seared duck, lemon; roasted tomato; chili-roasted squash

There were no clams on the half shell last night.

I had scrubbed them an hour or so earlier, and returned them to the refrigerator, but when I was ready to shuck them they were apparently still traumatized, and – surprise! – they’d totally ‘clammed up’. Maybe I was actually the one who was stressed out, but I couldn’t get my knife between the shells. It was embarrassing, because I’ve done the routine so often. I left them inside the refrigerator to try another day and I went on to the main course.

  • one small duck breast (barely 10 ounces) from Hudson River Duck Farm [the tenderloin, seen at the right front of the breast itself in the image above, removed before the duck was marinated, but seasoned like the rest of it, then fried very briefly near the end of the time the larger section was cooking], the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast rubbed, top and bottom, with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, then left standing on the counter for about 45 minutes altogether before being pan-fried, fatty side down first, inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan over medium heat for a total of about 9 minutes, turning once, draining the oil after the first few minutes (the fat strained van be used in cooking at another time, if desired), the breast removed when medium rare, cut crosswise into 2 portions and checked for the right doneness in the center, which means definitely no more than medium rare, and maybe even a bit less, left sitting for several minutes before it was finished with a drizzle of juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, drizzled with some good Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil and garnished with micro purple radish from Windfall Farms
  • six Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods, slow-roasted inside a small antique tin rolled-edge oven pan with a little olive oil, a generous amount of dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia (sold on their stems), and 4 slightly-smashed cloves of music garlic from Windfall Farms

  • two mini kabocha squash from Lani’s Farm scrubbed, halved, the seeds and pith removed, cut into narrow wedges and mixed by hand inside a large bowl with a relatively small amount of olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a pinch from a gorgeous (dried) hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm, purchased in the Greenmarket last December, arranged on a large, unglazed, well-seasoned ceramic pan and roasted in the 425º oven for 20 or 25 minutes, removed from the oven and transferred to a large heavy copper pot in which 3 crushed cloves of music garlic and half a dozen large sage leaves from Whole Foods Market had been gently heated  in a bit of olive oil
  • the wine was a French (Saint-Emilion) red, Belregard-Figeac, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2015 from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was a really wonderful performance of a gorgeous ‘pre-reform‘ (1750, revised 1763) Gluck opera, ‘EzioAndreas Stoehr conducting the Neue Düsseldorfer Hofmusik