Month: October 2015

scallops with basil, tomatoes; triggerfish, lovage; lacinato


Nice picture.

This was also just about a perfect meal, for the cook and the diner, but to be totally honest, I have to quickly add that it gets that salute only by the standards and means of a modest kitchen and a quite-ordinary competence.

Also, it was the child of necessity, or more exactly, the happy outcome of a glitch in plans which is not unusual. On my trip to the Greenmarket on Friday I was disappointed once again in not finding John Dory fillets (they had sold out much earlier).  I’ve become accustomed to the need for adjusting to whatever might be available in the fish stalls (or those of any other venders) at the time I arrive, which is often well past the hour when the most [exciting?] fish may have been scooped up by its fans.

When I stopped by Pura Vida Fisheries this Friday at about 1:30 in the afternoon, Paul suggested triggerfish fillet.  I don’t think I had ever eaten it before, and I’m certain I hadn’t cooked it.  Apparently even the Grey triggerfish is somewhat rare this far north.  Perhaps because its habitat is along rocks along the shore, where it dines on shellfish (yum!), it’s not really fished commercially, but this is the time of year it’s most likely to be found, usually by anglers.

But then we both noticed that there were only two left inside the pan resting on the the ice, and they turned out to weigh only about 8 ounces altogether.  I decided that wasn’t quite enough for the two of us at dinner, so I added 6 large sea scallops to my ‘catch’, and added it to the fillets already on ice inside my insulated bag. I would sort out the menu later.

The meal I assembled, of two courses, each featuring some great seafood, was otherwise very minimal in both outline and execution, allowing the quality of some very fresh ingredients to star without any distractions.

There was another first last night:  I used my new [previously-owned] tin-lined copper au gratin pan for the very first time, employing it here to sauté the Triggerfish fillets.  I have never cooked with copper pans, and I didn’t buy it for display (I leave that to the seasoned-polished cast iron).  I loved the copper thing, finding it, at least in this outing, most remarkable for the speed with which it heated.

  • six sea scallops from Pura Vida Fisheries, rinsed, dried, slit almost all of the way through horizontally, where they were stuffed with a mixture of 6 leaves of Gotham Greens Rooftop packaged basil from Whole Foods, one medium-size clove of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, salt, and pepper, all of which was chopped together very finely before enough olive oil to form a paste was added, the stuffed scallops then rolled around on a plate with a little more olive oil, pan grilled about 2 minutes on each side, removed to plates, lemon juice and olive oil drizzled over the top
  • eight very ripe, very sweet cherry tomatoes from Stokes Farm, washed, dried, halved, heated for a minute in a small, low, ancient Pyrex bluish-glass pan, seasoned with salt and pepper, added to the plates with the scallops


While Scallops are a familiar presence on our table, the Grey Triggerfish doesn’t even make it to our fisher-owned market stands very often, but now I know that it’s a great treat when it does.  I wrote above that this fish hangs out around rocks, and so, in addition to a great texture unlike anything else I can think of, it has an attractive, quite subtle, rather sweet taste, with a finish suggesting crustaceans.  It does indeed. Lovely.

Because it involved no elaborate preparation, the second seafood course followed the first with a minimum of delay. Nice.

I ended up inventing a recipe for the Triggerfish myself, because I had found nothing useful in any of my cookbooks, in my files, or anywhere on line.

  • two 4-ounce fillets of Triggerfish from Pura Vida Fisheries, rinsed, dried, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground black pepper, sautéed in olive oil over medium-high heat for only about 90 seconds on each side, removed to warm plates, drizzled with a little fresh lemon, sprinkled with chopped lovage from from Tamarack Farm and drizzled also with olive oil and/or the oil remaining in [yes, here the tin-lined copper!] pan
  • the most delicious, juiciest cavalo nero, or lacinato kale, that I’ve ever tasted, from Tamarack Farm, braised with olive oil and one split clove of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, which had previously been barely colored in the oil
  • the wine was a Spanish (Vallalodid) white, Vevi Rueda 2014
  • the music was the entirety of ‘Barbary Coast‘, Red Light New Music’s wonderful first album

crabcakes on tomatoes; roasted radicchio; romanesco



The dinner was something of a improvisation for that evening, using ingredients I had just found hanging around the kitchen (except perhaps for one very deliberate move, ahead of time, to defrost some frozen crab cakes).  That may explain why, in the end, there was a lot going on with this entrée, but it was pretty tasty nevertheless.

  • two crab cakes from PE & DD Seafood (ingredients: crab, egg, flour, red & green peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, milk, celery, parsley), heated in a heavy iron pan, 3 to 4 minutes to each side, sprinkled with fresh fennel seed from Lani’s Farm, and drizzled with a little olive oil, served on a bed of three different colors of heirloom tomatoes from Berried Treasures, chopped, which were combined with salt, ground black pepper, part of one tiny, finely-chopped fresh hot red pepper from Roots to River Farm, and chopped fresh oregano leaves from from Rise & Root Farm
  • one medium radicchio from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, quartered lengthwise, placed in an unglazed ceramic oven pan, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, roasted at 400º for about 12 minutes, turning once, finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and scattered with shavings of Red Cow Parmesan cheese from Eataly
  • portions of the core of the three small Romanesco broccoli we had enjoyed two nights ago, along with sections of their upper cores, sautéed – in steps – in olive oil (along with two small squashed cloves of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, which had earlier begun to turn brown), until the vegetable was tender, seasoned with salt and pepper, a small amount of water added and then emulsified with the remaining oil
  • the wine was a Slovenian (Vipava) white, Guerila Vipavska Dolina Pinela 2012, from Appellation Wines & Spirits
  • the music* was, in succession, an August Klughardt piano quintet from 1884, several pieces by Pascal Dusapin, including an extraordinary virtuoso trombone concerto, ‘Concerto for Trombone “Watt” ‘, and some amazing piano pieces of Franz Liszt (the very modern, ‘Nocturne for Piano, S 203 “Schlaflos, Frage und Antwort”‘ was a huge surprise to me), performed brilliantly by Andre Watts  for the evening

*Note: If you click onto this link, and if you have a Spotify account, you can see our entire playlist for the evening.

all grilled: mackerel (caper-tomato salsa); eggplant; fennel



We’re both very fond of Mackerel, even when we are unable to bring it home.  It’s become a very popular fish on our table, so popular that I’m going to have to come up with more alternatives to this excellent, and very simple Sicilian-inspired recipe from Michael White.


  • ten small Boston mackerel fillets from Blue Moon Fish Company, washed, dried, brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, pan grilled over high heat for six minutes or so, turning once, transferred onto two plates and completed with a very simple salsa of halved small red cherry tomatoes from Stokes Farm completed minutes before starting the fish, a mix of olive oil, salted capers which had been rinsed and drained, some finely-sliced fresh garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a bit of finely-chopped hot peppers from several greenmarket farms
  • two small Japanese eggplants from Lani’s Farm, split lengthwise, scored, brushed with a mixture of oil, finely-chopped early garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, and fresh oregano from from Rise & Root Farm, then seasoned with salt and pepper and briefly (they were very small) pan-grilled, turning once
  • some fennel stems, left in the crisper after I had roasted the bulb a few day ago, trimmed, rolled in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, finely-minced garlic, pan-grilled until tender, then tossed with fennel fronds and torn peppermint leaves from Phillips Farm
  • the wine was an Italian (Sardinia) white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013
  • the music was from streaming Q2, and included Arvo Pärt’s ‘Tabula Rasa’, as well as the Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi‘s remarkable, ‘Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae

penne, romanesco, capers, anchovy, olives, chiles


I’ve decided to call it, or at least file it under ‘broccoli’, rather than ‘cauliflower’, but it doesn’t really matter what I call it. Romanesco is very beautiful, and very tasty.

I think most people, when they first come across a head of this vegetable, have trouble believing it’s actually a natural form (in this image it looks quite unreal, or at the very least, magnified a zillion times). I think that was also my own experience, but once I was convinced there was nothing fake about them, I’ve found it difficult to avoid taking one home whenever I see them.   The food photographer Laura Anderson has described Romanesco as “The helical cruciferous vegetable, which looks like the lovechild of cauliflower and broccoli with some alien DNA thrown in…”.

Also, we note that it’s definitely chartreuse, a color which is not actually that common in the vegetable world.


a gathering of small Romanesco on the table at Lucky Dog Organic Farm


The recipe (which I halved) on which I based the meal was published in New York magazine over ten years ago, and it was attributed to Sara Jenkins; the source of the ingredients is described below.  I improvised by adding some diced fresh hot peppers.

  • three very small heads (they were pretty cute) of Romanesco broccoli from from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, two small heads of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, a handful of Kalamata olives, a few capers, one salted anchovy fillet from Buon Italia, 9 ounces of Afeltra Penna Rigata from Eataly, a few tablespoons of bread crumbs I made in my kitchen, and a surprising amount of finely-chopped hot peppers, of various hues, from several greenmarket farmers
  • the wine was an Italian (Tuscany) white, Villa Antinori Toscana 2014
  • the music was Q2 Music streaming, specifically, ‘Generation XYZ: 24-Hour Marathon of Composers Age 40 and Under‘, which the station had repeated

fiori di zucca ravioli, yum yum peppers, oregano

Zucchini_flower ravioli_peppers

I love zucchini flowers, but I refuse to do any deep frying at home, so most of the time I have to sit on the sidelines when I encounter the ingredient in a market.  That’s why I was so excited last week when I came across Luca Donofrio latest fresh pasta innovation at Eataly, fiori di zucca-filled ravioli. I had to put off a purchase that day, but resolved to return when I did not already have a commitment to ingredients for a different meal.

Late Sunday afternoon I braved the crowds of tourists (and home cooks) inside that spectacularly successful food emporium, and managed to bag (box) some of the pasta.

I didn’t want to upstage the star ingredient, so I thought seriously about how I would ‘dress’ the pasta with a sauce. Most of the decision was made as soon as I spotted a very small plastic bag inside of our refrigerator of what I believed were two ‘yum yum’ peppers.  I had thought they had disappeared earlier within a mix of tiny parti-colored bell peppers.  If they actually were yum yums, they were the peppers the young man at the Union Square market stall had described as sweetly flavorful, but when I tasted a tiny sliver of one, raw, I decided they should not be added without some caution (they were far more hot than sweet, at least until introduced into the sauce and the ravioli, but they were certainly flavorful.  They made the dish far more sophisticated than it would have been otherwise, and the taste of the fiori di zucca survived.

You never know about peppers, I’ve learned, or at least I never know about peppers.

NOTE: The image above does not include the freshly-ground black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese added to the top of the pasta after we had tasted the dish, and after I snapped the picture.

  • twelve ounces of fiori di zucca-filled ravioli from Eataly and a sauce which began in a shallow pan with olive oil, sliced garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm which was warmed in the oil, finely-chopped yum yum peppers from Berried Treasures Farm added just before the vessel was removed from the heat, and fresh oregano from Rise & Root Farm (Union Square Greenmarket) added before the cooked, drained pasta was turned into the sauce pan, where some of the reserved pasta water was added and emulsified, the mix arranged in two bowls and minutes later sprinkled with freshly-grated Red Cow Parmesan cheese from Eataly
  • the wine was an Italian (Tuscany) white, San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2014
  • the music was Jean-Philippe Rameau’s ‘Dardanus’, performed by Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre