Month: April 2017

lamb chops, rosemary; tomato, sautéed radish; 3 greens

It was another celebratory dinner.  This one was the 26th anniversary of the evening Barry and I first met.

On the night in 1991 night celebrated this past Thursday (April 27), we had each been to different concerts with different good friends. These two had earlier agreed, each separately, with a second friend, to gather afterward at a relatively discrete (no windows, pub-ish) Chelsea queer watering hole, The Break. Somehow within this mathematical puzzle of 6 individuals, Barry and I were introduced to each other, as it were, through 2 degrees of separation.

I don’t remember anything else about that evening, other than that I was beguiled, and that we exchanged phone numbers.

We had tickets for a concert again on the night of this anniversary, but late in the afternoon we decided to enjoy a good meal at home instead. I defrosted some little lamb chops that I had brought home from the Greenmarket the week before. I may have gone slightly overboard on the number of vegetables with which I chose to accompany them, but they were a diverse lot.

Those sides included radishes,

whose greens were cooked separately, with equal amounts of upland cress,

and one small white-going-on-magenta head of cabbage.

  • four small lamb chops (barely-3-ounces each) from Consider Bardwell Farm, dried thoroughly, cooked on a very hot enameled cast iron grill pan for about 5 or 6 minutes on each side, seasoned with salt and pepper after they were first turned over, finished with a squeeze of juice from a sweet local lemon (Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, in the Union Square Greenmarket), scattered with chopped rosemary from Stokes Farm (whose folks had recently returned from a winter hibernation), and drizzled with a little olive oil
  • two Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved, briefly grilled in the same pan after the chops had been removed, seasoned with salt an pepper, drizzled with olive oil
  • one bunch of French Breakfast radishes from Eckerton Hill Farm, washed, the leaves removed and set aside (the little white ‘tails’ left on), sautéed in a little olive oil in a medium tin-lined copper skillet for a few minutes, or until they could be easily pierced with a thin metal skewer, some roughly-chopped wild garlic bulbs from Lani’s Farm added very near the end, when a little white wine was poured in and stirred until the liquid had evaporated, the radishes and garlic arranged on the plates and garnished with micro fennel from Windfall Farms
  • radish greens, which had been removed earlier from the radishes themselves, together with upland cress from Paffenroth Gardens and one small head of white cabbage from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted inside a large enameled cast iron pot in olive oil in which 2 bruised and halved garlic cloves fromLucky Dog Organic Farm Farm had first been allowed to sweat and begin to color, the greens seasoned with salt, pepper, part of one dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, crushed, then arranged on the plates with a little more olive oil drizzled on top

The lamb was preceded by a primi, the third, and final appearance of the conchiglie al forno prepared for the April 19th meal, once again embellished with a little ricotta, to make up for the slight cheese deficit when it was first prepared, and yes, I think this dish really does better each time it’s reheated.

tilefish roasted with ramp, 6 herbs; cherry tomatoes; greens

I’ve said before that I don’t think Tilefish is very well known here, and that still seems surprising, since, above everything else it has great flavor and it remains a very good bargain.  Tilefish has a mild, sweet flavor, apparently shaped by what it largely feeds upon at the bottom of the Continental Shelf, and that includes crab, shrimp, and snails.

Tilefish catches, off Long Island at least, also seem to get high marks for sustainability, an additional encouragement, and the fish that I bring home always comes from small boats, not factories.

I’ve included this information while assuming that the Golden Tilefish, or Lopholatilus chamaelonticeps, pictured below, is the species whose fillets I purchased at the Greenmarket on Friday:

  • three tablespoons of Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter allowed to melt inside a tin-lined oval copper au gratin pan in a 475ª oven until barely browned, 3 or 4 roughly-chopped ramp leaves and at least 3 tablespoons of 6 chopped herbs (rosemary from Stokes Farm, sage from S. & S.O. Produce Farm, parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm, dill and mint from Phillips Farm, and thyme from Eataly) scattered around the pan, 2 fillets of tilefish (7 ounces each) from Blue Moon Fish Company, rinsed, dried, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, placed inside, skinned side down, then roasted, turning once, for about 12 minutes, or until done, removed to the plates, sauced with the pan juices
  • six Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved, warmed in a little olive oil with some chopped wild garlic (bulbs and stems) from Lani’s Farm, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, sprinkled with scissored chives from Stokes Farm and garnished with a bit of some remaining chopped mixed herbs

pan-fried spaghetto with ramps, mint, chilis, and parmesan

I had a full bunch of ramps, purchased at the Greenmarket on Saturday, and I knew I could get more the next day, so I looked around for a pasta recipe which would not stint on these terrific wild spring alliums.

I went on line an hour before starting dinner, and I quickly found, ‘Spaghetti Pan-Fried with Ramps & Mint‘.

The ingredients were few, the process pretty simple, and I was astounded at how delicious – and complex – this pasta turned out to be. Some of the credit should probably go to my adding part one pepperoncino, but most of it was surely the formula itself and the quality of the ingredients.

The dish was VERY good, and it got even better over time and as it moved to room temperature. Lesson: do not eat in haste, and do not insist on hot food.

Otherwise, the recipe itself is in the link in the second paragraph above, and the several ingredients I used on this night are:

mustard-coated parsley-breaded cod; sunchokes; cress

It’s a great fish, a simple recipe, and nothing should go wrong. But it did, a little: I somehow ended  up salting this beautiful cod fillet a bit too generously before I coated one side with herbed breadcrumbs and lowered it into the pan. It happens, but I’m more often guilty of undersalting, so I have no idea why it went the other way this time.

There’s actually something that can be done to recover from such accidents, and fortunately I had the antidote right on the counter this time: Lemon. A squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of a mild vinegar usually helps reduce the impact of an injudicious application of too much salt.

I had been storing the sunchokes for some time, but they were in great condition; I had brought home the upland cress only 2 days before and it was super shape. Both tasted terrific, and their seasoning was fine.

  • one 14-ounce fresh cod fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, brought to room temperature, seasoned with salt on both sides, then only the top side (former skin side) brushed with a little French dijon mustard which had been mixed with a very small amount of water to make it easier to spread, the two pieces dipped into a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs mixed with some finely-chopped parsley from Norwich Meadows farm, browned briefly on the side coated with the mustard and breadcrumb mix in a little olive oil inside a tin-lined copper au gratin pan, transferred to a 325º oven and cooked until the fish began to flake (only about 9 minutes this time, because the pieces were not really thick) [the recipe is based on Thomas Keller’s ‘Wild Cod en Persillade]

  • sunchokes (about 14 ounces), small ‘rootlings’ removed, trimmed, scrubbed, sliced by hand very thinly (1/8-1/4 inch), tossed with barely a tablespoon of olive oil (I think the small amount is somewhat critical to ensuring maximum crispiness), sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, a bit of crushed orange-gold habanada pepper, a few fresh sage leaves from from S. & S.O. Produce Farm, and two halved bay leaves from Westside Market, then spread in one layer onto 2 large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pans (a single pan wasn’t enough, since they had been cut so thinly and they really should show a lot of surrounding surface to become crisp), roasted at 425º for about 30 minutes, or until they were brown, tender, and crispy on the edges, arranged on 2 plates and sprinkled with purple radish micro greens from Windfall Farms

conchiglie al forno; costolette di vitello balsamico, carote

It was conchiglie al forno; costolette di vitello balsamico; carote, or more precisely, and in English, baked shells with mushrooms and radicchio; one veal chop finished with balsamic vinegar, wilted radicchio, thyme-roasted carrots with micro fennel.

I had half of the conchiglie al forno remaining from April 19th, and I really wanted to use it for a couple of primi, to some interesting secondo, which in my mind meant small meat portions. On Sunday it happened that I had a veal shoulder chop in the freezer, a portion I had already been concerned about because I knew it was smaller than what we would normally share. It seemed the perfect choice to follow the baked pasta.

It was.

Because I had accidentally stinted on cream when I had originally assembled the dish (baked pasta rule #1: you will probably never have enough cream), I added a little ricotta to the antipasto before I put it into the oven to heat up, and I drizzled a little olive oil around it once it was in the serving bowls.

That was the meal’s virtually automatic primi.

The second course may have been a perfect followup to the first, since I imagine both dishes to be very Tuscan.

  • one thick 14-ounce pasture-raised veal shoulder chop, or what was described more precisely by Tony, a young butcher who was tending the farm stand that afternoon, as “a shoulder chop close to the ribs, which looks like, and could be described as rib eye”, from Consider Bardwell Farm, brought to room temperature, seasoned well with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, placed inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan which had been coated with a film of olive oil then allowed to get very hot, seared over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes per side, allowed to rest on a small warm platter for 4 minutes or so, the meat removed from the bones and divided into 2 servings and arranged on the plates where it was drizzled with a teaspoon or so of good balsamic vinegar, garnished at the side with purple micro radish greens from Windfall Farms
  • two varieties of carrots, one of which I believe is properly described as ‘Purple Haze’, a hybrid, from Norwich Meadows Farm, washed, trimmed, scrubbed, and dried, tossed in a very little olive oil with salt, pepper and thyme branches from Eataly, spread inside a medium seasoned Pampered Chef pan and baked at 400º until tender (the time would depend on size; these took about 20-25 minutes), finished with micro fennel from Windfall Farms
  • a little radicchio from Eataly, from part of a head that had not gone into the preparation of the conchiglie al forno, warmed slightly in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper,
  • the wine was a California (Santa Ynez Valley) red, Jacqueline Bahue Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 2015, from Naked Wines
  • the music was the entire album, of late 17th-century German music for the theater, ‘Biber: Battalia / Locke: The Tempest / Zelenka: Fanfare’, the performance by Il Giardino Armonico