chorizo; cucumber, shallot, dill; potato, basil; seared pepper

I had no idea what I was doing until I did it.

I started with the chorizo, picked out the cucumber, and then the potato, but because the cucumber was small and because I had no idea when I would use a potential third vegetable if it wasn’t in this dinner, 2 mild peppers were also tabbed, almost at the last moment.

The table welcomed a bit each of Spain, New York City (Yorkville and Chelsea), India, Vermont, Venezuela, Pennsylvania, New York’s Orange County, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, the Rhineland, and seventeenth-century France. The meal had no dominant ethnicity, but the plate looked pretty interesting, and it was all very tasty.

  • four links of ‘Spanish Style Chorizo’ from Schaller & Weber’s Yorkville store, pan-fried inside an oval enameled cast iron pan, served with an apricot mustard from Dixon Farm Stand in the Chelsea Market
  • one 6-ounce ‘Poona Kheera’ cucumber (a variety sometimes labelled, less accurately, as a ‘Sikkim cucumber’), from Norwich Meadows Farm, sliced unpeeled into rounds 2 cm thick, sautéed in a little olive oil inside a medium antique high-sided copper pot over a medium-high flame, lightly-sprinkled with salt each time (I should have allowed the pieces to begin carbonizing, but I was otherwise distracted), adding a few 2 cm-thick slices of a fresh bulbous shallot from Tamarack Hollow Farm and most of an aji dulce pepper (not hot) from Eckerton Hill Farm more than half way through, seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper, arranged on the plates, garnished with fresh dill buds from Willow Wisp Farm
  • small red skinned new potatoes from Willow Wisp Farm, boiled in well-salted water, drained, dried in the still-warm large vintage Pyrex glass pot, rolled in a little olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, tossed with basil buds from Windfall Farms and garnished with bronze micro fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • two Anaheim peppers from Oak Grove Plantation seared in a little olive oil inside a small vintage seasoned cast iron pan until they had blistered, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper
  • the wine was a German (Pfalz) red, Ein Liter Rhodt, Stefan Meyer 2015 (a blend of Portugieser, Saint Laurent and Dornfelder), from Astor Wines
  • they music was Lully’s 1686 tragédie en musique, ‘Armide’, Philippe Herreweghe directing the Collegium Vocale and La Chappel Royale

shishito; savory butter-baked pollock; tomatoes, basil buds

We’ve been big fans of pimientos de padron for more than a decade, later including Shishito peppers, their east Asian cousins, in the same category.

The excellent Pollock is a very different thing, and in its case our modest fan club only goes back about 18 months, but we’re as fond of it as we are of the peppers. Curiously, the American general public’s awareness of the beauties of our genus pollachius is today roughly at the same level as the peppers were to us, and, I would say, to many others, when we first tried them in 2007: Most people are something of a state of ignorance about Pollock, mostly because they never hear about it.

I decided that was a respectable excuse for including the two in the same meal.

  • a couple handful of Shishito peppers from Alewiife Farm, washed, drained, dried, then sautéed over medium high heat in a broad cast iron pan for a few minutes, stirring, then salted and served on plates, more, Maldon salt added
  • slices of a sesame baguette from Bread Alone Bakery (they’ve decided to put the sesame inside, apparently to reduce defections of the seeds)

The pollock showed up for the main course.

  • two 8-ounce white-fleshed pollock filets from American Seafood Company, rinsed, dried, halved, and seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, placed skin side down inside a buttered oval tin-lined copper gratin pan, spread with a mixture of softened unsalted Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ that had been mixed with zest from most of an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, a little chopped, almost mature Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, slices of a section of one young red onion (something like a red scallion) from Berried Treasures Farm, a bit of a finely-chopped aji dulce pepper (with a mild, smoky flavor, and sweet, not hot) from Eckerton Hill Farm, the fish baked for about 15-17 minutes at 350º, removed to 2 plates, the little bit of cooking juices that had accumulated poured over the top, and a teaspoon or so of Sicilian salted capers, which had first been rinsed, drained, dried and heated briefly inside a small antique enameled cast iron porringer in a bit of olive oil, scattered while still warm on top of the fillets, along with the oil in which they had been heated, the pollock finished with a garnish of what looks in the image like green fireworks ‘brocades’, but was actually only sprays of dill flower buds from Willow Wisp Farm

parslied/licorice-d cod; tomatoes, basil; potatoes, oregano

Licorice-d cod.

The only thing about this meal that was not familiar was one of the herbs that found its way into it, with some help from Lani’s Farm.

Blue licorice‘, is what the little sign read, but it wasn’t blue, and it didn’t look like anything I knew that was associated with one of my favorite flavors. I looked it up right there, while standing in front of its little bucket.

What I learned from a quick scan allowed me to imagine using it in preparing the cod filet I had bought moments before.

And that’s what I did, although I played it safe by including the more conventional parsley in the mix.

  • a very fresh cod fillet (19 ounces) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, divided into 4 portions, 2 larger, 2 smaller (cutting 2 portions of the same size would have been almost a geometric impossibiity, because of the shape of the filet), dredged lightly in a seasoned, coarse, stone-ground local flour, from the Blew family of Oak Grove Mills Mills, that I had purchased in the Union Square Greenmarket, then dipped into a mixture of one beaten Americauna chicken egg from Millport Dairy Farm into which a cup of a combination of chopped Italian parsley from Keith’s Farm and ‘blue licorice’ (agastache rugosa, aka Korean mint or Indian mint) from Lani’s Farm, before being placed in a mix of olive oil and butter (one tablespoon of each) over a medium-high flame, sautéed inside a heavy oval vintage copper pan, turning once, for a total of about 7 or 8 minutes, drizzled with juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon and garnished with bronze micro fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • two halved tomatoes (a large yellow heirloom from Eckerton Hill Farm and a smaller red one from Norwich Meadows Farm) seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-grilled, arranged on the plates, sprinkled with some torn leaves of Gotham Greens Rooftop basil from Whole Foods Market

mustard/fennel-coated lamb rack; grilled tomato; cicoria

We were anxious to find a good day for enjoying the second of the 2 racks of lamb I had gotten from Walter Adam‘s farm stall in the Union Square Greenmarket 3 months ago, although I hadn’t expected it would happen during a New York August. What made it possible was a new split-system AC that turned out to be fully up to the challenge of an oven set at almost 500º. I didn’t even work up a sweat; it was an impressive performance (referring to the unit).

At least the vegetables observed both the look and the warmth of the season (the colors were right, and only one of the 2 asked to borrow any heat at all).

  • one 18-ounce rack of baby lamb from Shannon Brook Farm, trimmed (removing the ‘bark’, or skin covering the fat; cutting off all excess fat; ‘Frenching’, conservatively, and cleaning the ribs of all meat and fat; removing the rubbery tendon that runs along the spine; cutting out the chine altogether), cut into two 4-rib sections, seasoned generously with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and the oven lit and set to 475º (reduced to 375º once the lamb was put into the oven), one tablespoon of olive oil heated inside a small heavy, enameled cast iron pan until hot but not smoking, the lamb placed inside to brown, the arced, bone side down first, followed by all the other surfaces in turn, for about one minute per side, removed and all sides but the ends rolled in a shallow bowl which held a mixture of one fourth of a cup of whole yellow mustard seeds [less than 2 tablespoons would actually be enough] and 2 teaspoons of Sicilian fennel seeds, both toasted together inside a large vintage seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until they had become fragrant, at which time they were immediately transferred to the bowl in which the lamb was to be rolled, in order to cool slightly, the meat now returned to the pan in which it had been seared, from which most of the fat had been poured out, transferred to the oven (now set at 375º), roasted until a thermometer inserted into the center of the lamb registered 135º, or medium-rare, or roughly 20 minutes [I left them in the oven a bit too long this time, although there was still some red when they were first set onto the cutting surface], removed from the oven and the pan, allowed to stand at least 10 minutes, each of the 2 sections cut into double chops, arranged on the plates and drizzled with Whole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil, finished with a garnish of micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • two ‘Opalka‘ plum, or paste tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm, halved, dried thoroughly, placed cut side down on a plate sprinkled with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-grilled and finished with a dab of olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar,
  • more puntarelle, or cicoria di catalogna, from the tied bundle I’d purchased from Tamarack Hollow Farm, prepared as they had been the first time, meaning thoroughly washed, the leaves separated and placed inside a large bowl of ice water where they were allowed to sit outside the refrigerator for about an hour, or a little more, drained and dried (using a kitchen towel), placed inside the now emptied and dried bowl, and some of the vinegar mixture that was prepared but not used a few days earlier poured over it, the greens seasoned very lightly with sea salt, and a tablespoon or so of olive oil added, along with freshly-ground black pepper, the salad mixed or tossed at the last minute and arranged on the plates
  • the wine was a California (El Dorado) red, Matt Parish Pilot Hill Gang El Dorado County Red Blend 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was Haydn’s ‘Die Jahreszeiten’ (The Seasons), Philippe Herreweghe conducting the Orchestre des Champs-Elysees and the Collegium Vocale Gent

a colorful breakfast (actually, it really was a lunch this time)

It was all good. It also wasn’t really breakfast time any more, by the time we enjoyed it, even in the terms of our own late-eating habits.

  • from Millport Dairy Farm there was thick bacon and Americauna chicken eggs (with thinly-sliced new shallot stems from Tamarack Hollow Farm, fresh oregano buds from Norwich Meadows Farm, and bronze micro fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge, home-dried habanada pepper and fresh oregano buds from Norwich Meadows Farm; there was also a mix of small tomatoes from Alewife Farm with sliced red scallions from Berried Treasures Farm and Gotham Greens Rooftop basil from Whole Foods, and, finally, lightly-toasted slices of 2 different breads (polenta boule and twelve Grain & Seed bread, both from Bread Alone
  • our Sunday music was the album, ‘In Paradisum, The Music of Victoria and Palestrina‘, performed by the Hilliard Ensemble