Wild Things

Dinner:  May 30, 2007

I’m a little alarmed that today is already the last day of May, but I love that we are heading full-speed into summer and all its bounty. Our little garden is flourishing, and while early spring treats are on their way out of season, we’ve got many things to look forward to. I’ll admit that I often feel a bit like I’m cheating when preparing meals this time of year, though. When the raw ingredients I’m working with are so fresh and good, I hate to do too much to them, so my “recipes” become very pared down and cooking is more like assembly.

We enjoyed the first fresh wild Copper River salmon of the year last night, and it was absolutely worth waiting for. Gorgeous to look at and richly flavored, this salmon needs little adornment, so Mike just seasoned it with salt and pepper, rubbed it with a bit of olive oil, and grilled it briefly over hot hardwood coals. Once the salmon came off the grill to rest, I sautéed some chopped spring onions, fiddleheads and cut asparagus in a bit of olive oil, and tossed a salad of butter lettuce and tomato with a goat-cheese and buttermilk vinaigrette. I think it actually took longer for Mike to get the grill going than it did for us to put our meal together, but I’m not going to complain – it just gave us more time to savor our food and enjoy the evening.

Paumanok Riesling

Wine Pairing: We usually drink Pinot Noir with our salmon, but when Talitha at Vine Wine was suggesting options for me last night, she was very enthusiastic about this Paumanok Riesling and how it would pair with our meal. It’s always fun to switch things up a bit, and as I’ve mentioned, we are definitely interested in trying as many local wines as possible, so I grabbed a bottle. It was a spot-on recommendation – the wine was crisp and minerally, which cut right through the richness of the salmon.

Spinach Ravioli with Asparagus and Morels

Dinner:  May 29, 2007

Ever since we had them at Marlow and Sons last Thursday, I’ve been craving morels. I haven’t been able to find any local ones, though I was able to get some Oregon morels at Whole Foods over the weekend.


We’re still getting beautiful local asparagus, so I decided to pair it with the morels in a rich cream sauce. We had some spinach ravioli in the fridge which I cooked up and tossed with the sauce, but I think the sauce would work just as well with any other fresh pasta.


Asparagus and Morel Cream Sauce

2-3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 lb. fresh morels
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
12 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into about 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup crème fraiche
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add the diced shallot. Season with salt and pepper and allow the shallot to cook until softened. Add the wine and allow it to reduce by half. Add the morels, cream and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for another five minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and tender but still a bit crisp. Stir in the crème fraiche until incorporated, adjust the seasoning again if necessary, and add hot cooked pasta. Toss gently and serve, grating a bit of cheese over the top if you like.

This is living

again with the Sinsky

This pretty much sums up what I did all weekend. Mother nature cooperated and gave us gorgeous, dry weather, so we spent most of our time relaxing in the yard. I spent a little time in the kitchen, mainly making sides (mustardy potato salad with dill and chives from the garden, slow-cooked beans with cocoa and chipotles) for the things Mike grilled for our meals (smoky barbecued chicken and a delicious beef brisket), as well as turning the leftovers from our Friday lobster dinner into lobster salad and lobster stock, but the heavy lifting was done by my husband.

the finest

I took a lot of photos of what we ate, but the quality of the photos is directly proportionate to the amount of wine I ingested – they got worse and worse as our evenings progressed (whoops). You’ll just have to trust me when I say it was all delicious.

Two in a row

Sorry for the radio silence around here – things have been a bit busy for us, but we have still found time to eat and drink yummy things.

Dinner:  May 23, 2007

Wednesday night, Mike grilled a pork tenderloin, while I seared a couple of chunks of the smoked belly he recently made (still waiting for his write-up on that). I served our duo of pork with buttermilk-chive mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas. We drank Lieb’s Bridge Lane Merlot.

Dinner:  May 24, 2007

Last night we had an amazing (as always) meal at our favorite place, Marlow and Sons in Williamsburg. I always walk away from there inspired; they do such simple but beautiful things with perfectly fresh, seasonal ingredients, and I’m definitely going to try to recreate some of the dishes we were treated to last night in our kitchen at home.

As we walked back up Broadway to the bus plaza after our meal, one of our favorite bartenders at Dressler waved hello to us through the open window of the restaurant, so we decided to stop in for a nightcap. We wound down an already lovely evening with another good drink apiece and good conversation, and finally made our way home comfortably full, completely content and looking forward to the long weekend.

We’ve got more tasty things in store over the next few days; hope you do too!

Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs

soft-shell crabs

Soft-shell crabs are like the potato chips of the seafood world; they’re crunchy and addictive, and I eagerly await their season every year. I’m a little disturbed by the fact that they seem to be arriving earlier and earlier and what that means ecologically, but I don’t want to go on a rant here. I ate the little buggers, after all, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. This meal was so ridiculously fast and easy I almost feel like it’s cheating to post about it, but if you have access to a grill, I’m going to insist you try this.

Take your soft-shell crabs and clean them if they aren’t already (Cook’s Illustrated has a good how-to here). Season both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and drizzle with good olive oil. Place them into a grill basket with the bellies facing up. Place the grill basket onto a hot grill (hardwood charcoal is preferable – I don’t like lighter fluid and neither does my food). Cook them on the first side for 5 minutes, flip them so they are belly side down, and cook them for just another minute or two.

Remove those crispy little critters from the grill basket and serve; you could accompany them with your favorite dipping sauce (I did a tamari/lemon/wasabi mixture with some slivered almonds tossed in), but you probably won’t need it. The crabs will have a wonderful sweet and smoky flavor that really doesn’t need further embellishment.

I tossed a mixture of wild baby arugula and arugula blossoms with lemon vinaigrette, opened a bottle of Lieb Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, and we sat down to a light and elegant meal that was literally ready in minutes.

Orrecchiette with Peas and Chives

Dinner:  May 21, 2007

I never liked peas as a kid; I hated them, in fact, and my little brother loved to torment me by placing a lone pea in the center of my dinner plate before we sat down to eat. Much of the problem is that the peas we were eating back in the day were of the canned, grayish variety… but my first taste of fresh peas, bright green and sweet, got me hooked. Now I can’t get enough of them, and I eagerly await the appearance of fresh peas every spring.

give peas a chance

I definitely wanted our meal last night to be quick to put together; I didn’t want to be messing around in the kitchen still by the time the Heroes season finale started (priorities, of course). Pasta is always a good option for a quick meal, and I’ve been wanting to play with the combination of orrecchiette and peas for a while now. I also figured I could shave off a bit of prep time by blanching my peas right in the pasta water.

While the orrecchiette cooked, I put together a quick sauce. I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan, added a cup of heavy cream, seasoned it with salt and pepper and brought it just to a boil. I reduced the heat and whisked in 4 ounces of soft fresh goat cheese until it was fully incorporated and the sauce was smooth. I added the blanched peas to the sauce with a couple of tablespoons of lemon zest, and finished the pasta in the sauce like I usually do.

I added 2 cups of fresh pea shoots off the heat and tossed everything through just before serving. The pasta went into bowls, and I finished them off with a bit more lemon zest and some finely chopped chives and chive blossoms. The oniony bite of the fresh chives and blossoms was a really nice contrast to the sweet peas and creamy, slightly tart goat cheese sauce.

La Ferme Martin

Wine Pairing: We were inspired by last week’s Brooklyn Uncorked, and thought it would be fun to drink all local wines with our dinners this week. We’re big fans of this Le Ferme Martin Chardonnay from Wolffer Estate, particularly with seafood or with creamy dishes like this pasta.