What a long, strange trip it’s been since frost hit local fields last October. Locavores are weary of gnawing stored roots, but just when it seemed we should give up and move to Berkeley (where you can eat local asparagus on Valentine’s Day), chives leap up and proclaim the return of fresh foods. Like those you-been-gone-too-long lovers’ airport embraces, I eat dandelion salad with garlic shoots every day in April. I hear these foods are blood-cleansing tonics, much needed after winter’s dietary doldrums, but my only motivation is the delight of masticating something green again.
Never mind the champagne flutes you raised on December 31st—the new food year starts right now, and I’m full of resolutions. I solemnly swear to cook every night, pack a lunch every morning, and throw dinner parties every weekend. I’ll visit farms, join the raw-milk club, conquer pie crust, hunt mushrooms, cultivate sourdough starter, make peace with eggplant, establish a beehive on my roof and freeze peas and peaches in my basement. Really. No matter that I vowed to do all this last year, and the year before. Like the chives that inspire me, hope springs eternal.
WHAT’S IN SEASON, WHAT’S LOCAL
Bok Choi & Tat Soi
Mushrooms (farmed and wild)
MEAT AND SEAFOOD
Black Sea Bass
Oysters & Mussels
Milk & Cheese
Herring & Herring Roe (Shad & Shad Roe)
by Jacques Gautier, Palo Santo, Park Slope
Ceviche can be made with many types of fish (we always start with a whole fresh fish, which must be cleaned) or clams or oysters (one of my favorites is with live bay scallops). If using shellfish, remember that shucked they will weigh much less.
1 lb. fish or shellfish, cut into bite-size pieces
Juice of 4 limes
2 t. (or to taste) salt
1 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 red onion, chopped fine
1⁄4 bunch cilantro, leaves only
1 fresh chile, seeded and sliced (for a mild-hot ceviche use a Jalapeño, for a hotter version use a Scotch Bonnet)
1 sweet potato, boiled until tender, sliced
2 purple potatoes, boiled until tender, sliced
1⁄2 c. fish stock or fresh coconut water (optional)
Toss all ingredients. For a fresh, raw-tasting ceviche, serve imme- diately. For a more thoroughly cured ceviche, marinate for eight hours; the acid in the lime juice will “cook” the fish.
The marinade (or Leche de Tigre) can be strained off and served in a glass on the side. Spike with Pisco or dry white wine to make a briny cocktail.
WIDE RIBBON PASTA WITH PEAS, LEMON & RICOTTA
By Marion Emmanuelle, Ici, Fort Greene
1⁄2 c. fresh shelled peas
1⁄2 lb. wide ribbon pasta Juice of half a lemon
2 T. olive oil
1⁄4 c. sliced mint leaves Sea salt and black pepper 1⁄2 lb. fresh ricotta Grated Parmesan cheese
Blanch the peas in boiling water for one minute.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente; drain. Toss with lemon juice, oil, cooked peas, mint, salt and pepper. Add the ricotta and mix gently. Serve topped with Parmesan.
PAN SEARED COD WITH SUCCOTASH
by Chef Josh Grinker, Stone Park Café, Park Slope
1/4 lb. fingerling or new potatoes, sliced 1⁄4” thick
1⁄2 lb. bacon, chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. minced fennel bulb, fronds reserved for garnish
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
6 stalks pencil asparagus
1 c. fresh corn kernels
1/3 c. half and half
1/4 c. fava beans, shelled, blanched and peeled
1 T. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T. vegetable oil
6 (6-oz.) cod fillets
Preheat oven to 400°.
Simmer potatoes 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked. Drain. Cook bacon over medium heat until cooked through. Remove bacon, pour off all but one tablespoon bacon grease, add onions and cook until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add fennel, thyme and corn; cover and cook 2 minutes. Add potatoes and asparagus and warm through. Add half and half and cook until reduced by half; add parsley and fava beans, season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Heat oil in medium ovenproof skillet. Pat fillets dry, and season well with salt. Place in hot oil, skin side down, and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Turn fish and transfer to oven until cooked through, about 8 minutes per inch of thickness. Serve fish atop warm succotash. Serves 6.