Month: July 2018

artichoke ravioli, garlic, heirloom tomato, marjoram buds

I had a pound or so of heirloom tomatoes, less than a third of which were super ripe (which is good, when it comes to heirlooms). I was determined to use them in Sunday night’s meal, but the amount wasn’t going to be enough to serve with the pasta I had in mind to prepare. The remaining tomato was pretty big, but I couldn’t include just some of it, so the dish ended up less like a ravioli con tomate and more like a ravioli en brodo.

  • two sliced fresh garlic cloves from Alex’s Tomato Farm and a thinly-sliced section of a stem of a flowering spring shallot from Keith’s Farm heated together in a little olive oil over medium heat inside a large tin-lined high-sided copper pot until the alliums were pungent, and just before that moment part of a dried Habanada pepper, crushed, was introduced into and the pot and stirred for a minute, then several heirloom tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, roughly chopped, and some chopped fresh marjoram flower buds, also from Norwich Meadows Farm, were added to the the mix and stirred a little before a 10-ounce package of Rana artichoke-filled ravioli from Eataly Flatiron that had been boiled for barely 3 minutes before being drained was tossed into the pot, the pasta carefully stirred over medium heat for a while to reduce somewhat what was basically tomato liquid, and served, when ready, inside 2 shallow bowls, additional marjoram buds tossed on top
  • the wine was an Italian (Calabria) white, Scala, Ciro Bianco, 2017, from Flatiron Wines

There was a dessert, basically the one we didn’t get to at dinner the previous evening.

  • a scoop of Talenti Vanilla Bean Gelato from Whole Foods Market dropped into a hollowed-out deseeded core of half of an Asian/Korean melon from Norwich Meadows Farm, some raspberries from Berried Treasures Farm scattered over the top, and finished with some of the berries, mashed with a little turbinado sugar and a splash of Toschi Orzata Orgeat syrup


blue eggs, pink bacon, red and green spices, purple basil

I feel like I cheated with this picture. Most of its interest is supplied by the purple micro basil. Although it definitely adds something to the flavor of a dish, it’s the delicate shape, and especially the color, that makes it sing, and demands that it be ‘heard’.

Otherwise this was a fairly routine Sunday breakfast-and-we’re-not-going-to-need-lunch meal.

  • It included Milport Dairy Farm Americauna chicken eggs with blue shells and the same Lancaster County Amish farm’s thick bacon, Maldon Salt, some coarsely-ground black pepper, a bit of a bit of a homemade Basque  piment d’Espellate we purchased in a small town north of Baie-Comeau, Quebec from the French producer’s daughter, a pinch or two of fenugreek dried fenugreek from Bombay Emerald Chutney Company that I had purchased at the Saturday Chelsea Farmers Market, thinly-sliced pieces from the stem of a flowering spring shallot from Keith’s Farm that were heated in a little olive oil until they were softened, softly-toasted slices of 2 different ‘second-or-third-day’ breads, She Wolf Bakery’s Toasted Sesame Wheat, and a polenta boule from Bread Alone
  • it was a beautiful morning early afternoon, the breakfast room windows were open, and the music was the album, ‘Afternoon Ragas Rotterdam 1970‘, with Nikhil Banerjee, sitar, and Kanai Dutta, tabla (it was so rich that it occasionally sounded like a larger ensemble)

culotte; grilled eggplant, marjoram; tomatoes, micro basil

Late this past Friday we had invited a visitor from far outside New York, who was only going to be here for another week, to join us for dinner the next evening. I calculated that I had enough vegetables, and fruit, for 3, but the next day I would have to go down the street to Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market, only one block east of us, to pick up a fish entrée. When I arrived there I found that the fishers’ stall wasn’t there.

The storm of the day before may have kept the boats in the harbor on the east end of Long Island, I surmised.

Although there would be 3 fish stalls at the Union Square Greenmarket, and that market was less than a mile away, I didn’t want to hazard it on a Saturday. I rarely do go on that day anymore, even though it’s when there are the largest number of farmer, baker, and fisher stalls. It’s also when there are the largest number of shoppers  – and numbers of dawdling tourists, many holding hands and generally slowing down the serious cooks, as they do in our neighborhood Chelsea Market.

When I do go on a Saturday, it’s often to show my happy place to friends visiting from out of town, or out of country, which means I become a part of the problem I’m complaining about (although I swear I don’t hold any hands).

The little dinner party was rescued by the presence in the 23rd Street market of one of my favorite meat purveyors, Sun Fed Beef, whom I had asked to set aside enough of a certain favorite cut of steak for 2, frozen, which I would use on some day in the future. I was to pick it up that afternoon, and when I got there I asked for an additional piece, to be sure there would be enough for 3. Fortunately Gabe had a small reserve.

I was saved from the happy mobs, and dinner was going to happen.

The sit-down meal began with a simple vegetable first course (it would probably have been some form of charcuterie had the entrée not been switched from seafood to meat).

  • some very small yellow summer squash from Willow Wisp Farm, washed, dried, halved lengthwise, tossed with a little olive oil, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, arranged, uncrowded on a well-seasoned 2-burner cast iron grill above two fairly high flames, cooked until softened and slightly charred, turning once, arranged on the plates, scattered with torn leaves of some Gotham Greens Rooftop packaged basil from Whole Foods Market, drizzled with a little olive oil, served at room temperature
  • slices of a polenta boule from Bread Alone Bakery, in the Union Square Greenmarket
  • the wine was an Oregon (Williamette Valley) white, Scott Kelley Pinot Gris Willamette 2017, from Naked Wines

The light appetizer didn’t even begin to hint at the rich flavors that were to follow with the main course.

  • three culotte steaks (called ‘culotte’ here, ‘coulotte’ in France, ‘picanha’ in Brazil), totaling almost 28 ounces, from Gabe, of Sun Fed Beef (Maple Avenue Farms) in the farm’s stall at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market, brought to room temperature, weighing a little over 9 ounces each, seasoned on all sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, seared briefly on the top, or thick, fat-covered side inside an oval enameled heavy cast iron pan, the 2 long sides cooked for 3 or 4 minutes each, then the ends and the narrow bottom side seared, each very briefly, the steaks removed from the pan, at the moment they had become perfectly medium-rare, drizzled with some tomato water that remained from an earlier meal and scattered with a bit of the stem of a flowering spring shallot from Keith’s Farm, sliced thinly and heated in a little olive oil until softened, then some chopped summer savory from Alewife Farm, finished with a drizzle of Whole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil, and allowed to rest for about 4 minutes
  • small Japanese eggplants from Alewife Farm, each cut in half lengthwise and brushed with a mixture of olive oil, finely-chopped maturing Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, chopped fresh spicy oregano from Windfall Farms, plus some very pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, sea, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, the eggplant pan-grilled, turning once, arranged on the plates, sprinkled with roughly chopped marjoram blossoms from Stokes Farm, and drizzled with a little olive oil, served more or less at room temperature

  • a couple handfuls of small mixed-colored tomatoes, each punctured with a trussing needle, and several slightly larger plum-shaped green tomatoes, sliced into 3 sections, all from Alewife Farm, thrown onto the hot grill pan after the eggplant had been removed, rolled about a little until they had softened just a bit and taken on a smoky flavor, removed to a vintage medium size Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot with a little olive oil, reheated over a gentle flame after the steak had been cooked
  • the wines were two Spanish (Rioja) reds, Pecina, Rioja Crianza, 2013, from Flatiron Wines,
  • and CVNE (Cune), Rioja Crianza “Vina Real”, 2014, both from Flatiron Wines (the second survived well into the next course)

There was a small cheese course, which I neglected to photograph.

  • basically, little more than samples of a water buffalo brie from Riverine Ranch in the Union Square Greenmarket, and a goat milk cheese, ‘Manchester’, from Consider Bardwell Farm, served with tiny mounds of cut marjoram blossoms from Stokes Farm and chopped summer savory from Alewife Farm (plus pinches of crushed golden dried habanada pepper, because our guest wanted to know what it tasted like, and I hadn’t cooked with it that night)
  • a bit of rich unsalted Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ from Whole Foods Market and thin toasts of days-old She Wolf Bakery ‘Toasted Sesame Wheat Bread’

There would have been a sweet course, with input from a Korean melon, vanilla bean gelato, and fresh local raspberries, but we just ran out of time.


inguazato; garlic/habanada-sautéed fennel, micro scallion

It’s not the best image I’ve captured of this terrific dish, which has appeared on this blog often, but it was nearly midnight when I finally set the plate on the table, and we had been enjoying a certain amount of sparkling wine with some great friends over the previous few hours.

I wasn’t even going to bother publishing the meal this time, but the canned San Marzano tomatoes I used turned out to be the best I’ve ever come across, and I wanted to document them.

  • two 8-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 2 tablspoons of Portuguese olive oil, both from Whole Foods in Chelsea, 2 sliced cloves of maturing Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, one and a half 400-gram cans of fantastically-rich and-tasty Italian Gustarosso canned pomodoro San Marzano delle Agro Sarnese-Nocerino from Eataly Flatiron (by the way, for some dishes, there is nothing like very good canned tomatoes, at any time of the year), some cracked green olives, from the Chelsea Whole Foods Market, and 2 small whole dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia

  • two medium spring fennel bulbs from Alewife Farm, washed, the stems removed, trimmed of their fronds (the finest of which were set aside), cut into wedges, sautéed for a few minutes in a little olive oil inside a very wide seasoned cast iron pan over medium high heat, adding, after the vegetable had begun to color, a little more of the ‘maturing garlic’, roughly-chopped, and a bit of dried golden habanada pepper, the heat lowered and the pan covered, cooked for another 10 minutes or so, the fronds, now chopped, tossed in and mixed with the fennel, arranged on the plates and garnished with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Le Salse, Verdicchio di Matelica, 2016, from Flatiron Wines

insalata caprese; scallops, tomato butter; tomatoes; greens

Even as I was assembling them in my mind, I knew that both courses would seem to be as much about tomatoes as anything else, especially since tomatoes also found their way [almost] invisibly, onto the scallops as well.

At least I used a different kind of tomato in each of their 3 appearances.

The first course was an insalata Caprese, which, as I’ve written before always takes longer to assemble than I remember it does, but its so easy, and relaxing, perhaps a little like meditating, although I have almost no experience in that area.

These tomatoes were stars.

  • three ripe heirloom tomatoes from Alewife Farm, sliced arranged on 2 plates, alternating with slices of some very fresh local water buffalo mozzarella from Riverine Ranch in the Union Square Greenmarket and leaves of fresh local (Brooklyn!) basil, ‘Gotham Greens Rooftop’, from Whole Foods, the spread sprinkled with Maldon salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, drizzled with a great Campania olive oil (Lamparelli O.R.O.)
  • slices of ‘bambino sesamo’ from Grandaisy Bakery

The main course included a few quite small tomatoes, mostly as a token, to please the camera, which loves color, but, honestly, also to indulge our taste for tomatoes; they were so extraordinarily delicious, that I wished I had added a few more. The third appearance of these nightshades (I love that name) was in the ‘tomato water’ with which I finished the scallops in lieu of the usual lemon juice.

  • ten medium-large Hamptons Bay sea scallops (16 ounces altogether) from American Seafood Company, washed, drained and very thoroughly dried on paper towels (twice), generously seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan grilled for about 90 seconds on each side, finished with some tomato water that remained from an earlier meal, and some of the Lamparelli Campania olive oil, arranged on 2 plates and sprinkled with fresh dill flowers from Alewife Farm
  • eight small red and yellow tomatoes from Alewife Farm heated in a little olive oil inside a small vintage pyrex pan, a bit of sliced spring shallot stem added near the beginning, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • the fresh greens from 2 bunches of ‘French Breakfast’ radishes from Willow Wisp Farm, wilted in olive oil in which 3 fresh halved garlic cloves had been allowed to sweat in a little olive oil for a bit, the greens seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit more olive oil