Three or four summers ago I was standing in water up to my knees on a sandbar known as Horseshoe Shoal in the middle of Barnstable Harbor, that long shark-shaped body of water that swims between the shores of Sandy Neck to the north and the town of Barnstable to the south on Cape Cod. As I watched, a flock of seabirds raced down the channel that passes between the sandbar and Sandy Neck. The birds swooped and cried, strafing a line across the water with their beaks as precise as a squadron of P-51 Mustangs. Then I saw it, a deep slate discoloration below the channel surface, an undulating gray movement that fragmented into hundreds of individual fish as it flashed by me. I wasn’t the only one to take notice. Small boats stopped in the channel, people rising to stand, hands shading eyes. “Blues!” a man cried, waving and pointing. It was August and the bluefish were running. For anglers and eaters on Cape Cod, only striped bass equal the pleasures of bluefish. Stripers taste more delicate, but bluefish fight harder. This week’s dish: Bluefish with Dukkah, Tomatoes and Garlic Yogurt.
The preserved limes have been ready for almost two weeks, but because of construction we couldn’t use them until now, until Griddle Cooked Razor Clam with Coconut Oil and Preserved Limes. Spicy, perfumed with preserved lime and basil, this is the sweetest clam we know, and the simplest to prepare, even if it does require a bit of courage to cook it.
If the word ‘turnips” doesn’t make your heart go pitter-patter there’s a good chance you’re suffering from the after-effects of Araac Syndrome (Ate Rutabagas As A Child). Let’s face it, rutabagas are to gastronomic pleasure what Miss Hannigan is to social work. Not to worry. We have the cure for what ails you: Stir-Fried Hakurei Turnips with Dried Shrimp, Chiles, Garlic and Lime.
In the last couple of years I’ve eaten things I would have included on a culinary bucket list, if I one–nettles and bottarga, for example, and now ramps. Of course I’d heard of ramps, and when I recently found a bunch (while foraging in the produce section at Whole Foods) I rejoiced. I could finally that make ramp butter recipe I’d been saving for years. When when the Hakurei turnips we palnned to write about failed to make an appearance, Jody invoked imminent domain and requisitioned my ramps for this week’s recipe – Fiddleheads and Ramps with Salami. Forager emptor.
Although our trip to Haiti wasn’t about food, we had hoped to reflect some Haitian flavors in this week’s post. Plantains, for example, are ubiquitous. You can’t drive for ten minutes in the Central Plateau without passing fields of what look like bananas that fell asleep downstream from the nuclear power plant and woke up with anger management issues and a family resemblance to the Hulk. Baskets piled high with green behemoths are a common feature at every market. At some point we’ll do a piece on green plantains, which we ate every day, but we reserved this last post in our current series on pressure cooking for dessert–and green plantains have no place in a dessert.*
Ergo, Steamed Coconut, Banana and Lime Bread Pudding.
On the Greek Island of Ikaria a startling number of people live to be 100, or older. Dan Buetner has identified five communities with unusually long-living residents, geographic regions he calls Blue Zones@. For the next five weeks–because we don’t like New Year’s resolutions–we’re bringing you healthy dishes from the culinary cultures of the Blue Zones. First up, Sardinia, with Fava Bean and Almond Soup. Simple, easy, delicious. Oh, and you might even live to be 100.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single espresso in possession of a good head of crema must be in want of a shot of grappa. This shot of grappa “corrects” the espresso, resulting in an espresso corretto. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that a single espresso in possession of a good scoop of ice cream (which combination is known as an affogato) must be in want of a shot of grappa. This “correction” brings forth an affogato corretto. As a different writer, bearded and burley, might have observed, it’s a damn fine way to drink a damn fine espresso.
There’s nothing like a bowl of cold savory soup in hot weather, and until the day we do a post on jellied madrilene, this Chilled Garlic Scape and Buttermilk Soup will have to stand in. It’s a wrinkle on vichyssoise, close enough to feel familiar, but with a few turns you might not have expected, like scapes and buttermilk.
Tart, garlicky, cool–you’re going to love it on a sweltering night.
I prefer to worship at the altar of hospitality, rather than entertaining. Entertaining parses your life into into realms. The private realm is marked by gruel, dog food and the odd can of water chestnuts. The entertaining realm features sourdough loaves fashioned from home-grown wheat, spit-roasted French game birds and Pakistani mango tiramisu. You pull out and dust off this fancy life for visiting poobahs. As far as your guests can tell, your life is a moveable feast. Hospitality doesn’t make these distinctions. It simply invites you into my life. And this is where bruschetta and crostini come in.* They’re anti-poobah food.
After getting back from California we wanted to catch our breath with a simple dish that wouldn’t require a lot of effort. If it went with the the crazy New England weather this week, warm or cold, all the better. Herewith Flageolet Soup with Crème Fraiche, Tarragon and Mustard. Flageolets (fla-as in flag-zhay-oh-lay) are a small, delicate bean, usually (but not always, as you can see in the photos) an alluring pale green. If you examine them closely they’re covered with faint green stripes. They’re removed from the pod before reaching full maturity, which contributes to their delicate flavor. My first encounter with them was an impulse purchase – how could I not buy a package of beans the color of young grasshoppers?