Month: March 2017

wine-garlic-anchovy spare rib braise; sweet potatoes; kale

I don’t seem to have cooked pork ribs since I began this blog. I now realize that was a mistake.

The little package of ‘baby back ribs‘ lay on top of the farmer’s iced box of various pork cuts at the Union Square Greenmarket. I had already picked out 2 small pork chops, but the neat tidiness of the square package, and the realization that it had been something like, ..forever, since I’d cooked pork ribs, was enough to persuade me to go for them as well.

My only concern was their modest weight (a hair over one pound), but I knew that I could add at least 2 very good vegetables to fill out our plates.

I chose some red sweet potatoes,

and some beautiful kale.

Another question became critical only once I started to plan the meal. How was I going to cook the ribs? I had no experience of my own, and I had never paid enough attention to what my Mother did to make them one of our favorite meals in the middle of the last century.

The suggestions I saw on line seemed too southwest barbecue-y (not really my thing and not really an indoor stove thing).  At first I thought there wasn’t anything useful in my paper files, but then Mark Bittman came to the rescue: I uncovered a 3-year-old New York Times clipping, ‘3 Ways to Do Ribs‘, where one of the recipes fit my parameters and looked very promising, for several reasons.

It was an excellent recipe; it was delicious, required few ingredients and relatively little attention, and it also allows for a number of variations.

  • one 1-pound package of baby rack pork ribs (in 2 sections) from Flying Pigs Farm, browned for 5-10 minutes of so in a little olive oil inside a large, tin-lined copper pan over medium-high heat, meatiest side down, sprinkled with salt and freshly-ground black pepper, left more or less undisturbed, then turned and the other side browned, after which one large clove of garlic from John D Madura Farm, crushed, one large salted anchovy from Buon Italia, rinsed and filleted, and one crushed section of a dried orange-golden habanada pepper (my signature innovation for this recipe) were added and and stirred in for a minute, followed by one third of a cup of white wine (a California [Clarksburg] white, Karen Birmingham 2015 Pinot Grigio), any browned bits from the bottom of the pan scraped up, the wine brought to a simmer, the ribs covered and cooked until tender, for about an hour, basically unattended (in fact, I let the pan sit, covered, for another 15 minutes while the sweet potatoes finished in the oven, so, once again, let me say that this is a low-stress recipe), the ribs arranged on the 2 plates, some of the truly delicious juices poured on top, garnished with some chopped parsley from Whole Foods Market
  • less than a pound of Japanese sweet potatoes from Race Farm, unpeeled, but washed thoroughly, cut into one-half-inch pieces, tossed in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and 3 garlic cloves from John D. Madura Farm, arranged on a large well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan, placing the garlic on the top of potato slices (a better idea would be to toss unpeeled garlic cloves into the bowl with the potatoes and seasonings), roasted for about 30 minutes, garnished with red wasabi micro radish from two Guys from Woodbridge
  • Siberian kale from Tamarack Hollow Farm, washed, drained, briefly sautéed in olive oil in which 2 bruised and halved garlic cloves from John D. Madura Farm had first been allowed to sweat and begin to color, the greens seasoned with salt, pepper, a very small amount of crushed dried crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, arranged on the plates and a little more olive oil drizzled on top

There was a small, very refreshing citrus dessert.

  • two large (we used fruit knives and forks) hybrid Kumquats (I forgot to get the name) from Dean & DeLuca

monkfish inguazato; mustard greens with garlic

I’ve made this Sicilian monkfish and couscous dish twice before and it just seems to get better each time. Last night I even managed to obtain socarrat!

It’s also pretty foolproof. I’ve served it with a vegetable each time, but the original, David Pasternak recipe suggests making it a one-dish meal, which would make it even simpler to put together.

I went with a vegetable again last night.

After I had picked up the fish at the Greenmarket earlier in the day, I also found the last bunch of mustard greens.

This is the couscous mix just after monkfish was added, and before it was covered.

  • two 9-ounce monkfish tails from Pura Vida Fisheries, prepared using a David Pasternak recipe which includes M’hamsa Couscous from Tunisia (purchased at Whole Foods), olive oil, sliced garlic John D. Madura Farm, a little more than one and a half 16-ounce cans of really superb Mutti baby Roma tomatoes from Eataly (which are also available at Whole Foods), and cracked Sicilian green olives from Whole Foods, and part of one crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, cooked, because the monkfish tails were smaller than those described in the recipe, for a total of only 10 minutes
  • mustard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in a little olive oil in which several small halved cloves of garlic form John D. Madura Farm had been allowed to sweat a bit, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was an Italian (Sicily, Palermo) white, Corvo Insolia 2015 from Philippe Wine and Spirits, on West 23rd Street less than one block from our table, a wine we have often, and enjoy just as often
  • the music was the piano quintet in C-minor of Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia, his Opus 1, published in 1803, Christoph Hammer, fortepiano, and the Schuppanzigh Quartet, heard streaming on Yle Klassinien

[1799 portrait of a dreamy Louis Ferdinand by Jean-Laurent Mosnier, from Wikipedia]

sunchoke pasta, wild garlic, habanada, cheese, micro beet


Very good.

  • eight ounces of a locally-sourced and locally-produced, seasonal and and artisanal pasta, Sfoglini ‘Jerusalem Artichoke Fusilli’ (incorporating sunchokes grown by Norwich Meadows Farm) which had been cooked al dente during the preparation of a sauce which was nothing more than some chopped spring garlic from Lani’s Farm and a crushed section of a dried orange-golden habanada pepper warmed in a little olive oil inside a high-sided tin-lined copper pan, the cooked pasta tossed into the pan and stirred over a low-medium flame, along with some reserved pasta water, to emulsify it, the mix seasoned with salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, divided into 2 shallow bowls, a small amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano Vache Rosse from Eataly grated on the top, and garnished with a little ‘Bull’s Blood Beet’ [beta vulgaris] from Windfall Farms
  • the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Saladini Pilastri Falerio 2015, from Philippe Wines
  • the music was Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996), chamber music pieces written from the 1950s to the 1980s

sea perch, wild garlic, habanada, anchovy; radishes; rabe

With its gorgeous pink/red skin, I find it difficult to avoid bringing Sea perch home whenever I see it at a fish seller’s stall in Union Square, especially since it has so many other virtues, beginning with excellent flavor and texture, and including ease of preparation, at least as I have come to know it.

The radishes had come from the Greenmarket a full 2 weeks before and still tasted great. They  are roots, and apparently, not knowing when I would remember they were there, I had wrapped them carefully enough to extend their freshness.

The green vegetable which we enjoyed, described by the people who raised and sold it in the Greenmarket on Monday as ‘overwintered broccoli rabe’, is actually, and very surprisingly, a seasonal vegetable, at least in this new age of high tunnels and artisanal farming to supply fussy city people.

  • four 4-ounce sea perch fillets from American Seafood Company, brushed with olive oil and some chopped wild garlic from Lani’s Farm, a bit of crushed dried orange-golden habanada pepper, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground black 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 one large rinsed, filleted salted anchovy from Buon Italia had been gently heated until it had fallen apart, the fish finished on the 2 plates with a drizzle of sweet local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, and a small number of cut chives from Phillips Farm

here an image of the radishes about to go into the oven


pollock baked with zest, wild garlic, habanada; sprouts

It’s a great fish, and this is a great recipe, especially because it encourages some finely-drawn variations, none of which I think should be considered ‘the standard’.

In honor of these 2 noble fillets, and the delicate condiments with which I decided to grace them, I also added a couple of subtle elements to the yeoman vegetable which accompanied them, Brussels sprouts, which normally, but not always, goes it pretty much alone around here.

Wild garlic, a harbinger of spring (the season had in fact officially arrived that morning) seems designed to go with this wonderful dish.

  • two pollock fillets (9 ounces each) purchased from Carl Karlin of P.E. & D.D. Seafood in the Union Square Greenmarket, rinsed, dried, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, placed inside a buttered baking dish, skin side down, spread with a mixture of soft butter, zest from a local sweet lemon from David Tifford of Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, slices of wild garlic (bulb and stem) from Lani’s Farm, and a large pinch of crushed orange/gold home-dried Habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm (acquired fresh last season), the fish baked for about 15 minutes at 350º, removed to 2 plates, the cooking juices poured over the top, and a teaspoon of Mediterranean organic wild capers in brine (from a Providence, Rhode Island distributor) rinsed, drained and dried, along with the oil in which they had earlier been heated briefly, the pollock finished with a garnish of cut chives from Phillips Farm
  • Brussels Sprouts from Migliorelli Farm, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, four unpeeled cloves of garlic from  John D. Madura Farm (2 medium, 2 small), a pinch of a crushed dried chili (peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia), then spread, not touching each other, onto a large, well-seasoned Pampered Chef oven pan, roasted in at 385º (splitting the difference between the ideal temperature for the pollock and the sprouts) for about 20 minutes until very slightly browned and very slightly crisp on the outside, finished with a squeeze of a local sweet lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island
  • the wine was a New Zealand (Awatere Valley, Marlborough) white, Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2016,from Phillipe Wine
  • the music was Handel’s early (1709) opera, ‘Agrippina’, René Jacobs directing the Academy for Ancient Music Berlin