monkfish inguazato; roasted romanesco with habanada

Say it fast: ‘coda di rospo inguazato con broccoli romanesco‘.

We had returned from  a month in Berlin only 4 days earlier, where ‘monkfish’ is called Seeteufel [‘sea devil’], a response to its appearance when hauled from the sea. I’ve been enjoying using German names to describe food normally not specific to German cookery, but I wasn’t tempted this time, especially if I was also going to include the name of the vegetable that accompanied this wonderful dish.

And while both the German and the Italian names (the latter translates as ‘tail of a toad’) describe the fish itself better than the English, ‘monkfish’, none of them comes close to describing the taste of its flesh, its’ tail’, which is so much more pleasant than its scary mug.

  • two 9-ounce monkfish tails from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, prepared using a David Pasternak recipe which includes M’hamsa Couscous from Tunisia (purchased at Whole Foods), olive oil, sliced garlic John D. Madura Farm, two 400-gram cans of really superb Mutti baby Roma tomatoes from Eataly (which are also available at Whole Foods), and cracked Sicilian green olives from Whole Foods, and 2 whole dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia

breakfast, more German than usual, on a Berlin schedule

It was our first weekend back in New York. Berlin was still in our heads and our hearts, so while our regular Sunday home routine meant bacon, eggs, and toasted bread, this time it was Spiegeleier, geräucherter Speck, und frisches Multikorn-Brot.

But in a nod to our very local, New York tradition, there were also Habanada peppers, micro greens, and some herbs, although all but those peppers are now a part of German cookery as well.

We ate breakfast very late, at about 3, which would have put us on schedule for a German supper (going to have to work on that part)

  • the bacon was from Flying Pigs Farm the eggs from from Tamarack Hollow Farm, the luscious ‘8 Grain 3 Seed’ bread from Rock Hill Bakery, the purple micro radish from Windfall Farms, the fresh Habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm, the fresh thyme from S. & S.O. Farm, and the dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia
  • the music was Antoine Busnois, ‘Missa O Crux Lignum’, performed by the Orlando Consort

roasted striped bass; micro radish; pole beans, habanada

It was the first meal that I had actually cooked in over a month. Because of a little sleep deprivation and the inevitable jet lag which followed on our two flights from Berlin (a total of 12 hours), I didn’t want to be too ambitious, but I did want it to be a proper welcome back.

Also, it was my first visit to the Union Square Greenmarket since early October, and it was a Saturday, even under normal circumstances the most bountiful market day of the week. It was mid-November, but the stalls were overflowing with vegetables and virtually every other fresh summer or fall comestible: I felt like a kid in a candy store!

I had never seen such a variety of seafood available at one Union Square fish stand! Eventually I realized that much of the explanation lay in the fact that I’m never there as early as I was yesterday morning (I lay that entirely on the 6-hour time change  in my sleeping schedule).

I bought a single one-pound section of a striped bass fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, and since I was restocking  the larder after a hiatus in the kitchen, a lot of other things, including these yellow broad pole beans from Norwich Meadows Farm.

grilled scallops, habanada, tomato, lemon, tarragon; rapini

I’m back, even though yesterday I had just said I didn’t have time to do these posts this week. You can ignore this one if you wish (although that probably wouldn’t be a good idea). I’m really only publishing it so that I can remember to do this preparation again.

It was really, really good. I’m calling it for the habanada peppers.

  • eighteen medium scallops from the American Seafood Company stand in Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street, washed, drained and very thoroughly dried on paper towels, generously seasoned with salt and pepper, pan grilled for about 90 seconds on each side, finished with a squeeze of organic Trader Joe’s lemon, arranged on the plates with a scattering of horizontally-sliced fresh habanada peppers from Norwich Meadows Farm and 8 halved sun gold tomatoes from Berried Treasures Farm that had been softened, in succession, in a little olive oil inside a small Pyrex pan, finished with a sprinkling of chopped tarragon from Willow Wisp Farm and drizzled with some more olive oil

pasta, alliums, lemon, chilis, habanada, smoked monkfish

Made in heaven, when we weren’t even paying that much attention.

This simple looking dish of pasta far exceeded both of our expectations.

I haven’t been posting on this blog lately, because we’ve been very busy trying to get the apartment ready for friends who will be staying here while we are in their Berlin apartment. I’m making an exception for last night’s meal, because it was extraordinarily good (the flavors amazingly balanced), because it was pretty much an accident (I mostly trying to just put together something for dinner using fresh supplies that were otherwise going to be wasted), and because it was very much a collaboration with Barry (there was a real conversation throughout its development).

If you have access to the ingredients, and if you can take a few minutes to reproduce what we did, you will probably never forget this meal. If it helps, I can’t imagine why almost any smoked fish wouldn’t work just as well as the monkfish that I happened to have in the refrigerator.

  • part of one medium-size leek from Hawthorne Valley Farm, thinly-sliced, and a small sliced shallot from Trader Joe’s Market sautéedin 4 ounces of olive oil inside a large, high-sided tin-lined copper pan for 4 minutes, the juice from 2 small Trader Joe’s organic lemons added and the pan kept over heat for another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring, the flame then reduced to low and a pinch of sea salt, some very good red pepper flakes (remaining from the delivery of an excellent Waldy’s Wood Fired Pizza a few days earlier), plus 4 or 5 chopped fresh medium-size habanada peppers from Norwich Meadows Farm stirred into the sauce until both hot and sweet peppers had become pungent, 8 or 9 ounces of Afeltra Pasta di Gragnano Spaghetto from Eataly, cooked until barely al dente, added, along with – pouring very gradually while blending – almost a cup of reserved pasta water, continuing to stir until it had emulsified, one thinly-sliced 2-ounce piece of smoked monkfish from Blue Moon Fish added and tossed with the sauced spaghetto, the dish transferred to low serving bowls, drizzled with a little olive oil around the edge, sprinkled with lemon zest and more red pepper flakes, and garnished with homemade toasted breadcrumbs
  • the wine was a good Italian (Alto Adige) white wine, St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio 2015, from Philippe Liquors and Wine
  • the music was from the album, ‘Piano Music from the Weimar Republic’, featuring works by Hanns Eisler and Ernst Krenek, performed by Elizabeth Klein