The kitchen was in chaos only moments before I snapped this picture.
I had to do some unexpected trimming of the 2 fish filets (brought home as butterflied wholes) and then change my plans on how I was going to cook it, both at the last moment, and it was already late in the evening.
I did some quick thinking, which unfortunately did not include a plan for keeping the kitchen and dining area from getting pretty smoky, decided on a relatively carefree vegetable and treatment of that vegetable, then whipped out my large steel oval fish pan.
The peppers were scrumptious, even if I didn’t have time to prepare the herb I had wanted to use with them, and instead tossed in a bit of one that remained from breakfast the day before.
The whiting was delicious, even if most of the crispy skin I was aiming for stayed in the pan. I think whiting may not be the ideal candidate for this operation, or else I hadn’t succeeded in drying the skin enough. The vinaigrette on which it rested was a brilliant way to appreciate the flavor of the fish (and the texture of the skin as well, if all had gone better last night).
- two butterflied whiting filets (20 ounces total, before trimming) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, washed, drained, trimmed of the remains of their fins, each then separated into 2 filets, since their wholeness had now been compromised by that operation, prepared mostly along the lines of this recipe, seared inside a very hot well-seasoned steel pan, resting on a lemon-basil vinaigrette prepared more or less like this one, and garnished, somewhat exuberantly, with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- a number of sweet ‘Bulls Horn’ yellow-green peppers and very sweet ‘Love Apple’ red peppers from Alewife Farm, each cut once lengthwise, the seeds and membranes removed, sautéed over a high flame until slightly caramelized, and one sliced red scallion from Berried Treasures Farm, a finely chopped small Aji Dulce pepper (not hot) from Eckerton Hill Farm, a small chopped section from a serrano pepper (hot) from Central Valley Farm, and a pinch of crushed dried golden/orange habanada pepper (pungent, but not hot at all) added near the end, the mix tossed with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper and sprinkled with some budding marjoram from Stokes Farm, arranged on the plates and served with a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a California (grapes from the Sacramento River Delta with a small amount of Viognier from Lodi, I think) white, Miriam Alexandra Chenin Blanc California 2017, from Naked Wines
- the music was Rameau’s 1749 pastorale héroïque, ‘Naïs’, Gyorgy Vashegyi conducting the Purcell Choir and the Orfeo Orchestra
Look, no tomatoes!
They’ve been a part of virtually every meal this month, and the last, but it didn’t occur to me to include them last night. I was thinking we’d have a cheese course later, and I wanted to keep the entrée down to 2 elements; I knew there would be some color even without tomatoes; and I thought that the lettuce I would be including, plus a micro green, would add a sufficient element of freshness themselves.
And yet there was tomato, although only as a very subtle addition to the self sauce created by the pork.
I love both this special vegetable, and the pork, as well as the recipes I used for each, but the entire entrée was even more successful than I had expected. In the case of the chops, the simple addition of even the small amount of rendered heirloom tomato juices I had, remaining from an earlier meal, may have made all the difference.
The beets were an extraordinary new sweet variety we’ve enjoyed before, using the same recipe, and even though I ended up roasting them longer than I wanted to, they were still delicious. Horseradish is a blessed thing.
- two 8-ounce bone-in loin pork chops from Flying Pig Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt and pepper and seared quickly in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan before the 2 halves of a small Whole Foods Market organic lemon was squeezed over the top (then left in the pan between them, cut sides down), the chops placed in a 425º oven for less than 14 minutes (flipped halfway through, the lemon halves squeezed over them once again and replaced), removed from the oven and arranged on plates, some of the pan juices, that had been mixed with tomato juices inside a heavy glass sauce boat, spooned over the top, the sauce boat placed on the table to be available during the meal, the pork garnished with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- a number (but less than a pound) of not-very-large ‘Badger Flame’ beets from Norwich Meadows Farm [more here] trimmed, washed and scrubbed, cut into wedges, tossed in a bowl with roughly 2 tablespoons of olive oil; 3 halved cloves of Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm (I should have kept them unpeeled), a generous amount of oregano buds from Norwich Meadows Farm, sea salt, and freshly-ground pepper to taste, covered loosely with foil and baked for 20 minutes or so inside a 400º oven, after which the foil was taken off, the beets turned on another side and roasted for 25 minutes longer, or until they were tender, when they were removed from the oven and arranged on 2 plates on top of the well-washed outer leaves of a head of purple romaine lettuce from from Echo Creek Farm of Salem, NY, in the Saturday Chelsea Farmers Market (on the north sidewalk of 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues), a little olive oil and drops of a good Spanish Rioja vinegar drizzled on the beet segments and the lettuce, but with the greens also sprinkled with salt and pepper, the beet salad finished with some horseradish root from Gorzynski Ornery Farm freshly grated on top [note that the recipe mostly follows one on page 36 inside the hard copy of the excellent book of simple kitchen formulae, ‘Italian Easy’; Recipes from the London River Cafe‘]
There was a cheese course, which I did not photograph
- ‘Pawlet’ cow cheese and ‘Manchester’ goat cheese, both from Consider Bardwell Farm, and Riverine Ranch buffalo milk brie
- a mix of several kinds of raisins (colors and sizes) from Trader joe’s Market
- thin toasts of a sturdy She Wolf Bakery sourdough ‘miche’
We like vegetables so much, that I’ll even load them up on dishes where they wouldn’t normally be much featured; many appear there as miniatures, or in dried form. This time, while it was only a late breakfast, on the plate were fresh tomatoes, a little bitter green, one small scallion, a tiny sweet pepper, a micro mustard, and 2 ‘budding herbs’.
Worth noting: All 6 yolks made it to the plates with their integrity uncompromised (the yolks remained whole), and I wish I knew what I did to get the feathered edges of the whites to caramelize, and be so delightfully crispy (I did add a little butter to the pan before breaking the eggs into it, since there was very little bacon fat left after the bacon was removed, but that’s pretty much what I usually do).
- the meal was an assemblage which included 4 thick strips of bacon and 6 eggs (3 Americauna* and 3 standard), all from Millport Dairy Farm, 2 heirloom tomatoes from Alewife Farm, a bit of puntarelle from Tamarack Hollow Farm, sliced red scallion from Berried Treasures Farm, budding marjoram from Stokes Farm, budding basil from Windfall Farms, one small sliced aji dulce pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and toast from a terrific She Wolf Bakery Miche
- the music was Bach’s Mass in B minor, performed by Philippe Herreweghe conducting the Collegium Vocale Gent
* in the picture, the egg to the lower left is an Americauna
It was one of those times when the amount of seafood was going to be either too little or too much. At first I decided to just go with the rather small piece of flounder, and make up the difference with an additional vegetable, but then I went back to the fishers’ stall and asked for a half dozen scallops, to make a first course.
Barry and I were both glad I did, because, while the flounder was very fresh and very good, the scallops, prepared very plainly, were really exceptional.
- six one-ounce scallops from American Seafood Company at Saturday’s Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street, from American Seafood Company, washed, drained and very thoroughly dried on paper towels (twice), generously seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan grilled for about 90 seconds on each side, arranged on the plates, finished with a squeeze of organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a good Campania olive oil (Lamparelli O.R.O.), then sprinkled with fresh dill flowers from Alewife Farm
- two red tomatoes, one larger heirloom from Alewife Farm and a smaller, different varietal from Eckerton Hill Farm, sliced, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, warmed inside a shallow copper pan, finished with some budding basil from Windfall Farms
- slices from a Sullivan Street Bakery ‘Pugliese’
The main course was a little more complicated, but still very easily put together.
- one thick 13-ounce flounder filet, also from American Seafood Company, placed inside an oval tin-lined copper au gratin pan, skinned side down, the top surface spread with a mixture of one tablespoon of zest from a Whole Foods organic lemon, one teaspoon of a pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia (where it’s sold dried and still attached to the stem), one teaspoon or more of balsamic vinegar, three fourths of a tablespoon of olive oil, almost a teaspoon of lightly-crushed black peppercorns, a quarter to a half of a teaspoon of sea salt, and most of one finely-chopped Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm, baked for just under 15 minutes in a 350º oven, removed, cut into 2 pieces and arranged on the plates, drizzled with some juice from the lemon which supplied the zest earlier, garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- four small Turkish eggplant from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut horizontally into 3 or more slices, mixed with a little olive oil, one large chopped Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan over a brisk flame, turning once or twice, some sliced red scallion from Berried Treasures Farm and 5 or 6 pitted and halved Gaeta olives added near the end, everything tossed inside a bowl with chopped ‘blue licorice’ (Korean mint/Indian mint) from Lani’s Farm, then arranged on the plates and drizzled with olive oil
- one small green tomato, also from Norwich Meadows Farm, halved, seasoned with salt and black pepper, pan-grilled in the same as the eggplant, arranged on the plates near the flounder, drizzled with a littel olive oil
There’s no real connection between the first and second courses of this meal, other than the fact that the first directly preceded the second, and the second directly succeeded the first.
The appetizer was merely assembled.
- a container of grilled artichokes with mint leaves and oil, from Eataly, divided onto 2 plates, served with a modified mayonnaise which started with Sir Kensington’s, plain, Classic Mayonnaise (made by ex-Brown students, with headquarters in SoHo), to which I added half that amount of Sir Kensington’s Dijon Mustard, a bit of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon, a pinch of turbinado sugar, a very small amount of finely-chopped Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, a bit of chopped micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and a pinch of Maldon salt, garnished with some more, still whole, micro chervil
- slices of a sesame baguette from Bread Alone Bakery
The main course actually had to be cooked.
- two 9-ounce Spanish mackerel filets from Pura Vida Seafood, washed, dried, brushed with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan grilled on a seasoned cast iron double-burner grill pan over high heat for a total of about 6 or 7 minutes, first skin side down, then turned half way through, removed, arranged on the plates and dressed with a salsa that had been assembled just before, consisting of 7 ounces of a mix of (mostly) heirloom tomatoes from several local farms, chopped roughly or halved, tossed into a small bowl with a teaspoon or more of rinsed and drained Sicilian salted capers, half a tablespoon of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon, a pinch of sea salt, and a bit of freshly-ground black pepper, the salsa garnished with some pungent basil buds from Windfall Farms
- two crookneck yellow summer squash from Windfall Farms, cut into 2-cm rounds, sautéed in a little olive oil for a few minutes over a medium-high flame inside a large antique high-sided heavy copper pot, turning once, until both sides were well on their way to being caramelized, near the end of that time part of a length of a stem of fresh shallot from Tamarack Hollow Farm, cut into one-cm sections, was added and stirred into the squash sections until softened, the pan removed from the flame, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, the vegetables placed inside a bowl where the they were tossed with a few pitted kalamata olives, one small finely-chopped red aji dulce pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, a little lemon juice, and chopped ‘blue licorice’ (aka Korean mint, or Indian mint) from Lani’s Farm
- the wine was a New York (Long Island) rosé, Wölffer Estate Rosé 2017
- the music was Lully’s 1683 tragédie en musique, ‘Phaéton’, Christophe Rousset conducting Les Talens Lyriques and the Chœur de Chambre de Namur