Month: August 2015

duck breast, ramp fruit, lovage; zucchini trifolati


I’ve prepared this dish before, and often, but this was the first time I included ramp fruit in the finish.  It was wonderful twist on a favorite, introducing even more complexity to it, especially because it was paired with chopped lovage.

  • a small duck breast from Pat LaFrieda at Eataly, the fatty side scored, rubbed with a mixture of salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar, left to rest for about half an hour before it was pan-fried, removed, cut into two servings, then finished with a sprinkling of ramp fruit from Berried Treasures which had just been heated in olive oil for a minute, some lemon juice, chopped lovage, also from Berried Treasures, then drizzled with olive oil
  • zucchini trifolati, made with baby zucchini from Berried Treasures, heirloom tomatoes from Queens County Farm, fresh garlic from Berried Treasures, basil leaves pulled from plants of Full Bloom Market Garden, purchased at Whole Foods, torn, the preparation allowed to rest 15 minutes before serving with the duck
  • the wine was a California white, Jim Olsen Fair Angel California 2012
  • the music was Gluck’s ‘Orfeo & Euridice’, in  a performance by  René Jacobs, the Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

stuffed scallops; Romano beans; fennel; heirlooms


I just got carried away with the vegetables and herbs this time, including lemon verbena; because it was there.

A generous and very thoughtful farmer shared a sampling of herbs with me the other day when I was at the Greenmarket, and among them were a few sprigs of lemon verbena, something I hadn’t used in the kitchen for years. Last night I decided to substitute it for the basil I usually use when I want to grill stuffed scallops, or stuffed monkfish medallions.  The results were pretty luscious, as I had expected.

The only other thing I have to say about this delicious plate is that those little ‘scallop sandwiches’ in particular would make a great finger food at some fancy catered event, especially if skewered on little bamboo picks.


  • scallops from P.E. & D. D. Seafood, rinsed, dried, and inside a slit made in the side of each, stuffed with a finely-chopped mixture of a small amount of ramp fruit along, with lemon verbena, both from Berried Treasures, black peppercorns, and salt, a tablespoon of olive oil added to make a paste, the assembly then rolled around on a plate with a little more olive oil, pan grilled about 2 minutes on each side, removed to plates, where lemon juice and olive oil were drizzled over the top
  • a combination of golden cherry tomatoes from Berried Treasures, halved, and one red heirloom tomato from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut into wedges, all mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper, a little balsamic vinegar, and tarragon from Stokes Farm
  • baby fennel from Paffenroth Gardens, quartered, mixed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, pan grilled until soft, then tossed with green fennel fronds
  • yellow Romano beans from Berried Treasures, parboiled for a few minutes and dried, reheated in a heavy cast iron pan with some ramp fruits which had been briefly sautéed in oil, the vegetable then finished with salt, pepper, chopped copper (or bronze) fennel fronds, and lovage, both also from Berried Treasures
  • the wine was a great German pinot rosé, Becker, Petit Rose, 2013, from Flatiron Wines & Spirits
  • the music was Antonion Salieri, ‘La grotta di Trofonio

dolphinfish; minutina; tomato and cucumber salsa


Becca Schlaff Dorade oil on canvas 36″ x 60″


I forgot to put the SD card back in the camera after uploading the last batch of my pictures to the computer, so unfortunately there are no photo images of his meal.  Instead I’ve located the painting above as a stand-in for the main focus of the meal, and I managed to save some phone images of some of the vegetables while they were still at the Greenmarket.

Dolphinfish, perhaps the males especially, with their prominent square foreheads, are among the most spectacular-looking finned creatures in the sea.  In addition, they are apparently among the most plentiful, at least among fish of their size.  They are also absolutely delicious, which brings them to this blog.

Maybe it’s the New England in me, but I don’t like using the name, ‘mahi-mahi’ on this side of the continent, so I will continue to refer to this creature as a ‘dolphinfish’, or ‘dolphin’ (or, in cookery, as ‘dorade’, or ‘dorado’, the name by which online sources say Europeans have come to know it, at least in their kitchens and on their dining tables).

After writing all of that, I will confess that I remain confused about the freedom with which the name ‘dorade’ seems to be thrown about on the other side of the Atlantic, at least according to the Wikipedia entry for ‘mahi-mahi’.  In Europe, Dorade actually seems to be a form of bream, and not the ‘common dogfish‘.

All of which reflects the fact that, like most fish species, dolphinfish are both blessed with, and easily confused through, the use of many names.  Today most people in the western hemisphere know it as mahi-mahi, a rather cute-sounding Hawaiian name (meaning ‘strong-strong’, possibly an allusion to the fish’s sturdy appearance as much as its fighting spirit when hooked). That tag was apparently broadcast beyond the central Pacific by merchandisers who wished to avoid the common confusion of the sport and commercial fish with a beloved mammal [yeah, you’d thnk..].   They share the name because, it is said, both creatures have a habit of swimming alongside boats.

Finally, when it comes to the word, ‘dolphin’, my imagination is never very far from the graceful creatures that appear so frequently in classical design and architecture. I mentioned this in my first Food Blog post about preparing dolphinfish.  But of course I would love them for that alone.

  • exactly one pound of dorade fillet from Pura Vida Fisheries, dry-marinated with more than half a tablespoon of lemon zest, an equal amount of thyme leaves from Keith’s Farm, salt, and pepper, set aside for 20 minutes or so, then seared in a hot pan for about 3 minutes, carefully turned over and that side seared for 3-4 minutes, the heat lowered and the pan loosely covered for a few minutes (depending on thickness), with aluminum foil if no other cover is available, during which time some bruised fresh ramp fruit from Berried Treasures and thinly-sliced shallots from Keith’s Farm were introduced and briefly sautéed with the fish before it was removed and put onto two plates, and the pan juices poured over


  • minutina from Norwich Meadows Farm, washed, drained, then wilted very slightly in low-to-medium-hot olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper


  • a salsa of halved tiny golden cherry tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm and a smaller amount of delicious little [about an inch-and-a-half-round] lemon cucumbers from Berried Treasures, sliced, together dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, a bit of white balsamic vinegar, and chopped copper fennel from Berried Treasures
  • The wine was an Argentinian white, Jelu Estate Torrontes 2014, from San Juan
  • the music was Lully’s ‘Amadis’, Clavecin et direction par Christophe Rousset


[image at the top is from the website of Becca Schlaff]

grilled portobello; sautéed peppers; grilled zucchini


It’s not red, and it’s not even meat, but it sure is scrumptious.


I’m not really trying to engage specific food categories with these dinners; I actually just like variety. This time the meal wasn’t just vegetarian, but genuinely vegan, although, had a carnivore not been informed in advance of the nature of its components, a guest might have easily been oblivious of that fact.

Regular visitors to this blog know that it’s not about meat, so when I talk about meat substitutes it’s not so much about me.

I’ve always laughed at the idea that vegetarianism may too often involve the fabrication of dishes which imitate animal flesh, as in so many boring tofu configurations.  If you can’t get to a good South Indian restaurant, or if the objective is Western-like food with the suggestion of meat rather than the real thing, grilled portobello mushrooms would do it, and there is absolutely no nonsense or fakery, or a strain on the environment.

I always knew that mushrooms, and these mushrooms in particular, can easily evoke both the appearance and the taste of meat, but without the mess, or the perhaps a bad conscience, but I really haven’t done much to demonstrate it to myself, or anyone else – until now.  This was a delicious, totally satisfying dinner on every level.

Additionally, there is real convenience for the cook, because each of the elements of this meal is equally as tasty whether served at room temperature or warm, making it a perfect summer prescription.

Now if I could just find a mushroom to evoke the appearance and the taste of seafood…  Oh, wait, there’s the Oyster mushroom.  That will just have to be another Food Blog outing.

Last night’s meal also invited some thoughts about wine pairing.

The wine with which we accompanied it was a very special discovery we made during our Québec trip two months back.  ‘Special’, also, for still being totally invisible on line.

We had tasted Maurice Dufour’s surprisingly good white (surprising only because of the far northern latitude of its origin), a Muscat, while we were in Charlevoix in June, but we had not enjoyed his newest offering, a red, until Barry suggested we try it with this meal. The Le Charlevoyou was an excellent companion to the slightly quirky seductions of the vegetable plate.  If we were asked to describe the wine in the most general terms, we would both probably say something about it’s resemblance to a Bordeaux.

This is a link to a beautiful short video from ‘La Famille Migneron de Charlevoix’, whose first and primary occupation is the production of some excellent cheeses; there are images of the vineyards beginning almost half of the way through.

Yes, I know Norway has vineyards too, and it’s much closer to the North Pole, but the Gulfstream doesn’t come even close to Baie-Saint-Paul.

We’re now looking forward to Dufour’s rosé, one bottle of which we had also brought back from our visit to that beautiful province.

  • four portobello mushrooms from John D, Madera Farm (weighing just under a pound when first brought home on Wednesday), stems removed, wiped free of soil, and their ‘gills’ scraped off, allowed to rest for half an hour in a pan just large enough to hold them, with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and almost as much lemon juice, plus half a dozen sprigs of oregano from Stokes Farm, turning once, then removed from the marinade and pan grilled for about 5 minutes per side, put onto two plates, squeezed with fresh lemon juice, scattered with more oregano, now chopped, and drizzled with olive oil
  • tiny red and yellow bell peppers  from Bodhitree Farm, each halved or quartered and sautéed over high heat until slightly caramelized, finished with torn basil from a Full Bloom Market Garden plant from Whole Foods, and a light splash of balsamic vinegar
  • baby zucchini from Berried Treasures, sliced to about a quarter inch thick, dipped in olive oil mixed with salt and pepper, pan grilled, then tossed with Gaeta olives from Buon Italia and torn spearmint from Eataly
  • the wine was a red, au QuébecMaurice Dufour‘s Le Charlevoyou (Radisson 80%, et Sainte-Croix 20%) 2014
  • the music was Huang Ruo, Drama Theater Nos. 2-4

tuna, fennel; Rattlesnake beans, lovage; tomato


the beans


Franca steered me toward these outsize, slightly homely beans shortly after I had stopped by her stall in the Greenmarket on Wednesday.  Her knowing look, her nod, and my follow through to her enjoiner, “taste one”, were all I needed to scoop up enough of these Rattlesnake beans for dinner.  They were terrific even raw (always an indication of a good bean), and they more than lived up to that promise after a little parboil and the addition of lemon and one of my favorite herbs;  they had so much flavor however that neither would actually have been missed.



The tuna was unusually high at the fish monger’s on that same day; when I cut a very thick 11-ounce steak into two pieces, they each ended up looking more like ship’s prows than representatives of the undersea aristocracy that they were.

  • two five-and-a-half-ounce sections of tuna loin from Blue Moon Fish Company, rubbed on both top and bottom with a mixture of fennel seed and dried peperoncini, ground together, plus salt and pepper, then pan-grilled for a minute or so on each side, finished with a good squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil
  • Rattlesnake beans from Berried Treasures, strings removed and the beans ‘snapped’, parboiled for a few minutes, then dried inside the same pan while shaking it over a brisk flame, and later reheated with oil, tossed in a bowl with lemon zest and a little lemon juice, seasoned with salt and pepper, and, finally, chopped lovage, also from Berried Treasures, cast over the top of each portion
  • one small heirloom tomato from Norwich Meadows Farm, sliced into four horizontal layers, briefly placed in the grill pan next to the tuna, then removed, distributed onto two plates, seasoned, drizzled with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar and some olive oil
  • the wine was a California rosé, David Akiyoshi Sangiovese Rosé Lodi California 2014
  • the music was Huang Ruo Chamber Concertos, performed by ICE