Surf and surf.
There wasn’t enough sea bass left in the bucket at the market, so, beating Paul to the punch this time (he usually asks, “anything else?” even when I’ve already selected 2 full portions of something, I added a bit of shellfish that had also been harvested from our local waters.
It’s now been 3 weeks since I prepared this meal, and I don’t remember whether I had found the recipe that I ended up (mostly) using while I was still at the fish stand deciding on whether to buy the mussels, or that evening, when I was ready to prepare the meal. My memory of the details of the cooking are also necessarily a little sketchy, but I can describe the origin of most of the ingredients:
- two 5-ounce portions of local sea bass fillet from Pura Vida Seafood; eight ounces of local mushrooms, also from Pura Vida Seafood; fresh thyme from West Side Market (Uncle Vinny’s brand). two medium orange local heirloom tomatoes that I’d ripened on the windowsill, from Eckerton Hill Farm; a stalk from the greens of a celery root from Norwich Meadows Farms substituting for fennel; equal parts Millport Dairy Farm yogurt and a local Organic Farms whole milk substituting for double cream; a bit of wild cress from Lani’s Farm substituting for the samphire or sea beans; micro celery from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- tardivo from Willow Wisp Farm, 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 [this beautiful chicory can be served warm or room temperature after cooking]
- the wine was a Portuguese (Vinho Verde/Monção and Melgaço) white, Quinta do Regueiro, Regueiro Alvarinho Reserva 2018, from Flatiron Wines
- the music was Berlioz’s ‘La Damnation de Faust’, John Nelson conduting the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, with singers including singers Michael Spyres, Joyce DiDonato and Nicolas Courjal
It was New Years Eve, so in our tradition there would be a delicate meal which included seafood in some form, and/or maybe an equally light pasta. This year it was both, with some excellent local bresaola substituting for the more common first course of oysters.
- Some wonderful bresaola (2.5 ounces) from Salumeria Biellese, a 95-year-old business whose store is still located 5 short blocks north of our apartment, although the factory is now in Hackensack, New Jersey, purchased from Eataly, which is 2 long blocks east of us, dressed with a little Greek olive oil, ‘Demi’, produced in Laconia, Velles, in the Peloponnese, purchased from John at the 23rd Street Greenmarket last summer, a bit of organic California lemon juice, and some cracked pepper, surrounding tiny plants of wild cress from Lani’s Farm, which were also drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice
- slices of a She Wolf Bakery baguette
The choice for dressing a pasta dish was made that same day, at the market, the market in this case being our local Eataly, since I hadn’t found anything special in the Union Square Greenmarket earlier (because of the holiday, Wednesday venders were there on Tuesday that week, as they had been the week before, when Christmas Day had also been a Wednesday).
The recipe I bounced off, ignoring the first section, which describes a bonito butter, was from Bon Appétit.
- the ingredients I used included 12 ounces of fresh tagliolini pasta (eggs, semolina flour, water) from Eataly; one small green (unripe) Marzano spicy pepper from Windfall Farms, seeds removed, finely chopped; 2 wide strips of lemon peel and a tablespoon of juice from an organic Whole Foods Market California lemon; 8 ounces of sweet Florida rock shrimp, peeled and deveined, from Eataly; a bit of Sicilian Hyblaean Mountains wild fennel seed; one Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farms, the green parts only and thinly sliced; and a garnish of bronze fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge
Chicken in our pot, to hail the eve of the eve of the new year.
Wonder of wonders, we were still able to include fresh local tomatoes in the celebration (and they were not to be the last).
- four fresh 6-ounce thighs of their Cornish Cross breed from Cascun Farms, purchased at Eataly Flatiron, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, browned well in two tablespoons or so of butter inside a medium size oval enameled high-sided cast iron pot, then covered with aluminum foil (it needn’t be a tight seal) and cooked over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature was 155-165 degrees, or until the juices ran clear when pricked with a fork, which turned out to be roughly 12 minutes, then transferred to a small oval platter, ideally warm, and covered with the foil again to keep warm while the sauce was completed, beginning with one shallot [from Norwich Meadows Farm and 2 small aji dulce seasoning peppers from Eckerton Hill Farm stirred into the pan and allowed to soften a little before about a third of a cup of good chicken stock was added, the heat raised to medium high, the liquid boiled and reduced quite a bit, or until it was the desired consistency of a sauce, when a generous amount of chopped winter savory from Stokes Farm was added and stirred in, the ‘gravy’ transferred to a glass sauce boat, from which some of it was poured over the chicken, which had been just been arranged onto warm plates
- ten or 12 twelve ounces of la Ratte potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, halved lengthwise, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch or two of crushed dried habanada pepper, arranged on a large well-seasoned unglazed ceramic Pampered Chef oven pan, roasted in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 400º, removed, arranged on the plates and garnished with chopped parsley from Phillips Farms
- two heirloom tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm halved through the middle, the cut sides sprinkled with salt, pepper, and chopped fresh marjoram leaves from Willow Wisp Farm, drizzled with a little olive oil, placed cut side up on a hot enameled grill pan which had been brushed with a little oil, grilled for 3 or 4 minutes, turned over and the cut side grilled for another minute, or a minute and a half, arranged on the plates and sprinkled with additional marjoram and a drop or two more of olive oil
- the wine was a California (Russian River) red, DRG Daryl Groom Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2018, from Naked Wines
- the music was more of the 2019 WKCR-FM Bachfestival, streaming
It was a beautiful Sunday dinner, pretty minimal for all of its luxuriousness.
The first course began with a delicious fresh spreadable local chèvre.
- chèvre from Lynnhaven Farm mixed with a little chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, drizzled with a bit of Greek olive oil, a terrific seasoning salt (the gift of a friend who had been given the recipe, whose ingredients included sea salt, 5 different seasoning peppers, plus dehydrated vanilla, lemon and lime, by a chef in Baden-Baden), and freshly ground black pepper, spread on toasts of slices from a Bread Alone San Francisco sourdough
- a spray on the side of what I was told by the guys at the Norwich Meadows Farm Union Square Greenmarket stand was “London kale” (I think I need some enlightenment here, since they were delicious, but I can’t find anything with that name on line) dressed, dressed with the Greek olive oil, plus some local P.E. & D.D. Seafood Long Island sea salt, pepper, and drops of Rioja vinegar
- a small cup of delicious Mama Lil’s Oregon peppers, on the side, the gift of a friend
The main course was both familiar and new. The recipe was very familiar, but the the breed of duck and its farm source were new, at least in my cooking history.
- two small (8-ounce Peking duck breasts from Quattro’s Game and Poultry Farm, the fatty, skin sides scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the breasts both rubbed, top and bottom with a mixture of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, left standing on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour, then pan-fried, fatty side down first, turning once, inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan over medium heat for a total of about 8 minutes, since they were small, or perhaps until an instant read thermometer (which I never use with duck breasts) shows 135º, draining the oil after the first few minutes (the fat, strained, can be used in cooking at another time, if desired), removed when medium rare, left to sit for several minutes, covered loosely with tin foil, before they were drizzled with a little juice from an organic California lemon and some house Portuguese olive oil, both from our Chelsea Whole Foods Market, garnished with micro ‘Hong Vit‘ Asian radish greens from Windfall Farms
- Brussels sprouts from Migliorelli Farm, washed, trimmed, dried, tossed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, this time also with several whole unpeeled Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, roasted in a 425º oven in a large unglazed Pampered Chef oven pan until they were browned and crisp on the outside, or for a total of aabout 15 minutes
- the wine was a French (Bordeaux/Saint Emilion) red, from a maker described on the web site of our favorite so-much-more-than-just-a-distributor as “a Saint Emilion Garagiste”, Jonathan Maltus Garagiste Bordeaux Supérieur 2017, from Naked Wines
- he music throughout the meal continued as the 2019 WKCR-FM Bachfestival, streaming
It was the day after a feast. It may have still been some people’s holiday, but we went easy on December 26.
There was a beautiful first course of an excellent salume.
- slices of copa DOC Piacentini from Flatiron Eataly drizzled with Greek olive oil, ‘Demi’, produced in Laconia, Velles, in the Peloponnese, and bought from John, a member of the family that produced it, at the 23rd Street Greenmarket last summer
- slices from one of She Wolf Bakery’s wonderful baguettes
The main course was a fairly simple pasta dish, but it too scored in both color and taste departments.
- two rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm heated in a little olive oil inside a large antique heavy copper pot until beginning to soften, followed by one thinly sliced small, rather hot yellow Marzano seasoning pepper from Windfall Farms, and after it, a bit of Redbor kale from Oak Grove Plantation stirred in, sautéed until it was partly wilted, 12 ounces of Eataly’s fresh creste di gallo pasta (durum flour, eggs) that had been allowed to boil only until the moment when it was not fully cooked, tossed in, along with some of the pasta water, the mix stirred over high heat until the liquid had emulsified, then arranged inside 2 shallow bowls and scattered with some scissored Brooklyn chives from West Side Market (Square Roots, “hand-harvested in Brooklyn”), a little more olive oil drizzled around the edges