Month: May 2015

tuna and fiddleheads (each with fennel); tomato


This was a slightly different version of a favorite recipe.  I had already bought a tuna steak at the Greenmarket and was about to head home when I spotted what turned out to be the last young fennel bulb on a table at Bodhitree Farm.  I usually ‘pave’ tuna steaks with crushed fennel seed and dried chiles, and I thought that this time I might find a way to serve it with fennel two ways.

I hadn’t really brought home enough fiddleheads, and I wanted to use them as soon as possible, so most of the fresh fennel material went toward filling out the portion of green vegetable on the plate.

After we had sat down and begun the meal I decided that the basic tuna recipe doesn’t really need any gilding, but the combination of young fennel bulb, fiddleheads, and spring garlic was pretty good, and subtly complex.

  • a 12-ounce section of tuna loin from Blue Moon Fish Company, cut into two pieces, rubbed on both sides with a mixture of fennel seed and dried peperoncini, 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, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of fresh fennel fronds, chopped
  • a few fiddleheads from Tamarack Hollow Farm, one thinly-sliced spring fennel bulb, and one spring garlic from Keith’s Farm, sliced lengthwise into two halves, all three vegetables pan-grilled for a few minutes, then combined with sliced stems from the fennel bulb and some chopped green parts from the garlic, after they had been lightly cooked with olive oil in a separate pan, the mix then seasoned and tossed with more olive oil
  • small ripe grape tomatoes from Kernan Farms, halved and then briefly heated in oil, seasoned, and finished with some torn leaves of fresh New York rooftop basil from Gotham Greens
  • the wine was a Spanish white, Abadía de San Campio Albariño Rías Baixas 2013
  • the music was Handel Concerti Grossi, played by Tafelmusik

prosciutto, arugula, bread; fusilli mediterranei


This is my favorite warm-weather-prepare-in-advance-to-be-free-for-talking-to-guests-and-still-serve-an-elegant-pasta dish, and it happens to be even more delicious than it looks or the list of ingredients might suggest.  It’s also pretty fool-proof, and in fact, except for the boiling of the pasta, requires no real cooking skill. [One, at his request, I emailed the recipe to a friend who had enjoyed it at our home;  he likes to entertain, but, by his own admission, has no interest in or talent for things ‘kitchen’; he told me it was a great success.]

It’s a great summer meal, and although it’s a pasta dish, and technically a salad, it easily stars as an entrée, balanced before and after with an antipasto, also room-temperature, and a cheese or fruit course.  It should serve at least 6 under those circumstances, but since it really is just as good as a leftover, and this time we were only 4 (and had seconds), the two of us were able to enjoy it again three days later.

[After that introduction, I can admit that the picture of the pasta dish was taken just as we sat down when we were having the leftovers (I had forgotten to snap the entrée on the first night, when we had two guests); the picture of the antipasto, was taken the first night.]

The dish is ‘Fusilli Mediterranei’, the recipe I use is included in Anna Tasca Lanza‘s treasure, ‘The Flavors of Sicily: Stories, Traditions, and Recipes for Warm-Weather Cooking’, one of my favorite Italian food sources.  Tasca prescribes over two pounds of ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cubed, but the first time I used the recipe it wasn’t yet tomato season, so I substituted some excellent ripe grape tomatoes, halved each of them, and used a tiny spoon to press out the seeds and juice.  It’s the way I prepare the dish each time.

You should have a large bowl on hand, and allow about three hours time to prepare the dish.  Only one hour involves actual work (mostly dealing with the tomatoes and pitting the olives); the remaining two are for letting the ingredients rest at room temperature at two points during the preparation.

  • we began the meal with an antipasto of DOK Dall’Ava prosciutto di San Daniele D.O.P. from Eatlay; served with ‘wild arugula’ from S. & S.O. Produce, the greens drizzled with good olive oil and drops of lemon; and slices of ‘Rustic Classic’ bread from Eataly
  • when the tomatoes [this time, somewhat more than 3 baskets of grape tomatoes from Kernan Farms] have been prepared as described above, put them in a colander, sprinkle with salt, a bit of sugar, hot pepper flakes, and turn to coat; add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 4 salted anchovies, rinsed, filleted, and chopped, 1 1/2 cups of basil [from Gotham Greens], torn; a cup of good black olives pitted and cut in half, and half a cup of salted capers, rinsed; toss all to mix and let stand at room temperature for an hour; start to boil the pasta [I used ‘Fusilli con Buco’ from Il Pastaio di Gragnano] about half of the way through that time (so it will be ready when the tomato mix is) until almost al dente, run cold water over the pasta to cool it down, and after transferring the tomato mixture to a large serving bowl and stirring in 1/2 cup of olive oil, add the drained pasta to it, toss everything together and let stand at room temperature, again for one hour; when ready to serve, sprinkle the serving bowls with sturdy (ideally, homemade) breadcrumbs which have meanwhile been toasted with a little olive oil until lightly browned and set aside to cool
  • the wine was an excellent California rosé, Akiyoshi Sangiovese Rosé 2013
  • the music was Leonard Bernstein performing Charles Ive’s Symphony No. 2

fiddlehead fern, spring allium, and tomato frittata


This supper was totally improvised.  We arrived home fairly late from the Wagmag Benefit, and we both had to be up early the next day, so time was important.  I had some fiddlehead ferns in the refrigerator, already rinsed, which had not been included in the meal the night before, plus seven eggs, all kinds of spring allium (allia, alliums?), and a few little bitty green things which would help make a good picture.

  • fiddlehead ferns from Tamarack Hollow Farm, added to a seasoned steel pan in which spring garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm and baby leeks from Rogowski Farm had already been softened in a mixture of olive oil and butter, 7 lightly-whipped eggs from Millport Dairy poured into the mixture then cooked slowly over a low-to-moderate flame until the eggs were almost cooked, continuing with Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods, sliced into four disks, arranged on the top of the mixture before it was placed in a pre-heated broiler, finished with scissored chives from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm and a sprinkling of cress from Stokes Farm
  • slices from a bâtard from Amy’s Bread, with some olive oil drizzled onto the plate with the frittata
  • the wine was a South African white, Nederburg Foundation Lyric 2014, a combination of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay
  • the music was streamed from Yle Klassinen

bluefish with tomatoes, baby leeks; fiddleheads


While I was still gathering the ingredients at the Greenmarket today, I began to think of this meal as something of a miniature model of the New England I love. The bluefish represents the Southeast coast (Rhode Island waters, for me), while the fiddleheads seem very much a treasure of the green north.

  • two nine-ounce fillets of bluefish from Blue Moon Fish, cooked along the lines described in a recipe which we had enjoyed several times in the past;  it’s from Mark Bittman’s “Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking“; my other ingredients included Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods; two baby leeks from Rogowski Farm; chopped rosemary from Phillips Farm; and chopped parsley from Rogowski Farm
  • fiddlehead ferns from Tamarack Hollow Farm, blanched for about 3-4 minutes, drained, dried, added to a pan in which a sliced garlic clove had been allowed to begin to color and some chopped thyme had been introduced and warmed, the ferns briefly sautéed, removed and drizzled with lemon juice
  • the wine was a Spanish white, Naia D.O. Rueda 2014, from Verdejo old vines
  • the music was Joan Tower’s ‘Stroke’


orecchiette with radishes and radish greens


Barry: “I’d be quite happy to have this in a restaurant.”


When I was starting out, I didn’t have much of an emotional investment in the success of this pretty simple meal, even though I was thinking of how much I loved cooking with both radishes and radish greens (not always as part of the same entrée), but, in the end, it was actually pretty terrific.  The basic structure of the entrée was described in this ‘bon appétit’ recipe, although I took some liberties here, some out of personal preference, some prescribed by necessity, because of what I had available on hand.