Month: April 2019

baked monkfish, tomatoes, and purple potatoes; mustards

I didn’t know what I was going to do with the monkfish tails this time until Barry suggested I roast them with the little Magic Molly fingerlings I had bought the week before. It seemed it would be a good time to use these deep purple potatoes, since their darkness doesn’t work visually with many entrées and vegetables.

In the 2 earlier meals in which I had prepared baked purple potatoes in a dish like this I had used cod, which required a little preparation ahead of time. The substitution of monkfish meant adjusting the seasoning, particularly the salt, and there were a few other changes, but I cobbled together a formula that worked.

  • fourteen ounces of quite small ‘Magic Molly‘ potatoes from Tamarack Hollow Farm, sliced to a thickness of roughly 1/4″, tossed inside a large bowl with 3 tablespoons, or slightly more, of a good Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a pinch of an Eckerton Hill Farm crushed dried hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper, arranged, certainly overlapping, inside a rectangular glazed ceramic oven pan, cooked for roughly 25 minutes in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced, but ideally not quite fully cooked, then 2 monkfish tails, or Lotte, (20 ounces total) purchased from Jan, at the P.E. & D.D.Seafood stand in the Union Square Greenmarket, before we started talking about remodeling kitchens, washed and rinsed, placed inside the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with some salt and pepper, partly blanketed with thin slices of 3 Backyard Farms Maine ‘Cocktail tomatoes’, the tomatoes themselves seasoned lightly, the pan returned to the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the fish was just cooked through, fillets and tomato removed with a spatula (2 spatulas ae better), along with as much of the potatoes as can be brought along with each piece, everything arranged on the plates as intact as possible, any remaining potatoes then added, everything garnished with chopped fresh dill from Phillips Farms
  • one bunch of red mustard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted inside a large antique copper pot in a little olive oil in which several large halved cloves of Foragers Market garlic had been allowed to sweat a bit, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was a French (Petit Chablis) white, La Chablisienne Pas Si Petit Petit Chablis 2016, from Philippe Wine
  • the music was Gavin Bryars’ 2004 piece, ‘New York’, a concerto for tuned percussion quintet and chamber orchestra

sunchoke pasta, shallot, chili, thyme, claytonia, lime, crumb

I didn’t have any great expectations for this slight, improvised dish, but good artisanal pasta is usually an extremely good collaborator, so it turned out really, really well, thanks also to the claytonia, or miners lettuce that I had picked up in the Greenmarket a few days earlier.

  • one medium slightly robust in flavor ‘Camelot’ Dutch red shallot from Quarton Farm, minced, sautéed in a couple tablespoons of olive oil inside a large antique copper pot until fragrant and softened, then a pinch of crushed dried hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper added and stirred in before 8 ounces of a locally-sourced and locally-produced artisanal pasta, a ‘Jerusalem Artichoke Fusilli’ from Norwich Meadows Farm which incorporates their own sunchokes (the name I like to us when I can, since neither Jerusalem nor the artichoke has anything to do this these native American tubers) which had been cooked al dente, drained, were added, and everything stirred, along with a good part of a cup of reserved pasta cooking water, now over high heat,  until the liquid was emulsified, the pasta sprinkled with a little chopped thyme from Phillips Farms and  seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, tossed with a good helping of the stems, leaves, and flowers of Claytonia, or Miner’s Lettuce, from Vermont’s Tamarack Hollow Farm, finished with a squeeze of a small Persian lime that had been raised by David Tifford of Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, a farmer (mostly of decorative plants) who is also found in the Union Square Greenmarket
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Lisbon) white, AdegaMãe Dory 2017
  • the music was the album, ‘Lebanese Piano Music’

côtes de veau braisé*; pommes de terre et chicorée rôties

Last night I returned to my ancient, well-thumbed and lightly-sauced 1966 edition of Julia Child’s, ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1’ to help me decide what to do with a cut of meat I don’t think I have ever prepared before.

The result was really delicious, although it was very different from my current cooking style, and it looks surprisingly ‘French provincial cooking’ (I don’t know what I was expecting). Anyway, thank goodness for micro greens.

It also reminded me of some of the reasons I mostly abandoned Julia Child years ago: I almost always found it personally very stressful, especially toward the finish, even when they were a great success (maybe you have to be the mythical bonne femme to carry it off?); I got tired of the rigidity of her formulas; I doubted her books would ever enable me to be creative or improvisatory; and I was eventually persuaded that the recipes were unnecessarily complicated, especially after I started working with Italian models. I worried that I would never be à la bonne femme

These are the potatoes that went into this meal. I may finally have to admit that I become obsessed with eggs at this time of the year. The image is of a couple handfuls of Pintos, but as I was preparing them last night I saw them as small marzipan Easter eggs. They made absolutely delicious roasted potatoes!

I found timing the cooking of this single veal chop problematic, and I don’t know why. I had kept the lowest possible flame under the covered pot while it was braising, but my instant read thermometer told me it was done much sooner than Julia had said it would be. The next time, if there is a next time, I’m probably going to depend entirely on my personal finger gauge, as Pierre Franey advises:

Of course, it is not always practical to pierce chops with a meat thermometer, so I usually use the trusty finger method. Press the meat carefully and quickly while it is cooking-naturally, avoid touching the hot surface of the pan-and if the meat bounces back readily, it needs further cooking. As soon as the meat loses that resilience, it is done. Judging this takes some experience, but once you master the technique, it is foolproof.

  • one 23-ounce veal shoulder chop, slightly over an inch thick, from Alex at the Consider Bardwell Farms stand in the Union Square Greenmarket, dried well with paper towels, seared in 1 tablespoon of butter and half a tablespoon of olive oil inside a heavy medium size enameled oval cast iron pan (the chop just fit, with no room to spare), once the butter foam had begun  to subside, for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, regulating heat so the butter is very hot but not browning, removed to a side dish, the meat seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, et over moderate heat, more than a tablespoon of minced strongly flavored ‘camelot’ Dutch red shallots from Quarton Farm stirred into the butter and oil, cooked for 2 minutes, stirring, the veal returned to the pan, 1/4 cup of dry white wine (our dinner wine, Medoc Villa des Crus 2015) added, along with some chicken stock, enough to come half way up the meat, a teaspoon or so of home-dried sage (originally from Phillips Farm last summer), the liquid brought to a simmer, the pan covered, its contents maintained at a slow, steady simmer throughout cooking (as it turned out, less than 45 minutes) basting the meat several times with the liquid inside, the chop removed, the meat removed from the bones, and divided onto 2 plates and kept warm for the few minutes it took to finish the sauce by removing the fat with a vintage cast aluminum ladle designed for the purpose, the liquid brought to a boil and reduced rapidly until liquid almost syrupy, almost all the juice from half of a lemon added, at least partly to offset its inevitable saltiness, remove from heat and about 2 tablespoons of soft butter added, a little at a time, until melted in, the sauce spooned over the veal on the plates and served immediately (the vegetables having already been added to each) garnished with micro purple kale from Two Guys from Woodbridge

  • 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 [and optionally, a small amount of crushed home-dried habanada pepper], arranged cut side down on a large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, roasted at about 400º for around 20 minutes

  • a couple handfuls of beautiful chicory rosettes from Campo Rosso Farm that Chris said had popped up this spring from last fall’s plants, washed, drained, dried, each halved, or quartered, if larger, tossed in a large bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a number of thyme branches from Chelsea Whole Foods, then arranged inside a large well seasoned Pampered Chef oven pan, roasted at 400º for about 10 minutes, by which time their edges had become deliciously crispy, removed from the oven, the pan allowed to cool just a little before they were drizzled with a very small amount of balsamic vinegar
  • the wine was a French (Medoc) red, Medoc Villa des Crus 2015, from Garnet Wine
  • the music was a recording of the first symphonies of Hans Gál and Robert Schumann, Kenneth Woods conducting the Orchestra of the Swan



  • technically it should probably be described as ‘Côtes de Veau Dans Leur Jus‘ although my headline style would require all lower case), and in Julia Child’s book it is, but that didn’t all fit inside the space I had available

coriander/fennel-rubbed grilled tuna; tomatoes; bok choy

The 3 most basic food groups: fresh, local, good. All 3 had them.

  • one thick tuna steak (15 ounces) from Pura Vida Seafood Company, from which I had first cut off a 6-ounce section to freeze for later use, rinsed, dried, halved, tops and bottoms seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and rubbed with a mixture of a little more than a tablespoon of mix of wonderful dry Sicilian fennel seed from Buon Italia, whole Moroccan coriander seeds from Flatiron Eataly, and a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia all first crushed together in a porcelain mortar and pestle, pan-grilled above a medium-high flame for only a little more than a minute or so on each side (if the cook can remember to watch the time), finished on the plates with a good squeeze of the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and a drizzle of olive oil, garnished with a little micro red radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • 6 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 4 bruised cloves of garlic from Foragers Market
  • one bunch of bok choy (aka, bok choi, pak choi, pak choy, pok choi, for ‘small white vegetable’) from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, washed, sliced into one-inch sections, wilted inside a large vintage, heavy tin-lined copper pot in a tablespoon or so of olive oil after 2 halved garlic cloves had already been heated there until they had begun to brown, the process starting with the thickest sections of this wonderful brassica chinensis, those closest to the root end, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, removed from the flame while still a little crunchy, drizzled with a little more olive oil
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Alentejano) white, Herdade Do Esporao Reguengos Esporao White 2016, from Garnet Wines
  • the music was Caroline Shaw’s new Album, ‘Orange’, performed by Attacca Quartet

‘vesuvio’ pasta with ramps, smoked duck, thyme, parmesan

They were the first ramps I’d seen in the Greenmarket, and it wasn’t a day too soon. In fact it seemed they were more like 14 days late, judging by my Food Blog records over the years.

The pasta was also a treat, and the smoked duck breast was sublime. The mix of those 3 required almost nothing else.