Jumbo shrimp: It’s an archetypal oxymoron, but no less delicious for being a classic. There were also a lot of them this time, a bounty which would have been unlikely on our table had Jean Claude Frajmund not been offering them at a very good price on Saturday (he was in a hurry to close his stall in the Union Square Greenmarket that afternoon).
Did I mention that they were also local? Eco Shrimp Garden has been bringing its harvests to the New York area since 2015. Their produce is extremely fresh excellent whole shrimp which begin as Pacific White Shrimp postlarvae which Frajmund sources from Texas and Hawaii. They’re then raised in Newburgh, New York, on the side (in fact, inside) of the Hudson River, in chemical-free saltwater tanks using sustainable practices.
[note: I had difficulty manipulating 2 huge pans on the limited area of the range top, so the okra ended up less charred, and therefore more al dente, than I would have preferred; I will have to remember to pick a more appropriate vegetable side the next time I have to use a 13.5″ pan for the star of the entrée]
- one teaspoon of chopped rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm heated inside a (13 1/2″) seasoned cast iron pan over a very low flame until the garlic had colored nicely, then one finely-chopped no-heat Habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farms added and pushed around with the garlic, followed by a pinch of Spanish saffron (DO La Mancha from Antonio Sotos), one dried chipotle pepper from Northshire Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket (unpunctured and left whole), and almost a heaping teaspoon of freshly-ground cumin seed added, all stirred for a minute or two, after which 19 ounces (13 by count) of Hudson Valley farmed shrimp from Eco Shrimp Garden were added (their shells all cut with a kitchen shears along their backs from head to tail, to ease shelling once they were served), seasoned with salt and pepper, the heat brought up a bit and the shrimp cooked until firm, turning twice, served on 2 plates with a generous squeeze of lemon, finished with a generous number of chopped stems of fennel blossoms from Lani’s Farm
- twelve ounces or so of small green okra, including a very few purple that were purple (but not the yellow string bean that strayed into the picture above), from Lani’s Farm, sautéed over a high flame inside a very large enameled cast iron pan in a little bit of olive oil and 2 dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, seasoned with sea salt
- the wine was a California (Lodi) white, F. Stephen Millier Angels Reserve Pinot Grigio Lodi 2017, from Naked Wines
- the music was the album, ‘Works For Violin by George Antheil, Johanna M. Beyer, Henry Cowell, Charles Dodge, Ruth Crawford, David Mahler, Larry Polansky, Stefan Wolpe’, performed by Miwako Abe, violin, and Michael Kieran Harvey, piano
We had to wait months for our second Indian breakfast at home, but it was every bit as good as we remembered it from the first time.
Our schedule was finally again to work with one of the infrequent appearances at the Saturday Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market of Nirmala Gupta’s Bombay Emerald Chutney Company, which meant that while I was off to the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday Barry could head up the next block to pick up some of her South Asian treasures.
- two delicious defrosted cauliflower and potato-filled roti from Bombay Emerald Chutney Company, heated over medium heat inside a large enameled cast iron pan, turning them several times
- served with 2 chutneys, a ‘Royal Coconut Chutney’ and a ‘Royal Pomegranate Chutney, from Bombay Emerald Chutney Company as well (the pomegranate had not made its appearance when the image above was captured)
- the vegetable side was a matter of topping the shared contents of one package of Tasty Bite Organic Basmati Rice from While Foods Market that had been heated in our tiny microwave [I’ve just revealed one of the secrets of our lunch habits: I almost never cook in the middle of the day], a slowly-cooked improvised mix of vegetables, herbs, and spices (Sicilian fennel seed and yellow mustard toasted in the bottom of an antique medium copper pot until they had become fragrant, a little Whole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil added and some chopped celery from Neversink Organic Farm, 2 chopped Japanese scallions from Norwich Meadows Farm, a small chopped rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm, half a dozen small okra from Lani’s Farm, a bit of a finely chopped medium spicy ahi rico pepper from Alewife Farm, one small sliced Italian frying peppers from Stokes Farm that had accidentally fallen into my bag on Saturday, and a pinch or so of a dry seasoning called L’ekama from Ron & Leetal Arazi’s New York Shuk, all finished, once the vegetables had been lightly cooked, with a large pinch of fenugreek from Bombay Emerald Chutney Company) and some more olive oil, then, once on the plates, topped with some scissored flowering dill from Stokes Farm
- the music was Handel’s 1749-1750 oratorial, ‘Theodora’, William Christie conducting Les Arts Florissants
Like the 2 vegetables, the piece of tuna loin was almost purple, but I think it would normally be described as a deep cherry red, the color, and the firmness, of raw beefsteak. Rob Williams, the fisherman from whom I had bought it that day said it was yellowfin. I’m no tuna authority, but it was so different in both appearance and taste from any tunny I have ever cooked (that number is probably something like a hundred), or eaten, that I’m inclined to think it was actually an Atlantic bluefin. The skin was also unusual, more like a light gray than the nearly black tone with which I’m familiar.
Because of the color of the flesh I was skeptical about its culinary virtues (I did say I was not an expert), so Rob cut a thin piece off of the side of the steak seen in the photo above and then handed it to me.
I tried it, savoring both the taste and the long, luxurious ‘finish’ for a couple minutes, and decided I really had to bring this treat to our table.
I was a little concerned about the area of really dark muscle, so I included all of it in my own portion, which I cut a bit larger to compensate. In the end however, I was surprised to find that it was little different from the rest of the flesh (or maybe even more tasty), so I kind of made out this time.
- one quite thick 17-ounce tuna steak from Seatuck Seafood Company’s stand in the Union Square Greenmarket, rinsed, dried, halved, tops and bottoms seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and rubbed with a mixture of a little more than a tablespoon of a combination of wonderful dry Sicilian fennel seed from Buon Italia and a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, all first crushed together in a porcelain mortar and pestle, the steaks pan-grilled above a medium-high flame on a small vintage Korean cast iron grill pan (for little more than a minute or so on each side), finished on the plates with a good squeeze of the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a drizzle of olive oil, garnished with flowering fennel from Lani’s Farm
Even without this very robust tuna, it would have been a very rich meal. The two vegetables I picked to accompany the tuna only just before starting the meal (the radicchio had thoughtfully survived our trip to Arkansas last week), boasted some pretty serious flavors as well.
They were also purple.
If I had taken the time to think about it, I would have tried to include more color on the plate: I even had some bright cherry tomatoes sitting right there on the breakfast room windowsill.
- five small Japanese eggplant from Betsy Ryder’s family ancestral (since 1795) Ryder Farm, each halved lengthwise, brushed all over with a mixture of a little olive oil, 2 finely-chopped medium size rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, a pinch of super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan above a brisk flame, turning twice, adding more of the material from the marinade the second time, then arranged on the plates, sprinkled with chopped winter savory from Keith’s Farm, and drizzled with a bit of olive oil
- the remains of one small head of treviso, including its stem, which was the length of the the leaf section attached above it, from Tamarack Hollow Farm in the union Square Greenmarket (the outer leaves had gradually been pulled off and used in earlier meals) halved lengthwise, the stem sliced through several times to speed its cooking evenly, marinated for half an hour in a mix of one medium finely-chopped Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic clove, a small bit of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-grilled, then finished on the plates with some of the reserved marinade
- the wine was a Portuguese (Douro) white, Crasto White 2016, from Garnet Wines
- the music was Sebastian Fagerlund’s opera, ‘Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata), inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1978 chamber drama Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata), John Storgårds conducting the Finnish National Opera Orchestra
On Monday we’re going to be leaving the state for 5 days, so I’ve been carefully addressing the current apartment food stocks, to avoid leaving anything in the refrigerator that wouldn’t survive well.
I worry about the success of meals working under those constrictions, but so far it seems that I needn’t have.
- one thick triangular 13 and a half-ounce swordfish steak from Pura Vida Seafood Company, halved horizontally (making them, separately somewhat thinner than would be my preference), marinated on an ironstone platter for more than half an hour, turning once, in a mixture of olive oil, a tablespoon of fresh oregano from Keith’s Farm, a small amount of finely-chopped small ahi rico peppers (medium spiciness) from Alewife Farm, and a chopped stem of a small scallion, also from Keith’s Farm, drained well, the steaks covered on both sides with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs then pan-grilled over medium-high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until just barely fully cooked all of the way through, removed from the pan and arranged on the plates, sprinkled with a little Maldon sea salt, and a bit of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon squeezed on top, garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- just under a pound of quite small ‘blue eyes potatoes’ from Berried Treasures Farm (I haven’t been able to find the potatoes on line), boiled with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the large still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with some good Portuguese olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, arranged on the plates, where they were garnished with flowering dill from Rise & Root Farm
- ten or more ounces of small pink and yellow cherry tomatoes, also from Berried Treasures Farm, punctured with a small fork to keep them from exploding when pierced on the plates, heated in a little olive oil inside a 10″ copper skillet, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, tossed with torn leaves of a Full Bloom Market Garden basil plant from Whole Foods, both before and after they were arranged on the plates
- the wine was an Italian (Sicily) white, Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Bianco 2017, from Garnet Wines
- the music was a magnificent piece, Henry Brant‘s huge ‘Autumn Hurricanes’, described as “A Spatial Cantata for Widely Separated Vocal and Instrumental Groups”, from the album, ‘Henry Brant Collection Vol. 5’
I thought this meal was pretty special all the way around.
There were certainly at least a couple exotic elements, but everything was quite local.
I had been really looking forward to preparing these very special chops. They turned out to be even more delicious than I had expected, which is saying a lot, after having very much enjoyed this pork in other forms.
I used the same basic recipe I almost always use, but this time I had something else new to me to try out, a part of a gorgeous locally foraged chicken of the woods [laetiporus sulphureus] mushroom, and I incorporated it in the lemon sauce which is always produced naturally by the chops.
The vegetable was a bit less exotic, but it too was local, and from a local greenmarket, that at Union Square. I didn’t catch their name, but they were very neat sweet potatoes. The choice, and the orange hue, anticipated colder autumn weather and the meals it inspires, but it didn’t add another color to the plate; for that I had to add some chopped parsley.
- two 8-ounce Mangalitsa pork chops from Møsefond Farm [more here], purchased at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market, located only one block west of us, defrosted inside the refrigerator overnight and brought to room temperature the next evening, thoroughly dried, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, seared quickly inside a heavy enameled cast-iron oval pan before half of an organic Whole Foods Market lemon was squeezed over the top and then left in the pan between the chops, placed inside a 425º oven for between 14 and 16 minutes altogether (flipped halfway through, the lemon squeezed over them once again and replaced in the pan), removed from the oven, arranged on warm plates and topped with a combination of the juices that remained in the pan and a sauce produced by sautéing small pieces torn from a larger section of a locally-foraged chicken of the woods mushroom (laetiporus sulphureus) from Windfall Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket only moments before inside a medium high-sided heavy antique copper pot in a mix of a little olive oil and a ¼”-diced piece of Buon Italia guanciale that had been browned in the oil, the fat of the bit of cured pork cheek having been slowly rendered in the oil, after which a few tablespoons of a good white wine and 4 small sprigs of fresh thyme from Keith’s Farm, tied together, were added to the sauce pot with the mushroom, the liquid reduced a little over a higher flame before the thyme was removed
- five sweet potatoes, or just under a pound, from Central Valley Farm, left unpeeled, but washed thoroughly, cut as for short french fries, tossed inside a bowl with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, two large unpeeled cloves of rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, and a pinch of crushed dark dried habanada pepper, roasted in a 425º oven in a treasured large well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan for about 35 minutes, or until crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and a little chewy on the edges, some Maldon salt thrown onto the pan after it was removed from the oven, the frites arranged on the plates and garnished with chopped parsley from Phillips Farms
- the wine was an excellent California (Sonoma) red, Jacqueline Bahue Sonoma Valley Cabernet Franc 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was at least our second listening of Antonio Vivaldi’s very silly, but absolutely beautiful 1731 opera, ‘La Fida Ninfa’