Month: December 2009

dinner, December 26, 2009


Something in the way of a palate cleanser, and kitchen-pressure release valve as well:  Tonight, after a couple of days of feasting, it was back to basics, as we enjoyed an extremely simple, southern Italian meal, one with whose honest outlines we’re both very familiar.  In an odd exception from meals we’ve enjoyed over the past six to eight months, this time absolutely nothing came from the Union Square Greenmarket.

I’d already cooked the pasta when it first occurred to me to post about the meal, so in the accompanying image the spaghetti is instead represented by the beautiful label on the front of its box.

dinner, December 25, 2009


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.


dinner, December 24, 2009


Barry and I don’t really celebrate Christmas, or any other god-based holiday, but we can’t help cherishing some of the trappings of the ancient Christian feast days kept by our families while we were growing up.   Holiday meals are probably the most important survivors of his and my early conversions to irreligion, and those associated with December 24 and 25 are among those most worthy of our attentions.

So two nights ago I once again cleared off (six) two-foot high stacks of books from the top of the dining table in the large gallery, unfolded the top, pulled out the legs and set it for the fresh, light dinner described below.  It was designed to anticipate a slightly more ambitious, warmer and heavier spread the following day:

  • smoked trout which I had picked out at the Union Square Greenmarket just the day before (Max Creek Hatchery in East Meredith New York), arranged on the plate with endive leaves which cradled a shredded apple and horseradish sauce/salad, along with slices from a Portuguese Saloio roll (hand-formed, peasant bread) from Garden of Eden (baked by Elio’s Bakery, in Jersey City)
  • red cabbage salad:  two beautiful small heads of red (actually, pretty purple) cabbage from the Queens County Farm Museum stand at the Greenmarket, thinly-shredded and mixed with lingonberry preserves, walnut oil, sherry vinegar, roasted and roughly-chopped walnuts, served garnished with julienne strips of the same Greenmarket-purchased New York-native Newtown Pippin apple included in the previous course, along with slices of a round loaf of dark flax-seed bread from Garden of Eden (Kara Bakery in Brooklyn), fresh butter and Manchego and Roncal cheeses  (from Murray’s Cheese);  the recipe for the entree was one adapted from Kurt Gutenbrunner and printed in the Times December 9.


of red food, and dinner, December 12, 2009


Is it just me, or are there for sure a lot of pink-to-red-to-purple foods around at this time of year?

Over the last several weeks I’ve recently seen, prepared and served at home, in addition to tuna, of course, the usual meat suspects (including the smoked or cured) and the red or purple berries and fruit now only a memory, red beets, red chard, red mustard and kale, the red stems of beet greens, radicchio, pink, red or purple radishes, red onions, purple tomatoes and red potatoes, red sweet potatoes [see the Japanese sweets above, from Lani’s Farm] red cabbage, purple cauliflower and purple broccoli, and even purple kohlrabi.   And then there was also the bounty of the season just past:  tomatoes (red and sometimes even purple) available much later this year than in others, purple lettuces, red or purple bell peppers, and both purple string beans and purple okra.

I only became consciously aware of the red thing going on after plating several meals this fall.  The color scheme of last night’s dinner was similar to many of them, although, as with most, I managed also to include at least some green.

three inspired by Marlow & Daughters


(probably not your mother’s butcher:  a detail of the meat case at Marlow & Daughters)

Marlow & Daughters

The post which appears just before this one describes a dinner which, although it did not include meats from the Williamsburg butcher shop Marlow & Daughters, was almost a natural segue from the three meals which immediately preceded it, which did.  The connection is their components, which were importantly either blood or liver (discouraging all but the heartiest meat eating readers), specifically the blood sausage in the Huevos Flamencos and the poached links of lamb liver sausage which dominated the meal the previous night.

It was only a coincidence that we had also enjoyed lunches with two different kinds of delicious liverwurst sandwiches on Monday and Tuesday (thanks again to the Union Square Greenmarket and the people at Flying Pigs Farm), but it appears that in those four days we were deep inside territory many might consider (excuse the pun) too gutsy for their taste.

The lamb liver sausage was the third in a series of dinners inspired by our visit to Marlow & Daughters on Sunday after our afternoon visiting Williamsburg galleries.  We’ve long been fans of the restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons, which share a connection with each other and with Tom Mylan, their former in-house butcher.  Now Mylan is a food blogger, and has his own Broadway meat shop, for which he purchases only local, pasture-raised whole animals and then butchers them on-site.   The meat can often be cut to order, and there’s a generous charcuterie selection.

We had been reading exciting things about his independent venture and had been impressed with Mylan’s appearance on NPR’s “All things considered” last spring, but hadn’t actually visited the site until now.

On Sunday we brought home two beautiful, thick, sirloin steaks.   They looked like giant tournedos to me, but still somehow managed to tip the scales at only about 6 ounces each.  Perfect.    It was almost closing time when we arrived, but when the butcher I spoke to saw how disappointed I was that there was only one steak left in the counter, he told us that if we could wait a few minutes he’d cut two in any size we wanted from a large slab of dry-aged beef he had in the cooler.  Wow.  I was impressed.

It took me all the way back to the little full-service Italian grocery store down the street from the house where I grew up, in pre-breakdown Detroit:  I was probably thirteen or fourteen, and my first (after-school) job was as a stock boy and bag packer at “Nino’s Market” (it was probably only the size of our Manhattan apartment), and I clearly remember that, after the manager, who was the proud and very hot young son of the owner, the butcher was treated like a God!

I’ve never been afraid of meat since.

We also bought half a pound of beautiful house-cured guanciale, since it seemed about time for Pasta alla Gricia once again.  We never tire of that dish, which ideally includes properly-cured pork jowl, but a number of different pasta choices (we usually use a penne).  We first enjoyed it in 1996, in the form of Spaghetti alla Gricia, while sitting at a table on the street outside the Piccola Trattoria da Lucia, in Rome’s Trastevere (Chiuso il lunedì).    We went back to the Vicolo del Mattonato two days later, and at least once again the next time we were in Rome one year later (the founder’s son, Renato Bizzarri, who succeeded his mother in running the restaurant, recognized us as soon as we sat down).

Back at Marlow & Daughters, I looked around for lamb, and was sorry to hear from another butcher that the shop was altogether out of it.  Then he told me that he did have some lamb liver sausage in the back and wondered if it might interest us.   He was asking the right guys:  we were both game, and of course the medium-dark, purply sausage itself looked and smelled like game.  I knew I already had the wintry vegetables which would complement it.  We asked him to wrap up two links (11 or 12 ounces total).

The small shop also has some great cheeses, a small selection of pickles and preserves, milk, some fresh vegetables and fruit, and a carefully-selected assortment of dry food products.  Heaven.

This is a more complete description of our three Marlow & Daughters meals, whose vegetable ingredients (as well as the ice cream) were all gathered from the Union Square Greenmarket:

dinner, December 8, 2009


dinner, December 9, 2009


dinner, December 10, 2009


[image at the top from Rotating Corpse]