It was delicious, even if the photo reveals it was a little colorless. I’ve usually used tomatoes, in fact usually bright red tomatoes, when I’ve roasted whole skate wings, and I did bring home some small golden cherry tomatoes that afternoon, but in the evening I remembered that I’d been hoarding some tomatillos, which are nightshades, but not tomatoes, for a couple of weeks. I checked them out and found that they both looked and tasted as good as when I had worked with a few on the previous Sunday, so I decided the familiar recipe could handle a change in one of its major ingredients.
The tomatillos had been purchased at the Union Square Greenmarket on October 14, over 2 weeks before I finally incorporated them in this meal. Until I looked into their storage life expectancy on line the next day I had thought my experience represented an extraordinary survival, but nature often knows how to pack her things, and in this case her design, the dry, leafy husk in which they are wrapped and to which they remain attached until ready to be used, did its job well; also, I had kept them in an open paper bag in the crisper, and I talked to them regularly.
The other novelty that was a part of this meal was the herb rue, today more celebrated in literature and scary medical accounts than found in actual food preparation. I’d seen it before in the Union Square Greenmarket but had always passed on it, but the little bunches I found at the Stokes Farm stand on Friday finally won me over, after briefly checking the internet information my phone to see if I would be likely to find something to do with it.
The results were conclusive: It was positively super on plain boiled potatoes, a very pungent, very unusual and tasty flavor I expect to enjoying more in the future.
- a generous number of small to medium tomatillos from Ecketon Hill Farm, halved, tossed gently inside a shallow bowl with less than a tablespoon of olive oil and less than a whole crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili, pepperoncino di Sardegna intero from Buon Italia, arranged, cut sides down, inside a large enameled cast iron oven pan and roasted at 400º for about 10 minutes, after which two 11.5-ounce whole skate wings (the cartilage and joint bone where they had been attached to the main body intact) from American Seafood Company, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, transferred to the pan, after moving the tomatillos to the edges, roasted for another 15 minutes or so, a whisked together mixture of one tablespoon of olive oil, half a tablespoon of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of a good Dijon mustard, and more than a half tablespoon of rinsed salted Sicilian capers poured over the fish and tomatillos before the pan was returned to the oven for 2 or 3 minutes, then removed, its contents arranged on 2 plates, the tomatillos next to or slightly covering the edges of the skate, both garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge, with lemon quarters placed to the side of the plates
- eleven or 12 ounces of medium red potatoes from Windfall Farms, scrubbed, boiled unpeeled in generously-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, tossed with a little Whole Foods house Portuguese olive oil, seasoned with local P.E. & D.D. Seafood Company sea salt and some ground pepper, tossed with some beautiful rue from Stokes Farm, chopped
- the wine was a New Zealand (Hawkes Bay) white, Rod Easthope Reserve Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018, from Naked Wines
- the music was Jordi Savall’s intense album, ‘Orient-Occident Vol 2 – Hommage a la Syrie‘
I didn’t get to the Union Square Greenmarket on Monday, so while I missed the P.E. & D.D. Seafood stall, that night I rewarded us both with a meal that included a pair of their crab cakes made inside their home by Delores Karlin, wife of fisherman Phil Karlin, that I’d defrosted earlier in the day.
- two frozen crab cakes from P.E. & D.D. Seafood (crab, egg, flour, red & green peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, milk, celery, and parsley), defrosted earlier, heated with a drizzle of olive oil inside a small perfectly seasoned ancient cast iron pan, 3 to 4 minutes to each side, served on a salsa composed of one large ripe red heirloom tomato, chopped, from Jersey Farm Produce Inc. at the Saturday 23rd Street farmers market, plus much of a small scallion, finely chopped, from Alex’s Tomato Farm in the same market, some sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a bit of scissored chives from Space at Ryder Farm, and a little olive oil, finished with a judicious amount of the cook’s own homemade Zhug spread on top of the cakes, the whole garnished with a sprinkling of micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge [this time there was a lot of salsa, but noting to self that it would be best to put the crispy cakes next to the colder, moist salsa, and not on it]
- the remainder of most of a very large bunch of a delicious unnamed green that I was told is a mix of kale and mustard, from Quarton Farm, washed several times and chopped very roughly, including the stems, wilted inside a large antique copper pot in a little olive oil in which several thinly sliced ‘Chesnok Red’ Red’ garlic cloves from Alewife Farm had been warmed and begun to color, the greens arranged on the plates, seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with a little olive oil
- the wine for both courses was a Spanish (Catalonia/Tarragona/Monsant) white, Franck Massard Herbis Verdejo 2018, from Naked Wines
- the music was the album, ‘Játékok’ (Games), with works by György Kurtág alternating with Bach transcriptions, both being the creations of Kurtág himself and of his wife Márta Kurtág, in two and four handed piano accounts performed by the two of them
After last week’s detour through a one-stop condiment arrangement involving some homemade Zhug, today I went back to assembling a lot of separate things in little bowls for our traditional Sunday bacon and eggs early afternoon meal.
It was a lunch of consequence.
It included, not necessarily in any order:
There was a somewhat meaty first course and a vegan main, although since the flavors were so rich, Barry had to ask me whether meat had any part in the latter. It did not, so I think the suggestion of it came from the savoriness of the habanada pepper, the smokiness of the toasted pine nuts, and/or the earthiness of the micro kale finish.
The antipasto, or the appetizer course, was more southern Italian than the next one.
- slices from a 2-ounce package of la Quercia ‘Prosciutto Americano’ from Chelsea Whole Foods Market arranged beside some leaves of arugula from Jersey Farm Produce Inc. in the Saturday 23rd Street farmers market, that had been drizzled with olive oil (Renieris Estate ‘Divina’ (Koroneiki varietal), Hania, Crete, from Whole Foods Market, seasoned with local Long Island sea salt from P.E. & D.D. Seafood and freshly-ground black pepper, then one sliced ripe medium red heirloom tomato, its one overripe section first severed from the rest and discarded, placed on top of the arugula, also drizzled with a little of the oil, sprinkled with scissored chives from Space at Ryder Farm, and seasoned with salt and pepper too [the rosemary cracker in the picture to the right of the arugula is an errant part of the accompaniment to our drinks before dinner]
- slices of ‘Whole wheat Redeemer Bread’ (wheat, water, salt) from Lost Bread Co. (not in the picture)
The primi, or main, in this case, to the extent that it echoed Italy at all, was the more northern Italian of the two.
- one sliced red spring onion from Norwich Meadows Farm and one chopped clove of ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic from Alewife Farm heated until both were fragrant in a couple tablespoons of Whole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil inside a large antique copper pot, followed by one thinly sliced habanada pepper from Alewife Farm stirred in, and then, as soon as it had finished cooking to an al dente state, 9 ounces from a one-pound box of Sfoglini Einkorn Macaroni, together with a cup of the cooking water, tossed in, the heat under the pan pushed to high and the mix cooked, stirring, until the liquid had emulsified, arranged in shallow bowls with a little olive oil drizzled around the edges, garnished with some micro kale from Norwich Meadows Farm
There was nothing new in this entrée, except, I believe, for the greens, which were some kind of kale/mustard combination of which I didn’t get any description from the farmer the day I picked them up.
They were quite sweet, and delicious, with much of the flavor of mustard, but with little of the bitterness (which I actually like). Barry described them as “the habanada of mustard greens; all the flavorful goodness, but without the bitterness.
We were happy that the swordfish steak was a little larger than our usual share, because it was really, really good, and so were the very ripe tomatoes from which I had trimmed some portions that had gotten a bit too ripe.
- one swordfish steak (17 ounces) from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, halved, marinated for more than half an hour in a mixture of one thinly sliced red spring onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, a teaspoon of pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, little more than a pinch of dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero) from Buon Italia, and less than a couple tablespoons of olive oil, after which the steaks were drained and covered on both sides with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs (to help retain the moisture, and keep it from drying out), pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side, or until barely cooked all of the way through, removed, arranged on the plates, seasoned with a little local salt, Phil Karlin’s P.E. & D.D. Seafood Long Island Sound sea salt, a good amount of juice from an organic lemon from Westside Market squeezed on top, drizzled with olive oil, and garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- three small heirloom tomatoes from Jersey Farm Produce Inc. in the Saturday 23rd Street farmers market, sliced, seasoned with salt and pepper, heated over a low flame inside a copper skillet until softened, arranged on the plates and sprinkled with chopped thyme leaves from Quarton Farm
- most of a very large bunch of a delicious unnamed green that I was told is a mix of kale and mustard, from Quarton Farm, washed several times and chopped very roughly, including the stems, wilted inside a large antique copper pot in a little olive oil in which several crushed ‘Chesnok Red’ Red’ garlic cloves from Alewife Farm had been warmed and begun to color, arranged on the plates, seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with a little olive oil
- the wine was an Italian (Marche/Matelica) white, Verdicchio di Matelica D.O.C., from Philippe Wines
- the music was an album, first released in 1993, of Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto, and Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No. 5, in performances by Gidon Kremer, Rainer Keuschnig, the Wiener Philharmoniker, and Christoph von Dohnányi