eggs and, ..watercress, no toast; the music of André Caplet

Joyeuses Pâques!

It was easter morning, and our first music of the day was French.

I would be serving a roast later, so I skipped the bacon part of our bacon and eggs, substituting some juicy lightly dressed red cress from Dave Harris’s Max Creek Hatchery.

The eggs themselves, from Millport Dairy Farm, enjoyed a scattering of red-vein sorrel from Norwich Meadows Farm, and the ‘un-toast’ was slices of an organic multigrain baguette from Bread Alone.

It looks like I used a bit of Aleppo pepper on the eggs, but also a more conventional ground black pepper, which should probably be regarded as heresy.



April 12

penne rigate, spring onion, chili, red-vein sorrel, parmesan

I’m not sure I remember all of the details, but this excellent Setaro Penne Rigate from Buon Italia took very well to the minimal addition of a bit of spring garlic from Lani’s Farm, some crushed dried Calabresi peperoncino secchia, also from Buon Italia, a small handful of red-vein sorrel from Norwich Meadows Farm, and some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano Vacche Rosse, again from Buon Italia



April 11

sea bass, mushrooms, aji dulce, basil sprouts; potato, chive

This entrée was very familiar, but also very special, the latter because of one ingredient, a garnish that didn’t want to be just pretty. It was also Good Friday, which still retains some specialness for this cultural Catholic atheist.

  • two 8-ounce Black Sea Bass fillets from American Seafood Company, washed, dried, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, sautéed for 2 to 3 minutes over a fairly brisk flame with butter and a little olive oil inside a large, vintage thick-copper oval long-handled pan, skin side down, then turned over and the other side cooked for about the same length of time, removed when done and arranged on 2 warm plates (I had them inside the oven, set to its lowest temperature, but if left outside an oven they should at least be covered a little to retain their warmth); then, with 2 tablespoons of butter added to the pan, 7 ounces of beautiful blue oyster mushrooms from Ramble Creek Farm stall in the Union Square Greenmarket, split or cut, sautéed, stirring, until lightly cooked, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a pinch of a dried aji dulce pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, followed by the addition of a handful of remarkable basil sprouts from Windfall Farms  (noting that they had been washed in the same water as the farmers’ spring garlic back at the farm, and that I could tell) and a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, the mushrooms stirred a little more, everything in the pan then spooned onto the plates to the side of the fish (the skin of the bass is too beautiful to cover up)
  • boiled French fingering (Rosevale) potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, rolled in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with scissored chives from Lani’s Farm
  • the Good Friday wine was a French (Loire/Touraine/Cheverny) white, Cheverny Blanc, Domaine de Montcy 2016, from Astor Wines

Sometimes the best dessert is a simple mandarin orange, in this case from a bag delivered by Garden of Eden Market earlier that week.

  • the music was a very special performance [“The purpose of this recording was to recreate the context of a passion performance during Bach’s time at Leipzig.”] of Director John Butt’s Bach John Passion by the Dunedin Consort 



April 10

reverse seared steak, rosemary, red amaranth; red chard

Yeah, it’s just a steak but, wow, what a steak!

My favorite beef purveyor didn’t have my favorite culotte/picanya cut the other day.  After a short consultation at their Union Square Greenmarket stand with their guy Mike, I opted for a pair of very well marbled strip steaks (‘New York’ wasn’t anywhere in their description, but I was buying them in New York CIty, and the beef had been raised in New York State, so what’s in a name?).

I cooked them as I would have cooked culotte steaks, which is to say, using a reverse sear process, the only way I’ve become interested in cooking any steak, if it’s of a decent thickness, starting some time last fall.

  • a beautifully marbled one pound 100% grass fed, dry-aged black angus strip steak from Sun Fed Beef (Earlville, Chenango County, NY) in the Union Square Greenmarket, brought to room temperature, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, placed on a rack inside a heavy oval enameled cast iron pan in a 275º oven probably for somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes (I lost track of the timing), or until medium rare, checking after a half hour with an instant thermometer until it read 90º to 95º, for medium-rare (it will finish cooking in the skillet and continue to increase in temperature, removed, and if the accompanying vegetables are not yet ready, perfectly safe if allowed to wait on a warm plate, covered with tin foil (for, say, up to about 45 minutes), the steak[s] then placed over high heat on the surface of a very well seasoned small antique cast iron pan that had been coated with a very small amount of cooking oil, one with a higher smoke point than olive oil, alternatively a bit of ghee, or a combination of butter and olive oil (I used Mac Nut macademia nut oil from Whole Foods Market by itself), and, remembering that the steak was already fully cooked, and so only needed to be inside the pan long enough to acquire some color, seared briefly (a minute and a half or 2 minutes on each side), removed from the heat, allowed to rest for up to 10 minutes on 2 warm plates, covered loosely with foil, some lemon juice squeezed on top, sprinkled with chopped rosemary from Phillips Farms, drizzled with a Whole Foods Market Portuguese house olive oil, garnished with red amaranth from Windfall Farms
  • one bunch of washed, drained, and roughly chopped rainbow chard from Lani’s Farm, wilted in a couple tablespoons ofWhole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil in which 2 halved garlic cloves from Westside Market had first been heated and slightly softened, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, and finished with a little lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was a South Africa (Western Cape) red, Farrington Shiraz-Viognier Reserve 2016, from Bottlerocket Wines
  • the music was Schubert’s 1823 three-act German opera with spoken dialogue, to a libretto by Joseph Kupelwieser, ‘Fierrabras’, performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Arnold Schoenberg Chor conducted by Claudio Abbado



April 5

vertical bacon & eggs + toast/tomato/leek/aleppo/chives

Sunday, April 5, early afternoon.

Okay, it wasn’t Eggs Benedict, but it was foolproof, even first thing in the morning, fun to assemble, and delicious. It was also efficient in its use of both kitchen materials and ingredients, in the way Ellen Swallow Richards, 19th-century chemist and the founder of Home Economics, might approve.

  • The layers began, from bottom to top, with thick toasted slices of a loaf of Lost Bread Company’s very sturdy  ‘Seedy Grains’ (wheat, spelt, rye, and barley organic bread flours; buckwheat; oats; flax sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds; water, and salt); pieces of thick Millport Dairy Farm pastured pigs bacon, fried lightly (removed while still juicy); slices of ripe Italian heirloom  tomatoes from Shushan Hydroponic, with a bit of sliced Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm; jumbo eggs from free-range chickens, also from Millport Farm, the eggs seasoned with local sea salt and Aleppo pepper then dusted with chopped dill and scissored chives, both from Lani’s Farm [everything was prepared inside the same large enameled iron pan, which explains why the whites were colored a bit (the eggs had been preceded by the sliced tomatoes, which had been cooked until they had begun to brown on the edges]