Thai Curry

Tofu, cauliflower, sweet potato, and peas simmered in a sauce of coconut milk, tomato juice, water, lime juice, green curry paste, two curry powders, and a dab of vindaloo paste as well. It simmered until all the veggies were super tender and the liquid had thickened to a good sauce. I made a side of spinach wilted in hot oil with mustard and fenugreek seeds, with yogurt added at the end. Rich, hearty, and completely satisfying with another 2004 St. Urbans Hof riesling.

Pulled Pork

This is a tad out of order, but whatever. I put the meat into the marinade after the dinner party and cooked it low on the stove all night. Come morning (about 10 hours later) I separated all the bone and fat from the meat, and strained the liquid, then skimmed it. All the meat, pulled apart into strands, went back in half the liquid (the other half waits in the freezer) and reduced along with tamarind, molasses, vinegars, tomato paste, and spices for another 6 hours or so. By then it was pure magic; I put it in the fridge and this, heated up just right, was our lunch the next day:

The rest of this ambrosia is in the freezer for another occasion. It’s safe to say that if you have the time, there’s no other way to do this meat.

Salmon Stew

Seeking once angain to consildate leftovers, I took the daikon I had steamed upon return from the road trip and added it to some wild Alaskan salmon along with some of Chris’ burdock, the rest of the pumpkin filling and their parsley pesto. I also took the mustard greens from Richard and Susan and sautéed them with garlic. Hearty, earthy, and pretty clean. We opened a 2002 Jadot Beaune “Bressandes” to keep the Burgundy theme going.

Get Together

Chris & Sirkka and John & Debi came over, plus the girls, and I had gone into Kingston to procure a hunk of pork since John and I had been talking about it. Flisher’s was closed, but we had left messages, and I banged on the door. Some poor cleaning guy let me in, and Josh coached him over the phone in the art of cutting the sirloin off a whole pig leg on the bandsaw. 9 pounds in all, with the tail still attached, (I cut it off) it went into the smoker for an hour to get some flavor on it. While it was smoking, I cooked half a bottle each of Aussie shiraz and German reisling in a pot with star anise, cinnamon, onion, carrots, garlic, herbs, peppercorns, and cabbage leaves to make a marinade. This went in a big pot along with the smoked meat and into an oven for 5 hours. I took the nappa cabbage from Richard and Susan, shredded it, and braised it with the rest of the reisling, cumin, fennel and mustard seeds, and onion for just as long.

John took some beautiful yellowfin tuna and chopped it superfine into a tartare with chives, then rolled balls of it in toasted sesame seeds and put it in little bowls of grated daikon and ponzu (the real thing, bought on their recent tour of Japan.)

So we began with more green soup, then had the tartare, then pumpkin ravioli which all the kids helped me roll out (using the filling from last time that we froze, and Chris & Sirkka’s parsley pesto mixed with sage butter as the sauce) and last the pork, sliced on top of the cabbage with the marinade. On the side, John’s pressure-cooked daikon in flying fish broth, and Chris’ burdock and leeks. Awesome, even if scheduling prevented the meat from attaining what we had in mind.

We drank, in order, a 1997 “Les Cailloux” CDP which was almost Burgundian, a 1999 Beaux Frères, which might have fooled someone, a 1983 Dujac Clos de la Roche which was over the hill, and a 1983 Drouhin Bonnes Mares which was, in John’s words, “the holy grail” of old Burgundy- funky, earthy, still sweet, and transparent.

Chicken Stew

Four chicken legs formed the base of a stew that combined new and leftover ingredients; the kale and cabbage from previous nights, and the last of the chicken/lamb broth plus fresh sweet potato and carrot and herbs from outside. Once tender, I pulled all the meat off the chicken bones and let it thicken some more. Good, and even better the next day for lunch.

Dinner Out

We went to Beacon to hear an old friend play chamber music in a beautiful old hall originally built as a library. Afterwards, we went to a place called O II for dinner. Inventive, hearty as the season calls for, and reasonably priced, although the wine list is awful. We ordered 5 small plates and shared them all. First mushrooms in a rich meat reduction with a cap of puff pastry and a crab cake with rhubarb chutney. Then BBQ spare ribs and ravioli with a foie gras filling and lemon sorbet, and last little blue corn soft tacos with short rib filling. The tacos were quite good as a closer, but the ravioli were under-filled and what filling there was had no taste. The sauce and sorbet were nice, but had no richness to contrast with. The crab cake was crispy, savory, and the rhubarb preserves went pretty well with it, and the mushrooms were delicious but the pastry seemed superfluous and the bottom piece was completely soggy. The ribs were competent, but after being used to my “happy ending” ribs it’s hard not to be let down. Still very enjoyable, though, and a great and much-needed date night.

Steak and Radish

Beautiful New York Strips from Alaska farms, cooked rare and accompanied by raw grated daikon, as well as steamed slices, with a pan sauce of red wine and Banyuls vinegar and a bit of demi-glace. Eaten with a lovely 1999 Lisini Brunello, which, though young, was drinking well. I bought a bunch of the ’99 Brunellos; it will be good fun to see how they age.

Green Soup

So the bounty from Richard and Susan, being far too much to fit in the fridge, was of neccessity reduced by soupmaking. Amazing turnips, radishes, daikon, kale, turnip greens, parsley, cilantro, rutabaga, and leeks became about 2 gallons of rich, velvety green purée, some of which will be frozen and the rest used this week. Food as medicine in the truest sense. I cannot wait to have a garden next year.

Road Trip

I got a ride with John to Great Barrington to hear him play with Club d’Elf again, and the drives there and back bookended the two extremes of the culinary universe. First, a famished and rainy trip over there was saved by a sandwich of Iowa prosciutto and goat cheese on a baguette, all bought at Rubiner’s, which had the additional benefit of keeping us from dying later when the food at the club turned out to be the worst I have had in recent memory. All this fancy cooking here shouldn’t fool anyone; I am a cheap date when hunger and circumstance require. This food was flat out inedible.

The apogee to this culinary nadir was to be found at our lodging for the night: Richard and Susan have the best home garden I’ve ever seen, and they gave us bags to fill with whatever we wanted. Thus did many roots and greens come back to Woodstock- see future posts for their glory.

For the trip home we replicated the sandwiches, but with better goat cheese and some Basque marinated peppers. A three foot loaf of bread crammed with perfect prosciutto, cheese, and tangy peppers, cut in half, and the weather for the return was perfect golden fall sunshine with the late leaves glowing. Never was a ham sammich better enjoyed.


More gorgeous lamb chops from Fleisher’s, again cooked in a pan, but with an herb rub this time. They went on mashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli, with a pan sauce of red wine and broth. This decadent richnes was well met by another 1998 Brusquières CDP, which has an unbelievable nose and good depth.

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.

Rage Against The Vitrine

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