With Tuesday’s dinner I was able to ratchet down the old German kitchen thing that had defined the meal the night before.
Pork, and in fact it was again smoked pork, was the major player in the first course, but this time, while I suppose it was German-ish, or actually, Austrian-ish (read Tirolean), it was an austere, thinly sliced Speck, and not some rich rillettes.
It’s interesting that the wines we enjoyed for both courses were from the same bottles we enjoyed the night before, with a new one opened near the end of the pasta.
- two ounces of La Quercia’s Ridgetop Speck (applewood smoked prosciutto from pastured pigs)
- wild dandelion fro Lani’s Farm, dressed with a little olive oil (Badia a Coltibuono, from Gaiole in Chianti, Siena, Italy), sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and juice from an organic Chelsea Whole Foods Market lemon
- slices of what really is a great classic Italian (Tuscan?) bread, ‘rustic classic’, or ‘rustico’, from Flatiron Eataly’s bakery
- the wine with the first course was an amazing, brilliant riesling, an Australian (Victoria/Great Western) white, Best’s ‘Great Western’ Riesling 2017, made by Best’s Wines, from Astor Wines
There was no pork in the main course this time. In fact there was no meat at all; instead there were some mushrooms, almost always a good alternative for enjoying an entrée’s vegetables and wine. There were no complaints.
It was going to be a light spring pasta until I remembered the paper bag with a few ounces of mushrooms sitting in the refrigerator. They had been there for a few days, and had begun to desiccate on their outer surfaces, making them, as far as I was concerned, even more interesting than they’d normally be.
- twelve ounces of ravioli ai piselli (a filling of peas, mint, ricotta, pecorino romano from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron store, boiled carefully for only a couple of minutes, or until barely cooked through in a large amount of well-salted water, drained, some of the pasta water retained, the pasta slipped into a large antique high-sided tin-lined copper pot in which a simple sauce had been created, beginning with a tablespoon of melted Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ in which one ‘camelot’ Dutch red shallot from Quarton Farm had been briefly sautéed until softened,
- followed by 5 ounces of sliced shiitake mushrooms from the Union Square Greenmarket stand of Violet Hill Farm (where Patrick told me they were the first of the season, at least for their farm) had been tossed in, everything stirred over medium to high heat until the mushrooms had properly cooked, salt, pepper, and spearmint from Stokes Farm added and the pasta arranged inside shallow bowls, micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge arranged as a garnish, finished with a drizzle of olive oil around the edges
- the wine with the main course was a the remainder of the previous day’s terrific German (Ahr) red, Meyer-Näkel Ahr Spätburgunder Pinot Noir 2014, from Gramercy Wine, and when that had disappeared, there was a California (Lodi) red, Jacqueline Bahue Lodi Cabernet Franc 2017, from Naked Wines
(it looks like I have a new photographer)
There was a salume and a pasta. Their inspiration was shared. They were both very good.
- four ounces of thinly-sliced Recla Speck Alto Adige IGP, from Bolzano, via Eataly, drizzled with Frankies 457 Sicilian olive oil, the gift of a friend
- the last leaves/stems remaining from an arugula plant from Stokes Farm, plus a little micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge, both drizzled with the same olive oil, and also a bit of juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- slices of a crusty semolina baguette from Eataly
The main course was just about as minimal as the appetizer.
- twelve ounces of fresh ravioli rounds from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron store, filled with ricotta, lemon zest, marjoram, nutmeg, and mascarpone, boiled carefully until barely cooked through in a large amount of well-salted water, drained, some of the pasta water retained, then slipped into a large antique high-sided tin-lined copper pot in which 2 or 3 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ had been melted, stirred over medium heat after some of the pasta water had been added, in order to emulsify the liquid, almost a tablespoon of pink peppercorns (Fr. baie rose) from Dean & DeLuca added before the pasta was arranged inside 2 low bowls where it was topped with the zest from half of an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, and garnished with some chopped bronze fennel from Norwich Meadows Farm
- the wine was an Italian (Campania) white, Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2016, from Phillippe Wines
- the music was Philip Corner’s 2014 album, ‘Satie Slowly’
It was St. Valentine’s Day, so there was a lot of red, -ish.
The antipasto was created elsewhere, although assembled in our kitchen.
- five or 6 ounces of thinly-sliced Recla Speck Alto Adige IGP, from Bolzano, purchased at Eataly, drizzled lightly with a very good Sicilian olive oil, from from Agricento, Azienda Agricola Mandranova (exclusively Nocellara olives), arranged on a fan of sorrel leaves from Two Guys from Woodbridge, sprinkled with Maldon salt and freshly-gorund black pepper, also drizzled with the Sicilian olive oil
- slices of a rustic whole loaf of bread which included both potato and oregano, from Eataly
The pasta course was also dominated by goodies from Eataly, since that afternoon I had neither the time nor the energy to wander any further abroad for ingredients. The dish was based on an Epicurious recipe I found on line once I returned home, which I then proceeded to halve for just the two of us.
- I added a little cognac just before introducing the tomatoes to the pan, and then turned the heat up high to evaporate its alcohol, but otherwise I made almost no changes to the recipe; the ingredients included approximately 9 ounces of fresh spaghetti pasta from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron store, sea salt, Portuguese olive oil from Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’, half of a shallot from Norwich Meadows Farm, half of a teaspoon of crushed dried pepperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, 9 ounces of ripe Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, just under half a pound of picked cooked lobster meat (almost entirely claw meat) from Eataly, freshly ground black pepper, half a teaspoon of zest from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, garnished with parsley from Whole Foods Market, with lemon wedges served on the side once the pasta had been placed on the table
There was a small cheese course that featured absolutely nothing red-ish.
- ‘Mammuth’ goat cheese from Ardith Mae
- toasted slices of a loaf of French sourdough, ‘Levain’, from Bread Alone
The sweet was put off until the next day (I had actually forgotten to serve it), but I still want to include it here.
- two heart-shaped chocolate cheese cakes with a raspberry froufrou on top that had been sprinkled with sugary glitter
I had learned from the Union Square Greenmarket app that there would be no fish sellers there Saturday (almost certainly because of the extreme cold), but I figured if I got there early enough, I might still be able to buy some local (Newburgh, an indoor aquaculture farm) shrimp for dinner that day. I also had to pick up some fresh vegetables for meals over the next 3 days, so the walk in the bitter cold and snow was going to be worth it anyway.
I was lucky with the entrée search, and came home with some”colossals”, just about the last of Jean Claude’s stock that day.
The first course, dominated by slices of an Italian smoked ham, made the meal something of an odd surf ‘n turf event, but the fact that there was also a strong smoky aroma and taste in the main course (a smoked pepper) brought it all together.
- five or 6 ounces of thinly-sliced Recla Speck Alto Adige IGP, from Bolzano, purchased at Eataly, drizzled lightly with a very good Sicilian olive oil, from from Agricento, Azienda Agricola Mandranova (exclusively Nocellara olives)
- a few leaves of ‘baby Romano’ (oak leaf speckled lettuce) from Eckerton Hill Farm dressed with the same olive oil, Maldon salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
- slices of a buckwheat baguette from Runner & Stone Bakery
The Speck was followed by a plate of the shrimp and a side of tomatoes and baby leek.
I prepared the shrimp in the same way I had for the 2 years I’ve been enjoying ECO Shrimp Garden’s harvests.
- one teaspoon of chopped Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, heated inside a heavy (13 1/2″) cast iron pan over a very low flame until the garlic had colored nicely, a pinch of Spanish saffron, pieces of one dried chipotle pepper from Northshire Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket (I have always used a whole one, but this time tried the broken pieces of one of the peppers in the package), one crushed section of a dried orange-gold habanada pepper, and a teaspoon of freshly-ground dried cumin seed from Eataly added, all of it stirred for a minute or two, then 15 ounces (10 count) of Hudson Valley farmed ‘colossal’ shrimp from Eco Shrimp Garden (that I had cut the length of their backs, from head to tail, for ease of shelling later, added, seasoned with salt and pepper, the heat brought up a bit, and the shrimp cooked until firm while turned twice [they were delicious, but slightly overcooked, probably because I had overcompensated for their larger-than-normal size], served with a generous squeeze of lemon, garnished on the plates with chopped parlsley from S. & S.O. Produce and micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge [the micro green touch was my own, after completing Mark Bittman’s terrific recipe, and may seem like overkill, but they worked with the other flavors, and look pretty good]
NOTE: There was more than enough sauce in the end, so I gathered what I wasn’t going to use, allowed it to cool a bit, and swirled it into a couple tablespoons of softened butter, to use as a flavored butter in some future meal.
- one Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, washed, dried, sliced lengthwise, then halved, cooked in heated olive oil until wilted, 6 Maine Backyard Farms ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, halved, slipped into the pan and heated briefly, then a generous amount of chopped thyme from Stoke’s Farm, some sea salt, and black pepper added and stirred into the vegetables, served with a little more of the chopped thyme
It was the third time I had prepared this pasta dish, but the first time that I had introduced it with an antipasto.
- thinly-sliced Speck from the Südtirol/Alto Adige, via Eataly, drizzled with a fine Puglian olive oil (Alce Nero biologico DOP ‘Terra di Bari Bitonto) from Eataly, served with red dandelion leaves from Norwich Meadows Farm dressed lightly with some of the same oil, plus Maldon salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, and a little juice from an organic lemon from Whole Foods, then sprinkled with petals of nasturtium flowers from Windfall Farms
- slices of a multigrain baguette made with unbleached wheat flour, whole wheat dark rye, white starter, honey, sugar, and a grain mix (millet, sunflower, coarse rye, oats, flax seed, sesame), from She Wolf Bakery
I used Mark Bittman’s recipe for the pasta, following it pretty much to the letter, although I reduced its proportions by 50%. I used a very different pasta from the one he indicates, and I finished it with lovage rather than parsley, mostly because my supply of the former was fresher than that of the latter.
- the ingredients for the pasta dish were 8 ounces of emmer reginetti from Sfoglini Pasta Shop in the Union Square Greenmarket; 2 organic garlic cloves from Norwich Meadows Farm; 2 canned salted anchovies, rinsed, from Buon Italia; one and a half small dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia; 2 Italian bay leaves from Buon Italia; a 12 ounce Savoy cabbage from Norwich Meadows Farm; and a couple tablespoons of lovage from Keith’s Farm