- “Ligurian fish and potatoes” [using a beautiful cod fillet, from Riverhead’s P.E. & D.D. Seafood, purchased at the Union Square Greenmarket, and a recipe from Mark Bittman I found in 2004: lay the cod on a bed of coarse salt and completely cover it with more salt, setting it aside; then slice potatoes to a thickness of less than 1/4 inch (I used Keuka, from Maxwell’s Farm in the Greenmarket) and toss them in a baking pan with a generous amount of oil; cook for 20-30 minutes or so in a 400 degree oven until tender, then thoroughly rinse and dry the cod, place it in the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with ground pepper, and return the pan to the oven; the fish should be done in 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness, and then garnish all with chopped parsley (I used lovage from Maxwell’s Farm)]; accompanied with kale, also from Maxwell’s, sauteed in oil with garlic
- wine: Spanish Rueda, Shaya 2008 Verdejo old vines from 67 Wine
- strawberry compote using Tahitian Vanilla Ciao Bello gelato, and a sauce of berries macerated a bit with with Toschi Orzata Orgeat syrup mixed with turbinado sugar
Little more than a week after I had come upon Strauss Brothers veal chops, which we had enjoyed in this meal, I discovered that the same excellent producers also supplied tasty young lamb. I included four of their small rib chops in this dinner.
- lamb chops, pan-grilled and finished with oil, thyme and a sprinkle of lemon, from Strauss Brothers, purchased at Garden of Eden; accompanied by some kale from Bodhitree Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket, sauteed in a bit of oil which had first warmed two lightly-bruised whole garlic cloves; and French Fingerlings from Norwich Meadows Farms, oven-roasted with rosemary leaves
- shelled almonds
- wine: a medium French red, from Roussillon, Le Vignes de Bila-Haut, Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2008, M. Chapoutier, from K & D wines
I had originally intended to finish with a quince purée the small rack of venison I had gotten from Ottomanelli this week, but I had been misinformed about the availability of quince this late in December. Learning the truth only the day before yesterday I quickly decided to use pears, one of the alternatives suggested by the recipe (in “D’Artagnan’s Glorious Game Cookbook“).
I had begun marinating the meat the day before that, in olive oil and crushed black pepper, along with Greenmarket rosemary, sage, and bay leaves (yes, I bought a bay branch at the greenmarket!).
Yesterday, just before searing the rack and putting it in the oven for 20 minutes, I made the sauce, chopping up firm Bartlett and Bouree Bosc pears and cooking them until tender with carmelized sugar and a combination of good Spanish red wine vinegar and stock which had been greatly reduced. The pear sauce was then puréed and kept warm. When the ribs were finished I separated them and served each portion on top of a helping of the purée, with a good portion of concentrated sauce infused with demi-glace spooned onto the meat itself and flowing onto the fruit.
The potatoes and the kale were both brought home from the Greenmarket in recent days. I found the kale in fact in the farmer’s by-then-almost-emptied wooden box, still frosted with the snow, now slightly crispy, from last week’s storm.
We had been listening to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio for much of the afternoon, but, not wanting to carry the traditional holiday playlist too far, just as we sat down to dinner we started listening to Bernstein’s “Candide“.
So for now, in this small place, in this best of all possible, possible, possible worlds:
- smoked eel from the Greenmarket (Blue Moon Fish, Mattituck, Long Island) served on a plate with lemon wedges and a salad of arugula, endive, chopped Sicilian capers, chopped shallots, horseradish, crème fraiche, lemon and olive oil; accompanied by slices of Kara’s flax bread from Garden of Eden
- rack of California venison on pear purée, sauced with a sweet and sour demi-glace-infused concentrate; accompanied by rosemary-roasted French Fingerling potatoes; and Winterbor kale (“really juicy after frosts”) from Keith’s Farm in Westtown, New York
- thin slice of pound cake with a scoop of Ronnybrook vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with chopped candied grapefruit from Garden of Eden
- wines: wine: Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2008 with the first course, and Ridge York Creek California Zinfandel 2008, and Bogle Vinyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2007, both from Phillipe Wine
Both yesterday’s lunch and this morning’s breakfast continued the holiday, or at least, winter, theme. In the afternoon on December 25 I roasted some locally-grown Greenmarket chestnuts in a perforated pan on the top of our 1931 Magic Chef. This morning I spread some truly fantastic pumpkin preserves from Marlow & Daughters on some more of the flax bread, buttered this time.
I can’t call this meal a complete success, since I ran into some difficulty in grilling the halibut steak. I was trying to avoid a preparation which involved heating an oven on an exceptionally warm spring day, so I opted for grilling it. I thought it had finished cooking, but when I took the steak off the enamelled cast-iron grill pan and tried to cut into it, both to confirm my assumption and to divide it into two equal portions, I realized my mistake. Then, in trying to remove the cross-shaped bone in the center, I ended up breaking it into a number of different-size pieces which I then returned briefly to the hot pan. Ugh.
The aesthetics of the presentation (not to mention the condition of the pan I left in the sink) left something to be desired, but the good news is that the deconstructed halibut actually tasted great, and so honored the shared sacrifices of the very-worthy two vegetables which accompanied it.
- grilled halibut steak from Whole Foods, with chimichurri sauce (oil, lemon, garlic, shallots, red-pepper flakes and parsley); served with a couple handfuls of really tiny (one-quarter inch to an inch round) potatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket (I think it was the Mountain Sweet Berry Farm stand), quickly-boiled, dried and finished with oil, garlic and chopped rosemary; and green kale (California, organic) from Whole Foods braised with garlic and oil
- wine: NAIA 2007 Rueda (Verdejo) by Jorge Ordonez, from K&D Wine