Month: August 2015

cod with girolle and parsley; husk cherry and corn


We had returned from Rhode Island the night before, where we had been immersed in locavore creative cookery, so my visit to the Union Square Greenmarket the next day was even more burdened with the weight of responsibility than usual.

I should have been intimidated by the fantastic meals we had enjoyed from the kitchens of Derek Wagner (Nick’s on Broadway, as well as the oyster farm dinner the day before), and Ben Sukle (Birch).  In fact I wasn’t, mostly because, after five days away from my own kitchen, I was so anxious to re-visit the bounty of our home counties.

Among the many pleasures we encountered in Rhode Island which were uncommon or unheard of on our New York table, was the appearance, several times, of sweet corn, even more sweet husk cherries, and somewhat sour tiny cucumbers, shaped and colored like watermelons.  At the Greenmarket on Saturday my only deliberate purchase, other than the fish, was some corn (a vegetable whose origins are Mexican); the fact that I also brought home husk cherries and sour gherkins (both of Mexican origin) was totally fortuitous.  I had no plans to put them together with the maiz, but when I looked on line for ideas for serving corn (off the cob, of course), the first suggestion was to combine it with Physalis pruinosa and the little gherkins, or ‘Sandita‘.  It looked like a natural, and I had just the right amount and proportion of each ingredient.

As far as the fish portion of this meal is concerned, while cod is not found in the warmer waters of either the Gulf or the Pacific, there are a number of other white fish in those oceans.

I had also picked up less than two ounces of chantarelle (girolle) mushrooms at the Greenmarket, not knowing until later in the evening what I would do with them (Mexico does have an exact equivalent to the chanterelle mushroom). Mexican cuisine would be more likely to incorporate cilantro than parsley, but I used Italian Parsley here because I had not planned ahead.

My dinner was now fully conceived.

Even the wine had a Mexican connection, the parents of the vintner, Dalia Ceja, were field workers who became the first Mexican-American winery owners in Napa and Carneros.

  • a one-pound cod fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, halved, then prepared more or less according to Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe in the New York Times, but I sautéed the cod, and used a rosé wine instead of a white with the mushrooms (to avoid having to open a fresh bottle, and because it was pretty), and I used a knife, mortar and pestle in making the parsley sauce; the mushrooms were from Violet Hill Farm, the garlic from Berried Treasures, and the parsley from Tamarack Hollow Farm
  • three small ears of bi-colored corn from Sycamore Farms, pan-grilled, cut off of the cobs, mixed with husk cherries from Tamarack Hollow Farm, and halved tiny Mexican gherkins, or ‘Sandita’, from Norwich Meadows Farm, tossed with a vinaigrette composed of olive oil, lemon juice, torn leaves off of a Full Bloom Market Garden basil plant from Whole Foods, excellent cayenne from Spices and Tease in Chelsea Market, salt, and ground black pepper
  • the wine was a California white, La Tapatia Chardonnay Carneros 2013 by Dalia Ceja
  • the music was Antoine Dauvergne’s Hercule Mourant




[lower image, by Franz Eugen Köhler, from Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, in Wikipedia]

cherry tomato salad; casoncelli alla bergamesca


These traditional little Lombardy ‘dumplings’, shaped, as described in a Wikipedia entry, as ‘sweet wrappers’ (the filling is generally slightly sweet), were displayed in the fresh pasta glass case at Eataly when I stopped by on Friday to tell Luca how much we had appreciated his wonderful gnocchi the night before.  I already had plans for dinner that evening, but I decided I’d come back for them the next day.

I did, and we were not disappointed.

  • casoncelli alla bergamesca [filled pasta in the tradition of Bergamo] from Eataly (ingredients: durum wheat, eggs, ‘oo’ flour, pears, prosciutto, hot capocola, walnut, breadcrumbs, parsley , butter, and sage), stirred into a pan where ramp fruit from Berried Treasures had been warmed in a little butter, then some additional butter added, along with freshly-ground black pepper [an alternative sauce would be al burro e salvia, or, as per Luca’s suggestion to me, flavoring the butter with a bit of Gorgonzola Dolce]
  • the wine with the pasta was an Italian (Veneto) white, Boirá Veneto Pinot Grigio 2014



Although primi, before the primi (which in this case had no secondo), we enjoyed a simple salad of tomatoes and herbs.

  • deep golden/red cherry tomatoes from Berried Treasures, halved, then tossed with chopped lovage from Berried Treasures, parsley from Tamarack Hollow Farm, some good olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, proper Malden sea salt, and pink peppercorns, arranged in bowls on a bed of very flavorful organic arugula from Norwich Meadows Farm
  • slices of ‘Rustic Classic’ bread from Eataly
  • the wine with the tomato was French (Provence) rosé, with the humble, and quite serviceable description, ‘Vrac Rosé 2014

nettle tagliolini, ramp fruit, oyster mushroom, basil


I was originally not going to write about this meal.  Even though it would seem to have been a good candidate for publication, if for no other reason than its modest exoticism on these shores, I wasn’t feeling well while I was putting it together, and I didn’t think much better of it once I was done.  I think I was too out of it to judge its merits, but Barry said at the time that he liked it, and when I had a taste of some leftovers today, two days later, I decided that, even still cold from the refrigerator, it was actually very good; In fact I’d say it was delicious.

I’ve decided the pasta that remains will be the primi in our dinner this evening, a meal featuring grey sole and grilled ‘pink’ plum tomatoes.

I had a good photograph of the dish, and I remembered how I had assembled it, so I decided to include ‘nettle tagliolini with oyster mushrooms’ in a post after all. Unfortunately neither of us can remember the music we listened to while eating, so feel free to hum whatever tune you wish while reading this.

  • an antipasto of thinly-sliced prosciutto from Eataly, simply-dressed organic arugula from Norwich Meadows Farm, and slices of ‘Rustic Classic’ bread, from Eataly
  • Morelli Tuscan artisanal nettle tagliolini, or tagliolini all’ortica, from Eataly, served tossed with a sauce composed of roughly-chopped oyster mushrooms from Blue Oyster Cultivation which were sautéed until lightly-browned in a pan (in which ramp fruit had first been heated a little), two tablespoons of white wine added and briefly stirred with the mushrooms over heat, finished with torn leaves from the usual home basil plant sitting in a south window, finished with a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was an Italian white, Villa Antinori Toscana 2012

ricotta gnocchi, eggplant, tomato, basil


Very simple, pretty classic, and perfect.


The sauce was conventional, at least by Italian convention, but it was combined with the very best gnocchi I have ever had, anywhere, so it had to be the really wonderful handmade little potato dumplings that made the dish so great.

I’ve been dealing with a really bad head cold over the last two days, so on the first of them I had produced a not particularly good meal (I’m now thinking that a combination of nettle pasta and oyster mushrooms really needs a clear head in order to succeed); for the second, I had avoided even trying to cook (an excellent pizza source is our go-to in such cases).

But I took a chance today, buoyed in the perhaps ill-judged confidence that my condition could only improve, and that, in any event, there was no way that I wouldn’t be able to put together a pretty simple sauce for a very good fresh prepared pasta I might pick up at Eataly while I was in the neighborhood.

I still have the cold, but I’m feeling much better now.

  • ricotta gnocchi, which also included parmesan and goat cheeses, made by Luca Donofrio, the pastaio at Eataly, with a sauce of Japanese eggplant from Berried Treasures, seasoned, patted dry and sautéed until slightly browned, removed and allowed to drain in paper toweling, before being combined with two ‘Striped German’ heirloom tomatoes from Queens County Farm which had been chopped, sautéed in a little olive oil in which sliced garlic from Berried Treasures had been heated and allowed to color, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little sugar, and tossed with basil leaves off of a Full Bloom Market Garden plant from Whole Foods, torn
  • there was also a cheese course (I mean, pasta is called a ‘primi’, and for good reason)
  • the wine was an Italian white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013
  • the music was Antoine Dauvergne’s “Hercule Mourant’

herb-breaded swordfish; grilled eggplant & tomato


The swordfish recipe is a Sicilian masterpiece, the vegetables were also Italian, and treated as such, perhaps in a generally mid-peninsular manner; the wine was from La Marche, and the music was Lombardy-Venetian.  The table was Chelsean.

I don’t think I’ve ever before prepared swordfish in the Sicilian style (Trancia di Pesce Spada alla Siciliana), as described by Kyle Phillips, but I now regret my neglect, and I resolve to make up for it, but with the inclusion, whenever possible, of the very American ingredient, ramp fruit.

It was damn good.

  • one inch-thick, one pound swordfish steak from P.E. & D.D. Seafood (note to purse: it was on sale this Monday), cut into two pieces, briefly marinated in a mixture of olive oil, crushed ramp fruit from Berried Treasures and chopped fresh oregano leaves from Stokes Farm, then drained well and rolled in dried bread crumbs, fried in a hot cast iron pan for about 4 minutes on each side, salted, sprinkled with a little lemon juice and drizzled with olive oil before serving
  • two tightly-curved Japanese eggplant from Berried Treasures,, split ‘lengthwise’, scored, brushed with a mixture of oil, finely-chopped early garlic, also from Berried Treasures, and basil leaves torn from a Full Bloom Market Garden plant from Whole Foods, then seasoned with salt and pepper, and pan-grilled, turning once, arranged on plates almost as yin and yang
  • one seasoned Sheboygan ‘pink paste’ tomato from Queens County Farm, pan grilled, finished with a dab of olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar, placed on the plates in the middle of the eggplant
  • the wine was a white Italian, Le Salse Verdicchio di Matelica 2014
  • the music was a mid-seventeenth century Venetian masterpiece, Francesco Cavalli’s ‘La Calisto‘, conducted by René Jacobs