Month: December 2018

filetti alici; l’eglefino, agrodolce ai funghi di cipolla; gelato

Because it would simplify my work on the entrée when we had guests, leaving me with more time to interact before we sat down to eat, I had hoped to pick up a large striped bass fillet when I headed for the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, as in this good dinner. It didn’t happen: I had forgotten that this wasn’t the season for stripers, because of serious conservation management directives.

I had no fallback, so when I noticed that Phil Karlin himself was at his family’s fish stand, I told him I would be serving 4 people that night, and asked if he have a suggestion. “Get the haddock”, he replied, without a second’s hesitation.

I got the haddock.

Thanks Phil. It was superb.

The meal began with filetti alici marinate as primi, served on a large plate arranged in a pattern I hated to disturb.

  • A 9-ounce package of fresh marinated anchovies (It. alici marinate) from Buon Italia in Chelsea Market, the fillets, as they are packaged in sunflower oil, removed from the container, laid on top of paper towels on a large plate in order to drain, their top side gently dried with another paper towel, then carefully arranged on a second large plate, scattered with a little chopped Salinas, California parsley from Eataly, a bit of super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, and a bit of finely-chopped Krasnodar red garlic from Quarton Farm, drizzled with Frankies 457 Sicilian olive oil, the plate covered and set near a window where they remained at precisely 58º F (hey, I read somewhere that Italians love 58º F for their alici) for about an hour and a half or 2 hours, brought to the table and distributed onto the 4 plates (there were 33 anchovies, so 8 per person, one for the cook, to taste)
  • the greens on the side included mix of wild cress and, in a very tiny form, a variation of cress crossed with shepherd’s purse, both from Lani’s Farm, a bit of ‘Rosa di Campo Rosso’ radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, and micro pea greens from Windfall Farms
  • slices of a delicious buckwheat baguette from Runner & Stone Bakery
  • the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) white, Bodegas Avancia, Godello ‘Cuvee De O’ 2016, from Flatiron Wines

The main course was a triumph.

  • twelve or so cipolline onions from Norwich Meadows Farm, boiled for 5 minutes, drained, skinned, and the root ends cut off before 6 tablespoons of oil was heated inside a large antique heavy high-sided copper pot over medium-high heat, at which time the onions, a pound of thickly-sliced shiitake mushrooms from Bulich Mushroom Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, a good pinch of sea salt, and some freshly ground black pepper were added to the pot and stirred frequently until the mushrooms had begun to soften and everything nicely browned (about 7 or 8 minutes), then 2 thirds of a cup of good Spanish Rioja wine vinegar added, the mix cooked, stirring, over medium high heat for about a minute, scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom, the pan removed from the heat and set aside while 2 large rectangular enameled steel oven pans were placed on top of the burners [if there had been only 2 fillets, the onions and mushrooms could have been prepared inside an oval copper au gratin pan, and removed to a bowl when done, the pan wiped clean and the haddock placed inside it], the flames turned high and four very very fresh 8-ounce haddock fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, skin on, already rubbed on both sides with 2 or 3  tablespoons of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, added to the pan once it was very hot, skin side up, seared until a good brown crust had developed, or for about 3 minutes, the fillets turned over and the reserved onions, mushrooms, and pan juices arranged around the fish, and not on it, everything scattered with many (24 small) fresh late-season rosemary branches from Keith’s Farm, the pan placed inside a 400º oven and roasted for about 12 minutes or so [the original recipe, for 2 fillets, appears here]
  • the plate garnished with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was a California (Central Coast/Santa Ynez Valley) white, Rick Boyer Santa Ynez Valley Dry White Blend 2017, from Naked Wines
    by Rick Boyer

The dessert represented the first time, and probably the last (I can’t find the maker active anywhere on line) that we would enjoy what was a certain really, really good gelato.

We remained at the table even after it had been cleared by the staff (the cook), sipping a Chicago whiskey we had discovered recently.




  • the music throughout was (mostly) more live streaming of the awesome octonary WKCR Bachfest 2018

crab cakes on tomato salsa on wild cress; brussels sprouts

Almost a day off.

This was a casual meal slipped in between some more ambitious holiday season dinners, and it was pretty much improvised; the idea was to give the cook a cook’s holiday, and to include elements or ingredients that had been inside the apartment for a while before they came close to the end of their useful life.

It could also be described as the impecunious diner’s surf & turf, turf here meaning vegetables.

  • two crab cakes from PE & DD Seafood (crab, egg, flour, red & green peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, milk, celery, and parsley), from the older of the 2 packages in the freezer at the time, made by Dolores Karlin, the wife of Karl Karlin, the fisherman, defrosted the night before, brought to room temperature and heated up with a drizzle of olive oil inside a small, heavy vintage, well-seasoned cast iron pan, 3 to 4 minutes to each side, served on a salsa composed of 6 quite ripe Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods that were quartered and combined with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a small bit of dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, chopped Salinas, California parsley from Eataly, dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, and a few cut-up sections of Berried Treasures Farm garlic scapes (the last of the season) that had first been softened by warming them up in a little olive oil over a gentle flame, the salsa in turn had itself been arranged on a shallow bed of wild cress from Lani’s Farm, the whole assembly garnished with some remarkably long-surviving pea shoots purchased from Echo Creek Farm in the Saturday Chelsea Farmers Market very early in December
  • twelve small Brussels sprouts from Lani’s Farm, the last from a quantity that I had also purchased over 3 weeks earlier, washed, trimmed and dried, tossed inside a bowl with a little olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more of the dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi roasted inside a medium size unglazed seasoned Pampered Chef pan until the sprouts were partly brown and crisp on the outside
  • the wine was an Italian (Veronese) white, Corte Quaiara, Garganega Campo al Salice 2016, from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was again live streaming of the awesome octonary WKCR Bachfest 2018

spice-rubbed wild salmon on uchiki-kuri; chervil; spinach

A salmon in the pumpkin patch.

While thinking about dinner on Wednesday, I turned up 2 ideas at roughly the same moment: It seemed like it was time to serve Salmon again, and I was anxious to taste a new variety of winter squash I had recently picked up at the Union Square Greenmarket.


I decided to serve them at the same time; I didn’t realize then I would also be serving them in the same space. The combination had seemed totally natural the moment I thought of it, and that had nothing to do with the color they shared. then, once I had begun cooking I thought of really putting them together.

I couldn’t have anticipated just how well the pairing was going to work. The salmon was really fully flavored and dryly piquant, but not spicy as in spicy hot; the amazing chestnut-flavored Japanese squash was equally rich, in a very different way, and very juicy, but surprisingly sweet even for a winter squash (naturally so, since there was nothing but butter, salt, pepper, and heat involved in its preparation).

  • one fifteen-ounce fillet of wild Pacific coho salmon (previously frozen in this case) from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, its skin having already been peeled off on top of the kitchen counter, halved, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, the former skin side pressed with a mixture of roughly ground coriander seeds, cloves, and cumin seed, and grated nutmeg, placed coated side down inside an enameled, oval cast iron pan in a mix of a little olive oil and butter that had been heated over medium-high heat until the fat had shimmered, sautéed for only 2 or 3 minutes or so, then turned over and cooked for another 2 or 3 minutes, placed on the top of an arrangement of roasted squash (see below), both garnished with a little micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge

  • one 5 or 6-inch Uchiki-Kuri Kabocha squash from Norwich Meadows Farm its outside crevices scrubbed with a brush, cut into 1/4″ wedge segments, arranged one side down inside a large seasoned Pampered Chef ceramic oven pan previously coated with a couple tablespoons of melted butter, with almost as much butter brushed over the top, baked at 400º without turning for about 30 minutes, or until tender and beginning to caramelize,  removed from the oven and placed on 2 plates already being kept warm on the top of the old oven, waiting to serve as a base for the sautéed salmon fillet sections (see above)

  • roughly 6 ounces of [mostly] Emperor spinach from Campo Rosso Farm, washed in several changes of water, drained, very gently wilted (that is, not reduced too far, if it can be helped) inside a large, heavy, antique high-sided tin-lined copper pot in a little olive oil in which 3 quartered cloves of Krasnodar red garlic from Kellie Quarton’s Quarton Farm had first been allowed to sweat, the spinach seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, finished on the plates with a little more olive oil
  • the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) red, Guimaro, Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2017, from Landmark Wines
  • the music was live streaming of the awesome octonary WKCR Bachfest 2018

smoked trout; venison steak; celeriac fries; leaved broccoli

Farmed game. Well, it’s not entirely an oxymoron.

It was December 25th, Christmas, so the meal had to be at least a little special. Two forms of wild game would definitely fill the bill, I thought, and that’s what I went for, although without the “wild” part.

Unless you fish for trout and hunt deer yourself, or have good friends who do, in the United States today both of those forms of what once passed for game will always be domesticated.

But it’s still worth fishing and hunting for the stores that can offer their farmed equivalents: This meal was a delicious reminder of that.

The appetizer anticipated the signal festiveness of the main course, but otherwise gave nothing away.

  • several tiny whole peppery plants, their basal leaves growing as rosettes, a delicate-looking cross of wild cress and the mustard-like shepherd’s purse (“the second most common weed in the world”) from Lani’s Farm
  • slices of a crusty Pain d’Avignon dark rye from Foragers Market
  • the wine with the trout was a Portuguese (Beira) sparkling rosé, Beira Extra Brut Rosé ‘3B’ Filipa Pato 2017, from Astor Wines

The main course was, well, the main course, since it featured venison. This time, pretty uncharacteristically for both myself and the venison, it was prepared in just about the simplest way I could imagine, using only a little butter, garlic, and white wine at the very end.

  • one frozen 1″ thick venison round steak (1.28 lbs/20 ounces) from the Schaller & Weber store, a Yorkville treasure (I think the meat is locally sourced, but I’ll have to wait until I return to the store to ask), defrosted slowly in the refrigerator, seasoned lightly with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper on both sides, set aside on a plate or a rack in order to warm to room temperature (no longer than an hour), near the end of that time 2 or 3 cloves of Krasnodar red garlic from Quarton Farm minced roughly and set aside, then a very large (17″) seasoned vintage oval steel pan heated over medium heat until the point when beads of water slide over the surface, a small pad of butter then, allowed to melt and spread across the surface with a wooden spatula, the steaks placed inside the pan and cooked without moving them just until they could slide across the surface with a shake of the pan (about 2 minutes), turned over and the other side cooked to the same point, which should be to a rare to medium rare state, removed from the pan onto 2 plates and covered with aluminum foil while they had rested for almost 10 minutes, while continuing to cook slightly (in this case the plates themselves were also on the top surface of a warm oven), the pan deglazed with a few tablespoons of white wine, the chopped garlic introduced, pushed around, and cooked briefly over low heat, another pad of butter added to make the sauce a little creamy, the sauce then poured over the steaks
  • dabs of garlic oregano jam from Berkshire Berries to the side of the venison

  • two 7-ounce celery root (celeriac) from from John D Madura Farms, scrubbed, peeled, cut into the size and shape of potato frites, about 1/4″ in cross section, tossed inside a bowl with olive oil [NOTE: I used too little oil this time, which may have kept them from ending up as crispy as I like], a half teaspoon of a smoked picante paprika, Safinter Pimenton de la Vera, a bit of crushed home-dried habanada pepper, sea salt, and a little freshly ground black pepper, then spread onto a large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, and roasted at 425º until brown and cooked through

  • one bunch of really wonderful “broccoli with leaves” (9 ounces) from Lani’s Farm, layered with the cut stem sections on the bottom and the roughly-cut leaves on top inside an antique medium size high-sided copper pot with a half inch of water in the bottom, covered with a copper universal lid, steamed for a few minutes, the water then entirely drained from the pot and the greens tossed, over a medium flame, with a little olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and a little crushed peperoncino Calabresi secchia from Buon Italia in Chelsea Market
  • the wine was a really wonderful Portuguese (Douro) red, Quinta do Infantado, Douro Tinto 2015, from Flatiron Wines (and a really wonderful pairing with this entrée)


lupini, wild cress; cockles, tomato, fresh sepia chitarra

It was the eve of Christmas. A lot of people take this date very seriously. Italian-Americans, for instance, have a tradition called Festa dei sette pesci. I love real Italian food, and I tend to relate to it a lot in my cooking, although not the Italian-American version.

I have never tried for 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, but I had friends in Rhode Island who did it every year, although sometimes stretching the definition of ‘fish’.

I do however like the idea of fish on the night before Christmas; maybe it’s a throwback to my Catholic upbringing in the last century, or maybe it’s just out of a sense of proportion, since the day that follows is almost certainly to be a meat feast. This year I could  have put two ‘fishes’ on the table, but neither of us ate any Salzige Heringe for dessert.

We get these licorice ‘herring’ at Schaller & Weber, a very, very northern Italian store.

The evening began with a vegetarian appetizer.

  • five ounces of fresh skinless cooked shelled lupini beans packaged in water from Eataly Flatiron, drained, placed inside a small bowl with the addition of some Whole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil; chopped parsley from Paffenroth Farm; crushed dried peperoncino Calabresi secchia and a few pitted Gaeta olives, both from Buon Italia; sea salt; and black pepper
  • wild cress from Lani’s Farm, drizzled with a bit of Frankies 457 Sicilian olive oil and drops of juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and arranged on a plate as a thin bed for the beans
  • a small medieval baguette from Bobolink Dairy and Bakery, torn into portions at the table

The pasta course was also a fish course.

I’m not going to tell how far the the clams had to swim to get here, but they started in New Zealand.

The recipe I used on Monday, converted for using 30 cockles, or just under one pound, and adjusted for 12 ounces of fresh squid ink pasta, was ‘Spaghetti With Clams; adapted from Da Dora restaurant, Naples’.  I had cut it from the December 8, 1999 New York Times, and I still have the old clipping, which is what I used as a reference, but I just found it here on line.

  • the ingredients I used were one pound of New Zealand cockles from Eataly Flatiron; 12 ounces of fresh squid ink chitarra pasta from Eataly Flatiron; 4 Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market; 5 cloves of Krasnodar red garlic from Quarton Farm in the Union Square Greenmarket; Whole Food Market house Portuguese olive oil; and, because I haven’t found any in the Union Square Greenmarket for some time, parsley from Salinas, California, via Eataly (at least it didn’t have to come from New Zealand)