Month: April 2018

steak, ramp butter; potatoes roasted with red onion; chard

Last night we had some old friends over for dinner. They were visiting their previous city from their current home in the Southwest. We hadn’t seen them in at least 15 years, and I was a little worried about what to put on the table, so I just went with meat and potatoes – and chard of course! Also of course, virtually everything was local.

It was a pretty straightforward meal, but it included a special treat: Local ramps, the first of the season, which, for the occasion, I made into a composed butter which topped the grilled New York New York strip steaks.

The potatoes were dark purple, inside and out, and they stayed purple, inside and out, after roasting.

The chard was the color of a modestly-showy rainbow, and those colors too were fast.

We anticipated the meal with some nibbles.

We then went right into the main course.

  • four 8-ounce New York strip steaks from Lowland Farm, in Orange County, New York (by the ‘Black Dirt’ fields of Pine Island), brought to room temperature and dried, sprinkled with a generous amount of freshly roughly-ground black pepper, placed on a very hot cast iron pan grill for just about 10 minutes, turning twice, salting each side after it had been been turned, removed and arranged on the 4 plates, finished with ramp butter using small, first-of-the-season woodland ramps from Lucky Dog Organic, part of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, and some Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’
  • ‘Magic Molly‘ fingerling potatoes (21 ounces) from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, scrubbed, then, unpeeled, dried, sliced lengthwise, mixed inside a bowl with one medium red onion from S. & S.O. Produce Farms, a tablespoon or two of Portuguese olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a piece of crushed dried orange/gold habanada pepper, a small handful of very fresh rosemary leaves from rosemary from Stokes Farm, stripped from their stems, everything arranged on the surface of a large well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan, roasted at 400º for about 30 minutes, or maybe a little longer, arranged on the plates, sprinkled with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • two bunches of rainbow chard from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in a couple tablespoons of Portuguese olive oil from Whole Foods Market, in which 3 Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm had first been heated and slightly softened, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-groun black pepper, and finished with a little lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Dão) red, Quinta da Pellada Dac Red Blend 2013, from Garnet Wines

There was a modest cheese course.

And, as the evening, and the conversation, continued, a sweet dessert course as well.

  • ‘Lemon Zest’ sorbet from Vermont’s Blue Moon Sorbet, from Foragers Market, served in 4 small bowls along with very thin slices of a Sundance Organics Meyer lemon from Foragers Market, and topped with zest from the other end of the lemon, and garnished with one of Anna’s Ginger Swedish Thins

the elusive monkfish [coda di rospo] inguazato; cavolo nero

I could have put this meal together even more quickly (30 minutes start to finish) than I did, if only I’d remembered ahead of time that I was supposed to pit the olives before I tossed them into the mix of garlic, chilis, and tomatoes.

Incidentally, it’s a fantastic recipe, but for years I’ve been baffled by the fact that I could find no mention of it on line, anything even similar to it. In fact, if you do a Google image search for ‘inguazato’, 99.9% of the pictures that pop up are from my own food blog, and most aren’t even related to this dish.  Tonight however, I tried searching under ‘coda di rospo couscous‘ (monkfish couscous), and I immediately came up with several sites, including this one. Now I can relax, but I also have to investigate further.

  • two 9-ounce monkfish tails from Pura Vida Seafood, prepared using a David Pasternak recipe, but  reducing the proportions, using two thirds of a cup of Tunisian M’hamsa Couscous and Portuguese olive oil, both from Whole Foods in Chelsea, sliced Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, one and a half 400-gram cans of really good Afeltra canned pomodorini from Eataly Flatiron and several kinds of cracked green olives, from Buon Italia, Eataly Flatiron, and the Chelsea Whole Foods Market, all of which I happened to have on hand (ideally, they would be large green Sicilian olives), and 2 small whole dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia
  • two cavolo nero rooted hydroponic plants from Stokes Farm, wilted briefly inside a medium vintage tin-lined copper pot in a tablespoon or so of olive oil in which one Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic clove had first been heated, the greens seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, drizzled with a little more oil
  • the wine was a California (Carneros) white, La Tapatia Chardonnay Carneros 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was from the remaining scenes or ‘Der Rosenkavalier‘, the opera which we had begun to listen to during dinner the night before

chorizo grill, cranberry mustard; boiled potato, chive; raab

It may look pretty unsophisticated, and it was unsophisticated, but the meal was delicious, and surprisingly cosmopolitan: The sausage was spicy Iberian, but made by a legendary New York German butcher shop; the sauce had both American and German elements, but was made in the U.S.; except for the Italian olive oil, the potatoes were pretty German, even if they were called ‘Yukon; the greens, garlic, and peperoncino were totally Italian; the wine has to be described as both American and Portuguese; the music was at once Münchner und Wiener, and it gracefully straddled 3 different centuries (albeit just under 200 years).

Oh, and Barry and I both agree: One cannot serve potatoes too often.

stuffed scallops; cod baked with potatoes; rapini; gelato

Our special guest, visiting from overseas (oh, magic word) had never had dinner in our apartment, at least not while we were there, so I wanted the meal to be special as well. The most important thing was not to mess up; the second was that it would be delicious, but also reflect some of the rich local seafood bounty available in New York.

Its success at the table depended partly on my not being too distracted by brilliant conversation in the kitchen, and the food choices I had were almost entirely dependent on what was available in the Greenmarket that afternoon. I’m pretty sure the meal passed muster, and the incredibly fresh local scallops, cod, and winter rapini filled the program I had in mind very well.

The appetizer’s featured player has always been a popular favorite.

  • nine sea scallops (10 ounces) from American Seafood Company, rinsed, dried, slit horizontally with a very sharp knife almost all of the way through to accommodate small bits from a mixture of some fresh oregano leaves from Stokes Farm, one medium-size clove of Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, sea salt, and black pepper, all having chopped together very finely and removed to a small bowl where just enough olive oil was added to form a paste, the scallops then rolled around on a plate with a little more olive oil, drained, pan grilled in an enameled cast iron pan for about 2 minutes on each side, removed to 2 plates, finished with a squeeze of organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a drizzle of olive oil
  • six large, very ripe, very sweet Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, washed, dried, halved, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, heated for a minute in a small tin-lined copper skillet
  • slices of a wonderfully-crusty ‘polenta boule’ from She Wolf Bakery
  • the wine was a French (Loire/Cheverny) white, Pascal Bellier Cheverny Blanc 2017, from Vin Des Amis

The central actor in the main course also came from the sea, although the extraordinary purple potatoes gave the wonderful fresh cod some earthy competition.

  • *three 9-ounce cod fillets from American Seafood Company in the Union Square greenmarket, halved, prepared more or less along the lines of a recipe described by Mark Bittman that I had originally come across 12 years ago: the cod washed and rinsed, placed in a platter on a bed of coarse sea salt, with more salt added on top until the pieces were completely covered, then set aside while a bed of potatoes was prepared for them by slicing 20 ounces or so of Tamarack Hollow Farm Peter Wilcox purple-skinned, golden-fleshed potatoes (several, maybe interlopers, were purple all the way through) to a thickness of about a quarter inch, tossing them in a large bowl with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a large pinch of orange/gold home-dried Habanada pepper (acquired fresh last fall from Norwich Meadows Farm), arranging the potatoes, overlapping, in a rectangular enameled cast iron oven pan, cooking them for 25 minutes or so in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced, and then, before the potatoes had fully cooked, the cod having already been thoroughly immersed in many changes of water to bring down the saltiness (incidentally, the soaking process somehow gives the fish more solidity, which can be easily felt while it’s being handled it at this point, and it’s kinda sexy), draining and drying the 3 pieces before placing them inside the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzling them with a little olive oil and scattering some freshly-ground black pepper on top, returning the pan to the oven for 8 to 12 minutes (the exact time depends on the thickness of the fillets), removing the fish with a spatula (or, much better, two spatulas), along with as much of the potatoes as can be brought with each piece, and arranging everything as intact if possible onto 3 plates, returning to the pan for the remainder of the potatoes, the servings each scattered with sunflower sprouts from Windfall Farms [Note: whether by luck or skill, maybe both, the cod was cooked perfectly]
  • one bunch of broccoli rabe (aka rapini) from Migliorelli Farm, wilted in a little olive oil in which 3 Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm had been heated until beginning to color, then seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, divided onto the plates and drizzled with more olive oil
  • the wine with the main course was a Portuguese (Douro) white, Folias de Baco Uivo Moscatel Galego Branco 2016, also from Vin Des Amis

The dessert (wow, we rarely get that far through a meal, even when we have guests) was a first for all of us.


  • the music throughout the meal was our conversation

lemon-roasted pork chop; tomato; cress; sunchoke ‘chips’

It wasn’t a fish day at the market, and it wasn’t even a market day. In fact I hadn’t  been to the Greenmarket in 4 days, so I wouldn’t have had much to work with if I had wanted to put together a pasta or egg dish.

Then I realized that it was probably time to do something with the sun chokes I had in the crisper, so I defrosted the 2 small pork chops I had also been saving.

Some of the tomatoes I had on the north window sill became a fresh condiment for an entrée that would otherwise have felt pretty wintry, and the very last bit of some wild cress remaining in the refrigerator added a touch of green.

  • two thick, bone-in, eight-and-a-half-ounce loin pork chops from Flying Pigs Farm, rinsed and thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides, seared quickly over a high flame inside a heavy enameled cast-iron pan, half of a Whole Foods Market organic lemon squeezed over both, then left in the pan, cut side down, while they roasted in a 400º oven for about 14 minutes (flipped halfway through and the lemon squeezed over them once again with metal tongs), the chops removed from the oven, sprinkled with sliced spring garlic from Windfall Farms and chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and the pan juices spooned over the top
  • twelve ounces or so of sunchokes from Max Creek Hatchery, trimmed, scrubbed, sliced very thinly (1/8-1/4 inch), tossed with barely a tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, one section of golden/orange habanada pepper, and two halved bay leaves from Westside Market, spread in one layer onto two large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pans (one would not be enough, since they had been cut so thinly and there really has to be some pan surface showing if they are expected to become crisp), roasted at 425º for about 30 minutes, or until they were brown, tender, and crispy on the edges
  • four Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, washed, halved, seasoned with sea salt and freshlypf=ground black pepper, arranged cut side down around the pork chops during the last five minutes of their time in the oven
  • a little bit of wild cress from Lani’s Farm, not dressed
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Bairrada) white, Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2016, from Garnet Wines

[third image is a detail of ‘Tim Rollins and K.O.S., A Midsummer Night’s Dream (after Mendelssohn and Shakespeare)’ 2012, watercolor, ink on music score pages on canvas, the photograph is from The Style Abettor]