I say something like this every time I serve this dish: The recipe for this incredibly-simple lemon-roasted pork chop is perfection. More details here.
- two 9-ounce rib pork chops from Flying Pigs Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt and pepper, seared quickly in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan before half of an organic lemon was squeezed over them, the lemon left in the pan, then roasted in a 400º oven for about 14-16 minutes (flipped halfway through and the lemon squeezed over them once again), removed from the oven, topped with chopped sage from , the pan juices spooned over the top
- Japanese sweet potatoes from Race Farm, cut as frites, tossed with olive oil, rosemary leaves, salt, and pepper, placed in an unglazed ceramic pan with some whole, unpeeled garlic from John D. Madera Farm, and roasted at 400º for about half an hour
- cultivated upland cress from Alewife Farm, dressed only with a very good olive oil
- the wine was an Argentine (Mendoza) red, Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés 2014
- the music was that of Antoine Forqueray (1671-1745, performed by Atsushi Sakai, Christophe Rousset and Marion Martineau
While the fish was delicious, once again the sauce did not thicken as it should: I’m assuming it was because I had forgotten about, or was chary of, quickly boiling the mix of pan juices and Crème fraîche (but only until slightly thickened).
- two flounder fillets from American Seafood, placed in a tinned copper au gratin pan skin side down, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, dotted with 2 tablespoons of butter, a modest amount (less than 1/4 cup) of white wine poured over the top, placed in a 375º oven for 10 minutes, removed onto 2 plates, some of the juices introduced into a separate small pan containing about a fourth of a cup of a good room-temperature Crème fraîche, then boiled quickly until slightly reduced [or should have been boiled, and not just heated, as I did this time], a handful of baby sorrel from Windfall Farms and some chopped parsley from Eataly stirred into the pan (the parsley to ensure that the sauce would not be only the olive drab color of sorrel once it’s been cooked), the sauce spooned over the fish
- tiny La Ratte potatoes from Berried Treasures, scrubbed, boiled in salt water, drained, dried in the pan, rolled in a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with parsley from Eataly
- four Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved and heated in a small tinned copper pan, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with chopped fresh oregano from Stokes Farm
- the wine was a California white, David Akiyoshi Reserve Chardonnay Clarksburg 2014, from Naked Wines
- the music was Pfitzner’s sublime opera masterpiece, ‘Palestrina’ (incidentally, never performed in the US), Kirill Petrenko conducting the Frankfurt Opera And Museum Orchestra*, with Richard Cox, Frank van Aken, Johannes Martin Kränzle, and Claudia Mahnke
*a historical note, from the orchestra’s site: “Oper Frankfurt’s orchestra came into being towards the end of the 18th century. It received its unusual name because it was also the orchestra that gave concerts for the “Frankfurter Museum”, an institution founded by culturally minded people in Frankfurt in 1808, when Louis Spohr was chief conductor of the, still young, orchestra.”
I had only a small window through which I might put together a dinner on Tuesday, so I assembled a simple sauce for a filled pasta I had been keeping in our small freezer compartment. Variations of this filled pasta dish are one of my most common recourses in such circumstances.
- a 12-ounce package of Rana mushroom ravioli (portobello and porcini) from Eataly, boiled, drained and mixed with a sauce of olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped thyme from Foragers Market, chopped parsley from Eataly, plus one small treviso from Eataly which had been quartered and roasted along with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and finishing with a little balsamic vinegar, while the pasta water was coming to a boil, the ravioli and sauce divided into shallow bowls, finished with a small handful of pine nuts which had been heated in a cast iron pan until they had begun to brown, some olive oil and grated ‘Parmigiano Reggiano Bonat 3’ from Buon Italia, and topped with slivers of the same cheese
- the wine was an Italian (Marche) red, Fattoria Laila Rosso Piceno Nero Scuro 2014 [Note: that link is to the 2013]
- the music was that of David Matthews, his ‘Sonata for Piano’ opus 47, and other works by him, from this album; before dinner we had watched a DVD of the George Benjamin opera, ‘Written on the Skin’, which I described tonight in a tweet as “the most intense opera I’ve ever seen”
The cold kept the fish out of the Greenmarket on Monday, so I had to come up with an alternative for dinner. I didn’t want it to be meat or a pasta, both of which we had enjoyed very recently, so I turned to a couple old favorites, salumi and risotto, to be served in succeeding courses.
So, yes, this was a northern Italian meal, including the a contribution from the most northern, formerly Austrian province.
Risotto means standing over a pot almost continuously for nearly half an hour, and it shouldn’t really sit around afterward, so there was a significant interval between courses (good conversation, music, and wine continued)
- La Quercia Speck Americano, described as ‘applewood-smoked prosciuto’ (3 ounces), from Foragers Market, drizzled with a little a good Umbrian olive oil (Luciana Cerbini Casa Gola) from Buon Italia, served with some kale micro greens from Lucky Dog Organic Farm and slices of a Bien Cuit sourdough ‘Campagne’, also from Foragers
- the wine was the last of the sparkling rosé we enjoyed the day before (the simple magic clutch cap from the Argyle vineyard we’ve had for decades maintains the fizz very well), a super Spanish (Penedès) sparkling rosé, Castellroig Cava Brut Rosat
- for a classic (‘classic’, especially in that more than with any other recipe I’ve ever researched, there is virtually no variation for this one) risotto Milanese, one cup of Campanini Riso Vialone Nano, 3 1/2 cups of stock reconstituted from Better Than Bullion organic roasted chicken base (a boon for all but the most ambitious cooks), one medium yellow organic onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, one cup of wine (California white, Miriam Alexandra Chenin Blanc 2015), a large pinch of Spanish saffron from Whole Foods, more than a tablespoon of ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘, and a fourth of a cup (plus some shavings for garnish) of grated ‘Parmigiano Reggiano Bonat 3’ from Buon Italia
- the wine was a very good Italian (Alto Adige/Südtirol) white, St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio 2014 [the link is to a page on 67wine.com, from whom we had bought this wine in other years], purchased from Philippe Liquors, which is just down the street, so of course this Germanic Pinot Gris was almost ‘locavore’
- the music was Rossini’s ‘Le Comte Ory‘, Jesús Lopez-Cobos conducting the Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra and the Prague Chamber Chorus, with Stefania Bonfadelli, Juan Diego Flórez, Alastair Miles, and Marie-Ange Todorovitch
Even if it weren’t St. Valentine’s day, it might have been possible to spot a theme running through this meal. I don’t want to go into an analogy of its physical elements, to protect the squeamish, but the color red – and hearts shapes – were important parts of the conceit.
The meal began with one of my favorite things, from the sea, another of those treats which I suppose I could put together myself, with a great deal of labor, and perhaps an occasional success, but which I enjoy prepared by experts.
- octopus carpaccio (sliced, pressed octopus), less than 3 ounces altogether, from The Lobster Place, drizzled with a little juice from a tiny lemon-lime grown locally by David of Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, and a little very good olive oil
- micro kale greens from Lucky Dog Organic Farm
- slices of a small Bien Cuit baguette from Forager’s Market
- the wine was a really super Spanish (Penedès) sparkling rosé (it was Valentine’s Day!), Castellroig Cava Brut Rosat
Avoiding the subject of hearts for a moment, and looking at this entrée, I’m thinking I might have figured out why this is called a ‘flatiron steak’ (a new, increasingly-prized, and quite singular shoulder cut of beef which is sliced by the butcher into 2 flat steaks, to remove the heavy connective tissue) , except that its companion was definitely not shaped like an antique iron.
It seems that I’m not the only one to have speculated about the name; others have tried to track down the story, including this sleuth, but I think with less than full success.
I chose the 2 steaks at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, for their perfect size, and at the suggestion of Philip, one of the shop’s knowledgeable butchers. They were delicious, more tasty than more familiar, and pricier cuts that are often preferred for their ability to melt in your mouth (not a feature that compels me).
- two flat iron steaks (totaling 14 ounces) from Dickson’s Farmstand, brought to room temperature, dried with paper towels, scattered with a little sea salt, pan-grilled for about 4 minutes on each side, a little more salt and freshly-ground telicherry pepper added to both sides after each had been cooked, removed to warm plates, drizzled with a little juice from another local tiny lemon-lime, sprinkled with chopped winter savory from Stokes Farm, and a little olive oil
- about half a pound of tiny La Ratte potatoes (the size of small-ish olives) from Berried Treasures Farm, scrubbed, dried, tossed with olive oil, thyme sprigs from Forager’s, salt, and pepper, scattered on a seasoned, medium-size Pampered Chef oven pan in a 375º-400º oven for about 20 minutes, removed, arranged on the plates and tossed with chopped parsley from Eataly
- some beautiful kale from Alewife Farm, sautéed in olive oil in which 3 split medium cloves of garlic from Keith’s Farm had first been allowed to sweat for a few minutes and begun to brown, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a dash of olive oil
- the wine with the steak was a magnificent, middle-age Spanish (Rioja) red, Viña Ardanza Reserva La Rioja DOC Alta S.A. 2005 [that link is to the producer’s site discussing the 2007 vintage; we’ve had our 2005 for years, and Alta S.A. may now consider it extinct]
It’s not red, but it is in the shape of a heart, and its totally ‘nutty’ (specifically, pine nuts and hazelnuts).
- the music before and then throughout a part of the meal was Mozart’s ‘The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni’, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Luca Pisaroni, Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Rolando Villazón, Mojca Erdmann, and Vocalensemble Rastatt
- when the opera had finished, well before we had, I suggested one Valentine’s Day tale be followed with another, the wonderful Stravinsky-Auden-Kallman collaboration, ‘The Rake’s Progress‘, like the Mozart-Da Ponte work, a dramma giocoso, or opera buffa, in the composer’s mid-20th-century neo-classical style, which brought it even closer to the neo-classical age of the eighteenth (and they both have sassy upbeat epilogues!); we heard John Eliot Gardner’s production, with the London Symphony Orchestra, Bryn Terfel, Ian Bostridge, Anne Sofie von Otter, Deborah York, and The Monteverdi Choir