Month: May 2019

marinated dolphin; potato, garlic mustard; herbed tomato

They were the last 2 dolphin fillets at the fisherman’s stand yesterday, and just the right size for the two of us. I would go home with them of course, not just because they’re so scarce, on that day, sure, but in the local market generally, but because we love this fish.

Some people might say all fish tastes pretty much the same, that the only real difference is in its preparation. This could just as well be said of red meat, but I’d argue that both opinions depend on a very narrow idea of what constitutes seafood or meat, when compared to the range of what is available in this area alone.

The taste and the texture of Dolphin are both pretty much unique. I can’t describe its sweet mild flavor in words, but  it’s medium color, richness, and oiliness puts it somewhere between the extremes of dark, rich oily fish and dry, lean white fish; Barry and I enjoy virtually every kind of seafood, and because of the Union Square Greenmarket, we have access to the huge variety available in these waters alone.

One of the advantages of understanding the types of seafood is the ability to substitute species when deciding how to prepare a meal. One of the advantages of cooking at home frequently is the ability to substitute ingredients when you learn at the last minute that your fresh herb or seasoning vegetable has withered, or that you’ve either misplaced or haven’t replaced that spice you were going to use.

I’ve prepared several different kinds of fish in the same way I did these fillets last night, and I’ve tried several different preparations in the past for dolphin themselves. I chose this one for its simplicity, and for the fact that it wouldn’t heat up the kitchen with the oven on a humid evening. Then I realized that I didn’t have the herb I was hoping to use, but I could quickly substitute another (in fact I think the oregano worked better than the savory that I thought I had bought on Wednesday).

  • two 9-ounce dolphin fillets, with skin, from American Seafood Company, dry-marinated for 45 minutes or so  with more than half a tablespoon of zest from an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, half a tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano from Phillips Farms, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, seared in a little olive oil inside a heavy oval vintage copper fish pan for about 3 minutes, skin side up, then turned over and the skin side seared for another 3 minutes, the heat lowered and the pan loosely covered with aluminum foil for a minute or two, after which it was removed, and some thin-ish slices of spring ‘Magi garlic’ from Windfall Farms and a bit of crushed dried habanada pepper were introduced and very briefly heated with the fish, which was then removed from the pan, along with the allium and the habanada, and arranged on the plates, the now richly-savory pan juices poured over the top of the fish

  • thirteen ounces or so of some very small, very sweet ‘red thumb’ potatoes from Tamarack Hollow Farm, scrubbed, boiled whole and unpeeled in heavily-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried in the still-warm large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, a little olive oil added, seasoned with salt and black pepper, mixed with some garlic mustard leaves from Norwich Meadows Farm, arranged on the plates and sprinkled with more garlic mustard, including some flowers

  • one small basket of ripe Sun Gold tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm, rinsed, dried, each pricked at least once with a small kitchen prong, rolled around in a little olive oil inside a small skillet until they had begun to soften, seasoned with salt, black pepper, and a pinch of dried fenugreek from Bombay Emerald Chutney Company (purchased at the Saturday Chelsea Farmers Market), arranged on the plates and tossed with a small amount of chopped fennel fronds, still very fresh tasting, from a meal more than a week earlier
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Beiras) white, Filipa Pato – FP Branco 2018, from 67Wine
  • the music was the awesome Nonesuch After Mozart Digital MP3 Album, released as a part of the celebrations of the eponymous composer’s 250th birthday anniversary, with performances by Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica, with some of Mozart’s more playful works, plus some experimental pieces by other composers

pasta, spring garlic, fava shoots, coriander seed, parmesan

I really love fava beans, but no matter how many I buy, it seems I always end up with only a few spoonfuls of the treat itself once I’ve removed the inedible parts.  An article in bon appétit even includes them in their list of ‘jerk vegetables’, where they’re concerned only with the amount of work they require to prepare, not the cost of purchasing a number large enough to be appreciated. In any event, their suggestion for dealing with the problem (just buy fewer fava beans) holds no attraction for me.

Since I discovered the fava bean shoot a few years ago, I almost never go back to the bean itself, because these treasures (which look a bit like giant clover leaves, how sweet is that?) offer everything the beans do, except for the texture.

I used a few handfuls of the greens in a simple meal last night. I’ve prepared them as a side vegetable and incorporated them in pasta dishes in the past, but this may be the first time I’ve wilted them for a pasta as I would other greens, and not just tossed a smaller amount into the mix at the end. The result, seen in the image at the top, looks very different this time, but it was at least as delicious as ever.

  • a few loose handfuls of fava shoots from Keith’s farm, newly-returned-to-the-Greenmarket on Saturday, washed, drained, and gradually added to a large antique copper pot in which one large green or spring ‘Magic garlic’ from Windfall Farms had already been heated and softened a bit before about a quarter teaspoon of slightly crushed whole Moroccan coriander seeds from Flatiron Eataly were added, plus freshly-ground black pepper to taste, the fava greens stirred and allowed to wilt only slightly before stirring in some lemon zest (from half of one Chelsea Whole Foods Market organic lemon) and a little lemon juice, then 8 or 9 ounces of cooked and drained Afeltra 100% grano italiano spaghetti, produced in Gragnano, from Eataly Flatiron, added and stirred over a medium-high flame with a full cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, until the liquid had emulsified, the pasta then arranged inside shallow bowls and finished with olive oil drizzled around the edges, a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano (aged 24 months) from Whole Foods grated on top
  • the wine was an Italian (Sicilian) white, Planeta – La Segreta White 2017, from 67Wine
  • the music was the album, ‘Laurence Crane: 6 Trios 2 Solos & 1 Quintet’, by the Ives Ensemble (and another after dinner

bratwurst, sauerkraut und salzkartoffeln am dekorationstag

It was Decoration Day, when most Americans pay more attention to the culture of the American cookout, on what is observed, unofficially, as the first day of summer, than the nature or meaning of the holiday, the almost silly controversies about its origins, or what I think of as its continuing problematic significance.

We cooked in.

Maybe the grumpy, second part of the first paragraph explains why my heart wasn’t really into this meal; maybe it was because we had spent the day on Staten Island (there were both sweet and sour bits); maybe it’s that I was tired; maybe it was having to rush the meal because it was getting late (my own fault), and that assembling it turned out to be more complicated than it really should have been.

Dinner was okay, but not exciting. I think much of it had to do with my under-salting the vegetables, including the Salzkartoffeln (I mean, they’re called salt potatoes!), and maybe I can blame my under-salted sauerkraut on an under-salted bottled sauerkraut (modern tastes?), but then, don’t I know about ‘taste for seasoning’?

  • four links of bratwurst (one pound) from Hudson Vally Charcuterie at Raven & Boar farm, in the Union Square Greenmarket, placed inside in a pot and covered with water, brought to a boil, the heat immediately reduced and the water allowed to simmer for 10 minutes, the sausage removed from the liquid and dried, cooked above a medium flame (too high will cause their casings to crack open) in an enameled grill pan, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until browned, removed to the plates, a dab of a classic German mustard, Löwensenf Medium, placed at the side of the bratwurst
  • about one pound of la ratte potatoes from Fledging Crow Vegetables in the Union Square Greenmarket, scrubbed, boiled, along with a generous amount of salt (ideally generous, but maybe I messed up this time), drained, dried in the pan, halved, rolled in a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with chopped parsley from Phillips Farms
  • one 16-ounce glass jar of sauerkraut (simply cabbage, water, sea salt) from Schaller & Weber [also here] drained and very well-rinsed in several changes of cold water, drained again and placed inside a large, heavy, high-sided tin-lined copper pot with 2 chopped small red onions and one chopped orange carrot (an apple, if I had one, would have been preferable), both from Norwich Meadows Farm, 8 or 9 whole juniper berries, and about the same number of Whole Foods Market proprietary brand peppercorns (they’re surprisingly good!), a little sea salt, one large Sicilian bay leaf from Buon Italia, and enough fresh water to almost cover the sauerkraut, all brought to a boil then merely simmered (covered) over a low flame, stirring occasionally, for less than half an hour, and then uncovered for 20 or 30 minutes more
  • we shared 2 different beers: a really delicious local Montauck Summer Ale, the gift of a friend (the glass in the picture at the top), and a phenomenal smoked beer we’d first tasted in its home town, Bamberg, Upper Franconia, Helles Schlenkerla Lager, purchased at Schaller & Weber here on 2nd Avenue
  • the music was the album, ‘Philip Glass, Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3’, Marin Alsop conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

marinated goat chops; green garlic-sauté cucumber; kale

The picture reminds me of how good the meal was, and I’m happy with some of the details it describes, since I could easily have just repeated much of the formula I’ve used with so many of the the goat chops I’ve served. At least some of the credit for the innovations must be ascribed to (perceived) necessity.

To begin with, while I had planned on serving roasted fingerlings, since it was warm and humid last night I decided to try something that didn’t need a hot oven. I also thought about how the only potatoes I had in the larder would go better with the very German meal I was planning to serve on Monday, Decoration Day.  Fortunately I had picked up some very attractive light green cucumbers (they were delicious, as it turns out) at the Union Square Greenmarket the day before.

I didn’t have any dill, which is an obvious accompaniment for the cucumbers, but I did have some still very fresh acting fennel fronds in the crisper, left over from a meal more than a week before. I also want to thank Persephone for the blessings of green, or spring garlic, especially welcome in a season which leaves us totally bereft of at least the local dried sort.

Another novelty was the final touch given to the chops themselves: While looking on line for garlic mustard information in order to write about it in an earlier post, I read that this herb and putative invasive garden pest alliaria petiolata went really well with goat.

  • four small loin goat chops (averaging just over 3 ounces each) from Lynnhaven Dairy Goat Farm, marinated about 45 minutes to an hour in a mix of a couple tablespoons of olive oil, one sliced stem of green or spring ‘Magic garlic’ from Windfall Farms, a freshly-ground mix of black pepper and other seeds or spices (fennel seeds cumin seeds, coriander seeds, star anise, white peppercorns, and whole clove) that had been accidentally combined when I was preparing a dry marinade for a pork belly, then decided to hold onto for future use, 8 slightly-crushed juniper berries, some roughly-chopped rosemary from Stokes Farm, one medium size crushed, now-dried-but-purchased-fresh, bay leaf from Westside Market, and a little zest and juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, the chops pan-grilled for a few minutes, turning 3 times, seasoned with sea salt and a little more pepper after the first turn, finished, while they rested for a few minutes on warm plates, with a bit of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, garnished with roughly chopped garlic mustard from Norwich Meadows Farm [they were perfectly cooked, with not anxiety, this time

  • two cucumbers (12 ounces?), described as ‘Japanese cucumbers’ by the guys at Norwich Meadows Farm where I bought them, although I can’t locate anything on line with their color (light green, almost yellow), unpeeled, sliced into rounds 2 or 3 cms thick, sautéed, along with another sliced stem of spring ‘Magic garlic’, in a little olive oil inside a large antique copper pot over a medium-high flame, turning twice, sprinkling with salt each time, each side allowed to begin carbonizing, adding slices from the stems of several small fennel bulbs from Central Valley Farm, more than half way through, seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper, arranged on the plates, garnished with chopped fennel fronds and drizzled with a little olive oil

breakfast, the sunday before decoration day, with no graves

It looks like a holiday celebration. Of course I’m thinking of something that used to be called ‘Decoration Day‘, something beyond the morbid, more modern American celebration of soldiers fallen in the name of our national military fetish.

I would prefer to think of this late spring weekend as an occasion when people gather, put flowers on graves, enjoy the company of relatives and of others, both familiar and not. It’s an anachronism anyway, so I’ll add a picnic-like ‘dinner on the grounds’, one which would probably be enjoyed at about the same afternoon hour Barry and I enjoyed this breakfast today. If asked, we would probably both respond with mixed feelings about being far from our own family cemeteries.

  • the ingredients of the meal, which as usual served as lunch and breakfast, were almost entirely local: some very fresh eggs from pastured chickens and bacon from pastured pigs, both from Millport Dairy Farm, the fried eggs seasoned with sea salt, a freshly ground mix of black pepper and other seeds or spices that had been accidentally combined when I was preparing a dry marinade for a pork belly, then decided to hold onto for future use (black pepper, fennel seeds cumin seeds, coriander seeds, star anise, white peppercorns, and whole clove), sprinkled with a thinly sliced bulb from a bunch of ramps form Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, and finished with thinly sliced strips of the 2 ramp leaves that had been attached to the bulb, some chopped fronds of small spring fennel bulbs from Central Valley Farm that had been a part of an earlier meal, a few small cherry tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm that had been heated gently in a small enamel-lined cast iron porringer, then sprinkled with a dry seasoning called L’ekama from Ron & Leetal Arazi’s New York Shuk, a small mound of micro purple radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and thin slices, not toasted, of 2 different rich, hearty breads, ‘Seedy Grains’ from Lost Bread Company (wheat, spelt, rye, barley, organ bread buckwheat, oats, seeds {flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin], water, salt) and Runner & Stone’s whole wheat seeded crescent (with toasted sesame, flax, poppy, and caraway seeds)