Curry

A multi-course meal tonight: first, a pot of brown rice. Second, collards cooked with mustard, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds plus lemon and onion. Third, carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, and a whole head of cauliflower with coconut milk, tomato paste, and two kinds of curry powder. Fourth, tilapia filets with a vindaloo paste/yogurt marinade, seared in the cast iron pan and finished under the broiler. Really, really good, and enhanced by a 2004 Trimbach Gewurztraminer.

Duck Soup

This one was really simple, but really satisfying. First, a dashi broth, supplemented with the sauce from the night before, and miso at the end with the heat off. Julienned carrots blanched, then udon cooked in the same water. All in a bowl with sliced duck breast on top and gomasio over all. The smoky dashi and smoky duck were a pretty powerful harmony, and done very well by a 2003 Chèze Saint-Joseph.

Smoked Duck

Back from the city, where work alas precluded any fancy eating, and planning on guests who alas then couldn’t make it, I defrosted a beautiful duck (fleisher’s) and fired up the smoker. The apple wood from Vermont has been sitting outside, and it’s not really dry. This makes it really smoky, but not enough to sustain a fire by itself, so I put it on top of the hardwood (beech, ash, and maple) we use for firewood up there and let it go, with a pan underneath the bird to catch the fat.

I also threw halved acorn squash in the oven to roast. When the duck came inside, I poured off all the liquid that had accumulated in the cavity, tented the bird with foil, and put it in the still-hot oven to keep warm. All the liquid combined with cranberry juice, the last of the BBQ sauce, demi-glace, chicken broth from before, and honey, and reduced. Skimmed and strained, it went on a leg on a dollop of puréed squash. Beyond having almost an entire smoked bird to play with this week, and a carcass to make broth from, I caught a pint of smoked fat which will be pure alchemy in the weeks to come.

We drank a 2002 Monthélie by Nicholas Potel which had a gorgeous nose but was still a little tight and sour; another couple of years would be a good idea.

Osso Buco

The chicken carcass from last night became a broth, while Fleisher’s beef shanks seared then braised in wine and some of said broth, and more demi-glace. Instead of simple saffron flavor, I stirred in more of the pesto, again from last night, and some local sheep feta at the end. The meat liquid reduced to a yummy thick pan sauce, and I steamed up some broccoli in the meat pan towards the end. Yellow tomato, cucumber, and radish salad helped keep a late-summer feeling to what is really an early-fall meal. Tomorrow such semantics will be irrelevant. We drank a 2000 La Dame de Montrose, which despite being a second wine was still young and tight, needing a few more years to relax; after an hour in the decanter, beautifully integrated fruit and leather flavors began to emerge and escape the tannins’ grip. It augurs well for the beauty and longevity of the greater Bordeaux from 2000.

Out & About

We had planned to go over to Chris and Sirkka’s place, and I had wanted to smoke a chicken, but it was pouring rain all afternoon, so I roasted it. I was late putting it in the oven, so we finished it in theirs while everything else cooked. I augmented the remaining kale pesto with the watercress purée from trout night, plus more garlic and pine nuts. This went on gnocchi (store-bought, but still good) and we had salad and steamed beets from their great garden. A perfect rainy summer dinner- we’ve had a lot of rain, and it lends itself to a slightly more decadent plate than the heat. Another Domaine la Millière did the job.

No picture from this one, so here’s the lineup from Sunday’s dinner at Milo’s birthday party:

(For those of you keeping score at home, this makes two 1978 Burgundies in as many weeks, a tradition John and I hope to continue.) I found this one in Kingston for very little money, and though clouded a bit with sediment, it was delicate, funky and had that certain magic that no other region can touch. The Châteauneuf was great, too.

Roulades

Beautiful, pasture-raised veal, (fleisher’s,) pounded flat and rolled around a pesto of kale, pine nuts, garlic, onion, and oil, got a good sear and then simmered in a bit of leftover rosé until cooked through. Placed on brown rice, then the liquid (wine and pesto that leaked out the sides, plus a big spoon of demi-glace) reduced and poured around it all plus chopped herbs on top. We had this with a 1999 Autard Châteauneuf “Cuvée les ronds” and a Boston lettuce salad. Simple, but deep, and a good antidote to the rain.

Trout Eating in America

Adams’ in Kingston has a pretty good fish department, and I had a craving for some trout “en papillotte” so I picked up some nice ones, as well as a bag of mussels. The trout went into parchment paper with a sprig of thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and a pat of butter all inside the cavity, and into the oven. The mussels got a white wine/cider/cider vinegar broth and made a good rainy day appetizer. I also caramelized quartered endive and finished them with white wine and demi-glace, blanched and puréed some watercress, and made polenta with pepper and parmesan. This was all dreamy with a 1999 Kistler Chardonnay “Les Noisetiers” which is starting to change with age into a leaner and more complex creature than it was when younger.

¡Leftovers!

So all the remains of the dinner last night came home with us, and everyone agreed to descend on our house to finish it all. I took the guts of the red & yellow tomatoes left from the sashimi and made a salsa with red onion, lime, cilantro and a serrano chile, plus guacamole, brown rice, black beans, and the salmon became a salad with sweet potato, black olives, cinnamon, and lemon. Liz brought green beans, and John pesto, which combined after a quick steam of the beans, and Chris and Sirkka brought salad greens from their garden. There was also corn, and a ton of cheese from last night and from our neighbors Deb & Debra who also came. Everyone got a tortilla and went to town. John brought a 1978 Fixin, a 1991 Cabernet, and a 1995 Cabernet from Argentina, all of which he was sceptical about, and all of which were great, especially the Burgundy. Living up here is so far all we hoped for and more.

Chez Liz

A gathering, and in typical fashion another amazing meal. Liz marinated great salmon in a complex and smoky sauce, which reduced to a gorgeous glaze while the fish grilled. John got an enormous puffball from the market and cut it into thick slices which also went on the grill. 2 pizzas, one with chard and goat cheese, the other with pesto and caramelized onions, and Sirkka’s feenel en croûte were appetizers, and I made red & yellow tomato sashimi. There was also rice, bitter greens, salsa, cheese, beans, carciofi alla romana, and probably some more too. We had two Barbarescos and a Barolo, all very good. The only one I remember was the one we brought- a 1997 Produttori Moccagatta. Dessert was Liz’s coconut tapioca pudding which we combined with my wine-poached seckel pears, plus her raw banana cream pie. Wicked.

Gnocchi

Another chilly, rainy day called for more comfort: more bacon, plus a bit of shallot, browned, then a lump of gorgonzola dolce and some yogurt melted in, plus thyme, oregano and rosemary, and some parmesan bubbled away on low while the gnocchi cooked. All tossed together, with a bit of added parsley, it was as ridiculously good as it sounds. Blanched zucchini with lemon and an heirloom tomato salad rounded it out, and we had another Turkey Flat rosé.

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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