Month: August 2010

mussels with tomatoes, lovage 8/30/10

Yes, it really was hot, both inside the apartment and out, but assembling this simple meal didn’t add anything to the temperature of the kitchen last night (the thermometer was already showing 86 degrees at 10 o’clock, but it didn’t register any higher after I was done cooking).

The flame under the covered pot was on for only about two or three minutes, so little of the heat it generated escaped into the room.   Also, we had two efficient fans in the dining area near the window, so within only a few minutes after I had thrown everything into a large enameled cast-iron pot we were able to enjoy a perfect late-summer supper.

When we had finished this course I realized we had still had some wine (we must have been really busy with the bivalves), so I brought out a sampling of some excellent light cheeses.  We followed that small course with some luscious plums.

By the way, while I’ve had a lot of shellfish casualties in the past, there were almost none this time:   Of the two pounds I started with, not one mussel was lost after making it into the pot (although three, which had already opened, had been rejected while I was cleaning them).   O Canada!

I want to say one more thing about this meal:  I’m crazy about lovage.   I have to restrain myself, or I’d probably try to introduce this herb into at least half of the things I put together.  This time however the recipe, by Jerry Traunfeld (which I found in a piece by Sara Dickerman in the Times Magazine four years ago), already called for it.

  • small mussels (farmed in Canada, somewhere in the Maritimes) from Citarella, steamed with a third of a cup of dry Vermouth, a little butter, 2 cups of diced “Black” (mahogany-brown) heirloom tomatoes from Bill Maxwell’s farm, ground pepper, chopped shallots, and generous amounts of lovage, also from Maxwell’s;  served with crusty long (Italian?) bread from Citarella
  • cheese:  from the Greenmarket, two wonderful soft-ripened goat types, “bigelo” and “doolan”, from Ardith Mae in Hallstead, Pennsylvania
  • wine:  Tuscan, San Quirico Venaccia di San Gimignano 2008, from Appellation Wines
  • three varieties of ripe plums from New Jersey’s  Tree-Licious orchards, picked up in the Greenmarket three days before

goat chops, tomato, grilled eggplant 8/11/10

goat chops, Kermit eggplants, plum tomato, everything ready for the grill pans

Kermit eggplants in grill pan, cut side down first (after a rinse, the tomato followed the Kermits)

goat chops, just after hitting the second grill pan

the finished plate on the table

Just after assembling the materials on the counter lat night I realized that  this meal would be very easy and stress-free to prepare, and that there were going to be almost no issues involving the coordination of different dishes or their separate timing, so for the first time ever I chanced taking a few pictures throughout the process.

They’re not much to get excited about, but the meal was terrific (I do the tomato thing regularly throughout the second half of the summer, and they’re always a treat; I loved the taste and texture of the little round green eggplants, my first exposure to this variety;  and the chops turned out better than ever before), and the pictures do give some idea of what we both enjoyed last night, before, during and after the process.

lamb chops, eggplant with mint 7/31/10

  • heirloom tomatoes from Bodhitree Farm in the Greenmarket, with oil and torn basil;  accompanied by thin, toasted slices of ciabatta
  • drink:  Pernod and water
  • two pan-grilled loin lamb chops from Citarella [a total of only 10 ounces or so, only $8.84 for both – and, without exaggeration, I’d call them the best chops ever!], finished with oil, thyme from the Greenmarket, and drops of lemon;  accompanied by Japanese eggplants, also from Bodhitree , which were halved, scored, coated with chopped garlic and mint (both from the Greenmarket) and then grilled on another ribbed cast-iron pan
  • cheeses:   “Dorset” a soft washed-rind cow’s milk, and “Manchester”, an aged goat’s milk, both from Vermont’s Consider Bardwell Farm, which has a stand in the Greenmarket;   also accompanied by toasted thinly-sliced ciabatta
  • wine:  Rhone, Belleruche Côtes du Rhône 2007 M. Chapoutier from from Philippe Wine
  • slices of a Korean melon called Sun Jewel, from Norwich Meadows Farms in Norwich, New York, purchased at the Union Square Greenmarket
  • dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans

sauteed cod, grilled eggplant 8/3/10

culotte steak, Pimientos de Padrón 8/4/10

  • fennel-flavored taralli
  • Pimientos de Padrón from Lani’s Farm in the Greenmarket [this time there wasn’t just the occasional hot pepper;  instead, perhaps a third or more were hot, and although Barry and I are not greenhorns we found them painfully, insanely, hot];  accompanied by slices of Rustic Italian bread from Amy’s [and then some quickly-marshalled roasted peanuts and milk – yes, milk! – to fight the Scoville heat units]
  • [a phenomenal] culotte steak, from Dickson’s Farm Stand Meats, seared, then baked briefly in a moderately-hot (375 degrees) oven, finished with oil. lemon, parsley and allowed to sit for a few minutes;  accompanied by some lemon-and-oil-dressed watercress; grilled plum tomatoes from the Greenmarket, finished with balsamic; and a bit more of the Rustic Italian bread
  • wine: [the totally] excellent Ercavio Tempranillo Roble Castilla 2007, from K&D Wine and Spirits
  • Charentais Melon from Norwich Meadows Farm in the Greenmarket