Another weekday meal with a real first course. Well, my reasoning was that because there had been only 12 ounces in the box of good pasta, and I had already used around 8 ounces in another meal, I had only a few ounces left, too few, I thought, to suffice for an entrée, so I would supplement it with a small first course (even a small cheese course at the end, if we would be up to it by then).
And then both courses grew like [Harriet Beecher Stowe’s] Topsy. I had started with simply a great salumi, then I realized I had half of a small container of ricotta in the refrigerator, and of course there would have to be bread, and, while it’s not really an Italian thing, I almost always feel better about a cold plate if I can include a green of some kind.
- four ounces of Principe Italian uncured roasted porchetta rolled in pancetta from Chelsea Whole Foods Market
- a few ounces of water buffalo ricotta from Riverine Ranch in the Union Square Greenmarket that I mixed with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, one chopped Windfall Farms baby celery stalk and its leaves, and a bit of olive oil
- wild cress from Lani’s Farm, drizzled with a little olive oil
- slices of a whole wheat baguette from Our Daily Bread in the Union Square Greenmarket
The pasta would have remained pretty light if I hadn’t realized that I had a few small radishes that were anxious to be a part of something interesting, perhaps even something cooked, for a change. Also, maybe the topper was the breadcrumbs I added, but when we had finished, a cheese course didn’t tempt us.
- five ounces of Sfoglini emmer reginetti (organic emmer flour, organic durum semolina flour, water), also known as mafaldine, or ‘little queens’, from the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project in the Union Square Greenmarket, cooked barely al dente and some of the water reserved before it was drained, added to a large high-sided antique copper pot in which 2 cloves of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm and the equivalent of one bunch of small scrubbed, trimmed and halved French breakfast radishes from Eckerton Hill Farm had been heated until softened in a little olive oil, then a pinch of crushed dried hickory-smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper, also from Eckerton Hill, the zest from half of an organic Whole Foods lemon and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, salt, and pepper were introduced to the pot and everything stirred together, some pea shoots from Norwich Meadows Farm mixed in, the pasta arranged in 2 warm shallow bowls, more pea sprouts arranged on top and a little olive oil drizzled around the edges, some toasted homemade breadcrumbs sprinkled over the reginetti itself
It was to be a very simple meal that I could almost do in my sleep, because we had a guest, and there was going to be some serious discussion about some future construction in the kitchen. I expected to be pretty distracted, but I managed to put together a pretty tasty meal.
It turned out however that I was distracted, but not where I had expected to be: We were having so much fun that I forgot to photograph the main course. I can describe it however (there really wasn’t much to it), and I have many pictures from past meals that could stand in for what I missed capturing this time.
Our guest had brought a bottle of good champagne, which we opened once the more serious conversation was put aside.
- some rustic Italian breadsticks, Mario Fongo grissini integrali, from Buon Italia
- the wine was a French (Champagne) sparkling, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Réserve Champagne, the gift of a friend
The appetizer was inspired by my visit that afternoon to some of my favorite Greenmarket people.
- a few ounces of water buffalo ricotta from Riverine Ranch in the Union Square Greenmarket, mixed with a very small amount of Trickling Springs Creamery whole milk (they use glass deposit bottles!) from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, a little bit of some good Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil (unfiltered, unrefined, and cold pressed), a pinch of crushed dried hickory-smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and one stalk of finely-chopped baby celery from Windfall Farms, with the leaves, the mix stirred and distributed on 3 plates, a bit more olive oil drizzled on top
- slices of really good garlic ciabatta from Philadelphia’s Lost Bread Co. (organic bread flour, spelt, malted barley, breadcrumbs, water, local Hudson Valley Cold Pressed Oils‘ sunflower oil, garlic, herbs, salt, yeast)
- the wine was a Spanish (Catalonia/Penedès) white, Huguet de Can Feixes Can Feixes Blanco Seleccio 2017, from Crush Wines
Just before preparing the first course I decided to make the next one just a little bit more complicated than its outlines (minimally-prepared scallops and kale) had suggested it would be, and the fact that wanted to take on the extra step reflects how comfortable I was with our renovation conversation.
The picture below is a placeholder for the picture I didn’t take on Wednesday; it’s from a much earlier entry, one in which the scallops appeared as an appetizer.
The scallops themselves were cooked in exactly the same way as these, although there were no tomatoes.
There was micro red mustard however, which looks like this spread across a vintage Shenango China plate:
21 sea scallops (a total of 20-21 ounces) from American Seafood Company, rinsed, dried, slit horizontally with a very sharp knife almost all of the way through, stuffed with a mixture of home grown basil from Barry’s Artsy colleague Becca, one medium-size clove of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, salt, and black pepper, all chopped together very finely and removed to a small bowl where just enough olive oil was added to form a paste, the stuffed scallops then rolled around on a plate with a little more olive oil, drained, then pan grilled in an enameled cast iron pan (they barely fit) for about 2 minutes on each side, removed to the 3 plates, finished with a squeeze of organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a drizzle of olive oil, garnished with some beautiful lacy micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- two bunches of curly winterbor kale from Tamarack Hollow Farm, washed, drained, wilted in a little olive oil in which 3 garlic cloves from Norwich Meadows had first been allowed to sweat and begin to color, seasoned with salt and black pepper, drizzled with a little more olive oil
- the wine was a great Portuguese (Vinho Verde) white, Vinho Verde Loureiro, Aphros 2016, from Astor Wines
I’m leading this post with an image and a description of the second course from last night’s dinner, since in the last few days I’ve already written – twice – about what was basically the same appetizer, except for the greens that accompanied it.
Yes, it was very, very good; Tuesday’s meal marked the final appearance of our supply of a wonderful smoked fish pâté.
- a composed smoked fish salad, more like a pâté, composed almost entirely of fish, all caught off Long Island by Phil Karlin, whose wife, Dolores Karlin, prepared it, consisting of several white fish species, mayonnaise, red onion, and celery, from P.E. & D.D. Seafood Company (the salad was perfectly seasoned, and needed no adjustments), served on slices of a loaf of ‘table bread’ from Philadelphia’s Lost Bread Co. that had been toasted over an open gas flame on our ‘Camp-A-Toaster’
- a spray of organic hydroponically-grown upland cress from Two Guys from Woodbridge, dressed with some good unfiltered olive oil from the 6th Avenue Trader Joe’s Market, Maldon salt, some ground black pepper, and a drizzle of organic lemon juice from Chelsea Whole Foods Market
For the main course I had thought I’d be working with one of the several packages of really good local pasta I had on hand, but none seemed right for what I had already chosen to cook with it. so I ended up using an Afeltra rigatoni. It reminded both of us of just how really good an artisanal Italian pasta can be.
- one small ‘yellow shallot’ from Norwich Meadows Farm heated gently in a little olive oil inside a large antique copper pot until it had softened, 8 ounces of Rigorosa Gragnano rigatoni from Eataly Flatiron, cooked al dente, mixed in, the heat turned up high and nearly a cup of reserved pasta water added and stirred with the oil and shallot until the liquid had emulsified, followed by a small handful of black olives (a mix of Gaeta and Kalamata) and 2 finely-chopped stalks and leaves of baby celery from Windfall Farms, a pinch of crushed dried hickory-smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, the mix stirred before it was arranged inside 2 shallow bowls, where some well-toasted pine nuts, or pinoli, from Buon Italia were tossed on top, the pasta finished with a bit of olive oil drizzled around edges
I had bought two packages of smoked fish salad at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, thinking we’d need that much for 4 people, but we only opened one of them that night. The 2 of us would share the contents of the other container on Monday and Tuesday.
- a composed smoked fish salad, or pâté, using local fish caught by Phil Karlin, whose wife, Dolores Karlin, made it, consisting of more than one white fish species, mayonnaise, red onion, and celery, from P.E. & D.D. Seafood Company (the salad was perfectly seasoned), served on slices of a loaf of ‘table bread’ from Philadelphia’s Lost Bread Co. that had just been toasted over an open gas flame on our ‘Camp-A-Toaster’
- leaves of loose small arugula from Norwich Meadows Farm, dressed with some very good unfiltered olive oil from the 6th Avenue Trader Joe’s, Maldon salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of organic lemon juice from Chelsea Whole Foods Market
The main course, however, was all new. It was dominated by seafood as well, which, coincidentally, had come from the same fishers who had brought us both the fish in the pâté and the cod we had enjoyed on Saturday.
Also new – and quite old – was the very large tin-lined copper pan I used to cook the fish. Although they weighed barely a pound altogether, the area the fillets would occupy was larger than any pan surface I had (that is, other than a pretty enormous, beautifully-seasoned carbon steel long-handled fish skillet, which I could have used, since there would be no acid involved in the cooking).
The new pan was a triumph.
- eight small (2-ounce) Porgy fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, rinsed, dried, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-seared, along with 4 small thinly-sliced Japanese shallots from Norwich Meadows Farm, over medium heat inside a newly-acquired and newly-retinned 13″-round shallow antique copper pan in a bit of butter and a little olive oil, the fish basted with the contents of the pan more or less continually for about 2 minutes, using a small brush, then carefully turned over, and the heat reduced to low, a cover placed on the pan (I used a new, tempered-glass universal lid that almost fit snugly between the handles) and the filets cooked for about about another 2 minutes before the cover was removed and a mix of 2 or 3 tablespoons of 7 different fresh herbs thrown in (this time I used thyme and spearmint from Chelsea Whole Foods; parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm; lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge; oregano from Phillips Farms; tarragon from Flatiron Eataly; and basil from a friend’s indoor garden), after which the basting was continued for about minute, or until the fish was cooked through, the fillets then arranged on the 2 plates, the pan juices and scallion fragments, together with the juice of one organic Whole Foods Market lemon, poured over the top, and a few chopped green segments of scallion scattered over everything (the recipe has been slightly modified from one written by Melissa Clark)
- the greens from 2 bunches of French breakfast radishes purchased from Eckerton Hill Farm (most of the radishes themselves had been enjoyed at the beginning of the meal on Saturday)
There was a dessert this time, which is something of a rare occurrence at our table.
[the image above, a portrait of Gioacchino Rossini in a super dressing gown, or banyan, by an unidentified artist, is apparently from the Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung – Universität zu Köln, via Pinterest (which does not load)]
I had decided early in the day on Sunday that I would prefer cooking a dinner with meat that night to one with pasta, since I had a good supply of both vegetables – and small, or micro vegetables as well – since more of them could be incorporated in, as it turned out, a pork entrée, than in any pasta.
Also, the freezer had grown almost full, which was going to make it hard to bring home something interesting that I might find at the market.
Another note about the dinner: Unusual for a meal at our table, there was not a single garlic clove or spicy chili. It was still eminently delicious.
- two 8-ounce boneless pork chops from Walter and Shannon of Shannon Brook Farm in the Finger Lakes, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a large pinch of light gold dried habanada pepper, seared quickly in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan before half of an organic Chelsea Whole Foods Market lemon was squeezed over them then left in the pan, which was then placed in a 400º oven for about 13 or 14 minutes (flipped halfway through and the lemon squeezed over them once again), removed from the oven, arranged on the plates, sprinkled with the chopped stems and leaves of 2 stalks of (pre-spring) baby celery from Windfall Farms, the rich pan juices poured over the top
- just under a pound of small, really wonderful, sweet Natasha potatoes from Phillips Farms, scrubbed, boiled unpeeled in generously-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried in the still-warm large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with a little Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- a couple handfuls of beautiful chicory rosettes from Campo Rosso Farm that had popped up from last fall’s plants, washed, drained, dried, each halved – or quartered, if larger, tossed in a large bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a number of thyme branches from Chelsea Whole Foods, then arranged inside a large well seasoned Pampered Chef oven pan, without touching, roasted at 400º for about 10 minutes [I have to admit that I went a little overlong this time, but a bit crispy is good too, when it comes to chicory], removed from the oven and allowed to cool just a little before they were drizzled with a very small amount of balsamic vinegar
- the wine, a perfect pairing, was a really terrific unfiltered, unfined pinot noir, a French (Loire) red, Marie and Vincent Tricot’s ‘Les 3 Bonhommes’ 2016, from Copake Wine Works (I can’t say enough about the experience)
- the music was the contemporary Spanish composer Alberto Posadas’ ‘Poetics of the Gaze’, with Nacho de Paz conducting Klangforum Wien (a great listening)