One of the vendors at our farmers’ market—which happily began this week—carries the sustainably farmed fish from across the river. (I wrote about it here). It’s a far cry from living near the ocean, but it works well in a pinch and is always super-fresh. And whole fish are inspiring in ways that cuts usually are not, especially when it comes to grand presentations. Don’t you just love that fried eye?
This meal was made, upon late return home, entirely with things that were already in the fridge and needed using up. It was not in any way sexy or elegant, but it had profound utilitarian appeal: it made for very good, nutritious eating and cleared some space in the fridge. Those containers of various remnants can be pretty sexy if you look at them with the right mindset. If it’s not working for you, drink seven beers and try again.
It’s been all about the transitional meals around here lately: dishes that look like colder weather fare, but are actually perfect for the truly lovely weather we have had for the last few weeks. It’s been positively Californian, really; sunny and warm, but cool in the shade and a bit nippy at night. Only without all the Californians everywhere, obviously, which is nice.
This stuffed cabbage took advantage of several different leftovers, and the result was a lovely multicultural mashup of greens and umami. The making was absurdly simple, which only made them more enjoyable to eat. They looked like Eastern European comfort food gut bombs, but were delightfully light and springy.
I don’t normally cook pork loin, because it has no fat and is expensive. But I had a hankering recently to make lomo/lonzino, and when I saw a nice one for not too much I bought it.
Sorry, sourced it. I forgot myself there for a minute.
Most of it sat in a cure for a few days, and I’m going to hang it tomorrow. The rest of it became dinner, and I came up with a rather neat way to avoid overcooking a lean cut such as this, which can turn to cardboard misery in a matter of minutes if you’re not careful, wasting all that money you spent.
By the end of the last post, I had figured out that one of the prominent flavor notes in lovage is quite similar to fenugreek. If you cut some, or, better, tear it, your hands will become insistently perfumed with the persistent aroma of the plant. When people dismiss it with variations of the “it’s like celery” line, that’s a cop-out on par with the “tastes like chicken” descriptor so loosely applied to things as different as mushrooms and alligator. Lovage doesn’t taste like celery, though it approximates it visually, up to a point. It’s much closer to fenugreek, with a whiff of caraway and a citrusy tang.
Lovage is a new favorite of mine in the garden. Apart from the fact that it’s a perennial, roaring back in early spring for some of the first new domestic greens, it has a beguiling aroma that’s like celery and citrus and fenugreek all rolled into one. As it’s peaking right now, ready to flower, I cut some stalks thinking that since they’re so fat they might take well to being treated like a vegetable. Cutting them released their perfume, which combined with the scintillating sunlight and the parch in my throat to unleash a savage hankering for an icy gin-based beverage featuring lovage.
Among the many pleasures of spring are the season-straddling meals, which retain some of winter’s rich comfort quality while opening up to the verdant splendor of new growth. And morels. Lots of morels. Throw in a duck leg, some transformed leftovers, and kumquat/absinthe marmalade, and you’ve got yourself an exemplary dinner.