Month: January 2017

sea perch and anchovy sauce; carrots with thyme, oregano

It’s a beautiful fish, with a delicate red skin, although the color mostly disappears with cooking.

New York venders (and restaurants?) sometimes call it ‘redfish’, but usually it’s ‘sea perch’ or ‘ocean perch’, even if it bears little resemblance to the fresh water perch I grew up with around the Great Lakes.  The brilliant color of its scales and its skin would be enough evidence of the distinction, but I have to admit, even at this gap in time and distance from 1940s-50s Michigan and Wisconsin, there may be something to be said about the similarities in taste.

The French know it as Rascasse, but there’s some confusion with names on the other side of the Atlantic because it apparently belongs to the family, ‘scorpaenidae‘, which also includes the scorpionfish.

This looks like the best answer to the question, ‘what is it?’


  • four fillets of red sea perch (19 ounces) from Pura Vida Seafood, brushed with olive oil and one chopped garlic clove from Tamarack Hollow Farm, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, then broiled, 4 inches from the flames, for about 4 minutes until the skin was crisp and the fish cooked through, sauced with a bit of olive oil in which 3 salted anchovies from Buon Italia, rinsed and filleted, had been heated over a very low flame for about 5 minutes until they had fallen apart (the sauce having been kept warm while waiting for the fish to cook), the fillets finished on the plates with chopped parsley from Eataly

I had collected two kinds of beautiful small carrots in recent visits to the Greenmarket, and last night I decided it was time to enjoy them both.

steak, gorgonzola butter, micro radish; fingerlings, herbs

While there was both a primo and a secondo, it was still a very low-stress meal to prepare, probably helping to explain why it turned out so totally delicious.


The first course was very simple.

The main course may have been considerably more rich, but it was on an almost equally modest scale in volume, and also arguably far less complicated in its makeup.

I can’t resist a carbon footprint note: Virtually everything in this meal was grown locally.

Roasting Rick Bishop’s wonderful ruby crescents was a lot easier – and the end result a lot healthier – than making homemade fries, as in the ‘steak and French fries’ I grew up with, which seemed to be everyone’s favorite dinner in the 40s and 50s.

  • one grass-fed 10-ounce New York strip steak purchased from John Stoltzfoos at his family’s Millport Dairy Farm stall in the Union Square Greenmarket, pan grilled (seasoned on both sides only after each had been seared) over a medium-high flame, until medium rare, cut into 2 servings, each spread with half of a tablespoon of a softened composed butter (butter which had remained after this meal last fall, and had been divided into one-tablespoon packages; it was composed of softened ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘ flavored with a small amount of toasted and crushed dried fennel seed; a few drops of Worcestershire sauce; salt; pepper; a couple ounces of Gorgonzola Casarrigoni from Whole Foods; and a sprinkling of crushed home-dried, very dark, heatless habanada peppers), the steak allowed to rest a few minutes before being served garnished with Hong Vit micro radish from Windfall Farms
  • ruby crescent potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, halved lengthwise, tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, golden home-dried habanada pepper, fresh sage from Keith’s Farm, fresh rosemary from Hoeffner Farms, arranged cut side down on a medium Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, roasted at about 375º for about 20 or 25 minutes
  • the wine was a terrific Washington (Columbia Valley) red, Powers Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014. from Chelsea Wine Vault


sautéed garlic-herb-marinated Squeteague; collards, garlic

This is a wonderful fish, and the simple recipe I used last night allows its own virtues to be fully savored.

The image immediately below is of the fillets in the marinade, and the bowl of uncooked washed and cut greens).

  • two 7 1/2-ounce fillets of Squeteague (aka ‘Weakfish’ or Sea/Ocean Trout) from American Seafood Company, marinated for about half an hour on the counter in a mix of a little olive oil, one minced garlic clove, and 5 different herbs (2 crushed fresh bay leaves from West Side Market, fresh oregano from Stokes Farm; fresh parsley, thyme, and mint from Eataly; and fresh tarragon from Whole Foods), drained, sautéed/fried for about 2 minutes in a heavy, lightly-oiled (one tablespoon), tin-lined oval copper pan which had been pre-heated to medium-hot, skin-slide down first, the fillets then turned and cooked for another minute, until opaque and firm, drizzled with some of the marinade and served

Resting inside a tub in the Greenmarket earlier that day – near the end of January – the collards were totally irresistible.

  • young collards from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut as a very rough chiffonade, braised until barely softened inside a heavy enameled cast iron pot in which one halved clove of quartered garlic from Lucky Dog Organic Farm had first been allowed to sweat in some olive oil, the greens finished with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil

There was a very good cheese course, but I neglected to photograph it.

  • three cheeses, ‘Arethusa Blue’, a Connecticut blue cow cheese from Eataly, Consider Bardwell’s ‘Slybro’ goat cheese, and their ‘Barden’ blue cow cheese, served with slices of a very fresh, extraordinarily delicious She Wolf Bakery sourdough baguette


penne, celeriac, alliums, Speck, chives, parsley, Parmesan

It was to be one of those intervals between nights which featured meat or fish, and it was going to be either a frittata or a pasta. The decision was made shortly after I began burrowing around in my vegetable inventory. There I found a tidy cache of celery root, and not much more. Looking around on the internet, I soon realized that a marriage of celeriac and pasta didn’t seem at all out of the question, especially with the right condiments, and my kitchen can usually provide those.

The recipe with which inspired me asked for ham, cut into small strips. I didn’t have ham, which would have been fairly thick, but I did have some very thinly-sliced Speck. I cut it only into segments, which was a mistake: I should have expected that they wouldn’t stay separated; it would have been better to chop the Speck very finely.

Have I said often enough before now that I love anything celery-ish?

knusprige Schweinshaxn; Kartoffelklöße; Blaukraut

[aka crispy pork knuckles, potato dumplings, red cabbage]


Somewhere, while doing research for this meal, I came across a reference to a Bavarian proverb intended to reassure a cook worried about how large a knuckle to use: ‘‘S is ned, wia grous’ s is, aba wia guad’ s is.‘, it goes, at least as I translated it from the English into Boarisch, with some online help. I think the English went something like, ‘It’s not how big it is, but how good it is’.

Barry and I both had numerous occasions to vouch for the goodness of Schweinhaxe, and we’ve never had one that was too small – or too large – and they’ve all been very good.

The difference between Eisbein and Schweinshaxe may not always be hard and fast (puns intended), but basically Eisbein, often associated with Berlin, is a cured or smoked (gepökelt oder geräuchertes) knuckle, and Schweinshaxe, very big in Bavaria, is fresh pork. They are both deceptively and incredibly delicious.

I’ve cooked pork knuckles before, in that case, 2 years ago, it was smoked Eisbein (beziehungsweise, geräucherte Schweinshaxe); last night I tried my hand at ‘Schweinshaxn‘ (the Bavarian spelling).

I combed my books, paper files, and the internet in order to assemble a working model of a recipe. I ended up using most of that included in the large compendium, ‘Culinaria Germany‘.

We were both delighted with the result, but I should leave the cook (me, and whoever) with a lesson and a suggestion:

  1.  At the last minute I realized that the only beer I had on hand wasn’t a dark brew,   which would be preferred in Bayern, but our nor’easter persuaded me not to go fetch another, so I went with the Pavoni, which may have been waiting for its star turn.
  2. I was very concerned ahead of time with getting the skin crispy, but only succeeded partially; with hindsight, I believe that finishing the knuckles on a grill pan might have produced the ideal result.

I’ve included images of the vegetables in the pan after the meat had been browned, and another which shows the hocks returned to the pan, before being placed in the oven.

  • two 24-ounce pork knuckles from Flying Pigs Farm, left sitting upright inside the refrigerator overnight, their sides left bare, tops covered with plastic wrap, removed the next day, rinsed, patted dry, the skin scored to the extent possible (it’s very tough, especially after drying out some), to increase the chances of it becoming crispy, rubbed on all surfaces with the open side of a large clove of garlic from Tamarack Hollow Farm and a mixture of sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, toothpicks inserted to help keep the skin and meat lined up together, seared thoroughly in veal lard (rendered months ago from fat purchased from Consider Bardwell Farm and then frozen), inside a very heavy enameled cast iron dutch oven, removed, and diced soup vegetables (onion from Tamarack Hollow Farm, celery from Foragers, ‘Purple Haze’ carrots from Norwich Meadows Farm, young leeks from Lucky Dog Organic Farm), some Lucky Dog celery greens, sprigs of Italian parsley from Eataly, 2 Sicilian bay leaves from Buon Italia, and half a dozen bruised juniper berries were added to the pan, stirred and sautéed briefly, followed by one cup of fresh water, the pot covered with its self-basting lid, placed inside a preheated (325º F) oven, for about 2 1/4 hours, basting every half hour with at least half a bottle of beer (ideally any dark beer, but I only had a light Pavoni), the pot removed from the oven, which was turned up to 450º, the Haxen removed to a smaller, low-sided, oval enameled cast iron pan and returned to the oven, and later the broiler, to become crispy (watching carefully all along), while the remainder of the beer was added to the large Dutch oven in which the pork had been braising with the vegetables, the uncovered pot boiled over a high flame until the liquid had reduced somewhat, when it was seasoned with salt and pepper, strained through a sieve into a warm sauceboat (the vegetables put aside and retained for use in another meal), the knuckles arranged on plates and coated with some of the sauce, the remainder placed on the table

If you think you’d like a tasty savory carbohydrate with the texture of mom’s sponge cake, you’ll love Kartoffelklöße (also Kartoffelknödel) as much as we do. They may also be one of the easiest side dishes ever, as long as you have access to a great market like Schaller & Weber.

  • four frozen Kartoffelklöße (potato dumplings) from Schaller & Weber, defrosted the day before, boiled for about 12 minutes in salted water, drained and arranged on the plates, some of the Schweinshaxn sauce ladled on top

Here I’ve used the image of cabbage in the greenmarket that appeared on this blog once before, but then it was to illustrate a post about a meal which incorporated only a leaf or two. In fact I had bought this head almost a full month ago (winter vegetables, while limited in their variety, are often very forgiving about home storage issues), so the picture probably deserved a revisit.

For the red cabbage I began with a recipe published by Martha Stewart because I didn’t have enough time for the more authentic Mimi Sheraton German version, however I found myself sweetening it near the end (to relate better to the Bavarian elements in the rest of the meal)

  • a little veal and duck fat from earlier dinners, heated to medium-high heat in an enameled cast iron pan, then one 24-ounce red cabbage from Hoeffner Farms, finely-sliced, and several small roughly-chopped shallots from Norwich Meadows Farm (and one small ‘red wing’ onion from Keith’s Farm) added and cooked, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage had softened slightly (about 15 minutes), after that some salt, lemon juice, local apple cider vinegar from Face Farm were added, plus a sprinkling of freshly-ground black pepper, the heat reduced and the mixture cooked about 10 minutes more, or until the cabbage was wilted and the shallots softened, a little turbinado sugar added and stirred in, followed by a few tablespoons of a mix of raisins, and some red current jelly, all stirred into the pan