RSVP NYC HOME SALON a New Interview Reading Series

npdrawing

If you RSVP’d to the March 15th Salon via email [email protected] ( that is before Sunday March 9th)
PLEASE DO IT AGAIN! because I didn’t get your message since
I made a mistake when I set up the gmail address.
the correct address is:
[email protected] 
Sorry for the inconvenience.


RSVP NYC 

(an interview/reading)
HOME SALON
To provide a space for conversation and
create a more meaningful feeling of community
Free events at rotating homes 

RSVP #1:
SATURDAY MARCH 15th
at the home of Pierre Joris  & Nicole Peyrafitte
Gathering 5PM/Reading 6PM

SERVING & GRILLING: 


JEAN PORTANTE

Poet from Luxembourg ( see bio below)
SOUP & SALAD

You CAN BRING:
Drinks/cheese/dessert/bread/crackers/hors d’oeuvres
Let us know what you’ll bring when you RSVP. 

You MUST RSVP to:
[email protected]
 (no exception)

Space limited to the first 25 people – first come first serve basis
Address & direction will be given to you when with your RSVP confirmation: [email protected] 

 

If you are interested in volunteering to help or host please email us at

 Jean Portante was born in Differdange (Luxembourg) in 1950. He is of Italian origin. He lives in Paris. He has written more than fifty books, including poetry, novels, stories, plays, essays, and translations, and has been widely translated. His books have been published in Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, Ireland, Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany, Slovakia, Serbia, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Great-Britain, etc. He translated to the French poets like Juan Gelman, Jerome Rothenberg, Pierre Joris, John Deane, Gonzalo Rojas, Edoardo Sanguineti, Valerio Magrelli, Durs Grünbein, etc.

In 2003 his book L’Etrange langue was awarded the Prix Mallarme in France, and the same year Portante was awarded the Grand Prix d’Automne de la Societe des Gens de Lettres for his entire work. In 2005, French editor Le Castor Astral published a personal anthology, La Cendre des mots, containing a selection of his work from 1989 to 2005.

Having lived in Cuba for many years Portante is very much at home in Latin America, and a prominent translator of Latin American poetry. Politically, he remains a combative spokesman for the Left in his columns for Le Jeudi, and is highly regarded for his representation of Italian immigrant experience in Luxembourg as described in his autobiographically-inspired novel Mrs Haroy ou la mémoire de la baleine.

In English he has published: Point. Eraising, The Daedalus Press, 2003 and In Reality, Seren Books, June 2013.

As a novelist, Jean Portante published, among others, Mrs Haroy ou la memoire de la baleine, which has been translated into many languages. He is also the author of a biographical essay on Allen Ginsberg: Allen Ginsberg. L’autre Amerique. Le Castor Astral, 1999.

Since 2006, Jean Portante is member of the Academie Mallarme, based in Paris. In 2008, he founded, in France, with the French poet Jacques Darras, the poetry magazine Inuits dans la jungle. In Luxembourg he is at the head of the literary magazine Transkrit.

In 2011 he was awarded the National Literature Award of Luxembourg for his entire work.

About:

In Reality: Selected Poems

Jean Portante

Zoë Skoulding (trans.)

Jean Portante is a lyric poet, and also one who has something to say to an international audience. As a Francophone Luxemburger of Italian descent, his poetry works at the spaces between European cultures and is concerned with themes of identity, politics, language, Europe, the divide between politics and everyday life. This dual language edition collects work from the last 20 years, including poems from his 2013 collection, Après le tremblement, which addresses an earthquake in his ancestral Italian village.

Rich in imagery, and addressing themes like memory and forgetting, Portante’s poetry moves discursively to a telling conclusion, which engages readers in whatever language they encounter him. The poems are presented in dual text.

Pierre Joris wrote of this book: “In reality, reality is ghosted by a multiplicity of forms of energy & energies of form it is the poet’s job to reveal & hide in the double play of his languages’ hide & seek. Jean Portante is a master at just that chassé-croisé of language & meaning, of real ghosts & ghostly realities. One ‘In Reality’ can (& does) hide another. Read on & in.”

 

Quick Cod Forestière

This is a very pleasant & simple dish. I called it Forestière because my grandfather used to call anything garnished with mushroom Forestière —meaning of the forest. Though the porcinis mushrooms are not wild & neither were all the mushrooms my grandpa used!

Pan fry the cod  (4/5 mns each side) with a dollop of clarified butter. Reheat the small new potatoes cut half length – they are already boiled – in the pan with the fish, add a little fat if needed. The fresh green beans had also been parboiled and  will be added to the sautéed small porcini mushrooms. I sautéed the porcini with olive oil until crispy & towards the end added the persillade —chopped parsley & garlic.

Once you have removed the fish & potatoes from the pan melt a dollop of unsalted clarified butter in the same pan, with low heat under the pan to keep the butter from browning, add the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon, salt & pepper to taste; use this mixture to coat you fish once on the plate. Voilà! Satisfying, quick & healthy.

March, march, march…

MARCH—collage/drawing from N.P.  Calendar Series

Yeap! We are in March and I saw some crocuses “piercing” the ground on 71st street yesterday. It cheered me up. The general mood has been down with all the international and national events, catastrophes, health care mess… Even my hometown, Luchon, was seriously affected by a storm coming from the Southwest with winds at 200km/h. It killed one man, pulled out thousands of ancient trees, lifting roofs, and closing bars for one day! No one remembers seeing or hearing about such an event in a place that is so naturally sheltered from the wind. Who says there is no global warming? The same idiots who feel threatened by universal health care? The same idiots who worship a god that knows neither nature nor health. We need D.A Bennett  The Truth Seeker all over again, I just read that book and it is amazing how the problem of religion in politics has remained the same for two century ago and is far from being solved.

Anyhow, life must go on and I have been busy. The “d’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show” at The World Bar is still on. Works by French painter Michel Calvet and 3 large collage/paintings of mine are on display.  The World Bar serves delicious cocktails and their $8 happy hour special is totally worth it. I had a “peace cocktail” concocted by the excellent (1/2 french) mixologist Jonathan, all fresh juices and premium liquors — a real treat! We will have another event there soon as the opening was affected by the storm. So don’t feel bad if you couldn’t make it; D’Artagan has agreed to provide us with more patés and saucisson for another event, so stay tune!

Below you will find my detailed calendar of events for March, four events still coming up, it is all exciting especially the Umami festival one, which is leading me into fascinating research about yeast and beer in Mesopotamian time. As a result of all this action the fridge as been consistently empty and home made Miso soup (see recipe here)and rice has become a staple.

Breakfast Rice

I cook two cups of brown rice twice a week and eat it in different forms. The breakfast version is becoming a house favorite and even Pierre who is not a brown rice aficionado really likes this one:

-Warm up some rice milk in a bottom of sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup of cooked rice per person, one small apple cut into small pieces, 1/2 banana, raisins, cranberries, goji berries, maple syrup. Just warm it up. Before serving add chopped roasted almonds, pistachios, walnuts. That’s a tasty healthy breakfast!

Chicken

When we finally made it to the coop a few days ago we got the making for a chicken soup. I had been craving it since Dawn Clements (now showing an amazing piece at the Whitney Biennial click here) served me the most delicious one at her studio in early February.  That recipe is also very easy:  throw it all in the pot and let it happen while the smell of the broth takes over the house. This is what I threw in the pot of cold water:
-1 organic chicken (with feet!)
-3 celery ribs
-3 carrots peeled and cut
-2 “fanned” leeks
-1 onion with 3 cloves planted in it
– 1 spice/herb bag with: fresh parsley, thyme, laurel leave, 1 cardamon pod, 6 blk pepper corn.
– Sea salt.
Then you can either delicately lift some of the meat and eat it separately or debone  the whole thing and return it in the pot. You will have to add some salt and pepper to taste and you can of course add some pasta or rice or potatoes. I just had a bowl and this is ever so restauring and satisfying.

Now the schedule and if I don’t see you there, please stay in touch!

Sunday March 7th
Sunday Best Reading Series
4PM $7
The Lounge, Hudson View Gardens
Pinehurst Avenue and 183rd Street
183rd & Pinehurst Avenue
New York City

Friday March 12th
UMAMI Festival
Featuring Sarah Klein, Murray’s Cheese, Tom Cat Bakery, Ithaca Beer Company
& NP w/ Rosie Hertlein ( violin)
6:30PM
click here for
reservations
Astor Center for Food and Wine
399 Lafayette (at 4th Street)

Sunday March 21
NP & Pierre Joris, Nick Flynn, Major Jackson, Douglas Unger
6PM
Poets for Peace at Erika’s
85-101 N. 3rd St # 508
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(between wythe and berry
and it is the bedford stop on the L train)

Monday March 29th
NP w/ Pierre Joris & Michael Bisio (bass)
THE LOCAL 269

269 E Houston Street NYC

Ongoing until Agust 2010
D’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show
Michel Calvet / Nicole Peyrafitte / Jean-Pierre Rives
The World Bar /The Trump Tower
845 United Nation Plaza
New York NY 10017



Family Heirloom: Les Pannequets Saint-Louis

Among all the family recipes Les Pannequets Saint-Louis is truly a unique one, et je pèse mes mots — that is: and I weigh my words — yes: unique, a word I almost never use.

Louis

My great grandfather Louis, Gabriel, Marcel, Marie, Peyrafitte (1858-1929) created this amazing recipe that we still make for very special occasions like this Christmas day when Pierre, Joseph, Miles and I gathered around our kitchen island for a true family food communion.
Pannequets
have been part of the French cuisine repertoire for a long time, though the word derives from the English “pancake”— from the middle English pan +cake that’s an easy one. The famous French chef, Auguste Escoffier, has several entries for pannequets in the Entremets section of his reference work Le Guide Culinaire. So does Joseph Favre in the Dictionnaire Universel de la Cuisine, mentioning an interesting version of pannequets au gingembre — with ginger. They both specify that it is a Patisserie Anglaise or English pastry. Not surprising at all, in fact, that my Pyrenean ancestors would be acquainted with English desserts. In the 1900’s the French Pyrenees were “invaded” by English tourists, the family hotel in Luchon even changed its name: the Hotel de la Poste became the Hotel Poste & Golf ! My family had sold some land so a golf course could be built for to the increasing (colonial) British clientele. Surfing the net to look for traces of my grandfather Joseph’s stay in England (he was there as a cook between 1902-08), I was quite astounded to find the following entry in  “The Gourmet’s Guide to Europe” by Algernon Bastard (probably published around 1903):

Throughout the mountain resorts of the Pyrenees, such as Luchon–Bagnères de Bigorre, Gavarnie, St-Sauveur; Cauterets–Eaux Bonnes, Eaux Chaudes, Oloron, etc., you can always, as was stated previously, rely upon getting an averagely well-served luncheon or dinner, and nothing more — trout and chicken, although excellent, being inevitable. But there is one splendid and notable exception, viz., the Hôtel de France at Argelès-Gazost, kept by Joseph Peyrafitte, known to his intimates as “Papa.” In his way he is as great an artist as the aforementioned Guichard; the main difference between the methods of the two professors being that the latter’s art is influenced by the traditions of the Parisian school, while the former is more of an impressionist, and does not hesitate to introduce local colour with broad effects, — merely a question of taste after all. For this reason you should not fail to pay a visit to Argelès to make the acquaintance of Monsieur Peyrafitte. Ask him to give you a luncheon such as he supplies to the golf club of which Lord Kilmaine is president, and for dinner (being always mindful of the value of local colour) consult him, over a glass of Quinquina and vermouth, as to some of the dishes mentioned earlier in this article. You won’t regret your visit.

The Joseph Peyrafitte (1849-1908) mentioned above is Louis’ brother and therefore my grand father Joseph Peyrafitte’s (1891-1973) uncle who was named after him. Louis & Joseph had married two sisters, Marie & Anna Secail. Anna moved to the Hôtel de France in Argelès-Gazost and Louis Peyrafitte came to Hotel de la Poste in Luchon. The marriages had been arranged by one of the Peyrafitte’s brothers who was a priest at the Vatican with one of the Secail brothers — also a priest. All this is documented — and left a magnificent family heirloom that I inherited: “the Chandelier” but that story is for another blog-post.  Both brothers had been classically trained cooks so one can easily understand how the inspiration for this recipe came about.



Hotel de la Poste in the late 1890’s

My father, Jean Peyrafitte, doesn’t remember his grandfather’s cooking very much  — he was 6 years old when his grandfather Louis died in 1929 — but he vividly remembers his father Joseph Peyrafitte (my grandfather and cooking mentor) making the Pannequet Saint-Louis.
At that time no “grande carte” was available at the restaurant, though there was a menu du jour which changed daily given that the clientele were “pensionnaires” —residents — who would stay for periods of 3 weeks or more.
My grandfather would occasionally put the pannequets on the menu but only during low season, as they are incredibly time consuming. The recipe was not written down until the mid 1960’s. At that point my dad decided to promote regional cooking and to upgrade the restaurant to a “grande carte,” hoping to get attention from the Guide Michelin and Parisian food critics. So he created a “grande carte” full of regional dishes like Pistache (mutton & bean stew), Peteram Luchonnais (lamb, veal, and mutton tripe), duck confit, etcetera.  My grandfather considered this food low class and believed that lobster and tournedos Rossini was more appropriated.

Carte

But my father pointed out that the clients could eat that food anywhere, but not our local specialties. That is when the pannequets Saint-Louis made their way to the dessert menu of the  grande carte and were listed as “Les Excellences to be ordered at the beginning of the meal (order for 2 minimum)”.

Now this is the part I remember. In the late 60’ my mother begged my grandfather to write the recipe down. He said he couldn’t as he knew it by instinct. She didn’t get discouraged. She stood by him as he was making them, weighed the ingredients one by one and made a note of it. I must say that without my mother (Renée Peyrafitte) most of the family memory would be gone.

When I called my parents to talk about the Pannequet Saint-Louis recipe I reassure them that I wasn’t going to give the recipe away. Mom said, “don’t worry no one else can make them anyway.” What she meant is that this recipe takes total dedication. When my grandfather grew old, it was she who was entrusted with the task of making them. She tried to teach a few cooks but the result was never satisfactory.  One of the reasons is that from making the batter to cooking them requires total and utterly focused attention. And if you don’t do that the best dessert in the world turns into the worst glob!

Nicole Peyrafitte

I must say that since a little girl I watched my grandfather & then my mother making them over and over. My favorite post of observation during “service” was in the corridor where I could survey all the action. As soon as I would hear an order for pannequets being “barked,” I would get into position to assist and taste!  I have memorized all the gestures. Unlike the regular crêpes the pannequet doesn’t get flipped (but come and see me do that Sunday at the 36th Annual New Year’s Marathon). Once one millimeter of the batter is poured into a hot and generously buttered cast iron pan, it is let to cook until almost, but not completely, dry. Then the edge of the dough next to the handle is gently detached with a spoon and if cooked perfectly the batter will roll down the pan like a cigarette helped only by little tap in the pan. A perfect pannequet Saint-Louis has a very lightly crisp skin on the outside and custard like consistency on the inside. While the texture melts in your mouth, the rum, almond, lemon & vanilla flavors lead you to gastronomic ecstasy!  I don’t know if my great grandfather named the pannequet “Saint”-Louis himself, but I doubt it — it sounds more like one of those mischievous puns my grandfather Joseph Peyrafitte was famous for!


Hotel de la Poste became Hotel Poste & Golf around 1905

Happy New Year, Bona Anada, Bonne Année!
And hope to see you Sunday for poetry and crêpes at the Poetry Project for the 36th Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Benefit Reading .

ps: You might enjoy reading these 2 posts about crêpes:
Crêpes History, Recipe + Video:
The Crêpe, the Theorist, the Chef and the Volunteer

Spirited Noël Dinner

We are not particularly attached to any specific Christmas tradition although this year we were eager to have an intimate family dinner at our new place and to take out the family heirloom china that had been in boxes for a while. So after consulting with husband, sons, and daughter in law, we agreed on a menu:

Foie

Home made Foie Gras au Torchon

Fisher Island Oysters

Roasted Suckling Pig
Mashed potatoes
Apple & Chestnut Bourbon dressing

Cinnamon Rice Pudding

I had never made Foie au torchon before but my friend, chef Pierre Landet, the executive chef at Cercle Rouge, suggested this excellent idea —by the way, Congrats to Pierre soon to be made Maître Cuisinier or Master Chef! This simple recipe keeps the foie velvety & easy to deal with — even though I have to confess I missed one step.
First break the lobes and delicately take out the nerves and veins. Some people get crazy about the cleaning process and turn their foie into a battlefield. My previous experiences on making terrines had taught me that there is no need for over cleaning. I then seasoned the foie with salt and pepper and rubbed some Armagnac on it. Next step is to put the lobes on top of each other and roll the foie very tightly in cheesecloth —like a sausage — and poach it in a broth at 140ºF for 5/7 minutes. Now cool your foie
in a bath of cold water with ice cube to stop the cooking. This is the step I missed!  So mine was a little over done but no one complained.

Our next course was a dozen Fisher Island oysters each. It gave me a good work out to open the 5 dozen. They were extremely fresh, all very tightly shut. The first taste of a Fisher Island oyster comes as a hit of seawater, followed by the very clean taste of the firm texture of the shiny silvery mollusk. Our favorite way to eat oysters is to add a few sprinkles of lemon, Pierre (Joris) likes to add some fresh ground pepper on his. The experiment this year was to add a ½ teaspoon of a fresh homemade salsa in the oyster shell. Pierre remains skeptic, the kids more enthusiastic; I do like the bite of the salsa on a few of them.  We paired them with a pleasant Sancerre. No other info on that, as the bottle got recycled before I could take a picture of it!

Pierre

Then came the “piece de resistance:” our roasted suckling pig, an ever so festive and ever so delicious dish. We ordered it from d’Artagnan, and upon it’s arrival we lovingly massaged the piglet with a marinade of lemon, olive oil, thyme and garlic; this can be done 24 to 12 hours before roasting it. We had decided against stuffing it in order to keep our meal “lighter” and most of all to keep the roasting time down! It took about 3 hours for our 10lbs piglet. Pierre (Joris) handled the roasting, he diligently basted it every twenty minutes and covered and uncovered it with aluminum foil as he felt the need to. It turned out perfect, done but moist! I made last minute jus —or light gravy— by deglazing the piglet’s pan with very thinly chopped onions —should have been shallots but I had none— flambé’d it with bourbon, added 1 teaspoon of arrowroot, then some chicken broth and 1 cup of re-hydrated cèpes (boletus), salt & pepper to taste. It was lovely to pour some on the fluffy buttery mashed potatoes (w/ a hint of nutmeg).

Apple

The apple, chestnut & Bourbon dressing (with sautéed minced onions)  enhanced the pork flavor. There is a beautiful complementarity between pork and chestnuts, and as for the apples that had slightly caramelized, they added a pleasing hint of tartness.
The Corbières L’Enclos 2005 —from Domaine des 2 Anes— brought the last touch of bliss to the dish.  This organic blend of mostly Grenache with Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah grapes has an earthy, rich and supple taste that literally “talks to me”!

The light, refreshing Ecuadorian cinnamon rice pudding was a Christmas present from our good friend Eleana and it came as a good conclusion to our excellent meal.

Well, the final punctuation was the digestif & the Laubade Armagnac did bring a few spirits down! Santé to you all!

Ragoût Express

ragout express

A râgout express is a contradiction in term. A stew should cook as long as possible. This being said let’s move on!
The term râgout covers a lot of territory. A good definition would be “a  well-seasoned meat or fish stew usually with vegetables.” The word ragoût comes from old French ra-gouster “to revive the taste”. We already find several ragoût recipes in Apicius’ cookbook De Re Coquinaria (25 AD). The Latin name for ragoût is: offella – a diminutive for offa which means “piece of meat, morsel”. As the name indicates, all those recipes call for some meat cut up into small pieces, a lot of spices and marinating in liquid, often wine or garum. The English equivalent is stew —from middle English stewen, to bathe in a steam bath; from old French estuver, possibly from vulgar Latin extufare, and from the Greek tuphos, source also for typhus and typhoid which provokes very high fevers.
Every cultures have some sort of ragoût. To name but a few: the Italians have ragús, the Mexicans have moles, the Spanish guisados.  They all emphasize the use of produce of their area, an  illustration of the local food culture. For example let’s take daube,  a typical french ragoût made with beef and red wine, in New Orleans it became: “daube de boeuf Créole” where the wine has been replaced by rum.  Have you tried it? I have not, but below are Elizabeth Davis ‘ words on it:

“The meat is studded with olives and cooked with rum instead of wine, and the curious point is that although the result is a very rich-tasting dish I think very few people would be able to detect the presence of rum, or to say in what precise way the stew differs from the French original”.

A big advantage of stews is that you can use the less expensive cuts of meat. After marinating over night or for several hours, and after the long simmering on top of the stove or in the oven the meat will be tender. If you use poultry, like in my recipe today, the meat is much leaner and will cook faster. It had too in my case!

So back to the story behind today’s recipe. We had to be out of the house at 7:30pm; it was 6:10pm. Pierre wanted to order out and I really didn’t. Any decent take out in our area takes 45 minutes and it’s expensive. I had a 2 lb turkey breast  in the fridge and I had planned to cook and eat it that night! Granted we ate a little fast and to be really honest the dish tasted better the next day, but that’s true of any stew.  Please look at the short video below for the recipe. I am still trying to find better ways to cook/film at the same time. Thank you for your patience and suggestions are always welcome!

Country Mussels or Moules Paysanes

Country Mussels

Mussels contain high doses of Omega-3, a fish oil compound that nutritionist say is helpful in reducing cholesterol. Farming mussels is believed to have been invented in France in 1235 by an Irishman named Patrick Walton. The story goes that Patrick Walton left Ireland to escape the police. His boat wrecked on the coast of France. He tried to feed himself by trapping sea birds. To this purpose he planted stakes into the water at the edge of the beach and stretched nets over them. The sea birds ignored the contraption, but after a time he noticed that mussels had attached themselves to the stakes and were growing rapidly.  Cute story! But there are some indications that the Gauls had cultivated mussels even before the roman invasion.

The most common way of preparing mussel is as Moules Marinière; our version today is an extension of this traditional preparation. It is my original version based on several French Southwestern recipes and inspired by what I found at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket this morning and I call it Country Mussel or Moules Paysanne.

First a few tips about mussels:
How much mussels to buy per person?
To serve them as a main dish, get as much as one pound per person. As an appetizer half a pound should do it.

Do’s and Dont’s about store bought mussels

1- Do’s

-Discard dead mussels: that is if one is wide open, it’s probably dead. If they are open only slightly, a quarter of an inch or so it should be fine. How do you tell if a mussel is merely gaping to breathe or if it is dead? Simply put ice on the mussels for 15 minutes then tap them gently. They should begin to close. If they move, they are alive therefore  can be eaten – even if they don’t close all the way. If a mussel won’t move, and is gaping widely, it is probably dead, past it’s shelf life and should be discarded.
-Throw out broken-shelled mussels.

Mussel with byssal threads-De-beard mussels.  Most likely you will not have to do that, and good for you. I remember cleaning kilos of them in my early restaurant time and that’s ain’t fun. Today they are de-bearded before you buy them, but once a while one is missed and you get to see what the beard looks like. The “beard” also known as Byssal, or byssus threads they are the strong, silky fibers made from proteins that are used by mussels to attach to rocks, pilings, or other substrates.-Discard heavy mud filled mussels. Some extra-heavy mussels that are closed may be full of mud. Doesn’t happened very often but worth checking because only one of these unloading its cargo in your kettle of broth will spoil the entire dish. Usually a “mudder” can be discovered by simply squeezing the shells and sliding them apart from each other.
-Rinse them just before using them

2- Don’t

-Do not soak them
-Do not over wrap or purchase over-wrapped mussels. Remember they are alive, do not suffocate them in the fridge or do not store mussels in airtight containers.-Do Not overcook your mussels-Do Not buy mussels that are displayed in live lobster tanks or in shellfish display tanks.
-Do Not eat mussels if you believe you are allergic to shellfish.

Recipe
for 2lbs of Mussels

Sauté 4 shallots and 1/2 lb of Italian turkey sausage (or sausage, or Italian sausage or pancetta, or ham) in a tablespoon of butter and oil (addition of oil will keep the butter from browning); when meat has rendered and the shallots are transparent, add 1 or 2 (depending on how you like it) skinned, seeded and diced fresh tomatoes (canned if not in season). Mix it all well, add a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Add all the mussels (that have just been rinsed), mix well. Add about 1 large glass of dry white wine (about a glass per two pound bag). Close the pot tightly and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add a generous amount of finely chopped parsley or cilantro or basil and also garlic it you would like your dish stronger and especially if your meat was not already spiced.

Mix it all up and let cook for two more minutes. Please do not over cook them, or they will become rubbery. At this point all your mussels are open and ready to be eaten!

Serve in soup plates with a lot of fresh bread to dunk into the broth. Eat them with your fingers and use the shell to scoop out morsels—If you are from Bay Ridge get Country bread at Yanni’s Restaurant on 4th & Ovinton.

Voilà! and now please do watch another one of my homemade videos. The Country Mussel  recipe was literally filmed with the left hand while cooking —and then eating, just watch until the end! with the right one.  I didn’t know I could do this until today.  Honestly tell me if it is watchable and/or helpful.

Purple Cabbage & Gromperen Plaâ

Red Cabbage Salad

When we took off for France in mid-July I left a purple cabbage (red cabbage is actually never “red”) in the fridge. I was pretty confident it would keep until our return. It was a beautiful purple cabbage from our CSA share and I actually wrote a post and took pictures about that particular share — click here for details. It was a very firm,  bright, shiny and freshly picked purple cabbage.  I must say I was a little surprised to find it in the CSA box so early in the season.  When we returned mid-August, the cabbage was holding great, no obvious signs of aging. It was not wrapped, or in the crisper, but just decorating the middle shelf of the fridge. I still was not ready to eat it; summer veggies were still plentiful and I assimilate cabbage more with a fall/winter food. I became so used to see it in the fridge that I almost forgot to eat it.  But a few nights ago I pulled it out of the near empty fridge to accompany Pierre’s Bay Ridge version of a Luxembourgish dish: the Gromperen plaâ. Only the first layer of the cabbage leaves where a little limp, the rest was still crisp. Before I tell you a little more about the Gromperen  plaâ this is how I made the cabbage salad:
1/2  red/purple cabbage head sliced thinly
1 diced onion
1 diced apple
1 diced celery rib
Chopped walnuts and/or almonds

Moisten all the ingredients with olive oil. Drizzle with vinegar — it can be: apple cider, or rice or light wine vinegar. Add a dash of sesame oil —very little, the goal is to use it to outline the ingredients  not to really taste it (do you  know what I mean?). Then add  fresh  chopped Italian parsley, salt & pepper to taste.

Pierre was supposed to give me the detailed recipe of the Gromperen plaâ but as you can check on his blog he is not home very much these days. In Luxembourgish Gromper means potato & plaâ means dish —plat in French. This is the first dish Pierre’s sister Michou makes when we visit. All the ingredients go into a terrine or a lasagna type dish. As I indicated I don’t have an exact recipe but I think I am right to say that Pierre never really follows one either. This is the kind of dish that is adjustable to what you have and how you feel. I personally encourage this kind of cooking and would like to have the guts to write such a cook book! Now here are the indications for you to make your own potato dish:

Butter  the bottom of the pan.
Line with one layer of sliced parboiled potatoes.
Sprinkle with  diced sautéed onions.
Cut slices of Mettwurscht the “national” sausage of Luxembourg.
In Bay Ridge we don’t have Mettwurscht so Pierre decided to make the Gromperen plaâ with the Turkish sausage sujuk— a beef sausage usually spiced with cumin, sumac, garlic, paprika and other red pepper —we always get it at Aunt Halime’s Halal Meat Market on 3rd avenue and Ovington in Bay Ridge.
Repeat layers until there is no more room in the dish.
Then fill the dish with seasoned
heavy cream—with salt, pepper and a touch of freshly grated nutmeg—  until the top of the pan is barely covered.
Top with a generous layer of shredded
cheese – can be Swiss , Emmental , Gruyère or even cheddar! 
The result was superb; I had forgotten to take a picture of the dish before we started digging into it and next thing we knew is that the three diners around the table cleaned it up in a flash! The combination of the textures and tastes were perfect. Thanks Pierre and this menu is a keeper! The only disappointment Pierre had is that he thought he was going to have some left over for lunch. Sorry!

Gromper Pla

Papalo Scallops & Corn

scalopscornpapalo

When Miles (my younger son) came into the kitchen and asked quite intrigued: “What is that smell?” I pointed to the Papalo bunch sitting next to the sink.

Papalo is a native South American plant, also known as Papaloquite or porophyllum ruderale or macrocephalum. Its name comes from papalotl, —butterfly in Nahuatl and interesting (to me) in French butterfly is papillon!— The first time I encountered papalo was at a flea market Upstate New-York. A Mexican vendor was getting ready to sell Guarachas*—a dish I wouldn’t mind getting more info on. The women were setting up while the men were all sitting down having lunch. I noticed them picking leaves from the middle of the table and eating little bites with their grilled meat and tortillas.

guaracha

I ordered a Guaracha, I had to ask for the leaves as I wasn’t automatically given some. The lady was a bit surprised as she explained — nicely — that gringos didn’t usually care much for it. She was delighted I would try it as it was the way to eat this dish. It was love at “first bite!”; the grilled meat seasoned with lime, the green salsa, the Mexican cheese all topping a homemade corn tortilla —that looked to have had some beans worked into the dough, and the little bite of papalo to make it a truly “gastrorgasmic” moment. Papalo’s taste is condensed, pungent and close to be an entrancing flavor. It must be used appropriately and parsimoniously.

Harold from Carral FarmA few weeks ago I got some papalo from Harold, owner of Carral Farm and a regular vendor at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket. He also gave me some suggestion on how to use it and recommended to also get some  Anaheim peppers. I picked up a pound of fresh scallops at American Seafood (read previous blog on scallops here and here). And this is the recipe I will share with you today:

Scallops With Sautéed Corn and Papalo (for 3)

cornpepperpapalo

1 lb of fresh scallops
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lime juice
kernels of 2 fresh ears of corn
1/4 cup red bell peppers
1/4 cup sweet onions
1/8 cup green Anaheim peppers
9 leaves of fresh papalo
2 Tbsp brandy or Lillet
1 dollop butter at room temperature

Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter in a stainless still or cast iron frying pan.

scallops

Sear scallops delicately  in the pan or about 3 minutes or so per side —it will depend how thick they are. Do not overcook them. Keep them warm between two plates and reserve until ready to serve.

While the scallops are cooking, sautée all the vegetables (with only 3 leaves of papalo chopped) lightly with olive oil or/and butter (see picture above to see size of veggies).

Déglaze the pan with some brandy or Lillet.  Add lime juice  and retrieve all the juice that have deposited in the scallop plate.

monter sauce

Add a dollop of soft butter and when only ready to serve  “monter la sauce au beurre” —that is to swirl in, until completely melted, a dollop of room temperature unsalted butter; it will give your sauce a velvety texture and a rich flavor. We have done it before, right? Add salt & pepper to taste and voilà!

*The guaraches turned out to be huaraches. See comments below and huraches blog.

Look at me Porgy!

DSCN4286

Last night we ate porgies. I bought them at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket from the excellent Long Island Sound based American Seafood stand. I prefer whole fish to fillet or steak. One of the reasons is that I like to look the fish in the eye. If the eye is clear, bright with dense black pupil & looking back at me I see/hear “buy me!” If the eye is cloudy, dry and sunken, the message is that this fish has been on display away from the water for too long. Other general indicators of fish freshness are:
The skin must be moist and shiny.
The gills need to be bright red or pinkish red. When pressed with the finger, flesh should bounce back and leave no indentation.
Fresh fish smells like fresh seaweed, any strong odor is suspicious. If the fish smells, even slightly, like ammonia discard it —I once worked with a chef who asked me to “bathe” the fillet we were to serve as “specials” that night in vinegar & water to make the smell disappeared! I refused.

porgy

As you can see my porgies were beautiful and cost me $5. Buying a whole fish is much cheaper by the pound. Yes! it is more work as you will have to debone it yourself.  There is also more waste, but what about a fish soup with the bones? I will give you that recipe later. Also, below you will find a quick homemade video on how to serve your fish. I would appreciate if you have a few minutes to give me feedback on the specific questions.
Meanwhile, voilà today’s recipe:

2 Porgies (1 guted & scaled fish per person of 1/2 lb or so)
1 sweet onion peeled and sliced very thin
1 Italian or Jalapeño pepper, inside seeds and rib removed and chopped very small
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 ripe tomatoes
1 glass of dry white wine
1 or 2 limes
Salt
½ cup olive oil ¼ cup of butter
Preheat oven to 375º.
Coat the bottom of an ovenproof dish with olive oil. Arrange the onions & hot peppers.

stuffing porgies with cilantro

Add the tomatoes.
Add white wine. Make 2 slits on the fish.
Salt the inside of the fish, squeeze some lime into it & stuff with a few sprigs of fresh (well washed) cilantro.
Insert slices of lime into the slits on the fish.
Pour the juice of ½ a lime over. Scatter tiny pieces of butter on top of the fish.
Put in the oven for 25/30 minutes.
Baste the fish every 10 minutes with the liquid in the pan.

We ate them with corn on the cob and a beet salad. More details on the video on how to serve it.

How to serve the whole fish family style:


Please take the survey below if you have a minute.
To do so copy & paste the question in an email or in the comment box.

Is this video helpful to you?
Did you know how to deal with a whole fish before?
If not are you going to try it now?
Did the “homemade” quality of the video bother you?
Do you want more videos on the blog?
If yes, what do you want to see?
How long?

Bonus question:
Add any personal comments :

M E R C I !