Fridge Soup

The apotheosis of my favorite random meal: this one began with an onion and carrots, plus half a can of black beans, the rest of the pea soup defrosted for the fancy dinner (which included big chunks of bones,) the last of the short rib meat, a head of kale, a summer squash, a sweet potato, the last of the green curry purée which began as John’s soup, half a bag of annelini (O-shaped pasta,) herbs, and water to cover it all. Simmered for two hours, it became the perfect meal for our third straight day of incessant cold rain. Only made more special by a 2003 Chassagne-Montrachet Vielles Vignes by Moreau. Simple food at its best, and nothing was wasted. The fridge is empty and ready for Monday’s shopping.

For those of you keeping score at home, this makes the fourth meal so far from the short ribs, and the fourth also for the pork ribs which became the base for the pea soup. There’s another quart of pea soup in the freezer, and a pint and a half of demi-glace left from the beef, plus a half jar or so of the ravioli filling left. The moral of the story is USE YOUR BONES and always leave good leftovers. Both these cuts of meat sell for about 5 bucks a pound and we’ve eaten like royalty off of them for quite a while now.

Fried Sushi

Christine had also bought nice big scallops with the salmon, but it was too much for one meal, so I sliced them and made a ceviche with lemon, cider vinegar, ginger, shoyu, and shallot. This sat overnight in the fridge. The remaining maki got a quick egg/flour/ume vinegar batter and browned all around. Given the cold, rainy weather, I gave the ceviche a quick toss in the same pan to heat it through and thicken the sauce with the flour and oil left form the maki. This light comfort food went nicely with another Marques de Cáceres Rioja rosé which for 6 bucks is the deal of the season. It was kind of like Spanish sushi, after all.

Salmon two ways

Beautiful wild Atlantic salmon satisfied both raw and cooked cravings, as perfect fish so often does around here. First, maki of raw collar, curried greens from the night before, and brown rice. The curry added a very nice counterpoint to the rich fish and tied the fish and rice together particularly well. Then, the remaining fillet crusted with ginger, sesame, garlic, salt and pepper, seared up on both sides and finished covered, and got a pan sauce of shoyu, short rib demi-glace, ume vinegar, and honey. Last 2 heads of baby bok choy went in the same pan for a quick sautée with garlic, ginger, and a spoonful each of the demiglace and soy sauce. Amazing with a 2000 Blagny “La Piece sous Les Bois” by Domaine Matrot, which seemed made for asian-flavored salmon in a beef-enriched sauce.

"Sag Paneer"

The rest of John’s soup inspired (and was added to) kale and collards, cooked until soft in coconut milk and fenugreek/cumin/fennel seeds with onion and vindaloo paste. All puréed together, and then with small cubes of tofu in place of the cheese, over brown rice with cilantro and mango chutney. Clean, green, and mean with a leftover Mendocino rosé (allegedly made by Caymus.)

Dinner for 3

John came over, just back from Japan, and brought 2 amazing old bottles so we whipped up some worthy grub to go with them. I took the remaining pie crust from the freezer, along with the kraut, a radicchio, and the one Italian sausage not cooked the other night, and made a filling for the tart that also included red onion. All cooked down, with wine, to a spicy/bitter/funky dark purple and went on the crust, with pine nuts and parmesan to finish. We ate this while sauce and pasta water cooked, and drank a 1989 Orion which had a very Southern Rhône-like character, but still tasted like a Thackrey. Beautiful, and the oldest Orion I’ve ever had.

John brought yellow and green zucchini from the garden, and cooked them in garlic and water, then added shiso, nama shoyu, pine nuts, more garlic, and stick-blended it into a beautiful soup with oil and chives on top to finish. Amazing. Meanwhile I took some ground beef/pork mixture from Fleisher’s, and made a Bolognese that included some fantastic green beans, also from their garden, and the trimmings from various leftover heirloom tomatoes. We had it on whole wheat spaghetti, and moved on to a 1983 La Chapelle which had a beautiful strawberry nose, and was still a little tight and sour, but over time opened out into a graceful, delicious treat. We finished with a 2003 Torbreck “les Amis” grenache which tasted like red twizzlers and milk duds after the others, but in a good way(?) I’m saving my last bottle for at least 10 years to see if it gets any of the amazing grace of the others.

For dessert, John and I ate the last of the verbena ice cream standing over the sink like real men.

Feast

Kris, Ken, Mary, and David came up from the city so we had a suitably fancy feast. I kept the courses small, and we had great fun moving back and forth through the wines, trying them with different things. First, a sashimi of heirloom tomatoes with corn salad (with red onion, thyme, and grape tomatoes,) which matched perfectly with the 2004 Collio “Molamatta” that Kris & Ken brought. Dressed with sesame & olive oils, nam pla, and nama shoyu. A nice fresh raw beginning to the meal.

Next a sort of deconstructed choucroute garni, with the “raw slaw” from ages ago cooked down with soy sauce and more vinegar into a funky sauerkraut along with a dollop of the split pea soup and a piece of local hot Italian sausage. Mustard on the side, and just right with a 2000 Trimbach cuvée Fréderick Emile. Sort of Alsace-on-the Hudson.

This was followed by a salmon tartare (red onion, chives, lemon, oiive oil) on top of a sort of guacamole (avos, lemon, cilantro, garlic) which was creamy and savory, and well accompanied by a Pleiades XIV.

Then ravioli, filled with a braised short rib/herb/pine nut mixture and with some parsley included in the dough for the top sheet for decoration. (No picture, though.) The sauce was the guts of all the heirloom tomatoes along with a bit of cream and truffle salt. With this we had David’s offering: a 1976 Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Cazetiers” by Camille Giroud, for whom David now makes the wine. Fantastic, still young in a way, and after an hour open had transformed into a deeper, rounder, mature delight. We also opened a 1997 Produttori Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta which everyone loved and which also improved dramatically over time given its youth.

I had thrown a lamb shoulder on the grill, rubbed with ras el hanout, coffee, and garlic, and it came off (a tad overdone, but saved by the sauce) and got a mixture of the short rib demi-glace and tapenade poured over it, along with a mint/rosemary/basil/garlic pesto for a note of bright green. For this we opened Mary’s 1978 Stag’s Leap, and my 1992 Beringer private reserve. The Beringer tasted great until we tried the Stag’s Leap, which won hands down- sublime- they don’t make them like this anymore.

Then cheese, which I chose to confound them: 2 from NY, one from VT, and one from VA. All were suitably impressed. Last, a blackberry tart (picked behind the garage the day before) and lemon verbena ice cream, also from the garden.

Pizza

Another spelt crust got the treatment: the two remaining merguez, along with more caramelized onions, dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and herbs cooked in the iron pan until nice and dark, then went on the crust with basil and a layer of parmesan. It came out crispy and fantastic, with heirloom tomatoes on the side and a Collioure “Les Clos de Paulilles” (Grenache/Syrah) rosé 2005.

Semi-Samosas

It was time to cull the leftovers, so the chick pea curry, the roasted potatoes (with remaining steak sauce,) half an onion, half a tomato, and some herbs all cooked together for a bit while I rolled out some more masa. This filling went in some admittedly funky samosas, but with oil, salt, and cumin seeds dribbled on them they crisped up really nicely in the oven. To accompany them, more slaw (there’s still some left) and two sauces: yogurt and lime pickle and tamarind with rice vinegar and a little water. Sweet, sour, spicy, crunchy, and savory all mixed together with a Vincent Vin Gris rosé of pinot by Saintsbury.

Damn

This is what screen porches were invented for; Chris, Sirkka, and Nissa came over for dinner and brought incredible veggies from their garden. I had been shopping earlier, including a stop at Fleischer’s (only grass-fed, organic) butcher shop in Kingston. So we began with a pizza, on a spelt crust, of storemade merguez, heirloom tomato, caramelized (in merguez fat) onion, basil, and fresh mozzarella. Awesome, especially with a Raffault Chinon rosé. Then a sirloin tip steak, after marinating for hours in rosé, nama shoyu, rice vinegar, garlic, and pepper, went on the fire along with fresh fennel from their garden, while their fingerling potatoes roasted in the oven with rosemary and garlic.

Chris also made a salad from everything in their garden- as alive and vibrant as it gets, with a simple mustard vinaigrette. For a steak sauce, I reduced the marinade along with a glug of Elyse Nero Misto that Chris brought over already opened, then finished with truffle oil and goat butter. We had moved on to another Turkey Flat rosé, much richer and more fucshia, and then to a 2004 Gachot-Monot Côtes de Nuits Villages which was light but great for the price and did the dance with the meat and sauce. For dessert some fantastic chocolates- cayenne, salt, raspberry and DARK from Lucky Chocolates in Saugerties. We finished with the last drops of the Elyse, which has some of the remarkable cream cheese frosting flavor that Marquis Philips always seems built around.

Tortellini

These from a few days ago- just sautéed summer squash and frozen organic cheese tortellini with a goat butter/tomato paste/truffle oil/herb sauce. Nuff said.

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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