Dinner was good, very good. While we were enjoying it I thought to myself, surprisingly good, but if I had considered our routinely good experiences with the terrific fresh swordfish we can get in Manhattan, I couldn’t have been surprised.
- one beautiful 16.5 ounce swordfish steak from American Seafood Company halved, marinated on an ironstone platter for about 45 minutes, turning once, in a mixture of a few tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of chopped fresh, slowly drying, but still very sweet and pungent tarragon from Stokes Farm, a bit of peperoncino Calabresi secchia from Buon Italia, a small section of a home-dried habanada pepper, and the chopped white sections of one very small Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, after which the swordfish was drained, both sides covered with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs, and pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, or until barely (or, actually, not quite) cooked to the center, then removed from the pan and arranged on 2 plates, sprinkled with a little Maldon salt, some of the chopped greener parts of the scallion, drizzled with a bit of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon and garnished with a little purple micro radish from Windfall Farms
- ten or so ounces of of ‘pinto’ potatoes 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 some Whole Foods house Portuguese olive oil, seasoned with Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper, tossed with some roughly cut lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- two mid size red chicories (radicchio), that were something like a cross between treviso and tardivo, or what Chris and Jessi of Campo Rosso Farm have dubbed, ‘Rosa di Campo Rosso’, sliced broadly, sautéed until barely wilted inside an antique medium, high-sided tin-lined copper pot with a little olive oil in which one sliced Camelot shallot from Quarton Farm had already been heated until it had softened, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, finished with a dash of balsamic vinegar, arranged on the plates, and drizzled with a little olive oil
- the wine, totally new to us, was a wonderful Greek (Mantinia/Peloponnese) white, Troupis Hoof and Lur 2017 [for a little about newer Greek wines, including this one, look here], from Copake Wine Works, which is also pretty new to us (we expect to regularly order more from them)
- the music was Tchaikovsky’s 1892 lyric opera, ‘Iolanta’, Emmanuel Villaume conducting the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Slovenian Chamber Choir, with Anna Netrebko, Sergey Skorokhodov, Alexey Marko, and Vitalij Kowaljow
Last night I tweeted that I had found my go-to recipe for sea bass. I’ll elucidate.
I had arrived early (early for me) at the greenmarket that day, so there was a huge selection at the fish stand. Filtering out the various finfish and shellfish I’d cooked recently, which accounted for a good number, I narrowed our dinner choice down to 2 very fresh half-pound sea bass fillets. A few minutes later I found some terrific-looking greens, and a favorite crunchy multigrain baguette.
I thought I was all set, but once I arrived home I remembered that I had a lot of ramps, and a small bag of oyster mushrooms in the refrigerator. I had been determined to prepare the fish in the most minimal way I could this time, and concentrate on producing a beautiful crispy skin, so I worked at coming up with a recipe that would fit the new program. What you see above was the product, and the tweet described my excitement with the result.
I’m only sorry I didn’t spend a little more time on the photograph above, because the meal tasted far more exciting than it looks.
I placed some radishes on the kitchen counter for the cook and his muse to nibble on while before the meal was served.
Otherwise the dinner was contained in one course.
- *three stems of spring garlic from from John D. Madura Farm, cut into one-inch lengths, sautéed until softened in a little Whole Foods Market Portuguese house olive oil and Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ inside a large rectangular, enameled cast iron pan over medium heat, then removed and discarded, or maybe set aside for another day [NOTE: this first step, in which mature garlic could be substituted at other times of the year is definitely optional, especially if the cook is in a hurry], a little more oil and butter added, the flame raised to medium-high and two nearly-8-ounce sea bass fillets from Pura Vida Seafood Company, previously rinsed, dried with paper towels, and seasoned with sea salt, added to the pan and seared, skin side down first, for 3 to 4 minutes (the skin should be nicely golden and fairly crisp by then), turned over and cooked for another minute or so, removed and placed on 2 plates, kept warm, either in a warm oven or tented with aluminum foil, while 2 ounces of chopped yellow oyster mushrooms from Blue Oyster Cultivation were added to the skillet and sautéed until slightly undercooked, more oil added once again, if necessary, and a dozen or so trimmed and washed young ramps from Lucky Dog Organic Farm tossed in (the bulbs chopped, the greens sliced), and sautéed for roughly one minute, the ramps and mushrooms divided between the 2 warm plates and a bass fillet placed on each ‘bed’, finished with a generous squeeze of an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, and garnished with chopped bronze fennel from Norwich Meadows Farm, ending with lemon wedges placed on the side of the plates [NOTE: the mushrooms are an option, and their quantity can vary a bit, but they really enrich the flavors of both the fish and the ramps]
cooks critique: the bed of mushrooms and ramps should have been more visible; and while I eventually realized the bass had in fact been cooked perfectly, there was a scary moment after I first cut into one of the fillets to check its color and opacity (it’s no fun even contemplating having to return any seafood to a heat source once it’s arrived on the plate); finally, I described it as my “go-to recipe now for sea bass, and yet it clearly includes a few very specifically-seasonal ingredients, so my explanation is that all of those lend themselves to one or more substitutions (mature garlic for spring garlic; any mushrooms, even reconstituted ones, for the oyster mushrooms; almost anything green, herb or vegetable, for the ramps; and all kinds of herbs or micro greens would love to stand in for the bronze fennel
- slices, or more like wedges, of a terrific multigrain baguette from Bread Alone
- one small head of a northern Italian tardivo radicchio from Flatiron Eataly [I felt guilty that it wasn’t local, but it looked so pretty on the shelf, I love that very special chicory, and I realized it meant I wouldn’t have to wait maybe 6 months for the wonderful Campo Rosso Farm‘s crop for my next hit], washed under cold running water, the moisture shaken off, cut in 4 sections lengthwise and a V-cut made most of the way through the root end, allowing that part to cook more rapidly, tossed with a little olive oil, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, arranged inside an enameled cast iron pan over medium-high heat, one of their cut sides down, each covered with a couple of rosemary sprigs from Stokes Farm, cooked for a few minutes then turned onto a second cut side and cooked for a few more, and finally turned and cooked briefly onto the third, before they were arranged on the plates [note: the tardivo can be served either hot or warm, so it’s an excellent low-stress accompaniment to meats or fish]
- the wine was a California (Sonoma) white, Jacqueline Bahue Carte Blanche Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma Valley 2017, from Naked Wines
- the music was the Berlin Classics album, ‘Vivaldi: La Venezia di Anna Maria’
It was an amazing collaboration of ingredients, really surprising me when I had only expected a workaday dinner. I knew we would enjoy the very special chicory, even if it had come all the way from northern Italy, and of course the sweet potatoes as well. Adding some sorrel to the latter was a last minute decision, but it turned out to be a very good one. Finally, I always forget how good this Amish farm’s spicy chorizo really is, and (almost) the last of a jar of a wonderful well-made sweet/tart jelly was exactly what it needed.
- *four 2-ounce links of a very good chorizo sausage from Millport Dairy Farm, pan grilled for a few minutes over a medium flame until heated through, served with a dollop of a garlic oregano jelly from Berkshire Berries [note: I didn’t remove the collagen casings, because I had not been aware they were there until John told me the next day, when I showed him the photograph above, but neither the flavor nor the texture of the sausage was negatively effected)
- *two Japanese sweet potatoes from Samascott Orchards, unpeeled, but scrubbed thoroughly, halved and sliced into one half-inch rounds and crescents, tossed in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, 4 unpeeled Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, and a bit of crushed golden/orange dried habanada pepper, originally fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm last fall, spread onto a large well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan, roasted at 400º for about 20 or 25 minutes, garnished with red-vein sorrel from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- *one medium head of a northern Italian tardivo radicchio from Flatiron Eataly, prepared mostly using this simple recipe, washing it under cold running water, the moisture shaken off, cut in half lengthwise, and a V-cut made most of the way through the root end, allowing that part to cook more rapidly, the halves arranged inside a small Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan cut side up, covered with thyme sprigs from Westside Market, seasoned generously with salt and pepper and drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil, baked inside the 400º oven in which the sweet potatoes were cooking, for about 12 minutes, turned over and cooked for some 8 minutes more, turned a second time so the cut side is once again up, returned to the oven, this time for only a couple minutes or so, or until the stem ends were tender when pierced with a thin blunt metal pin (my all-purpose kitchen tester), removed from the oven [note: the tardivo can be served either hot or warm]
- *the wine was an Italian (Sardinia) red, Cardedu, Canonau di Sardegna “Caladu”, 2013, from Flatiron Wines
- *the music was the album, ‘Scherzi Musicali’, with jokey music by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Heinrich Ignaz Biber, and Johann Jakob Walther, Reinhard Goebel conducting Musica Antiqua Cologne
It is a fine fish, and this recipe is very fine; also, together, fish and recipe can offer some interesting variations, including many more than I have essayed, although I have to admit that this one has become almost a standard for me.
- one 15-ounce pollock fillet from Pura Vida Seafood, rinsed, dried, halved, and seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, placed skin side down inside a buttered an oval tin-lined copper gratin pan, spread with a mixture of softened unsalted Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ mixed with zest from most of an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, slices of one tiny leek from Willow Wisp Farm, and part of a piece of crushed orange/gold home-dried Habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm (harvested fresh in the early fall of 2016), the fish baked for about 15 minutes at 350º, removed to 2 plates, the cooking juices poured over the top, and a teaspoon or so of Sicilian salted capers, which had first been rinsed, drained, dried and heated briefly inside a small pan in a bit of olive oil, scattered over the fillets, with the oil, the pollock finished with a garnish of micro kohlrabi from Windfall Farms
- four small Rose Valley potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, boiled with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the medium-size still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with a tablespoon or so of our rich ‘house butter‘, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a small amount of chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, finished on the plates with sprinkled with ‘beet chips’ (thin slices, oven-dried) from Lani’s Farm
- one medium head of tardivo radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, prepared pretty much according to this simple recipe, that is, washed under cold running water, the moisture shaken off, each head cut in half lengthwise, and a V-cut made most of the way through the root end to allow it to cook more rapidly, the halves arranged inside a small Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan cut side up, covered with thyme sprigs from Stokes Farm, seasoned generously with salt and pepper and drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil, baked inside a 400º oven for about 12 minutes, turned over, baked for some 8 minutes more, turned a second time so the cut side is once again up, returned to the oven, this time for only a couple minutes or so, or until the stems were tender when pierced with a thin blunt metal pin (my all-purpose tester), removed from the oven, and in this case then kept somewhat warm until the pollock had been baked, since the temperature of the oven had to be reduced to 350º for its cooking [the tardivo can be served either hot or warm]
- the wine was a French (Loire) white, Pierre Riffault , the generous gift of some artist friends
- the music was the 1742 opera by Handel (and others), a pasticcio, ‘Catone’, Carlo Ipata conducting the ensemble, Auser Musici
(the quince chutney hadn’t yet made it to the plate when I took this picture)
When was the last time anyone out there had mutton? Like most everyone in the English-speaking world, at least of my age or younger, I’ve only heard about mutton when it was being reviled as unfit for a proper meal.
I’ve been curious about the meat of mature sheep for decades, but i had never come across mutton until this past Friday when I saw a small sign on the Greenmarket table of a farmer with whose products I had only recently become acquainted (and with much satisfaction).
Over the years I had already learned something about what to expect. After a conversation at the stand, about the type of sheep the farm raises (‘hairy breeds‘), the differences between lamb and mutton generally (in this case it would not really be a very old sheep), and the description of good mutton as somewhat like game, I was really excited to try it for the first time. I bought 4 rib chops, which were roughly the size of most lamb chops, because the breed was smaller than sheep. It would be up to me to see that the experience was good.
It was very good, and I was able to bring it to the plate medium rare. Together with quince chutney, and some really good vegetables (all of which were also pretty much out of the ordinary), these mutton chops made a really excellent [*] meal. They were everything i expected, and more.
I’ll definitely be going back.
- * four 5-ounce mutton chops from Lowland Farm, in Warwick, New York, dried thoroughly, grilled on a very hot enameled cast iron ribbed pan for a total of 10 or 12 minutes, turning twice, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper after the first time, finished with a squeeze of juice from an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, scattered with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and drizzled with a little olive oil
- * quince chutney remaining from an earlier meal, using this theKitchn.com recipe, incorporating a red shallot from Norwich Meadows Farm, a Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm, quince from Troncillito Farms, dried sweet cherries (don’t know whether they were local) from Whole Foods, fresh ginger from Lani’s Farm, and apple cider vinegar from Race Farm
- * two small heads of tardivo radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, prepared pretty much according to this simple recipe, which is to say, washed under cold running water, the moisture shaken off, each head cut in half lengthwise, and a V-cut made inside the root end to allow it to cook more rapidly, the halves arranged inside a ceramic oven pan cut side up, covered with thyme sprigs from S. & S.O. Farm, seasoned generously with salt and pepper, drizzled with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, baked for about 12 minutes, turned over, baked for about 8 minutes more, turned so the cut side is up and once again returned to the oven, this time for only a couple minutes or so, or until the stems were tender [the tardivo can be served hot or warm]
- * less than a pound of small root parsley from Paffenroth Gardens, their beautiful greens cut off when they were first brought home (they can be enjoyed as a strong-flavored parsley, but I didn’t have occasion to do so this time), and 2 sunchokes from Max Creek Hatchery, all of the roots trimmed, scrubbed, and sliced into sections equivalent to small French fries (although their small size and their shapes made something of a mockery of my attempt this time), tossed inside a bowl with a little olive oil, a few pinches of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, one small fresh habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm, chopped, and fresh whole rosemary leaves from S. & S.O. Farm, spread onto a large Pampered chef unglazed ceramic oven pan, roasted inside a 400º oven for 20 minutes, tossed, then returned to the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes until, ideally, golden on the edges, with crispy ends, but a tender center.
- * the wine was a California (Sonoma) red, ROX Scott Peterson Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma 2015, from Naked Wines
- * the music was a wonderful performance of Haydn’s 1783 opera, ‘Armida’, with Jessye Norman, Claes H. Ahnsjö, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Robin Leggate, and others,
Antal Doráti conducting the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra