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herb-roasted tilefish; tomato, oregano; roasted fingerlings


It was a beautiful day, a beautiful fish, and a beautiful meal.

I love tilefish, and I jump at the chance to enjoy it almost every time I see it in the market.* Yesterday was one of those days, and it turned out perfectly.

I’m getting pretty confident about preparing most fish, so when I finally started to put this meal on the table, realizing how late it was, I improvised, pretty fearlessly. I opted for the simplest – and almost the fastest – approach for the tilefish I could imagine, and did the same with the 2 vegetables. Most of the time spent in ‘cooking’ was devoted to picking out, washing, drying and chopping fresh herbs. Beyond that I just separated them for different applications, mixing them up with the fish, potato, and tomato.  All I really had to be concerned about was coordinating the different oven temperatures ideal for each.

  • one one-pound tilefish fillet from American Seafood Company, rinsed, dried, halved, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, placed inside a tin-lined copper au gratin pan in which 3 tablespoons of Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter had been allowed to melt in the pan inside the oven until barely browned, but before a small amount of chopped baby leek (the green part) and at least 3 tablespoons of chopped herbs (basil from Full Bloom Market Garden, and tarragon, both from Whole Foods; and parsley from Gristede), roasted, skinned side down, then turned, for about 12 minutes, or until done, removed to the plates and sauced with the pan juices
  • four Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’, some from Eataly, some from Whole Foods, halved, then heated gently in a small copper pan, seasoned with slat and pepper, and scattered with a little chopped oregano from Stokes Farm
  • a couple handfuls of nutty fingerling potatoes (10?), the last of our stock from a friend’s garden, ‘Lower Hayfields’, in Garrison, New York, halved, tossed with a little olive oil, fresh rosemary from Hoeffner Farms and sage from Eataly, each chopped only a little bit, a small amount of crushed, dark, home-dried heatless Habanada pepper, acquired fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm last summer, salt, and freshly-ground pepper, spread, cut side down, onto a medium Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, roasted at about 425º [ideally 375º, but the tilefish required 475º, so I moslly halved the difference] for maybe 15 minutes, or until the potatoes were both tender and slightly browned
  • the wine was an Argentinian (Mendoza) white, Familia Mayol Garnacha Blanca Mendoza 2014, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was by Karel Husa (who died 4 weeks ago at 95), his ‘Music for Prague 1968’ (1969), and ‘Apotheosis of this Earth’ (1970), Jorge Mester conducting the Louisville Orchestra (along with the University of Louisville Choir in the second piece), both in orchestral reworkings of compositions originally composed for concert band


*the photograph of a beautiful fresh tilefish fillet on ice is from an earlier post, in that instance also a purchase from American Seafood

artichoke pasta; tilefish with ramps, herbs, lemon; collards


Green, very green this meal was.

  • it began with a revisit with an Italian artisanal pasta, Foglie al Carciofo (artichoke leaves), from Maestri Pastai Selection, this time using 5 ounces, dry, served with a simple sauce of chopped spring garlic from Lani’s Farm which had been heated for a couple minutes in a little olive oil along with some dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero) from Buon Italia, the sauced pasta briefly emulsified with some of the reserved pasta water and sprinkled with freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, then tossed with a little cultivated upland cress from Alewife Farm, served in shallow bowls with grated ‘Parmigiano Reggiano Bonat 3’ from Buon Italia


  • the secondo was an 18-ounce tilefish filet from Pura Vida Seafood, prepared something like this Melissa Clark recipe, but I replaced the scallions with ramps from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm (bulbs and stems), and, for the chopped herbs I used over 3 tablespoons in a combination of finely-chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, winter savory and thyme from Stokes Farm, oregano and mint from Phillips Farm; the fish was cooked on top of the stove in a magnificent 5-and-a-half-pound new [old] oval copper pan, briefly using aluminum foil for a cover, and both a small brush and a wooden spoon to repeatedly spread/ladle the ramp-herb butter over the fish
  • the contorno was some very tender collard greens from Migliorelli Farm, washed, drained, and braised very lightly in a heavy pot, finished with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine through both courses was a South African (Western Cape/Constantia) white, Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2014
  • the music was Philip Glass, String Quartets No. 1, 2, and 3, performed by the Smith Quartet

pan-seared tilefish with wild garlic, herbs; potatoes; mizuna


wild garlic, a treat anytime, but in the Greenmarket, in February?


I could say that l just about built this meal around the wild garlic I had picked up at the Greenmarket on Monday, but I have to admit that my fondness for tilefish also had a lot to do with what I served that day.

  • two 9-ounce tilefish fillets from American Seafood, prepared pretty much along the lines of this Melissa Clark recipe, replacing the scallions specified in her instructions with a dozen tiny wild garlic plants (bulbs and stems) from Lani’s Farm, and, for the herbs, a combination of fresh parsley (Eataly), thyme (Forager’s), lovage (Two Guys from Woodbridge), sage (Eataly), and oregano, cooking the fish in a copper au gratin pan, aluminum foil for a cover, and both a small brush and a spoon to spread/ladle the wild garlic butter over the fish
  • absolutely the sweetest potatoes I can remember ever having tasted, 6 ‘red potatoes’ from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, scrubbed and boiled, unpeeled, halved, tossed with sweet butter, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley from Eataly
  • mizuna from Lani’s Farm, very slightly wilted in a pan in which 2 halved garlic cloves from John D. Madura Farm had first been allowed to brown slightly in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with a bit more oil
  • the wine was an Oregon (Willamette) white, Kings Ridge Oregon Pinot Gris 2014
  • the music was Handel’s ‘Rodelinda’,  Alan Curtis conducting the Orchestra/Ensemble, Il Complesso Barocco, with Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Simone Kermes, Marijana Mijanovic,
    Steve Davislim, Sonia Prina, and Vito Priante

tilefish with leeks and thyme; boiled new potatoes, herbs


like meat and potatoes, but I mean that in a good way


The previous night we had enjoyed beef, but no potatoes.  Last night it was potatoes, but no beef. There was fish, not beef, yet even if it hadn’t been accompanied by potatoes, this fish entrée would have seemed as substantial as the proverbial meal of meat and potatoes.

I think it was what happened to the leeks inside the oven that almost totally altered a dish which I had prepared and enjoyed once before, at that time with one additional ingredient (a bit of bacon, described as optional by Mark Bittman, the author of the recipe).  I had inadvertently caramelized the leeks by the time I added the fish fillets and returned the dish to the oven, and this seemed to change almost everything.

Until we sat down and tasted it I was more than a little worried, but it was a delicious surprise, and a very hearty January meal.  I’ve decided to keep both recipes:  I’ll call the original, ’tilefish fillets with leeks, version 1′, and this one, ’tilefish fillets with leeks, version 2′.

  • two leeks from Whole Foods, sliced, tossed with olive oil, spread in a glazed ceramic oven pan, roasted at 425º for 10 minutes, after which a teaspoon of chopped thyme from Stokes Farm and 1/4 cup of white wine were added, the pan returned to the oven for 20 minutes more, during which time I added more wine as it became clear the leeks were caramelizing, after those 20 minutes, 4 Tilefish fillets from Pura Vida Fisheries, seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides, were placed on top of the leeks, brushed with a little olive oil, and the pan again placed in the oven until the fish was done, the pan removed the fish garnished with more thyme, and served with the leeks
  • small red potatoes from Stokes Farm, boiled in well-salted water, drained, dried in the still-warm glass pot, halved, rolled in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with both chopped fresh winter savory and chopped fresh oregano, both from Stokes Farm
  • the wine was a French (Loire) white, Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon 2014
  • the music, suitable for a king’s supper, and our own, was Jean-Philippe Rameau’s ‘Orchestral Suites’, performed by Jordi Savall and Le Concert Des Nations

tilefish with herbs; baby chaucha potatoes; collards


cute spuds


No, not all white fish tastes the same.  Like us, the Tilefish loves crab and lobster, which may help to explain why we love Tilefish.  But, contrary to what some people say or write about it, while the flesh is lean, tender and particularly sweet, no one will mistake it for crab or lobster;  more like cod that’s gone to heaven.

The vegetables accompanying the fish included a beautiful, very tender bouquet of collards I had bought a few days before, plus one ‘fluke’: ten baby ‘Papa Chaucha’, pressed into my hand that afternoon by one of my favorite farmers; both were Greenmarket finds of course. They were delicious; earthy and creamy, I’m definitely going back for more next week.

NOTE: ‘Papa Chaucha’ [‘ancient potato’] is a name which I believe covers all of the ancient breeds of potato, originally found all over Central and South America, although the Andes may be a more specific geography for these particular [cultivars?].  Franca’s Berried Treasures stall sign described her ‘Papa Chaucha’ (she had both these very small examples, and some larger) as Ecuadorean, added that the seed was given to her by one of the people who works with Dave Tifford of Fantastic Gardens of Long Island on one of his visits, and asked her customers for feedback.

  • the basic Tilefish recipe, which I’ve used on more than one occasion, is this one from Melissa Clark, in which she generously suggests using any number of various herbs and several allium possibilities;  I used one 16-ounce tilefish fillet from Pura Vida, halved, well-dried, seasoned, placed it in several tablespoons of butter melted inside my new/old copper gratin pan, basted it with sliced young leeks from Ryder Farm (rather than scallions specified in the recipe, which I did not have) and, in the end, more than half a dozen different of the fresh herbs I did have (all from Greenmarket farmers), and finished with lemon juice
  • a very few tiny ‘Papa Chaucha’ from Berried Treasures, boiled in salted water in a small pot, drained, dried in the same, still-warm pot, seasoned with salt and pepper, and rolled in butter
  • some sweet, tender collard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut as a rough chiffonade, then braised in a heavy pot in which slightly-crushed garlic from Phillips Farm had first been heated in some olive oil
  • the wine was an Oregon white, A to Z Oregon Chardonnay 2013 (note that the link is to a 2014 vintage)
  • the music was Modest Mussorgsky, ‘Boris Godounov’, Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Theater Orchestera and the Kirov Chorus (all of it)