Month: October 2018

moroccan fried whiting; turkish grilled eggplant, olive, mint

On Mondays, the first and slowest day of the Union Square Greenmarket week, the selection of seafood at the Karlin family’s stand is always smaller than it is on Saturday, the busiest Greenmarket day of the week, and as it was, yesterday I arrived later than usual. Jan and Karl [Carl?] both told me they had brought even less of a catch than they usually do, because of the heavy weather (we call it a nor’easter in New England, and far eastern Long Island is basically more New England than it is New York). Consequently, by the time I arrived at the fish stand fairly late on Monday and because I cook fish 3 or 4 days of the week, there was almost nothing in the buckets that I hadn’t cooked quite recently.

But there was a good supply of whiting (whole, but they had lost their heads somewhere since leaving the sea). I rarely cook whole fish, mostly because I think of it as a bit of a fuss – or maybe I should say, ‘stressful’ – both to prepare and to eat, and, looking back on this site, it seems that I’ve only cooked whole whiting twice before.

Their relative novelty, and the fact that, when I asked for help deciding, both mongers pointed to the bucket holding what I have since learned are, technically,  Merlucciidae, of the larger family Gadidae, together pushed me over the top. I usually do go with the recommendations given by the people selling their own comestibles.

There was also some significant economy in buying whole fish over fillets, and this species is already seriously underpriced, especially relative to its many virtues. While the difference of a few dollars, especially when you’re only buying for 2 people, isn’t really enough to outweigh other considerations, I went with the whiting.

I bought a larger amount, by weight, than I usually do: It set me back all of $4.90 for one and a quarter pounds of very fresh, cleaned (although I cut off most of the remaining fins) beautifully whole, (but without heads) fish, and they were easily filleted on the plates.

The vegetable was somewhat more expensive than the whiting, but every bit as delicious.

The recipe? While I was still at the market I hadn’t remembered cooking it before, so I looked on line, to at least reassure myself that I could do it without much fuss, more than as an actual guide, but I ended up actually using the first recipe that came up on my phone screen. It surely helped that I had all of the spices, whole, except for the cayenne, in my kitchen cabinet.

I’ll probably be repeating this recipe in some form with other meals, and other fish, especially hake or cod, although I should try to remember that, for more af a Moroccan effect, the fish can be prepped with the spice rub, as with a marinade, and then refrigerated for up to a day (placed in a colander set in a deep bowl and covered tightly, left in the refrigerator until ready to cook).

  • six fresh whiting (18 ounces altogether), from P.E. & D. D. Seafood, heads removed, stomach cavities cleaned, and fins cut off as best as possible, washed and drained, sprinkled about 1 teaspoon, or a little more, of Moroccan Fish Spice* and a little bit of salt, coated lightly with about a fourth of a cup of Union Square Greenmarket-purchased whole wheat flour from The Blew family of Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstown, N.J., set aside in a single layer on a large plate or platter, while about a third of a cup of olive oil was poured into a large enameled cast iron pan, fully coating the bottom, and heated for two or three minutes over medium heat, the fish placed inside the pan without crowding and fried, turning only once, until light to medium golden on both sides, adding a little more oil if needed (these 3-ounce whiting took 7 to 8 minutes on each side), transferred to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, then arranged on the plates and served with lemon eighths
*Moroccan Fish Spice (amounts produce 3 teaspoons of spice)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • seven small Turkish eggplants from Norwich Meadows Farm, each cut horizontally into 3 slices, mixed with a little olive oil, one large chopped Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan over a brisk flame, turning once or twice, one thin chopped scallion from Keith’s Farm and 8 pitted and halved Kalamata olives added near the end (or both heated gently inside a small pan and mixed with the eggplant after it had been grilled), tossed in  a bowl with some torn peppermint leaves from Keith’s Farm, arranged on the plates, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, garnished with more mint
  • the wine was a California (Russian River Valley) white, DRG Daryl Groom Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2017, from Naked Wines
  • because we needed a little ‘Das himmlische Leben‘ yesterday, the music was Mahler’s Symphonie No 4, Philippe Herreweghe conducting the Champs-elysees Orchestra

breakfast with Handel

No tomato of any kind showed up this time.

  • what did: eggs from pastured Americauna chickens and thick bacon from pastured pigs, both products of Millport Dairy Farm; Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ from Whole Foods Market; finely-chopped pieces of a fresh yellow Granada pepper from Alewife Farm (not hot) and a fresh red aji rico pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, (medium spicy/hot); 3 small scallions from Keith’s Farm; Maldon salt; freshly-ground black pepper; chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm; and slices, some toasted and some not. toasts from a She Wolf Bakery a sourdough bâtard and a sturdy ‘Bolzano Miche’ (white wheat flour, spelt flour, rye flour, rye sourdough, yeast, coriander, cumin, and fennel) from Brooklyn’s Runner & Stone Bakery


[image of Rembrandt’s ‘Het feestmaal van Belsazar‘ (ca. 1635-1639) from Art and the Bible]

baked cod and tomato on roasted potatoes; purple mustard

This recipe, as described by Mark Bittman long ago, is really quite simple, but I have not always been able to leave it as I found it. This time I included small bits of 2 different seasoning peppers, an heirloom tomato, and a colorful micro green, and I eliminated the parsley.

  • two cod fillets (19-ounces total) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood in the Union Square greenmarket, washed and rinsed, placed in a platter on a bed of coarse sea salt, 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 lengthwise (to a thickness of roughly 1/4″) a pound or so of Norland red potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, tossing them in a large bowl with a little olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a large section of an orange/gold home-dried Habanada pepper (bought fresh last fall from Norwich Meadows Farm), arranging the potatoes, overlapping, inside a rectangular glazed ceramic oven pan, and cooking them for 25 minutes or so in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced, but not quite fully cooked, then, the cod fillets, having already been removed from the platter and their salt covering, thoroughly immersed in many fresh changes of water to bring down the saltiness (the soaking process somehow gives the fish more solidity, which can be easily felt while it’s being handled it at this point; it’s kinda sexy), drained and dried, were placed inside the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with some freshly-ground black pepper, and vaguely blanketed with thin slices of one green heirloom tomato from Eckerton Hill Farm, the tomato seasoned lightly, the pan returned to the oven for [for 5-ounce fillets, it might be 8 or 9 minutes, so maybe 9 or 10 minutes (the exact time depends on the thickness of the fillets)], or until just cooked through, removing the fish and tomato with a spatula (or, better, 2 spatulas), along with as much of the potatoes as can be brought with each piece, arranging everything as intact as possible on the plates, returning to the pan for the remainder of the potatoes, the servings garnished with a purple micro radish from Windfall Farms
  • slices of a She Wolf Bakery sourdough bâtard

  • delicate purple mustard greens from Norwich Meadow Farms, wilted for only seconds in a little live oil in which 2 small cloves of sliced rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm had been allowed to sweat, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was a California white, Miriam Alexandra Chenin Blanc California 2017, from Naked Wines


[the image of the program for the 1770 premier performance of the opera is from One Delightful Day]

spice-rubbed quail; rosemary potatoes; treviso, balsamic

Even without an occasion, quail always seems like an occasion.

  • a brace of pasture-raised certified organic quail from Abra Morawiec’s Feisty Acres Farm in Jamesport, Long Island, each weighing a little more than 8 ounces, rinsed, dried inside and out, the cavities seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, with one quarter of a gently squeezed organic Whole Foods Market lemon inserted in each, the legs tied together and the wings sewn close to the body, their bodies rubbed all over with a mix of spices and olive oil (a third of a teaspoon of cumin and a fourth of a teaspoon of coriander, ground together and placed in a small bowl, where a bit of powdered Nigerian cayenne and 2 tablespoons of olive oil were added) then sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper, the birds placed breast side up in a small enameled cast iron roasting pan just large enough to accommodate both (set on top of sections of 2 celery stems from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, to keep them upright), placed in a 425º oven for about 9 or 10 minutes, at which time they were brushed with the remaining spice and oil mixture, continued with the roasting until done (an instant-read thermometer would register 150º, and the meat should feel slightly firm, and the juices run pale pink if the bird is punctured with a skewer), then removed from the oven, covered with tin foil and allowed to rest for 5 minutes before they were arranged on warm plates, drizzled with the pan juices and garnished with chopped parsley from Keith’s Farm

  • one pound of pinto potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, halved lengthwise, tossed with a little olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, rosemary leaves from from Stokes Farm, a small amount of crushed dark home-dried habanada pepper, then arranged cut side down on a large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, roasted at about 425º for about 20 minutes

    Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n wirst du,
    Mein Staub, nach kurzer Ruh!

[image above, of Alma and Gustav Mahler walking near Toblach, from Alma]

tomato/chili-roasted skate, mustard/caper sauce; chard

I’ve been cooking skate wing for decades, but at least since initiating this food blog I’ve always resisted preparing it in the only way it seems everyone knows it, mostly because it is the only way everyone knows it: sautéed in brown butter and served with capers.

Last night, for a fresh thick un-filleted skate wing (a left-wing, I figure), to make it easy on myself, and to make it quick, I turned to a recipe that included the capers, as well as something that looked and tasted a bit like brown butter, but wasn’t.

It really was easy, and pretty quick, but it was also a much richer dish than the classic (I improvised a bit on the basic recipe I had found, and I also had some other great comestibles to work with).

Oh, although it probably wasn’t necessary, as the skate wing was a bit on the small side, I also bought half a dozen scallops while at the fish stand. although I didn’t know what I was going to do with them until I had started preparing the meal. Only while writing this post did I realize that in grilling them and placing them next to the skate I may have summoned up the old ‘fish story’ (surely apocryphal) about unscrupulous fish sellers sometimes using cookie cutters to create scallops out of skate wings, which is the much cheaper catch on any day.

  • one large green heirloom tomato from Eckerton Hill Farm, sliced horizontally into 6 sections, tossed gently inside a shallow bowl with less than a tablespoon of olive oil and less than one crushed peperoncino Calabresi secchia from Buon Italia, arranged inside a medium glazed ceramic oven pan and roasted for about 10 minutes, after which one whole skate wingfrom American Seafood Company (unfilleted, but with the bone removed from the end where it was attached to the body), seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, transferred to the pan, moving the tomatoes to one side, and roasted for another 15 minutes or so, when a mixture of a tablespoon of olive oil, half a tablespoon of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and more than a half tablespoon of rinsed salted Sicilian capers, a section of 2 different finely chopped seasoning peppers, a small aji dulce pepper and a small (sweet) yellow Grenada seasoning pepper, both from Eckerton Hill Farm, that had been whisked together, was poured over the fish and tomatoes, the pan returned to the oven for 2 or 3 minutes, removed, its contents arranged on the plates, the tomatoes next to the skate, 3 sea scallops, also from American Seafood Company, that had been generously seasoned with salt and pepper and briefly pan-grilled, placed on top of the tomatoes, lemon quarters placed to the side of the plates

  • a large number of loose chard leaves from Keith’s Farm wilted inside a a large enameled cast iron pot in a couple tablespoons of Portuguese olive oil, a house brand of Whole Foods Market, in which 2 gently crushed and halved rocambole garlic cloves, also from Keith’s Farm, had first been heated and softened slightly, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, finished with a little lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was from California (Napa Valley), Matt Iaconis Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017, from Naked Wines
  • the music was the album, ‘L’Anonyme Parisien‘, works by the French baroque composer, Charles Dollé