Month: June 2020

swordfish au poivre, scapes; new potato, tarragon; cheese

Piece of cake.

I have been neglecting this blog for months, first because I just got distracted by other stuff, and because I didn’t want to spend as much time on it as it demands. Then it was because of the additional perturbations that arrived early in March, those related to the pandemic, whose distractions were especially severe for those of us in New York.

And then near the end of May I burnt my left hand very seriously (2nd and 3rd degree, but now almost fully healed), and my calendar was suddenly even more full.

But it was a cooking accident, so at least I stayed on subject.

And I did keep cooking.

I quickly learned that preparing an ambitious meal with one hand requires a certain amount of kitchen experience, a bit of planning, some dexterity, and occasionally the opportunity of borrowing one or more of your partner’s limbs (I’m recalling me carving some sturdy, crusty bread while he was holding the loaf itself).

I’ve been making proper dinners for Barry and myself virtually every night, with the heroic assistance of the people working with GrowNY, everyone who made the Union Square Greenmarket safe and more vital than ever, and the many stores that were making home deliveries of goods I was unable to access in person. Our equally valorous doormen were lifesavers.

We are both extremely vulnerable to the virus, so my now one visit a week to the local open-air greenmarket was our only direct access to food supplies.

I think we only ordered pizza 3, maybe 4 times, in these 3 months, and some of the argument included wanting to support out wonderful local people.

We enjoyed a particularly enjoyable home-cooked meal last night, and it was also the first time the entrée, swordfish au poivre, had appeared on the blog, so it seems to be a good candidate for re-engagement [the recipe came from Florence Fabrikant, in the New York Times]

It was also a celebratory meal, as it marked the return to service of the hand that had been decommissioned over 3 weeks earlier and which had been wrapped in gauze until yesterday, but the recipe wasn’t complicated, and it might even have been accomplished with one hand.

  • eleven ounces of swordfish steak, one inch thick, from Pura Vida Seafood in the Union Square Greenmarket, halved, dusted lightly with sea salt on both sides, and sprinkled with nearly a tablespoon of crushed black the pepper, also on both sides, pressing salt and pepper into the fish, seared in a little olive oil inside a heavy tin-lined copper skillet over a medium flame until barely cooked through and still a bit pink in the center (about 2-3 minutes on each side), transferred to a platter or an oven dish just large enough to fit the fish (I used an oval Barro negro pottery dish I’ve had for years, from Oaxaca, Mexico), transferred to an oven that had been preheated, set at its lowest temperature (which might be 150-200 degrees, depending upon the appliance), its door immediately closed and the oven turned off, then half a tablespoon of butter added to the skillet, and, when it had melted, one modest portion, chopped, of a fresh spring shallot from from Lani’s Farm added and sautéed, stirring briefly, until translucent, for perhaps one minute, one fourth of a cup of cognac (I have a small bottle of Courvoisier V.S.) added, swirled in the pan a minute or so until somewhat reduced and a little syrupy, followed by one third of a cup of local Organic Valley heavy cream and a modest amount of chopped parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm, the liquid allowed to continue cooking, while being stirred, until it had thickened somewhat, removed from the heat, the swordfish removed from the oven and arranged on 2 plates, the sauce spooned on top
  • a colorful mix of 9 or 10 ounces of a variety of new potatoes (various sizes as well so the larger first quartered or halved) from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, boiled, unpeeled, in generously-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, inside the still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed there with a little butter, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, sprinkled with chopped tarragon from Rise & Root Farm, and arranged on the plates
  • a handful of garlic scapes (6 or 8) from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, trimmed at each end, rolled in olive oil, salt, and pepper, pan grilled, arranged curled on the plates
  • the wine was a French (Loire/Touraine) red, Chinon ‘Les Terrasses’ Lambert 2017, from Astor Wines 

There was a cheese course, 2 terrific goat cheeses I had bought that Wednesday from a new Greenmarket vendor, and I will definitely be seeking them out regularly