grilled scallops, sautéed oyster mushrooms; wilted kale

The scallops were delicious (unless you really mess up, it’s almost inconceivable that scallops could not be delicious), but the mushrooms were really, really good. I can’t account for that success; I’ll have to leave it as one of the mysteries of non-mechanized cooking. [update: I just realized that, in reading my account, the last time I prepared these mushrooms to accompany scallops I had apparently forgotten to season them while they were cooking which would certainly explain why last night’s were so much better]

  • ten sea scallops (12.5 ounces) from P.E. & D. D. Seafood, rinsed, dried thoroughly, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, briefly grilled (90 seconds on each side) on a medium size enameled cast iron pan, finished with a squeeze of juice from a Chelsea Whole Foods Market organic lemon and a drizzle of olive oil
  • a garnish of micro red radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge

  • two ‘heads’ of yellow oyster mushrooms (7 or 8 ounces altogether) from Blue Oyster Cultivation sautéed inside a large high-sided antique copper pot in a tablespoon of butter, or a little more, for about 4 minutes, one medium finely-chopped ‘camelot’ Dutch red shallot from Quarton Farm and one finely-chopped garlic clove from Foragers Market added, still over the flame, mixed with the mushrooms for 2 minutes, some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a bit of crushed dried habanada pepper stirred in before almost a quarter cup of a Lustau dry (fino) sherry from Philippe Wines was poured into the mix, which was allowed to simmer, again stirring, for another minute or two before about a teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme from Phillips Farms was tossed in and the pan removed rom the heat, a tablespoon, or a little more, of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’, divided into small pieces, added and stirred until it had melted into the mushrooms, which were then arranged on the plate next to the scallops

marinated grilled goat chops; chili-roasted fingerlings; rabe

It’s probably a dead giveaway of the really modest size of some of the farms whose produce we enjoy in our local farmers markets that I couldn’t assemble 4 goat chops of the same cut when I was shopping in Union Square recently. No problem however, as I welcomed the chance to show a little more depth than usual on each plate, and I went home with 2 rib chops and 2 loin chops.

I didn’t think much about it until sitting down to write this blog post: This may be a big city, but that doesn’t mean the farms surrounding it have to be.

I love the Union Square Greenmarket.

This is an image of the chops while they were still marinating and the potatoes just after they had been arranged in the oven pan.

  • four tiny goat chops, 2 rib cut and 2 loin cut, weighing only one pound altogether, from Lynnhaven Dairy Goat Farm, marinated for about 45 minutes in a mix of a couple tablespoons of olive oil, one sliced stem of green garlic from John D. Madura Farms, freshly-ground black pepper, 8 slightly-crushed juniper berries, some roughly-chopped rosemary from Stokes Farm, one medium crushed, now-dried-but-purchased-fresh, bay leaf from Westside Market, and a little zest from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, pan-grilled for a few minutes, turning 3 times, seasoned with sea salt and a little more pepper after the first turn, finished with a bit of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, garnished with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge [note to the cook: the goat was a little more rare than we prefer, so ignore the instant-read thermometer next time (I think these chops are too small and irregular to get a reliable reading), and use the more dependable finger test]

  • about a pound of small red fingerling potatoes from Tamarack Hollow Farm, halved then tossed with a little olive oil, salt, black pepper, a pinch of dried smoked Scotch Bonnet pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, 6 medium-size garlic cloves (unpeeled, to keep them from burning) from Keith’s Farm, roasted cut-side down inside a 400º oven on a large very well-seasoned Pampered Chef ceramic pan for less about 20 minutes, sprinkled with chopped parsley from Philipps Farms

 

bluefish ‘greek style’, basil; red mustards; crusty baguette

I don’t think I could say bluefish is my very favorite finned seafood, but it’s somewhere near the top, and, besides, it’s never boring.

Occasionally a special variant comes to the market and the love affair begins all over again. I’m talking about the catch of quite small fillets I found at the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday.

The fillets were beautiful, but the whole fish were a pretty spectacular sight (here nestling with a fluke).

I bought the fillets, because, well, they’re easier to cook, and also easier to deal with when they arrive on the plate. I also knew that I wouldn’t have looked forward to scaling them, but at $6 a pound, they certainly would have pleased anyone’s budget.

There was slightly too much fish to fit inside my heavy oval long-handled copper pan, so I drafted my new round 13″ pan into service.

It was April, so it wasn’t surprising the there was no fresh oregano anywhere in the kitchen. Even while I was still at the Greenmarket I was thinking about what to substitute, and then I spotted a table of beautiful tiny basil plants. One of them was particularly beautiful, since a purple variety of what I’m assuming is a lettuce had hitched a ride to the market.

  • six small (20 ounces, or 3 1/3-ounces each) bluefish fillets from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, rinsed, rubbed with olive oil and a little Columela Rioja 30 Year Reserva sherry vinegar, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, placed inside a vintage 13″ tin-lined low-sided copper pan, sprinkled liberally with a very pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia and a bit of crushed dried Espelette pepper (medium spiciness) from Alewife Farm, covered with thin slices of one small-to-medium red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, thin slices of 6 Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, plus 8 or 9 pitted Gaeta olives from Eataly and several thin slices of both a Whole Foods Market organic lemon and a small Persian lime raised by David Tifford of Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, the pan placed inside a 425º oven and baked for about 8 minutes (the fillets were quite small), the fillets arranged on the plates and garnished with basil leaves, roughly-torn by hand

oregano-roasted squid; boiled potatoes, chives; lacinato

I must have appeared flummoxed.

Warren said I should have the squid.

The fisherman was right. We love squid [58 results show up on this blog], it had been a while since I’d served it, it was definitely very fresh. preparing it as I do is a pretty low key operation, and it was delicious.

  • once the oven had been heated to 400º, just over a pound of very fresh squid, bodies and tentacles, from American Seafood Company, rinsed and very carefully dried, quickly arranged inside a large rectangular enameled cast iron pan that had been heated on top of the stove until hot and its the cooking surface brushed with olive oil once the oil itself had become quite hot, immediately sprinkled with a heaping teaspoon of super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, a good section of a peperoncino Calabresi secchia from Buon Italia, and a section of light-colored home-dried habanada pepper (purchased fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm last season), sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, followed by a full 3 tablespoons of juice from an organic Chelsea Whole Foods lemon and a splash of olive oil, the pan placed inside the hot oven and the squid roasted for just 5 minutes, by which time their bodies had ballooned somewhat, the squid removed and arranged on 2 plates and ladled with the cooking juices that had been transferred to a footed glass sauce boat
  • just under a pound of amazingly sweet Natasha potatoes from Phillips Farms, scrubbed, boiled unpeeled in generously-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried in the still-warm large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with a little Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and tossed with scissored fresh chives, also from Phillips Farms
  • one bouquet of cavolo nero (aka lacinato, Tuscan kale, or black kale, and other names as well) from Eckerton Hill Farm, the leaves stripped from their stems (which is difficult when the cabbage leaves are as then as these were) wilted briefly inside a large heavy antique tin-lined copper pot in a tablespoon or so of olive oil after several halved cloves of garlic, also from Norwich Meadows, had first been heated there until fragrant and softened, the greens seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with a little more oil

  • the music was a live recording of a tribute concert entitled ‘Glenn Gould – Remodels’, which was a part of a series of exhibitions and concerts dedicated to and marking the 2017 85th birthday of Glenn Gould, curated by Ryuichi Sakamoto, with Alva Noto+Nilo, Christian Fennesz, and Francesco Tristano

[the image of their Maremma vineyard is from the Tenuta Sassoregale site; the ‘Glenn Gould Gathering’ album cover is from Leticia García (twitter @Ms_Golightly)]

seared duck; mushroom marsala; roasted la ratte; cabbage

It seemed like a great excuse to modify what has long been my routine preparation of seared duck breast. I had some mushrooms left over from the night before, and combining them with the duck seemed like a fine idea.

The execution however wasn’t perfect for either duck or mushrooms, nor for one of the 2 vegetables that accompanied them. I’m blaming it on my haste in working at placing dinner on the table earlier than I have been lately, and strain of working on all 4 elements of the meal at just about the same time.

The flame under the duck was probably too hot, which left the skin and fat more charred than I would prefer (although, because of the fat and the sugar, without compromising the flavor), and it probably explains why it was necessary to keep the breast in the pan longer than normally in order to arrive at the same stage of doneness I as always.

I also went just a little too far in cooking the mushrooms and largely neglected the ‘crispy-ing’ and the seasoning of the cabbage. The potatoes were perfect however, but then the recipe is also.

  • one 14-ounce duck breast from Hudson River Duck Farm (the tenderloin removed, but seasoned like the rest of it, then fried very briefly near the end of the time the larger section was cooking, then halved), the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife and the entire breast rubbed, top and bottom, with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, left standing on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour before being pan-fried, fatty side down first, inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan over medium heat [see above discussion] for a total of about 9 minutes, turning once, draining the oil after the first few minutes (the fat strained can be used in cooking at another time, if desired), the breast removed when medium rare, cut crosswise into 2 portions and checked for the right doneness in the center, which means definitely no more than medium rare, and maybe even a bit less, drizzled with a little juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon and some olive oil, the halves transferred to very warm plates sitting on top of the oven a mushroom dish was prepared inside the pan where they had cooked
  • the heat below the pan set to medium-high, all but 1 tablespoon of drippings removed and a little olive oil added before tossing in 4 or 5 ounces of sliced blue oyster mushrooms from Blue Oyster Cultivation and two sliced shallots from Phillips Farms, the two sautéed, stirring, until the mushrooms were tender, or for about 6 minutes, then seasoned with salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of marsala (Pellegrino Superiore S.O.M. Dry) added, and stirred with the mushrooms until the juices had thickened, scraping up the browned bits, or about 1 minute, divided and arranged on the plates around the duck, mushrooms and duck sprinkled with parsley
  • part of a cored Savoy cabbage (7 ounces?) from Tamarack Hollow Farm, sliced into one-half-inch ribbons, sautéed in a scant tablespoon of olive oil inside a heavy medium-size tin-lined copper pot until wilted but still a little crunchy, stirring occasionally, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, 5 or 6 slightly smashed juniper berries mixed in, a few tiny drops of balsamic vinegar added and the mix stirred over the heat for only a moment, arranged on the plates and finished with a drizzle of olive oil