Month: November 2014

oysters; then squab, sweet potato, chutney, greens


We didn’t have turkey.

On thursday, Thanksgiving, we were at home, just two of us, having somehow forgotten to arrange the small dinner party we would normally have enjoyed on that most social (and refreshingly secular) of holidays.  We had squab, but before the squab, a treat which I have to call even more special;  we shared a first course of oysters from Walrus and Carpenters, an oyster farm on the north shore of beautiful Ninigret Pond, which is almost at the very bottom of Rhode Island’s South County, one of my favorite places.

We opened five dozen last New Year’s Eve, when I didn’t have to do much in the way of preparation for the light meal which followed.  This week I decided that the two dozen (actually 25) would represent the better part of valor if I was going to turn return to the kitchen to prepare a more ambitious meal afterwards.  Whatever reason, I think the oysters were even more delicious this time than they had been last December, and they were superb then.

We had picked them up from Jules Opton-Himmel, the young ecologist who created and farms the beds, the night before, and they had been harvested the day before that.  The drop off site was the roof of his mother’s loft building on Lower Broadway, where we shared beer and a few oysters with Jules, Joanna, mom, and other customers who had come out in the rain to collect a share of the November harvest.

We plan to order more in December, if possible, on each of the next Manhattan dates, December 12, 23, and 31, and we highly recommend that any local oyster fans who are listening do the same.  They also show dates for pick-ups at Brooklyn Kitchen on their site.

The bivalves were followed by roast squab from South Carolina dressed with their own sauce, cranberry chutney, sweet potato oven fries, and winter radish greens braised with a bit of garlic.  Dessert was mince pie with goats milk vanilla ice cream on the side.  As always, everything but the oysters themselves, and the birds, came from local farmers selling in the Greenmarket in Union Square.

  • oysters from Walrus and Carpenters Oysters, served raw on the half shell over ice, unaccompanied
  • the wine was an American sparkling, Gruet Brut, from New Mexico
  • the plateau is a heavy, ca. 1882, Gildea & Walker ironstone platter, displaying an Aesthetic Movement pattern, “Melbourne”


  • squab from King Cal Squabs from California, via Eataly, the skin over the breast and legs loosened, and a mixture of butter, shallots from John D. Madura Farm, chopped thyme from Stokes Farm, lemon zest, salt, and pepper slipped between it and the meat, sprigs of thyme inserted in the cavity, the birds browned, then roasted in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, finished with a bit of pan juices reduced with Madeira
  • Asian sweet potatoes from Bodhitree Farm, cut as for fries, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, scattered on a ceramic pan, then roasted for about 20 minutes
  • cranberries from Breezy Hill Orchard, slowly cooked for about ten minutes along with sautéed shallots from John D. Madura Farm, sugar, cider vinegar from Race Farm, minced garlic from Berried Treasures, chopped candied ginger, salt, and pepper
  • winter radish greens from Bodhitree Farm, braised with garlic which had been allowed to sweat with garlic from Berried Treasures
  • the wine was a French red, Givry, Dom. Chofflet-Valdenaire 2012

pork chops with lemon, oregano; collard greens


The pork chops were superb to start with.  They had a good layer of fat, they were modest in size, and they came from Flying Pigs in the Greenmarket (now doesn’t that phrase sound interesting?).  Like the one for the greens, the recipe was incredibly simple.  That for the pork chop was once again from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ “Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe“.

  • two pork chops from Flying Pigs Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt, and pepper, seared in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan, half a lemon squeezed over them then left in the pan with them while they were roasting in a 400º oven for about 14 minutes (flipped halfway through and the lemon squeezed over them once again), finished with a sprinkling of chopped fresh oregano from Central Valley Farm
  • collard greens from Phillips Farm, cut as a rough chiffonade, then braised in a heavy pot in which crushed garlic form Berried Treasures had been allowed to sweat with some olive oil, the dish finished with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was a German white, a Mosel, Später-Veit Pinot Blanc Trocken 2012 (piesport)

grilled tuna with fennel seed; roasted cauliflower


We never get tired of this simple Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers recipe for tuna steak, or of the pleasure in pairing it with something different each time.  Here it was some excellent white cauliflower, one of our favorite vegetables, also prepared just about as simply as possible.

  • tuna from PE & DD Seafood, rubbed with a mixture of fennel seed and dried pepperoncini, ground together, seasoned with salt, and pepper, then pan-grilled for only a minute or so on each side, finished with a good squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil
  • two small heads of white cauliflower from Norwich Meadows Farm, partially cored, the florets separated, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread on a ceramic pan and roasted in a hot oven, then finished with chopped parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm
  • the wine was an Oregon white, Cuveé A Yamhill-Carlton Müller-Thurgau 2013 from Anne Amie Vineyards

steak with shallot, lovage; braised fennel/radicchio


This entrée is looking very wintry; fortunately today’s weather pretty much went along with the fiction.  By further explanation, I’m trying to wind down the larder before we ship off to Washington this week for five days, so I’m assembling some atypical combinations for dinner.

  • Tri-tip steak from Dickson Farmstand Meats, seared, roasted in a hot oven for about seven minutes, then removed, allowed to rest in the pan for a few minutes before being topped with sliced shallots from John D. Madura Farm, then sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil, and dusted with chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • fennel from Norwich Meadows Farm, and radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, both halved and then quartered, braised with oil, garlic, chiles, ground fennel seeds, finished with chopped fennel tops, torn basil from Norwich Meadows Farm, a drizzle of olive oil, and some lemon juice
  • the wine was an Argentinian red,  Ernesto Catena, Padrillos Malbec, 2013

roasted winter squash with seared cod – and parsley


I immediately thought that I liked the combination of ingredients in the Mark Bittman recipe for this entrée, but I quickly had second thoughts.  What happened is that I had picked up some uncommon Honey Butternut squash (which the farmer called ‘Sweet Melissa’) at the Greenmarket earlier in the week, and a few days later, anticipating the much welcomed return of cod to the Greenmarket and mindful of the sudden chill in the air, on Friday, before heading to Union Square I had searched on line for suggestions for combining the two.  As I just said however, after examining the simplicity of the recipe (and especially after seeing there was absolutely no greenery involved), I had my doubts about its ability to sustain any real taste interest.

I was wrong, and in retrospect I don’t think it was only because I had decided to add some chopped parsley to the dish after it was assembled.  It’s a wonderful recipe.  Just pick out a fresh herb, and make it even better.  Think sweet-and-sour sauce marrying a great winter vegetable and a noble fish.

  • Honey Butternut squash from Lani’s Farm, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices, roasted with butter in a large ceramic oven pan, removed from the oven, placed on serving plates and kept warm until finishing the cod
  • fillet of cod from Pura Vida, dredged in flour and seasoned some five minutes before the squash was fully cooked, then quickly sautéed until nicely browned and cooked through, removed and placed on serving plates on top of the squash while additional butter was added to the pan, and, when it sizzled and browned, also some sherry vinegar, the two cooked for 10-20 seconds more before the sauce was poured over the fish and the vegetable
  • the wine was an Argentinian white, Bodega Elvira Calle Alberti 154 Torrontés Salta-La Rioja 2011, from Chelsea Wine Vault