soft shell crab; green beans; tomato; berry/gelato cobbler

One of the great boons for a cook who’s at it regularly is the ability to use leftover ingredients saved from earlier meals. Last night it was a small amount of some juices that had started out inside very ripe heirloom tomatoes whose flesh had been a part of this meal, 4 days earlier than the one in which they ended up last night. The addition had a great effect, far more wonderful than I could have imagined possible.

Another bonus is the proximity of a food source like the Union Square Greenmarket, where suppliers delight in coming in with – and over and over coming up with – local items to please professional chefs, serious amateurs, and the many casual New York cooks who are also devoted to its bounties; as in, voila, yesterday’s soft shelled crabs!

four soft-shell blue crabs (12 ounces) from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, cleaned as described in Marylander Stacey Williamson’s short video, rinsed in running water and dried very thoroughly (so they don’t ‘steam’ and so to encourage crispness, since I had decided not to use a batter of any kind), brought to room temperature, sautéed on both sides (bottom first, but later served with the bottom down) over a medium-high flame in a quarter inch of olive oil inside a 13-inch nicely-seasoned cast iron pan (for maybe about 3 minutes altogether?) until their texture goes from soft to taut, when they are ready to be removed and arranged on the 2 plates, sprinkled with local sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper, drizzled with juice of a Mexican organic lemon from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, followed by a couple tablespoons of sweet tomato juices that had been in the refrigerator since they had escaped the heirlooms they had arrived with earlier in the week, finished with a garnish on the side of organic baby mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge

10 ounces of very ripe (while waiting for this evening they had become shriveled, but none had burst) Edox cherry tomatoes from TransGenerational Farm, washed, dried, heated for a minute in a little olive oil inside a small tin-lined copper skillet, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with fresh chopped epazote, also from TransGenerational Farm

seven ounces of hand-picked haricots verts from Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, NY, left whole, blanched until barely tender, drained, and dried in the same stainless steel pot in which they had cooked, over low-medium heat, shaking, then set aside in a bowl until after the crabs had begun sautéing, at which time they were reheated in a little oil inside a heavy well-seasoned cast iron pan, finished with salt and black pepper, and mixed with dill flowers from Willow Wisp Farm

the wine was an Oregon (Willamette Valley) rosé, Chris Baker Willamette Valley Rose of Pinot Noir 2018, from Naked Wines

the music was the album, ‘Martin Boykan: Rites of Passage’, from Bridge Records

There was a dessert [I’ve just learned that the word, ‘dessert’ is from the Old French desservir, (‘to clear a table’, or, literally ‘to un-serve’), and originated during the Middle Ages]. This one might be described as an upside-down blackberry cobbler which included a bit of very un-medieval gelato. But, yes, we did clear the table first..

  • halved slice of almond cardamon pound cake from Bread Alone, Talenti Madagascar Vanilla Gelato from Chelsea While Foods Market, blackberries from Toigo Orchard, topped with a self sauce of mashed berries combined with a drop or two of Toschi Orzata Orgeat syrup


[I had forgotten to take a picture of the crabs yesterday, so those in the bucket seen above do not include any of our dinner partners; the image is instead one I snapped at the Pura Vida counter on August 2]