Plan B

I was just about to light the grill, and cook burgers and veggies, when the wind suddenly jumped up and sheeting rain came hard behind it. So the burgers- seasoned with truffle & sesame oils, balsamic vinegar, onion, cumin, garlic, and herbs- cooked instead in the cast-iron skillet. The yellow & green squash got cut smaller, along with red onion and garlic, and browned in the pan post-meat. Once soft I threw in plum tomatoes and a bit of paste, salt, pepper, and covered. Toasted pita, spread with mustard, then a burger, then filled with the ratatouille. We opened a 2002 Sirius which is lighter than the 2001 (a feral, opaque black beast of a wine) and is drinking nicely now especially after a little while in the decanter.

Pea Soup

Back from Brooklyn. All the rib bones went in a big pot with sweating onion and carrot, plus herbs from the newly planted herb garden, then garlic, water, and 3+ pounds of dried split peas (there were a lot of bones.) Cooked low, adding water as needed, for a couple hours and served with truffle oil and black pepper. Well-suited to a rainy day, and the perfect use for such yummy bones. Throwing bones away without making soup firom them first should be a crime. We had no wine because I was too tired; if we had opened one it would have been a Turley zin.

Kris strikes again

Back in the city for a few days, I called Mary and we decided to impose on Kris for a dinner; he was happy to oblige. We began with a 2001 Erdener Riesling Kabinett, which was candy, then had a luscious morel risotto with the 2000 Altesino Brunello Mary brought (beautiful nose, but a bit thin.) Then seared foie gras with quince chutney on toast, alongside 2 1990 Vouvrays: a Domaine des Aubuisiers Vielles Vignes and a Clos Naudin demi-sec. Liquid honey and caramel with the creamy foie and crunchy toast.

Back to reds again for lamb chops crusted with herbes de Provence and mustard, accompanied by my 1998 Cathiard Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots. We also had a 1999 Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts by Clavelier and a Guyard de Changey 1999 Hospices de Nuits Nuits Saint Georges Les Murgers to go with the cheeses: a Piave and a Robiola. The consensus was that the Cathiard was the most ready to drink, and that the others needed more time. All quite masculine, they showed the astonishing variety Burgundy has to offer within a tiny area.

Dessert was first a deconstructed gin and tonic: lemon sorbet, gin gélée, and juniper syrup with shiso (transplanted from our deck) and then coconut ice cream (unbelievable) with fresh berries. Wow. And this on a night when we called last minute.

New House

The move is done. After two days getting the kitchen and lots more unpacked, I finally got a chance to forage in the field and returned with wild garlic and mint, of which there is a ton, plus other treats for later. Two big slabs of ribs didn’t stay frozen during the trip up, so they went on the grill, with the customary secret spicy espresso rub, and got a good slather with the BBQ sauce from before, augmented with more of the same. I usually let the rub get a good char on it, then move the meat off the heat and start basting with sauce. Once moved off the coals, I added a bit of hardwood to give it some smoke, and threw on some bell pepper, onion, and tomato, which were all cut up from earlier meals.

Using the wild garlic, I made some mashed new potatoes, and blanched some bok choy, then tossed it in oil, cider vinegar, and sesame oil. Garnished the meat with a chiffonade of the wild mint and ate it with a 2000 Domaine de la Terre Rouge Ascent Syrah which is still young, but decanted and with meat softened up into a real Rhône Ranger; I think I have another one in VT and I’m excited to try it in five more years. It lacks a certain leathery, herbaceous quality, but damn if this isn’t in the same league as some top Châteauneuf.

Note the size of the ribs in relation to Milo. (He loved them.) One of the best things about the new place is being able to use the kitchen table I grew up with again; it had been relegated to the role of lowly studio work table in Brooklyn. Continuity, even of furniture, is a good thing in families.

* Warning: these ribs are powerful and should not be undertaken by those with a limited tolerance for ecstasy.

Still grillin’

A beautiful piece of salmon got the BBQ sauce treatment (I made a lot) and thrown on the grill with all the leftover polenta. We enjoyed it with the rest of the grilled veggies from last night. The salmon skin shielded the fish from the heat of the fire and crisped up perfectly, leaving the fish just cooked through; I saved the skin for something tomorrow and there’s a bit of polenta left too. We had this yumminess with the first of the 2001 Domaine la Millière Châteauneuf that Mary delivered, which, though lacking the fat middle palate of a great wine, is mighty yummy and brilliant for the price.

BBQ 2

Mary came by, and her friend Camille, so I threw something together based on what we had in the fridge. Thus more grilled chicken, with a similar molasses/tamarind/cider vinegar based sauce, and polenta with parmesan, lemon thyme, and truffle salt, and grilled summer squash and onion.

We began with De Meric Champagne, which had a strange Sherry/almost corked thing going on, so we moved on to a 2004 Wagner Stempel Riesling which was very nice, but we quickly abandoned it once the food was ready for the 1997 Laurent Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Cazetiers” followed by Mary’s fabulous, velvety 1984 Stag’s Leap Cabernet. Now I’ve had the Laurent a couple of times recently, and it’s good, and funky, but light on fruit and a bit unbalanced. Comparing it to such a rich, old, and beautiful wine as the Stag’s Leap wasn’t fair, but it sure was fun. After the meal, the Champagne was toasty and beautiful, and the remaining Riesling was a perfect dessert- so good that we forgot about the figs in the fridge.

BBQ

A hot, sweaty day, so rich comfort food was required, all done outside to keep the house cool. Huge organic chicken legs & thighs got a quick salt/pepper/cumin/chile rub, and went on the grill along with rounds of acorn squash tossed in oil, salt, and pepper. I made a BBQ sauce from molasses, cider vinegar, tamarind, ketchup, sambal oelek, chile powder, maple syrup, ponzu, and pepper, and liberally basted the chicken with it throughout. The fire was so hot and burned so long (hooray for natural charcoal) that I made tortillas from masa to finish and also grilled halved zucchini and charred some red peppers for tomorrow.

We had all this sticky, smoky goodness with another H&B Faugères which handled the fruit and heat well, and now reveals the same cherry-licorice alloy that seems to constitute the major aspect of so many wines’ finishes.

Sesame Noodles

Soba tossed in tahini, cider vinegar (out of lemons), nama shoyu, nam pla, grated ginger and garlic, pepper, chopped mint and chives, lemon thyme, and olive and sesame oils to coat, then a pan full of sautéed garlic scapes to finish. This was lunch, so we just had a splash each of the Beringer Chard (’02 Sbragia) left over from the night before.

Burrito Supreme

Christine made a pot of brown rice, and procured a jalapeño in anticipation of another leftovers festival. Onion and cumin seeds browned in the big pan, then garlic, then remaining kidney beans from Milo’s dinner, plus a can of pinto beans. Cider vinegar and the garlic scapes from last night finished it off, and it thickened while I made a salsa of grape tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, scallion, olive oil, and rice vinegar.

So the rice went on a tortilla, then beans, then a bit of smoked derby cheese, then the remaining steak, then salsa, and the last of the red pepper sauce. (Pictured below just before rolling up.) More Sinskey, because we’re out of the others and it’s still hot, despite the rain.

Steak au poivron

I worked my last shift at the Coop today, and I’ll miss shopping there. The garlic scapes are in, so I bought a big bunch (they’re the new ramps, don’t you know) along with some flatiron steaks, red bell peppers, and all the other things we needed. So for today, the 4th of July, in addition to updating this neglected blog, I dutifully fired up the grill and got busy. First, when I got home, the steaks went into a marinade of Nama Shoyu, rice vinegar, Nam Pla, Jo’s ginger dressing, water to cover, and then into the fridge.

The peppers went on the grill until nice and charred, then into a covered bowl to steam and rest. Scapes chopped and tossed in browned butter with salt and pepper- sweet, crunchy, and great. Onion, garlic, cracked pepper, and herbs sautéed, then cognac flamed, then yogurt cream stirred in and bubbled. The skillet came off the heat while I peeled and seeded the peppers, saving their juice, and then they, their juice, and the sauce all went in the blender. Strained through a seive and finished with truffle salt, it was sweet, tangy, velvety, and peppery.

Pooled on a plate, with sliced meat, scapes, and grilled summer squash, this sauce had summer lightness wedded to subtle structure and richness; I opened a 2000 Gaja Magari which is an interesting fusion of Tuscan Brunello notes (tar, cherries) with Barolo-like tannins and a hint of licorice. It’s almost like Barolo by way of a super-Tuscan. I kept it in the fridge to compensate for the muggy heat, and it worked, but only now is it opening up to its full self.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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