Month: March 2019

onion/garlic/lemon/thyme-braised hake; tomato; mustards

When I saw the beautiful fillets at the Greenmarket, I immediately checked to see when I had last cooked hake. Using this blog’s index, I learned that it had been over 7 months back.

I decided to bring one home.

  • one thick 19-ounce hake fillet from Jan at P.E. & D.D. Seafood Company, washed drained, halved, dried, dredged in seasoned wheat flour from The Blew family of Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstown, N.J., browned on both sides in olive oil inside a large heavy antique oval copper pan over medium-high heat, removed, and, ensuring there were a full 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, adding one chopped  ‘Expression Sweet’ onion and one tablespoon of chopped garlic, both from Norwich Meadows, the alliums cooked, stirring, for 2 minutes, followed by one and a half cups of a good low-sodium vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons of juice from a Chelsea Whole Foods Market organic lemon, and 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme from Trader Joe’s Market on 6th Avenue, the fish returned to the pan and cooked, in this case, because of its thickness, for 7 or 8 minutes, arranged on 2 plates and garnished with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • six Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods, slow-roasted inside a small antique rolled-edge tin oven pan with a heaping teaspoon of dried Italian oregano from Buon Italia, half a tablespoon or more of Trader Joe’s Reserve olive oil, and 2 bruised cloves of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm

  • several handfuls of delicate young flat purple mustard greens from Alewife Farm, greens that should ideally have been wilted for only seconds in a little live oil in which 2 cloves of sliced garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm had been allowed to sweat, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, then finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil, but in fact, while I thought I had turned off the heat soon enough to save their shape and freshness, they had somehow managed to continue cooking, in the process pretty much losing both; they were still delicious however

There was a small cheese course.

  • three cheeses, a maturing ‘Mammuth’ goat milk cheese (camembert style) from Ardith Mae, a
    semi-firm Riverine Ranch water buffalo ‘farm stand cheese’ (no name, since their terrific cheeses are constantly being reinvented, and cheese isn’t easily standardized in any event), and an Italian caseificio ‘Bocconcino di Alta Langa’ (Piedmont) goat milk cheese from Eataly
  • slices of a delicious polenta boule from She Wolf Bakery


orecchiette, mushroom, shishito, mustard, parmesan, chive

It was going to be pasta, and I had a few ounces of oyster mushrooms left from the meal prepared the night before. To show off the mushrooms better, Barry and I both decided that a good conventional wheat pasta might be better this time than one made with a vegetable, or a more-strongly flavored grain.

So great. And there could definitely be a red wine.

For a little pizzazz, visual and taste, all I had to do was reconcile what was in the larders with whatever it seemed might work well with the pasta and mushrooms.

  • one sliced ‘yellow shallot’ from Norwich Meadows Farm heated in a little olive oil inside a large antique copper sauce pan until softened, 4 ounces of sliced oyster mushrooms from Blue Oyster Cultivation tossed in and stirred for a few minutes until the mushrooms had softened and begun to brown, then a pinch or two of crushed dried, ripe red shishito peppers (some of the pepper turn out to be hot, just as the fresh shishito do) from Lani’s Farm, tossed in, half of a pound of an excellent artisanal Puglian pasta,‘I Tipici’ Orecchiette Agricola del Sole, from Eataly, that had just finished boiling until al dente, added, along with almost a cup of reserved pasta water, the pasta stirred over high heat until the liquid had emulsified, a good handful or more of lacy mushroom greens from Campo Rosso Farm added and stirred around with the pasta, a few ounces of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (aged 24 months) from Chelsea Whole Foods Market stirred in, the pasta arranged in broad shallow bowls, some olive oil drizzled around the edges and scissored fresh chives from Phillips Farms tossed on the top
  • the wine was an Oregon (Willamette Valley) red, Kings Ridge Pinot Noir 2016, from Philippe Wines
  • the music was Donizetti’s 1835 romantic opera (libretto by Giuseppe Bardari, based on Andrea Maffei‘s translation of Friedrich Schiller‘s 1800 play, ‘Maria Stuarda’, with Giuseppe Patané conducting the Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Chorus

haddock, oyster mushrooms with capsicum, lemon; greens

It was a beautiful balanced meal, beyond the picture, and it included a delicious real Chablis and a fascinating 100-year-old mystical opera that could have been written yesterday.

The haddock was really fresh, and with more than a little luck, I managed to cook it perfectly; the mushrooms also ended up just right, that is, cooked only to the point where they began to soften, but still with some body, and although there were more of them than I normally have in an accompaniment for fish, they were so good I felt there still weren’t enough. Even the small/subtle taste of the micro greens really showed through, since the fish was cooked so minimally, and, finally, the large greens, the collards, were a perfect, sweet foil for the featured players on the plates.

  • two tablespoons of olive oil heated inside a vintage thick-walled tin-lined copper 14-inch oval sauté pan over medium-high heat until barely starting to smoke, 7 ounces of sliced oyster mushrooms from Blue Oyster Cultivation tossed in, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a pinch of a combination of 2 peppers (crushed home-dried light-colored habanada purchased fresh the year before from Norwich Meadows Farm, and hickory-smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet from Eckerton Hill Farm last fall, cooked, stirring occasionally, until well browned, or 3 to 4 minutes, transferred to warmed plates (in a warm oven, door ajar), and set aside, the pan wiped dry, an additional tablespoon of olive oil added, the flame turned up to medium-high and, once the oil was shimmering, the mushrooms replaced by one 15-ounce haddock fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood that had first been halved crosswise and seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked, flesh sides down, and without moving until well browned, or for about 3 minutes, carefully flipped over and cooked on the skin side until the fish was just cooked through, or about 2 minutes longer, transferred to the plates next to the mushrooms, while about three quarters of a cup of good low-sodium vegetable stock was added to the same pan and cooked over high heat until reduced by at least half, the pan removed from the flame and 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of Chelsea Whole Foods Market organic lemon stirred in, the sauce seasoned to taste with pepper, and, if needed, pepper as well, before being poured over both the fish and the mushrooms, the haddock finished with a garnish of micro red mustard from Windfall Farms,  with lemon wedges served on the side [this Serious Eats rechelped bring the fish and the mushrooms to the table]

I can’t continue without relaying my most recent story about mushrooms, from the Wikipedia entry for Johann Schobert, because it involves two of my favorite things, mushrooms and music:

“In 1767, Schobert went mushroom picking with his family in Le Pré-Saint-Gervais near Paris. He tried to have a local chef prepare them, but was told they were poisonous. After trying again at a restaurant at Bois de Boulogne, and being incorrectly told by a doctor acquaintance of his that the mushrooms were edible, he decided to use them to make a soup at home. Schobert, his wife, all but one of their children, and his doctor friend died.”

Lesson: trust the experts (most of them anyway).

  • one small bunch of collard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, the stems removed, washed 3 times, drained (some of the water retained and held aside to be added, as necessary, while the greens cooked), roughly chopped, braised gently until barely wilted inside a medium size, antique copper pot in which 2 cloves of garlic, also from Windfall Farms, had been heated until they had softened, seasoned with salt and black pepper, finished with a small drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was a French (Burgundy/Chablis) white, Vincent Mothe Chablis 2017, from Crush Wine and Spirits


[the still of Mariusz Kwiecień as King Roger and Jose Luis Sola as the Shepherd/Dionysus, from the Santa Fe Opera production of ‘Krol Roger‘, is from]

greek-style roast chicken, sorta; roasted potatoes, mustard

It was a pretty splendid entrée, even without the full Greek treatment it was supposed to get, meaning I didn’t have any feta cheese on hand.

And without the feta, I felt I felt I would be excused for including an element I thought was not Greek, halved roasted potatoes, specifically the 4 orphan la ratte fingerlings I had been keeping in a brown paper bag in a basket high above the spice cupboard.  I’ve just looked around on line however, and it turns out that roasted potatoes can be very Greek.

The meat was superb. It came from the same farmers responsible for our enjoying it so much the last few times we had chicken. Yesterday’s Sunday spring chicken was a last-minute choice. I picked it up at our local Eataly rather than in the Union Square Greenmarket, where I usually shop for meat, and only its flavor was dear: the cost was only $8.50 for all 4 pieces.

The recipe began with Mark Bittman’s New York Times Magazine spread on what to do with chicken parts; it appears here, although absent almost any details or quantities, since it assumes the reader has more than a little cooking experience:

Heat the oven to 450. Make a paste of minced garlic, fresh oregano, lemon zest and olive oil; slide it underneath the chicken skin. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, surround with cherry tomatoes and olives and roast, skin side up, basting occasionally with pan drippings, until the juices run clear, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with a little crumbled feta and oregano and serve.

  • the chicken I prepared was four 6-ounce thighs of the, Cascun Farms‘ Cornish Cross breed, from Eataly Flatiron and, although not mentioned in the basic outline of a recipe, of course I first seasoned them with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; the other ingredients used were 2 cloves of garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm; a heaping tablespoon of fresh oregano from Phillips Farms; lemon zest from a Chelsea Whole Foods Market organic lemon; 6 Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods; and about a dozen Kalamata olives (Greek!) from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, pitted, garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge [note: the garlic/oregano paste can be seen as the darker area just under the skin in the picture at the top]
  • four la ratte potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, scrubbed, skins left on, halved, tossed with a little olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, rosemary leaves from Phillips Farm, and a bit of dried habanada pepper, arranged, cut side down, on a small well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, roasted at 450º for about 25 minutes (without the chicken thighs’ need for the higher temperature, I would normally roast the potatoes at 400º, but, if anything, the fingerlings came out better than usual at the higher temperature)

  • handfuls of washed raw light frizzy mustard greens from Campo Rosso Farm, dressed only with olive oil

There was a very small cheese course.

  • a maturing ‘Mammuth’ goat milk cheese (camembert style) from Ardith Mae
  • slices of Gran Daisy Pugliese bread from Chelsea’s Foragers Market



[the beautiful portrait of Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), painted by Carlo Arienti before 1827, from Il Blog dei Ragazzi]

porchetta, wild cress; burnt orecchietti, shallot, espelette

I’m becoming fond of porchetta, although serving it doesn’t leave me any room to exercise my cooking skills, whatever they may be.

  • slices of Piacenti roasted porchetta (5 ounces) from Eataly Flatiron, drizzled with a little good Trader Joe’s olive oil
  • wild cress from Lani’s Farm dressed with the same olive oil, Maldon salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a little organic lemon from Chelsea Whole Foods Market
  • slices from a loaf of Gran Daisy Pugliese bread from Foragers

Assembling a meal with a prepared pasta, fresh or dried, can be almost as ho-hum. Although there’s a little more room for creativity in its case, this time I did very little to alter the product from what it had been when it came off the shelf. It was delicious, and still my sense of self worth as a cook managed to survive.

  • one finely-sliced ‘yellow shallot from Norwich Meadows Farm softened in a tablespoon or so of olive oil inside a large antique copper pot, joined by 8 ounces (dry weight) of a package of a smoky Agricola del Sole ‘Orecchiette di Grano Arsopasta‘ [Eng. ‘burnt grain’], from Eataly, that had just been cooked al dente, along with some of reserved pasta water, stirred over a high flame until the liquid had emulsified, a (judicious) amount of crushed dried red espelette peppers (which are mostly medium hot, but not always) from Alewife Farm, salt, and pepper mixed in, the pasta arranged in shallow bowls, olive oil drizzled around the edges, a small amount of toasted homemade breadcrumbs sprinkled on top, finished with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge