The only swordfish steaks left inside the fishers’ bucket on Friday when I arrived at his stand in the Union Square Greenmarket were a bit larger than what we normally share, so, at Paul’s suggestion, that evening I decided to cut off a smaller section, grill it with the other two, larger parts, that we had for dinner that night, but then put it away in the refrigerator, immersed in olive oil, to use in an appetizer the next day, its character to be determined then.
That’s exactly what I did, and it was really delicious. It was an incredibly simple operation, but I should have arranged it to look more simple than it did. My mind was already on the next course however, so the minimal aesthetic just didn’t happen.
- four ounces of a swordfish steak from Pura Vida Seafood that had been marinated and grilled the day, after which it had been refrigerated and submerged in olive oil overnight, brought to room temperature the next evening, removed from the oil, cut into 8 thin slices, arranged on a bed of washed purple butter lettuce from Fledging Crow Vegetables and some leaves from a radicchio variegato di Castelfranco from Campo Rosso Farm that had already prepared, dressed with a good Cretan (Chania) olive oil, Renieris Estate ‘Divina’ (a Koroneiki varietal) and a squeeze of organic California lemon, both from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, local P.E. & D.D. sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, sprinkled with chopped small stems and leaves from a small green stalk of celery from Norwich Meadows Farm, and also some scissored chives from Philipps Farms, the entire salad garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- there were slices from a loaf of the excellent ‘homadama’ (wheat, corn, water, maple syrup, salt, slaked lime) from Lost Bread Co.
- the wine was a really excellent Spanish (Jerez) fortified wine, Gonzalez-Byass “Tio Pepe” Fino Sherry, from Foragers Wines
Having the swordfish on hand for an appetizer meant I could reduce or simplify the main course, which, because of how special the entrée turned out to be, was an excellent idea. The goat was beautiful, perfectly cooked, and very simple to carve, but above all, absolutely delicious, at least as tasty as a much more expensive rack of lamb [this perfect small rack, plenty for the 2 of us, set me back just less than $16].
- one small (13.5-ounce) rack of goat from Marie, who was managing the Union Square table of Lynnhaven Dairy Goats, dry-marinated for about 2 hours [the time could be less, if you started late, or much longer, but in any event I try to have it outside the refrigerator only for the last hour] in a mixture of rosemary leaves from Keith’s Farm, removed from their stems; 2 medium crushed fresh bay leaves from Uncle Vinny’s, possibly Columbian, from Westside Market; the zest from a small Chelsea Market lemon; a small part of one crushed dried habanada pepper; sea salt, and some freshly-ground black pepper, after which the goat was dried with paper towels and coated lightly with olive oil, the oven preheated to 425º, a heavy oval enameled cast iron pan placed inside for 10 minutes, the rack arranged inside the hot pan flesh side down and roasted for about 17 minutes this time [the instant thermometer read exactly 120º then, the first time I checked], for rare to medium rare doneness, and not at all bloody, allowed to rest for 7 minutes or so, loosely covered with foil to keep warm, the ribs then separated into 8 chops with a heavy knife and arranged on the 2 plates, finished with a squeeze of the lemon from which the zest had been removed earlier, drizzled with a bit of olive oil,
and garnished with some of the new growth at the top of a horseradish root purchased the day before from Holy Schmitts Horseradish in the Greenmarket, chopped
- more than three quarters of a pound of really gorgeous small Brussels sprouts from John D. Madura Farms, washed, trimmed, dried, tossed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, roasted in a the same 425º oven as the goat on a large unglazed Pampered Chef oven pan until they were browned and crisp on the outside, or for about 15 minutes, and finished with a small amount of decent balsamic vinegar flicked onto them with a small brush
- the wine was a Portuguese (Douro) red, Quinta do Pôpa ‘Contos da Terra’, Douro Red 2016, from Astor Wines
It was a wonderful dinner.
- one swordfish steak (19 ounces) from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, divided into two 7 1/2-ounces pieces for this dinner, and one 4-ounce piece that would be part of an appetizer the next day, all three marinated for more than half an hour in a mixture of 3 baby French leeks from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, a heaping 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 a couple tablespoons of olive oil, after which the steaks were drained, covered on both sides with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs (to help retain the moisture, and keep them from drying out), pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, or until barely cooked all of the way through, removed, the 2 larger pieces arranged on the plates and the smaller, 4-ounce section placed in a vintage pyrex container, covered with olive oil, and refrigerated, while the 2 sections to be served that night were seasoned with a a small amount of Phil Karlin’s P.E. & D.D. Seafood Long Island Sound sea salt, a good amount of juice from an organic California lemon from Chelsea’s Whole Foods Market squeezed on top before being drizzled with olive oil, garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- two medium (purple skin, white flesh) purple viking potatoes from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, scrubbed, boiled unpeeled in a good amount of 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 Market house Portuguese olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and sprinkled with chopped fresh thyme leaves fromKeith’s Farm
- nearly a pound of slightly mixed tones of large very ripe washed and dried cherry tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, punctured with a skewer and placed inside a small square antique rolled-edge tin oven pan with 2 or 3 tablespoons of Whole Foods house Portuguese olive oil and 4 small unpeeled ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic cloves from Alewife Farm, slow-roasted at 325-350º for about 30 minutes [they can be served at room temperature, but last night they were ready just as everything else was]
- the wine was an Italian (Veneto) white, Lugana “Cromalgo”, Corte Sermana 2017, from Astor Wines
- the music was our second voyage with a 2-CD album that presents a gorgeous, epic, cultural, geographic, and historical tour of the 14th-century Muslim world, and also some of the lands beyond, from the album, ‘Ibn Battuta: Le Voyageur d l’Islam (The Traveler of Islam), 1304-1377’, produced by Jordi Saval and Hespèrion XXI
I’ve always thrown some form of capsicum in the mix with this recipe (the original recipe, and my usual preparation, included only dried red pepper flakes), but this may be the first time I’ve used fresh seasoning peppers other than habanada. While it made for a very flavorful dish, a much smaller amount than I used last night might have been more fair to (respectful of) the squid.
- exactly one pound of fresh small squid, bodies and tentacles, from American Seafood Company, rinsed and very carefully dried, quickly arranged inside a large rectangular enameled cast iron pan that had been heated on top of the stove until quite hot and its the cooking surface brushed with a little olive oil once it had, the cephalopods sprinkled with a heaping teaspoon of super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and 4 or 5 quite small chopped seasoning peppers from Eckerton Hill Farm (red aji dulce and yellow granada), followed by a full 3 tablespoons of juice from an organic Chelsea Whole Foods California lemon and a splash of olive oil, the pan placed inside the hot (400º) oven and the squid roasted for just 5 minutes, by which time their bodies had ballooned somewhat, after which they were removed and arranged on 2 plates and ladled with the cooking juices that had been transferred to a sauce boat
14 ounces of delicious medium size purple viking potatoes
from Lucky Dog Organic Farm (purple skin, white flesh), scrubbed, boiled unpeeled in a good amount of generously-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried in the still-warm large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware
in which they had cooked, tossed with a little Whole Foods Market house Portuguese olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed with scissored fresh chives, also from Phillips Farms
- a small mix of both green dandelion from Norwich Meadows Farm and its more flashy red cousin from Willow Wisp Farm, washed and drained, the last of the drained water set aside, cut into 2 or 3-inch pieces, barely wilted in a little olive oil, along with one cut clove of ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic from Alewife Farm which had been heated in the oil until fragrant, a bit of the reserved water then added to loosen the greens, seasoned with a little crushed dried dried Itria-Sirissi chili, pepperoncino di Sardegna intero from Buon Italia, salt and pepper, and drizzled with a little olive oil
- the wine was a Portuguese (Beira) white, Vinhas Velhas Branco, Luis Pato 2016, from Astor Wines
- the music was a Vivaldi opera first heard in Rome in 1723, ‘Ercole sul Termodonte’, Fabio Biondi conducting the Europa Galante, and the Coro da Camera ‘Santa Cecilia’ di Borgo San Lorenzo, with Rolando Villazón, Philippe Jaroussky, Romina Basso, Vivica Genaux, Topi Lehtipuu, Patrizia Ciofi, Diana Damrau, and Joyce DiDonato
[the stunning image of John Pascoe’s production of “Ercole sul Termodonte’, with tenor Zachary Stains in the title role, is gratuitous, since that what we accompanied the meal with last night, even if we have enjoyed its audio and visual delights earlier on a proper DVD]
It’s still 1989. Or even once upon a time.
This dish is a classic in Italy [cf. ‘pasta alla gricia‘]. In a way, it was already a classic to me before I had even tasted it: Because it included a recipe, for a pasta preparation called ‘la Gricia’, that looked so genuine and uncomplicated, and the photograph that accompanied it so seductive, I had cut out a newspaper article describing a very simple peasant dish many years before Barry and I sat down to it in a Trastevere trattoria in the Vicolo del Mattonato. “da Lucia” serves, in Roman dialect, la cucina de na vorta (the cooking of once upon a time), and it was the same place featured in that 1989 New York Times article); I began reproducing it as soon as we returned to New York, and the dish is now a classic in our kitchen.
We’ve returned to da Lucia many times. We actually always sat at a table outside (no fancy umbrellas back then, only laundry overhead, and one evening the sound of crockery being thrown in anger, but these are images of the inside, which has its own charms.
- nine ounces of Pastificio Fratelli Setaro Torre Annunziata Napoli Rigatoni [a long pasta can be substituted, but it must always be a very good artisanal pasta] from Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market boiled until (barely) al dente, while reserving some of the liquid, in many quarts of water inside a large vintage stainless steel pot [provenance: the Warren-and-Wetmore-designed-Providence-hotel-gone-out-of-business-1975-liquidation-sale], to which at least 2 tablespoons of sea salt had been added once the water had come to a boil, the pasta drained and tossed into a large enameled cast iron pot in which 5.5 ounces [the amount is variable] of “aged guanciale“, also from Buon Italia, cut in half-inch square pieces, had been heated, stirring with 2 tablespoons of Whole Foods Market Portuguese house olive oil, but for little more than about a minute, most of a cup of reserved pasta water added and everything stirred over high heat until the liquid had emulsified, then several tablespoons [yes, several tablespoons] of very good freshly-ground Whole Foods house black pepper stirred in, the pot removed from the heat and about 3 or 4 tablespoons of roughly-shredded pecorino cheese (Romano Sini Fulvi, again from Buon Italia), tossed in and stirred, the now finished pasta left standing for 30 seconds or more before it was served in shallow bowls, with more cheese and black pepper placed in containers on the table
- the wine was a Portuguese (Vinho Verde) white, Antonio Lopes Ribeiro 2017 (Casa de Mouraz) Vinho Verde ‘Biotite’, from Chambers Street Wines
- the music was the album, ‘Hamburger Ratsmusik, consort music c. 1600’, works by the peripatetic English expatriate violinist, violist, and composer Henry Brade, Jordi Savall conducting the ensemble Hesperion XX (my favorite citation in his Wikipedia entry is this: “All of Brade’s surviving music is for string instruments, and most is for dancing.”)
Winter is icumen in
Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ‘gainst the winter’s balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
We city people have our own country ways. Haddock has arrived in our local fishers’ greenmarket stalls, and in New York City that’s almost as good a portent of wintertide‘s approach as any bellwether in the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which I bought religiously, I don’t mind saying, every year of my long sojourn in New England (always nailing the previous year’s edition to the wall inside the [inside] privy).
Also, I wasn’t to make it cleat that I myself am very fond of winter. For all I know Pound may have been as well, and only playing with the traditional English round, ‘Sumer is Icumen in‘.
- two 8-ounce haddock fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood served with an accompaniment of local mushrooms, starting with separating or chopping the individual sections of 9 ounces of oyster mushrooms from Blue Oyster Cultivation (a mix of grey and yellow), sautéing them, along with 2 different kinds and colors of finely chopped small sweet seasoning peppers, aji dulce and Granada, both from Eckerton Hill Farm, over medium-high heat in a little over 2 tablespoons of olive oil inside a vintage thick-walled tin-lined copper 14-inch oval sauté pan, stirring, until softened if not browned (I had a lot of mushrooms this time, so they were too crowded, but the taste didn’t suffer), for roughly 5 minutes, all transferred to 2 warm plates (in a warm oven, door ajar), the pan wiped dry and an additional tablespoon of olive oil added, the flame turned up to medium-high and, once the oil was shimmering, two 8-ounce haddock fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood that had been seasoned with the fisherman’s own local salt and some freshly ground black pepper, were introduced and cooked, flesh sides down, and without moving until well browned, or for about 3 minutes, when they were carefully flipped over and cooked on the skin side until the fish was just cooked through, or about 2 minutes longer, transferred onto the plates next to the mushrooms, then about three quarters of a cup of a good low-sodium vegetable stock (using Better Than Bullion, from Whole Foods Market) was added to the same pan and cooked over high heat until reduced by at least half, the pan removed from the flame, 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of Chelsea Whole Foods Market organic California lemon stirred in, the sauce seasoned to taste with salt and pepper before being poured over both the fish and the mushrooms, lemon wedges served on the side [I mostly used this Serious Eats recipe, although I substituted the fresh peppers for the author’s “chili flakes”]
- half of a bunch of very sweet green kale (with an awesome texture once heated) from Norwich Meadows farm, washed several times and roughly chopped, including the stems, wilted inside a large antique copper pot in a little olive oil in which several thinly sliced cloves of ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic from Alewife Farm had first 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 was a California (Sonoma County/Alexander Valley) white, Jac Cole Alexander Valley Oak Fermented Chardonnay 2018, from Naked Wines
- the music was Vivaldi’s ‘Il Teuzzone’, written in Mantua in 1719, and first produced in Venice during Carnival celebrations that year, performed by Jordi Savall and the Concert des Nations; the story is “a seething tale of family rivalries and altered wills at the ancient Chinese court“