Porgy sautéed with ramps, 4 herbs; red Russian kale, garlic

I continue to experience Porgy (sometimes called Sea Bream) as a great fish. Wow, sounds pompous (like the name, ‘Sea Bream’), but it’s very late at night as I sit leaning over the keyboard.

I’ve now used this basic recipe many times, always changing the lineup of ingredients. On Friday I took advantage of our local ramp season, then I tossed in most of the herbs sitting inside the refrigerator.

Because I had forgotten how long it had been heating, the butter started turning brown almost as soon as I had placed it in the pan. This was not part of the recipe, but, having caught it in time, I decided that I would make it so, at least for once. It was delicious, and the flavors definitely seemed more complex than usual.

There’s a shot of purple in the picture at the top. It was a last minute call, and arrived there because it was purple and I thought a bit of a third color was in order.

But there definitely was enough green, much of it from this very tender kale.

  • four porgy fillets (a total of 20 ounces, more than we usually share) from Pura Vida Fish Company, patted dry, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, placed inside a hot rectangular enameled cast iron pan in 2 1/2 tablespoons of already melted butter, and the white parts of half a dozen ramps, chopped thinly, sprinkled all over the top, sautéed, the alliums and butter occasionally brushed over the fish, for 2 or 3 minutes, the fillets then carefully flipped, the heat reduced to low and the pan covered in tin foil for another 2 minutes, at which time it was uncovered and a mix of chopped herbs (here parsley from Lani’s Farm, lovage from Windfall Farms, oregano and thyme from Stokes Farm, and some roughly chopped ramp leaves) added to it, with the basting continuing for another minute or so, the fillets arranged on 2 plates, garnished with the placement of a bit of micro red radish from Windfall Farms between each of the 2 fillets
  • one large bunch of tender red Russian kale from Windfall Farms, washed, drained, wilted inside a large enameled cast iron pot in a tablespoon or so of olive oil in which 2 bruised and halved Christopher Garlic Ranch garlic from Eataly had first been allowed to sweat and begin to color, the greens seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and arranged on the plates and a little more olive oil drizzled on top
  • the wine was an Italian (Tuscany) white, Fattoria Sardi Vermentino 2015, from Garnet Wines
  • the music was Handel’s 1738 opera, ‘Serse’, performed by William Christie directing Les Arts Florissants and the soloists Anne Sofie von Otter, Sandrine Piau, and Ferruccio Furlanetto

another German picnick, a very simple one

We decided to have a picnic [Ger. ‘Picknick‘], a very simple picnic, for several reasons: 1. It wasn’t a Union Square Greenmarket day, so it couldn’t be seafood; 2. It was going to be very warm in the evening and we didn’t want to challenge the air conditioner; 3. We had originally thought we’d be busy much of the evening, which meant there wouldn’t be a lot of time to cook a real meal.

  • there was a delicious ‘Pâté with Goose’ from Schaller & Weber, and a little German mustard [Semf] on the side, which really wasn’t needed at all; a ‘Strauß‘ of upland cress from Two Guys from Woodbridge, dressed with a good Campania olive oil (Lamparelli O.R.O.) and a squeeze of an orange-colored sweet local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, Maldon salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper; 4 halved Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, dressed with more good olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of chopped garlic mustard from Windfall Farms; 3 cheeses: a raw cow’s milk cheese, from Isny, in the south German Allgäu, ‘Adel Egger’; a ewe’s milk cheese, ‘Gutshöfer Ziegenkäse’, from Twenteland, a green region of in the eastern Netherlands closely bordering Germany’s Münsterland; and a Harvati, a semisoft Danish washed-curd cow’s milk cheese; all of them from Schaller & Weber; slices of Tribeca Oven ‘Seeded Jewish Rye’ from Whole Foods Market [there were second servings of pâte and cheese]
  • the wine was a German (Mosel) white, Weingut Axel Pauly Riesling Trinkfluss Trocken Mosel 2014, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s 1693 opera, ‘Médée’, with a libretto by Thomas Corneille, William Christie directing Les Arts Florissants

grilled tuna, fennel seeds, chilis; sautéed asparagus, ramps

Absolutely delicious. Everything came together perfectly; even the simple halved cherry tomatoes were stars tonight.

  • two 7-ounce tuna steaks from Blue Moon Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket (caught on Scott Rucky’s fishing vessel, ‘Dakota’), tops and bottoms rubbed with a mixture of a heaping tablespoon of wonderful dry Sicilian fennel seed from Buon Italia and a little crushed dried crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino, also from Buon Italia, the two having been ground together with mortar and pestle, the tuna surfaces also seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, before they were pan-grilled for only a little more than a minute or so on each side and finished with both a good squeeze of the juice of a local sweet orange-colored heirloom lemon from Fantastic Gardens of New Jersey, a bit of chopped oregano from Stokes Farm, and a drizzle of olive oil
  • four halved Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market heated, cut side down, inside a tin-lined copper skillet, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and chopped lovage from Windfall Farms
  • eleven thick asparagus spears from Stokes Farm, trimmed, their stems peeled, and an equal number of ramp bulbs from Berried Treasures Farm that had been separated from their green leaves, rolled together inside a large enameled cast-iron pan with a couple tablespoons of softened butter and about a tablespoon of olive oil, sautéed over medium high heat, rolling or turning them frequently, until they were all tender and some parts had begun to brown (about 10 or 12 minutes), at which time the reserved green ramp leaves, roughly chopped, were added to the pan and stirred until they had wilted, the dish finished with a sprinkling of Maldon salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper
  • the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) white, Pionero Mundi Albariño Rias Baixas 2015, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was chamber music of Vagn Holmboe, Per Norgard, and Carl Nielsen, performed by Anders Nordentoft and the ensemble Trio Ondine, from the Chandos album, ‘Passage: Piano Trios’

cacio e pepe, habanada, 2 foraged greens, tomato, cheese

I love the small challenge of building a meal around pasta, and it’s particularly easy when I can start with a filled pasta from a good local source.

Regional specialties, new inventions, or just out-of-the-ordinary ones are always good.

roasted squid, oregano, chilis, lemon; nettles, ramps chilis

It’s a wonderful recipe, and it lends itself to some subtle variations(and maybe some less than subtle, but I haven’t gone there yet). This time I included dried habanada peppers, as I had at least once in the past, but I finished it with a small fresh green I had only encountered once before, garlic mustard.

Stinging nettles, the accompaniment last night, aren’t new to me, but they are rare, and not just in my kitchen.

Both the garlic mustard and the nettles were foraged, which is pretty special when considering that they found their way into a meal prepared in a home kitchen in the center of a great metropolis.

  • a large rectangular enameled cast iron pan heated on top of the stove until quite hot, its cooking surface brushed with olive oil, and once the oil was also quite hot, one pound of rinsed and carefully dried squid from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, mostly bodies but a few tentacles, quickly arranged inside, immediately sprinkled with some super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, part of one dried Sicilian pepperoncino, also from Buon Italia, and an entire section of a home-dried heatless, orange Habanada pepper (the fresh peppers had been purchased from Norwich Meadows Farm last fall), some sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, followed by a drizzle of a few tablespoons of juice from a local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, and some olive oil, the pan placed inside a pre-heated 400º oven and roasted for only 5 minutes, then removed, the squid distributed onto 2 plates, ladled with a bit of their cooking juices, which had been transferred into a sauce pitcher, and scattered with a little roughly-chopped garlic mustard [Brit: ‘Jack-by-the-hedge’], both flowers and the smaller, more tender leaves, from Windfall Farms
  • half a dozen bulbs selected our of a bunch of ramps from Berried Treasures Farm, chopped, heated inside a large enameled cast iron pot along with a little Sicilian pepperoncino until they were fragrant and beginning to soften, then a bunch of stinging nettles from Norwich Meadows Farm, leaves stripped from their stems, added and sautéed over medium high heat, stirred almost continuously until the greens had withered, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground Tellicherry pepper, some roughly-chopped ramp leaves mixed into the nettles, and a tablespoon or so of the local sweet lemon juice described earlier added to the pot, the greens arranged on the plates and drizzled with olive oil
  • a few slices of ’12 Grain & Seed bread’ from Bread Alone, in the Union Square Greenmarket, were added to the table to ensure that none of the piquant squid juices would remain on the plates
  • the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) white, Pionero Mundi Albariño Rias Baixas 2015, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was Kimmo Hakola’s 1996 Piano Concerto, performed by soloist Henri Sigfridsson, the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Storgårds