Old Friends and New Favorites

Scenes from a Saturday. #picstitch

This weekend, we made our first return visit to the big Saturday Greenmarket in Union Square since we moved back to New York. With Julian strapped into his carrier, we wove our way through the crowds, sidestepping little dogs and granny carts, selecting meats and produce for the week ahead. I wasn’t sure how our little guy would do surrounded by so many sights and sounds and people, but he seemed to really love the bustling market, smiling and babbling at anyone who met his eye.

wedge, minus bacon

We visited many of our old favorites, picking up Rocambole garlic and scapes from Keith’s Farm, shell peas and broccoli rabe from Migliorelli, baby back ribs and sweet Italian sausage from Flying Pigs, Cherry Lane tomatoes, Elk Trails bison, and ground mutton from 3-Corner Field Farm. But we were eager to try out some new-to-us vendors as well, and rounded out our market haul with a big, beautiful ribeye and a fresh whole chicken from Grazin’ Angus Acres.

Dinner: July 14, 2012

We treated both meats simply, searing the ribeye that night and serving it sliced alongside a crunchy wedge salad (minus the bacon, but with plenty of blue cheese studding a creamy homemade buttermilk dressing), and prepping the bird brick chicken-style.

Dinner: July 15, 2012

Mike put aside his usual method to try this version, seasoned with plenty of garlic scapes and lemon, and served with mashed potatoes and freshly shelled, buttered peas.

beef: it's what's for dinner

These two meals couldn’t have been simpler, more flavorful, or more satisfying, and while we are really looking forward to revisiting the familiar flavors of foods from our old favorite farms, we’re happy to have added a new one to the list.

Peas, Pearls and Pesto

the things you'll find

It’s funny what you find when going through boxes in the time around a move. If you’re a bit of a pack rat, like we are, there will be loads of paper – receipts, ticket stubs, take out menus from old haunts, greeting cards from birthdays long-past, and magazines. Like this issue of Food and Wine from April 2004 (interestingly, the very month I moved to NYC).

Food and Wine, April 2004

I took a break from my culling and purging to take a cursory glance at the contents, and this photo caught my eye, a dish of peas and pearl couscous, lovely little orbs dancing together in a sauce of butter and fresh mint, just the kind of simple summer side I love. I set the magazine aside to recycle, but filed the recipe away in my mind, and when I spotted fresh peas from Simmons Farm at our farmers’ market over the weekend, I knew just how I’d prepare them.

worth waiting for

First, the shelling.

my assistant

(Kirby helped.)

peas, pearls, and pesto

I took my two cups of shelled fresh peas, blanched them briefly and shocked them in an ice bath, then tossed them with my cooked couscous (1 cup dry plus 1 1/4 cups water and a good pinch of sea salt). I diverted from the butter-and-mint sauce in the original dish, instead using about a quarter cup of my lemony basil-pistachio pesto.

Dinner: June 29, 2011

The whole thing got a good toss, then I spooned some onto our plates alongside simply seared salmon filets, a perfect early-summer meal in just minutes.

In The Soup

speckled

I won’t go into the multitude of things that have been keeping me away from this blog, but I did want to stop in and let you know that despite the lack of posts here and my nearly four day twitter blackout (what on earth did we do before twitter? thank goodness my account came back last night), I haven’t actually dropped off the face of the planet. However, life has gotten even crazier than it was a week ago, and it likely won’t slow down any time soon.

Dinner: October 25, 2010

On top of all that, we have a dear friend coming to visit for a few days and we’re looking forward to eating and drinking our way around town, but with my usual great timing, I seem to be coming down with a cold. I made this soup a few nights ago, and Mike packed some for my lunch today. I used fresh cranberry beans instead of cooked dried beans, and since we were fresh out of potatoes I added a little extra pasta to the mix. I’m hoping the one-two punch of the leeks and garlic confit will chase any bugs away.

You can get my recipe at food52.

In the ‘zone

As you know, Mike and I do love our pizza, and he makes it at home often. He’s been working on refining the dough recipe for his pizza stone version, weighing the finished dough and pinching off 7 to 8 ounces of it so the crust fits our peel better, and that has left us with a freezer full of little dough balls. Since opening the freezer door has become a bit of a hazard lately, what with the frozen dough and other items crammed inside often shifting and plummeting south toward unsuspecting toes, I decided to take action: I’d thaw some of those balls of dough and turn them into calzones.

I took two nice bunches of farmers’ market greens (one kale and one mustard, but any type of greens would probably work well here), stemmed and chopped them, and cooked them down with a good amount of olive oil and smashed garlic. When they were nicely wilted down but still bright green, I removed them from the heat and let them cool. I tipped a container of Narragansett Creamery ricotta into a big bowl, then added some salt, freshly ground pepper, an egg yolk, and a bit of grated parm, then mixed it all to combine. When my greens were cool enough to handle, I ran my knife through them again to chop them really fine, then squeezed out the excess liquid and added them to the cheese mix, stirring until the greens were evenly distributed.

Dinner: October 4, 2010

I made a bit of a mess with the dough at first – it was a little wet and kept sticking to my parchment, so I had to incorporate a bit more flour into it (getting it all over the counter, the floor, and myself in the process), but I finally got a couple of rounds I could work with. I mounded a big scoop of the filling on half of each round, folded them over, crimped the edges, brushed them with a bit of beaten egg white, cut a few slashes in the tops to help them vent steam, then I placed them on the pizza stone in a preheated 450 degree oven for about half an hour.

a peek inside

I served them up with a rich, winey tomato sauce (which also ended up all over me as I cooked it – not my finest hour in the kitchen that night), and some lightly dressed Arcadian Fields Teenage Lettuce Mix. My calzones are a work in progress, but I think we got off to a great start.

Bits and Pieces

confetti

Part of getting back to the business of living, getting through the grief we’ve been feeling in this last week, has been to make plans, to reinstitute some structure in our lives. I sketched out a meal plan last weekend for this week’s dinners, with Monday’s ratatouille, and Tuesday’s comforting tortellini en brodo, with leafy greens swimming in the rich chicken stock Mike made earlier that day. Wednesday’s dinner plans got derailed early on, the result of some unexpected schedule changes, but I felt confident that I could put something together when I got home from work.

chard and chile

I had picked up some beautiful broccoli at last Saturday’s farmers’ market with the hopes of turning it into a batch of my friend Maria‘s Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli and serving it over farro, but when I pulled it out of the crisper it was long gone. My fall-back-and-punt had turned into a failure before I even got started, but I didn’t want to cave and order takeout – I wanted to cook a good, wholesome dinner at home. So I pulled out the chard I was saving to use in soup later in the week, carved it up in my usual manner, and sauteed it with olive oil, good, meaty anchovies, plenty of garlic and slivers of fresh red chile peppers.

Dinner: September 22, 2010

I tossed it all with just-cooked farro linguine, added a shower of parm, and dinner was served. And it was only today that I realized that I made nearly the same simple, comforting dish about 2 1/2 years before.

From food52: A Twofer

After Mike’s 40+ mile bike ride yesterday morning, he was craving a hearty dinner, and in looking at the recipes I had bookmarked for my week of food52 dinners, I had just the thing in mind.

Caesar Salad with Pancetta

First up, my friend Marie‘s Caesar Salad with Pancetta, the runner-up in the somewhat controversialYour Best Caesar Salad” contest. This salad has everything I love in a Caesar – rich egg yolk (in this instance, gently coddled), lots of garlic and anchovy, and crisp homemade croutons. Marie’s additions of pancetta and lime juice are what make this salad really special – we loved the crisp bits of pancetta in the salad, as well as the flavor the rendered fat gave to the croutons, and we could have eaten the lime-spiked dressing by the spoonful.

The (Not Barefoot) Contessa's Fish Pasta

For our main course, I went with The (Not Barefoot) Contessa’s Fish Pasta, an early food52 recipe challenge champ, and a really delicious dish. The olive and caper-spiked tomato sauce is evocative of a puttanesca, and the chunks of meaty white fish (in our case, halibut) give the sauce heft without heaviness. We would have liked a little more salt and acid in this dish (and perhaps a pinch of red chile flakes), though that’s totally a personal preference – this is a wonderful seafood pasta dish that we’ll definitely make again.

Done Right

I had to try again.

raw

After making such a terrible mess of Maria‘s Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli on my first attempt, I just had to try again.

roasted

This time around, I gave my young, tender broccoli florets 10 minutes in the oven, and they were perfect, stems bright green and purply florets just browned and crisp.

Dinner: May 24, 2010

I tossed them with some hot cooked pasta twirls, drizzled the glorious bagna cauda over the top, tossed everything well with a splash of the starchy pasta water, then added the toasted almonds and parmesan. A little sprinkling of red chile flakes for heat was a nice addition to the mix.

a perfect bite

Delicious.