Lots of round things showed up last night.
- twelve ounces of monkfish tail (the very last of it) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood Company, sliced into 1/2 inch sections, dipped, one side only, into a shallow bowl with a mix of 3 tablespoons of a local Union Square Greenmarket-purchased whole wheat flour (from the Blew family of Oak Grove Mills Mills), half a teaspoon of dry Coleman’s mustard, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, arranged on a plate, floured side up [before beginning to cook the fish the 2 serving plates were placed somewhere where they would stay warm during the time it would and its sauce were being prepared], while heating 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter over a low flame inside a small copper skillet, adding two thinly sliced very small round shallots from Lucky Dog Organic Farm and cooking until both the butter and shallots had browned and acquired a nutty aroma, being careful not allow them to blacken, the pan removed from the heat and one tablespoon of salted and rinsed Sicilian capers stirred in, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper and also set aside while one tablespoon of olive oil was heated until very hot inside a large enameled cast iron pan, and the fish medallions, floured side down now, were added and sautéed until golden (which was only a minute or 2), removed and arranged on the plates, the caper sauce, briefly warmed and with half a tablespoon of lemon juice and half a tablespoon of chopped fresh pericón (Mexican tarragon) from Quarton Farm now added to it, spooned over each medallion, lemon wedges placed at the side of the plates [I found the basic Florence Fabricant recipe a couple years back, and I love it]
- twelve ounces of two different kinds and colors of potatoes, 2 Adirondack Red and 3 yellow flesh Augusta, both from Norwich Meadows Farm, 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 a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, arranged on the plates and scattered with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the remaining 2 juicy Indian globe eggplants I had brought home from Gopal Farm, few days ago, each cut horizontally into 4 slices, mixed with a little olive oil, one large chopped ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic clove from Alewife Farm, sea salt, and black pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan above a brisk flame, turning once, maybe twice, arranged on the plates and tossed with some torn peppermint leaves from Lani’s Farm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, garnished with more herb
- the wine was a Spanish (Catalonoia/Empordà) white, Espelt 2017 Empordà Garnatxa Blanca, from Chambers Street Wines
- the music was an album of George Perle serenades, Gil Rose conducting the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, with Wenting Kang, viola and Donald Berman, piano
It’s one of our favorite dishes. Last night I tweeted that it was the definition of savory. I think the pictures show us why. The one below is of the potatoes just before they went into the oven, preceding the black olives and the monkfish by 20 minutes or so.
twelve or 14 ounces of scrubbed, dried, and thinly sliced ‘red thumb’ potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, arranged, overlapping, on the bottom of a glazed earthenware oven pan, covered with 3 tablespoons, or slightly more, of a Chelsea Whole Foods house Portuguese olive oil, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a pinch of an Eckerton Hill Farm crushed dried hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper, the same amount of a dried habanada pepper, and 9 whole Italian bay leaves from Buon Italia scattered on top, and then more oil (another 2 tablespoons or so) poured over everything, the pan placed inside a 400º oven for about 20 or 25 minutes, or until the potatoes had begun to brown on the edges, then almost two thirds of a cup of mostly pitted Sicilian black oil-cured olives from Buon Italia and a few kalamata olives from Whole Foods [fewer olives would definitely not make the flavors of the entrée suffer, but this amount is luscious] were scattered about them, and one halved 15-ounce monkfish tail from P.E. & D.D. Seafood was placed on top of everything, the fish sprinkled with salt and pepper, and the pan returned to the oven for another 15 minutes or so more (the ‘tails’ were pretty thick), or until the monkfish was tender but not overcooked (I used an instant thermometer and 140º as the final say), arranged on the plates garnished with a little micro purple mustard from Norwich Meadows Farm
- a generous amount of fava bean greens, stems and leaves, from Keith’s Farm, washed in several changes of cold water, drained, gradually stirred into a large, heavy, antique copper pot in a tablespoon or more of olive oil already heated above a medium flame where a bit of spring garlic had been allowed to soften, and once the greens had wilted, a generous amount of roughly-chopped spearmint from Phillips Farms was tossed in, followed by a bit of sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- the wine was a French (Languedoc-Roussillon) white, Vin Blanc, La Patience 2017, from Astor Wines
- the music was the Peter Eötvös album, ‘Concertos’
I didn’t know what I was going to do with the monkfish tails this time until Barry suggested I roast them with the little Magic Molly fingerlings I had bought the week before. It seemed it would be a good time to use these deep purple potatoes, since their darkness doesn’t work visually with many entrées and vegetables.
In the 2 earlier meals in which I had prepared baked purple potatoes in a dish like this I had used cod, which required a little preparation ahead of time. The substitution of monkfish meant adjusting the seasoning, particularly the salt, and there were a few other changes, but I cobbled together a formula that worked.
- fourteen ounces of quite small ‘Magic Molly‘ potatoes from Tamarack Hollow Farm, sliced to a thickness of roughly 1/4″, tossed inside a large bowl with 3 tablespoons, or slightly more, of a good Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a pinch of an Eckerton Hill Farm crushed dried hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper, arranged, certainly overlapping, inside a rectangular glazed ceramic oven pan, cooked for roughly 25 minutes in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced, but ideally not quite fully cooked, then 2 monkfish tails, or Lotte, (20 ounces total) purchased from Jan, at the P.E. & D.D.Seafood stand in the Union Square Greenmarket, before we started talking about remodeling kitchens, washed and rinsed, placed inside the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with some salt and pepper, partly blanketed with thin slices of 3 Backyard Farms Maine ‘Cocktail tomatoes’, the tomatoes themselves seasoned lightly, the pan returned to the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the fish was just cooked through, fillets and tomato removed with a spatula (2 spatulas ae better), along with as much of the potatoes as can be brought along with each piece, everything arranged on the plates as intact as possible, any remaining potatoes then added, everything garnished with chopped fresh dill from Phillips Farms
- one bunch of red mustard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted inside a large antique copper pot in a little olive oil in which several large halved cloves of Foragers Market garlic had been allowed to sweat a bit, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a French (Petit Chablis) white, La Chablisienne Pas Si Petit Petit Chablis 2016, from Philippe Wine
- the music was Gavin Bryars’ 2004 piece, ‘New York’, a concerto for tuned percussion quintet and chamber orchestra
This is a pretty familiar entrée for us, but we never get tired of it.
The greens were a little novel, but they made for a side dish almost as plain as one could be. Although I’ve served it even more simply, not introducing it to any heat, I thought that this time it would be better to move it, however briefly, into a warm pan.
- twelve or 14 ounces of scrubbed, dried, and thinly sliced Natasha potatoes from Phillips Farms, arranged, overlapping, on the bottom of a glazed earthenware oven pan covered with 3 tablespoons, or slightly more, of a good Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a pinch of an Eckerton Hill Farm crushed dried hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper, and 10 fresh whole get Italian bay leaves from Buon Italia scattered on top, and then more oil (another 2 tablespoons or so) poured on top, the pan placed inside a 400º oven for about 20 minutes, turning it back to front halfway through, by which time the potatoes should have begun to brown, then two thirds of a cup of pitted Sicilian black oil-cured olives from Buon Italia [fewer olives would definitely not impoverish the flavors of the entrée, and I think I’ll try for that the next time) were scattered about them, and 2 monkfish tails (17 ounces) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood placed on top of everything, the fish sprinkled with salt and pepper and the pan returned to the oven for another 10 or 12 minutes more, or until the monkfish was tender but not overcooked, arranged on the plates garnished with a little micro red Russian kale from Windfall Farms
- a handful of very beautiful and absolutely delicious ‘frizzy mustard’ greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, only barely heated in a little olive oil in which 2 halved cloves of ‘music garlic’ from Windfall Farms had been allowed to sweat a bit, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a Portuguese (Beira) white, Quinta do Cardo White ‘Companhia das Quintas’ 2016, from Astor Wines
There was a cheese course
- three cheeses, Secret de Compostelle (French Basque), a sheep milk cheese from Schaller & Weber; a French goat milk log (otherwise unidentified), also from Schaller & Weber; and a semi-firm Riverine Ranch water buffalo ‘farm stand cheese’
- a wonderful country miche from She Wolf Bakery
- the wine with the cheese was a New York (Hudson River/Pine Bush) white, Wild Arc Farm Chardonnay (2017), from Todd Cavallo and Crystal Cornish’s beautiful small, biodynamic, permaculture-focused Wild Arc Farm, in Pine Bush, New York, located below the Shawangunk Mountains.
- the music throughout was the third act of Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’, the 1962 live Bayreuth Festival House performance, in which Hans Knappertsbusch conducts the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and the Bayreuth Festival Chorus, with soloists Hans Hotter, Jess Thomas, Gustav Neidlinger, Irene Dalis, Niels Moller, Gerd Nienstedt, Sona Cervena, Ursula Boese, Gerhard Stolze, Georg Paskuda, Gundula Janowitz, Anja Silja, Elsa-Margrete Gardelli , Martti Talvela, George London, Rita Bartos, and Dorothea Siebert
We were entertaining guests from Berlin, one of whom hadn’t been to our apartment for dinner before, at least while we were there (we had exchanged apartments for a month). Neither meat nor pasta could be on the menu. I wanted to serve something which we would all appreciate, and which also would allow me to be a part of the conversation even as I was cooking.
The monkfish looked terrific at the market that afternoon, and I had a great Mark Bittman recipe which by this point I could process blindfolded. Unfortunately the ‘tails’ (the term almost always used to describe monkfish bodies, probably because their heads are disproportionately huge and pretty horrific in appearance), were larger, and, more importantly, much thicker than any I had worked with before, their cooking time was way longer than what I had anticipated. Luckily the potatoes were very forgiving about having to endure a longer stay in the oven, and the meal actually turned out well.
I did end up learning a couple of useful lessons because of the delay: Consider carefully the surprising mathematics of ingredient sizes, and buy smaller monkfish the next time.
We hung out in the breakfast room (the dining room that evening) nibbling on our archetypal small spread of breadsticks, roasted chick peas, and Fiori di Puglia Taralli al Peperoncino, all from Buon Italia.
There was a bit of an interval before we sat down for the main course, for the reason recounted above.
- an overflowing cup of a mix of black oil-cured olives from Buon Italia and a few kalamata olives from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, all pits removed, spread on top of a bed of 3 large (8-ounce) scrubbed and thinly-sliced Kennebec potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, the slices slightly overlapping inside an enameled cast iron oven pan after the potatoes had first been seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, sprinkled with a bit of crushed dried orange/gold habanada pepper, and topped with 17 dry Italian bay leaves, roasted in a very generous amount of olive oil (a third to half of a cup) inside a 400º oven for about 20 or 25 minutes, depending on the potato variety and their thickness, reversing the direction of the pan inside the oven halfway through, then 2 monkfish tails, each weighing a full pound, from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, rinsed, halved, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, placed on top of the potatoes, roasted at the same temperature for, maybe, 20 minutes [I lost track of how long the monkfish cooked this time, so I couldn’t include the precise timing in this text], arranged on 2 plates and garnished with micro red chard from two Guys from Woodbridge
- most of 2 beautiful small-to-medium Savoy cabbages from Norwich Meadows Farm, washed, quartered, cored, sliced into one-half-inch ribbons, sautéed in a scant tablespoon of olive oil inside a large enameled cast iron pot until wilted but still crunchy, stirring occasionally, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, a teaspoon and a half of just-toasted cumin seed mixed in, finished with a third to half of a teaspoon of Columela Rioja 30 Year Reserva sherry vinegar, the mix stirred and cooked another couple of minutes (the cabbage was also patient about the delay in cooking the monkfish)
- the wine was a really wonderful Spanish (Priorat) white, Priorat Blanco, Mas La Mola 2016, the generous gift of our guests
The cheese course, unusually, had a little bit of everything: In addition to the 4 cheeses, there was bread, dried and fresh fruit, a micro green, and a good wine, so we lingered, also maybe a bit longer than usual.
- four cheeses: an unnamed washed rind buffalo milk cheese, like a Munster or havarti, a new cheese from Riverine Ranch, now in the process of development; Manchester goat cheese, Danby goat cheese, and Bardem Blue cow cheese all from Consider Bardwell Farm
- a garnish of micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- thin slices of an excellent crusty ‘table bread’ from Philadelphia’s Lost Bread Company
- bosc and bartlett pears from Locust Grove Fruit Farm
- dried Calabrian (Amantea) figs from Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market
- the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) white, Bodegas Avancia, Godello ‘Cuvee De O’ 2016, from Flatiron Wines