yeah, way Teutonic
While I have to get it out of my system ever so often (cooking a genuine German meal), this time it was partly driven by my unanticipated accumulation of ingredients which, at least considered together, seemed to suggest no other choice. It looks like a lot of food in the image above, and it was; we had leftovers, and they were delicious at lunch the next day.
- two half-pound ham steaks from Millport Dairy, very briefly seared in a seasoned steel pan, then buried inside a pot of sauerkraut while it was slowly finishing cooking
- the sauerkraut began inside a large enameled, cast iron pan with a small minced onion from a friend’s garden upstate and most of one Honey Crisp apple from Troncillito Farm, chopped, sautéed in a bit of rendered lard (labelled ‘Morrell Snow Cap Manteca’, from Eataly) until golden, then one-pound of Cortland Valley sauerkraut from Whole Foods, which had been rinsed twice, was stirred in, mixed with the fat, covered and braised over very low heat for ten minutes, about a cup of good low-sodium organic beef stock stock added to the pot, 8 crushed dried juniper berries added, the cover replaced and the mix very slowly simmered for about an hour, or until the sauerkraut is soft, but not overcooked, during the last 20 minutes or so, a small raw potato shaved over the top and stirred in to thicken the liquid, and the ham steaks added shortly after that and allowed to become warm [Note: the sauerkraut will taste even better if prepared the day before and stored in the refrigerator overnight]
- Red Norland new potatoes from Berried Treasures boiled in salted water, drained and dried in the still-warm glass pot, rolled in a little butter, and sprinkled with summer savory from Keith’s Farm
- two small Kirby cucumbers from Stokes Farm, sliced thinly, sprinkled in a bowl with salt and ground white pepper, covered with a mixture of half unfiltered organic white vinegar and half water, seasoned with a little Turbinado sugar, tossed with one small, thinly-sliced ‘red tropea’ Calabrian turbo shallot from Paffenroth Gardens, plus a combination of dill flowers from Ryder Farm and parsley from Keith’s Farm, both chopped, then allowed to sit for a while in the refrigerator before serving
- the wine was a German (Mosel) white, Loosen Bros. Riesling ‘Dr. L’ 2011
- the music included Poul Ruders, ‘Cembal d’Amour, First Book’
I had picked up a single large flounder fillet at the Greenmarket around midday on Saturday, and then put it safely in the refrigerator, but by the time we finally left a reception at some friends’ home, it was around 10 at night, so the clock was definitely ticking when I arrived home: I had to come up with a treatment – and for a vegetable to accompany it – which could get us to bed at a reasonable hour (well, reasonable for us).
Preparing the flounder much as I usually do could have saved a few minutes, but I really wanted to move into new territory, so I tried something I hadn’t done before, ending up losing little or no time in the process. The recipe I turned to, but altered in practice, was by David Tanis, as printed in the New York Times.
Of the vegetables I had on hand, I decided that the fastest to prepare, and one which would also work well with the fish, was the rather special pole beans I had also picked up today.
- one large 17 ounce flounder fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, divided into four pieces, to serve two (if you know the asymmetrical shape of a flounder fillet, you’ll know why I did that), seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides, coated lightly with flour (I used North Country Farms Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour), submerged in a shallow bowl containing a whipped mixture of 1/3 cup of milk, one large egg from Millport Dairy, and a pinch of salt; when a mixture of olive oil and butter in a shallow skillet began to look wavy, fried until golden, about two minutes for each side, removed, blotted on paper towels, transferred onto two warm plates; any oil remaining poured off, the skillet returned to heat, now lower, three tablespoons of butter melted, followed by one small, very fresh leek from Ryder Farm, chopped thinly, salt, and pepper, which were allowed to cook together without browning (for about one minute), more than a tablespoon of lemon juice added, and the sauce stirred, then about a tablespoon of chopped dill flowers from Ryder Farms added, the sauce poured over the warm plated fillets, served with pieces of lemon (wedges would be far more convenient than the slices pictured here); note: Once at the table, and after I had photographed the plate, I sprinkled chopped parsley from Keith’s Farm over the top of the flounder, since the dill was surprisingly subtle in effect by itself
- ‘Maxibel’ green beans from Norwich Meadows Farm, blanched, drained and dried, reheated in oil, finished with salt, pepper, and lovage from Keith’s Farm
- the wine was a California white, Scott McLeod Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2014
- the music included symphonies by Franz Anton Hoffmeister and Franz Josef Haydn, and it included Haydn’s exquisite homage (whether conscious or unconscious) to the age in which his art flourished, his Symphony No. 22, ‘Der Philosoph‘, here, the entire adagio can be heard, performed by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Marc Minkowski conductor
The swordfish was on sale. I love swordfish. I love herbs. I always have a number of fresh ones on hand. I like trying out different treatments. I sometimes make the wrong call. Now I know that fresh fennel seed just doesn’t have oregano’s ooomph.
But it was still all good.
- a one pound swordfish steak, more than an inch thick, from Blue Moon Fish Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, cut into two pieces, marinated briefly in a mixture of olive oil and fresh fennel seed from Lani’s Farm, then drained well and covered with a coating of dried homemade bread crumbs, fried in a hot cast iron pan for about 4-5 minutes on each side, removed, salted, sprinkled with a little lemon juice, and drizzled with olive oil before serving
- three heirloom tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, sliced in half, placed face-down on a plate scattered with salt and freshly ground pepper, pan-grilled above a medium-hot flame, removed, drizzled with olive oil
- kirby cucumbers from Stokes Farm, washed, halved lengthwise, then sliced into one-centimeter sections [hey, my inspiration was Jamie Oliver, and the British, like the rest of the world speak metric], mixed in a bowl with pitted Gaeta olives from Buon Italia in Chelsea Market, one very small young leek from Ryder Farm, sliced into very small sections, a bit of balsamic vinegar, some olive oil and lemon juice, a pinch of freshly-ground black pepper, and most of a fresh red Italian ‘roaster pepper’, chopped, from Oak Grove Plantation (for color and some fine-tuning), finished with torn leaves of peppermint from Phillips Farm
- the wine was an Italian (Sicily) white, from Manley’s Wine & Spirits, L’Isola dei Profumi Catattatto – Grecanico 2014
- the music was several pieces by Johanna Magdalena Beyer
This dish incorporates virtually every food group, except wine, and it’s potentially infinitely variable.
Among those variations, to improve the chances for getting the eggs cooked just right, I’d suggest using ceramic dishes, or a single one, with a larger diameter than the six inches I had available.
- inside each of two lightly-oiled cazuelas, a small amount of Fage Greek plain yoghurt (because I had no cream on hand), followed by layers of Applegate Naturals prosciutto from Whole Foods, slices of heirloom tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, torn leaves of arugula from John D. Madura Farm, three eggs cracked open on the top, from Millport Dairy, and including along the way part of a crushed peperoncino, salt, freshly-ground black pepper, the dishes placed inside a 375º oven for about 20-25 minutes until the whites were almost opaque and the yolks (ideally) still runny, since the dish will continue to cook after leaving the oven, then allowed to cool a bit in order to better appreciate the combined flavors
- slices of Trucio Sare, from Sullivan Street Bakery
- the wine was a California (Mendocino) red, Derek Rohlffs 99 Barrels Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2013
- the music was ‘Silent City‘, an album by the New York-based string quartet, Brooklyn Rider and Iranian Musician Kayhan Kalhor