Author: james

monkfish with caper butter; miche; chinese broccoli, chili

I’ve worked with this recipe twice before. It’s turned out differently each time, but each time it was terrific.

I think this one may be the closest to the original concept, and I did have fun with it. To begin with, I actually cut the monkfish into medallions this time, and I floured and cooked them on one side only, as instructed, probably for just a minute and a half in the pan, working fast to see that 17 pieces got in and then out within that narrow window, at which time they were just slightly underdone, like scallops, which makes great sense for this fish.

And I managed to restrain myself from the urge to toss in some flowers at the end.

Now it really was a first visit with gai lan, the vegetable we enjoyed with it. This Chinese broccoli is really, really delicious and I’m sure we’ll all be seeing more of each other, even through the winter (the farmer has high tunnels).

  • the dish is called ‘monkfish with caper butter’, and I stayed pretty close to this great Florence Fabrikant recipe, starting off with 2 monkfish tails (17 ounces total) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, which I sliced roughly into 1/4″ medallions, continuing with local Union Square Greenmarket-purchased whole wheat flour from The Blew family of Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstown, N.J. seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and ground mustard seed; Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’; a portion of a Camelot shallot from Quarton Farm; Sicilian salted capers, thoroughly rinsed; the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market; and chopped tarragon leaves from Stokes Farm
  • slices of a She Wolf Bakery miche, to savor the juices of the fish and the greens

lamb chops, toasted mustard/fennel seed; fingerlings; kale

Nothing new here, since every one of its parts has appeared here several times before, but they were all really at their best on Sunday night.

I can say that I’m getting good at putting these things together in a surprisingly short time: This one took just under an hour.

lemon/onion/sorrel-baked flounder; potato, micro wasabi

This meal could have represented the category, “seafood with less assertive flavors” that I wrote about at the beginning of the previous post., except that I managed to make flounder pretty assertive this time: Baked lemons and onions made it easy.

I was looking for a new suggestion for preparing flounder, and then Martha Stewart showed up. I had lemons, and I also had onions (although I soon realized not enough of one kind, so I assembled a mélange. I had also picked up some sorrel that afternoon, and I hoped to add it to the recipe, which I altered slightly in the process.

Much of the fun of cooking is visual, especially when there are colors involved; sometimes I get to share what things look like in process.

  • one and a half Whole Foods Market organic lemons, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds and 11 ounces of 5 different kinds of onions, from various Greenmarket farmers, very thinly sliced arranged in an enameled cast iron baking dish, dotted with 2 or 3 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ before two thirds of a cup of a white Grave and a quarter cup of fresh water was poured over the top [I might try slightly less liquid the next time], sprinkled with crushed thyme leaves from Willow Wisp Farm, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, baked in a 400º oven until the onions were soft and translucent (and a light pink in this instance, since some of the onions I used were red), for about 40  minutes, removed, six 3-ounce flounder fillets (17 ounces) from P.E. & D. D. Seafood Company arranged on the onion and lemon, seasoned with salt and pepper, some chopped sorrel from Lani’s Farm sprinkled on top, the fish basted with a brush dipped into the cooking liquids in the pan, placed in the oven and baked until the flounder was opaque and cooked through, or about 14 minutes, the fillets served on 2 plates with, or on top of the onion and lemon, scattered with a bit of fresh chopped sorrel, some stemmed pea sprouts placed to one side
  • under a pound of red potatoes from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, scrubbed and boiled unpeeled, then quartered, tossed with sweet butter, salt, and pepper, garnished with red micro wasabi mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was a Spanish (Catalonia) white, Celler Frisach, Garnacha Blanca ‘Terra Alta L’Abrunet’ 2017 from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was a recording of The Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Industry co-production of Lou Harrison’s 1971 opera, ‘Young Caesar’, his depiction of Caesar’s love for another man, the production directed by Yuval Sharon; every composer should get the opportunity to create a magnum opus as perfect as this one



1. the strong flavors seem like overkill — the elements with which I cooked the fish were pretty lusty, but the recipe worked; I wouldn’t do this often, but I cook a lot of seafood, and I don’t think it always has to be lonely

2. it looks like a lot of food — but there wasn’t actually that much: the fillets were very thin, so they covered a large area; also while the roasted lemons could be eaten, a little goes a long way

3. and that’s pretty busy plate — which might have easily been avoided, but it’s difficult to make the right aesthetic decisions in the few seconds you have when you’re doing the plating (for instance, I wanted to include the pea shoots for the freshness they would lend to a dish weighted with more serious flavors, but even in the position I ended up choosing they made the plate look cluttered), with hindsight I can say I should have held back for a second serving some of what can be seen in the photograph


garlic/paprika-roasted mackerel, vinaigrette, potato; kale

I love the fact that Mackerel seems to show up at our several fishmongers’ stalls exactly at the moment I’m thinking I should serve something different than seafood with less assertive flavors. This time that moment was this past Friday.

The plexiglas cover above the square bucket holding these Beautiful iced fillets was inscribed in wax crayon with the words, “Atlantic mackerel”, which is a species similar to Spanish mackerel, available here at other times.  The two are slightly different, but according to Wikipedia, most of what distinguishes them is apparent (and then barely so) only in the spots and coloring of the skin.

Paul, from whom I purchased these beauties on Friday, told me he prefers to call them Atlantic mackerel because, “Why give Boston the credit?”. He’s right of course, because they have been called Boston mackerel only because it was mostly from wholesalers in Boston that markets in other cities obtained these fish, which are actually not found anywhere near Boston, but only in shallow waters off lower Cape Cod and as far south as Florida.

Regardless of the nomenclature, which is always confounding when dealing with fish, unless you stick to Latin, all mackerel make great eating.

This time I followed a Gordon Ramsey recipe that I’d used only once before. It was as delicious as it had been the first time.

Also, and this is a big deal for us, since I tend to start making dinner very late in the evening: The entire meal was prepared in just under 60 minutes.

Here, their flesh sides rubbed with the garlic and paprika paste, the mackerel are placed with that side down on top of a lightly-oiled sheet of parchment inside a large unglazed ceramic oven pan, and, with their skin sides seasoned with sea salt, are about to go into the oven.

The potatoes (‘red potatoes’) were almost generic, but a sweet and delicious foil for the mackerel. Also, their skins did add little bits of color to the plate

  • I halved Gordon Ramsey’s recipe, and among the ingredients I used, mostly following its directions, were 8 Atlantic mackerel fillet (a total of 17 ounces) from Paul Mendelsohn  at the Pura Vida Seafood stand in the Union Square Greenmarket, rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, 3 large red potatoes (one pound) from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, a teaspoon of Pimentón de la Vera pikant, 2 scallions from Stokes Farm

olive/sage/habanada-roasted tautog; potatoes; claytonia

It’s a great fish, I always associate it with Rhode Island, which make it even greater, and the Melissa Clark recipe I often use is just about the greatest.

So there.

  • two 9-ounce tautog/blackfish fillets from American Seafood Company prepared using this recipe by Melissa Clark, as a model, laying the fish skinned side down and kept there without turning, and then, to be specific about the other ingredients I used, the fresh sage was from Phillips Farm; the olives were Gaeta, from Buon Italia, and the lemon juice was squeezed from a Whole Foods Market organic fruit, and I was able to use the elusive ‘Aleppo Syrian red pepper’ specified [I found some from Morton & Bassett at the Westside Market], and I added one fresh habanada pepper from from Norwich Meadows Farm
  • two different varieties of small potatoes, pinto from Norwich Meadows Farm and satina from Keith’s Farm, scrubbed, boiled with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the large still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex blue-glass Flameware pot in which they had cooked, tossed with some good Portuguese olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and 3 garlic scapes from Berried Treasures Farm, cut into short sections, that had first been softened in a little warm olive oil, that had been softened by heating them in olive oil inside a much smaller Flameware glass pan, garnished with red micro radish from Norwich Meadows Farm


[the last image, a portrait of Rossini by, I believe, an unknown artist, painted at about the time he composed ‘Semiramide’, is from BolognaWelcome]