with much of the water still clinging to the greens, wilted inside a large enameled cast iron pot in which one large halved Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic clove had been heated in a little olive oil until softened, finished with sea salt, freshly-ground pepper, arranged on the plates and drizzled with a little more olive oil
- the wine was an Oregon (Willamette Valley) red, Chris Baker Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2017, from Naked Wines
- the music was the album, ‘Les Elements: Tempetes, Orages & Fetes Marines’ (The Elements: Tempests, Storms, & Celebrations of the Sea), with Jordi Savall conducting Le Concert des Nations
It was breakfast without bacon and without tomatoes.
Also new this time: No broken yolks, and somehow the whites came off with something of a geometric perfection as well.
Looks a bit like a corne copia, or in this case, a patera copia, but it was definitely, in the language closest to the vulgate that succeeded classical Latin, una deliziosa scodella di abbondanza.
It is very Italian, but it was conceived on 23rd Street.
- eight and a half ounces of al dente Afeltra 100% Grana Italiano Penna di Rigata [sic] from Naples, via Eataly Flatiron, with a sauce which began with a little olive oil heated inside a large antique high-sided thick-walled copper pot in which 2 cloves of Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic were slowly cooked until they were beginning to color and soften, accompanied during that time by one whole peperoncino Calabresi secchia from Buon Italia, after which 2 small fresh habanada peppers from Alewife farm were added and briefly heated before the pasta itself was introduced into the pot, along with some reserved pasta water, everything stirred until the liquid had emulsified, and then a half dozen small halved Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio (yeah, they grow all over Mount Vesuvius) from Norwich Meadows Farm were slipped into the pot and moved about, seasoned with Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste, mixed with chopped lovage from Quarton Farm and a small amount of torn basil handed to me by Franca of Berried Treasures Farm, the pasta arranged in shallow bowls, topped with what Oak Grove Plantation’s Union Square Greenmarket stall labelled ‘Ground Husk Cherry Tomatoes’ (the fruits of this species of physalis, of the nightshade family, are also known as husk cherries, groundcherries, Cape gooseberries, just for starters), and drizzled with olive oil around the edges
- the wine was an Italian (Tuscany/ Bolgheri) white, Antinori Vermentino 2016, from Garnet Wines
- the music was the album, ‘L’immagine di Corelli’, featuring Arcangelo Corelli’s six violin sonatas from his opus 5 (published January 1, 1700), performed by Susanne Scholz on violin, and Michael Hell on harpsichord
How many names can one fish support?
Cynoscion regalis: I want to call it Squetauge, because I like the sound, because it’s what they call it in Rhode Island, and because it’s what it was called by Americans long before there were any Europeans, Africans, or Asians to name anything.
Weakfish is the name by which it is generally known, I think, but it there are many other ways to designate this excellent eating fish.
My fish monger calls it ‘sea trout’, although it’s no relation to the true trout.
I go through this exercise about fish names a lot, with all sorts of species that we consume at home or elsewhere, but the reason I’m making something of it this time is that while I’ve cooked cynoscion regalis at least 5 times before, ‘sea trout’ didn’t show up on this blog site when I was standing at the fish stand trying to remember what I usually call that fish in the plexiglas window.
- 7 and a half-ounce fillets of Squeteague (aka ‘Weakfish’, Sea Trout, or Ocean Trout) from Pura Vida Seafood Company, marinated for more than half an hour, first in the refrigerator and then on the kitchen counter, in a mix of a fourth of a cup of olive oil, 2 minced cloves of Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic, and 7 different chopped or torn herbs (1 crushed fresh bay leaf from West Side Market, parsley and spearmint from Phillips Farms, rosemary from Willow Wisp Farm, lovage from Quarton Farm, and marjoram buds from Stokes Farm), drained, reserving some of the marinade, then sautéed, or fried, for about 2 minutes inside an antique lightly-oiled (one tablespoon), heavy tin-lined oval copper pan which had been pre-heated to medium-hot, skin-slide down first, then turned and cooked for another minute, arranged on the plates, brushed lightly with a bit of reserved marinade, garnished with micro red chard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- five really special very ripe Mountain Magic tomatoes, halved, heated inside a small vintage Pyrex blue glass pan in a little olive oil, turning once, seasoned with sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper,, arranged on the plate garnished with a bit of basil, the gift of Franca Tantillo of Berried Treasures Farm
- one bunch of collard greens from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, stemmed, washed 3 times, drained (some of the water retained and held aside to be added, as necessary, while the greens cooked), cut roughly and braised gently until softened/wilted inside a large, heavy enameled cast iron pot in which 2 cloves of Keiths Farm rocambole garlic had been heated until they had softened, seasoned with salt and black pepper, finished with a small drizzle of olive oil
- slices of a She Wolf Bakery polenta sourdough boule
- the wine was a California (Napa) red, La Tapatia Chardonnay Carneros 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Handel’s 1726 opera seria, ‘Scipione’, in a performance by Les Talens Lyriques conducted by Christophe Rousset
Mostly back to the Mediterranean, after a short detour in German lands.
- one pound of rinsed and carefully dried squid bodies and tentacles from American Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, arranged without touching if possible, inside a large rectangular enameled cast iron pan that had been heated on top of the stove until quite hot and its cooking surface brushed with a thin coating of olive oil, once the oil itself was quite hot, the cephalopods immediately sprinkled with a heaping teaspoon of some super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, one small crushed dried pepperoncino calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, one large chopped fresh habanada pepper from from Alewife Farm, some sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, followed by a drizzle of a few tablespoons of Whole Foods Market organic lemon, and some olive oil, the pan placed inside a pre-heated 400º oven and roasted for 5 minutes, removed, the squid distributed onto 2 plates and ladled with a bit of the cooking juices that had been transferred to a glass sauce pitcher
- La Ratte potatoes from Berried Treasures 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 olive oil added, seasoned with Maldon salt, freshly-ground black pepper, tossed with chopped dill from Alex’s Tomato Farm in the Saturday 23rd Street farmers market
- four small San Marzano tomatoes from Quarton Farm, each sliced in half and placed face down on a plate which had been spread with sea salt and pepper, the surface dried somewhat with a paper towel and placed in a hot grill pan and turned once, finished on the plates with a bit of olive oil, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and the very last leaves, torn, of those that had remained on a basil plant from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine was an Italian (Campania) white, Terredora Falanghina 2017, from Garnet Wines
- the music was a genuine oddity, ‘Les Mystères d’Isis’, an 1801 adaptation, for the Paris opera, of Mozart’s ‘Die Zauberflöte’, by Ludwig Wenzel Lachnith, with a new French text by Étienne Morel de Chédeville