C.S.A & Sour Cherry Sangria

C.S.A & Sour Cherry Sangria


Most of you probably know about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. This is how it works: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically a share consists of a box of vegetables, though other farm products may be included: as you can see above there are fruits. This year the Bay Ridge CSA program offered fruit shares. The consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a weekly offering of seasonal produce throughout the farming season. “Our” farm is Hearty Roots Community Farm in Tivoli NY. I have not yet met the farmers personally, nor have I visited the farm, but so far I like their produce and the variety. I also like the way we get it; instead of getting the traditional prepacked individual box, we are instructed what to take and we get to pack our own from the bulk crates (except for the fruit, but that is from another farm anyway). C.S.A arrangement creates many rewards for both the farmer and the consumer, if you want to read more on the subject click here. I do share a share with my older son’s family and this is what we got this week.

Veggie Share:
8 scallions
1 head of lettuce
2lb of zucchinis
1 red cabbage
1 lb of japanese turnip
1 lb of Chioggia beets
1 bunch of basil

Fruit Share:
1/2 pint mulberries
1 pint sour  cherries
1 pint blueberries


I boiled the beets until tender and dressed them with fresh scallions, sprinkled with olived oil, salt & pepper. I saved the beets greens and mixed them with sautéed potatoes. What I really like is to discover what I am getting and I can’t wait to get home and start processing my new bounty.


The sour cherries were a little disappointing. They didn’t have much taste raw, not really sour enough to make an interesting sauce — I used to make a wild salmon with sour cherry sauce.  As they were very pretty, I had the vision that they might enhance a not so great white wine I had sitting in the fridge. Bingo! This made a great summery aperitif! Let’s call is Sour Cherry Sangria! I crushed the cherries in the wine, added one dash of maple syrup plus one serious dash of grappa. Let it is sit for a few hours in the fridge. Strain and serve in small glasses with a fresh sour cherry at the bottom! Enjoy the summer — and the next post should be from my dear Pyrenean mountains. Adishatz!

Long Island Sound Mahi-mahi

Long Island Sound Mahi-mahi


Saturday morning we extracted ourselves from moving madness mode to go to the Bay Ridge green market. I was craving good fish and I know I can always rely on the American Seafood stand, they do catch all their fish on Long Island Sound and  to this day they have always provided top quality fish, clams or mussels. There I had the nice surprise to find Susan who had been working for the buffalo cheese and meat stand but returned to the fish stand. After a serious scanning of the offerings and pow-wow we settled for Mahi-mahi. Our friend Claire who is visiting us from Brittany never had it and  honestly I didn’t know Mahi-mahi was caught in Long Island Sound. I might have been fooled by it’s Hawaiian sounding name, Mahi-mahi. Also called dolphinfish, it is neither a mammal, neither a member of the Delphinadae family —dolphin family, but one of the two members of the Coryphaenidae family, the other being the pompano. The darkish flesh of Mahi-mahi turns white once cooked; it is dense, a little firm and quite moist. Like any other fish, don’t overcook it. I prepared it very simply and here is how:

Heat oil in a skillet, place fish on the skin side first. Cook for 3/5 minutes depending on thickness, repeat on the other side.
Keep warm between 2 plates.
Sauté 1/3 cup per person of sweet fresh white onions in the same pan, remove and deglaze the pan with a touch of Mirin and dry white wine.
When ready to serve adjust salt & pepper to taste and “monter la sauce au beurre” —that is to swirl in, until completely melted, a dollop of unsalted butter; it will give your sauce a velvety texture and a rich flavor.
I served it with all the leftover veggies from last week’s CSA. Swiss chards, bokchoys, scapes were sautéed in olive oil with abundant fresh garlic and provided a beautiful bed for the Mahi-mahi. Top it with onions, serve the sauce on top or around and bon appétit to you!

Poor’s Man Lobster & Garlic Scapes

Poor’s Man Lobster & Garlic Scapes

Lotte Nicole!

Also called monkfish, lotte or baudroie in French, this excellent  —not so good looking— fish belongs to the Lophius family. The firm consistency of its flesh resembles lobster meat. The liver, cheek and tail are eaten. The head is rarely seen at the fish store. The tail is the piece most often available for purchase. I got mine at the Bay Ridge Green Market and it was beautiful. Monkfish has been my favorite sea fish since I was young. Back then it was because there were “no” bones  — only one big central bone that is easily removed, but none of those little sneaky ones.  The meat can be roasted whole or cut into chunks. It can also be sautéed, skewered, poached, broiled, pan fried & served with all kinds of sauces. My choice today was: roasted, wrapped in duck bacon, tied with garlic scape.

Monkfish or Lophius

I shared this dish with my friend, poet Patricia Spears Jones, and I would appreciate it if she would comment on it. Meanwhile you can read one of her great poems here.

Preheat oven 375º
Cut the fish into equal chunks.
Coat an oven proof dish with extra virgin olive oil.
Wrap the pieces with duck bacon, or regular pork bacon (though the duck bacon gives it an interesting flavor)
Tighten with a garlic scape ( if already a little hard peel the scape)
Cut little pieces of bacon, sprinkle on top.
Add salt and fresh ground pepper.
Put into the oven for about 20/25 minutes.
Serve with boiled potatoes if it is a main course.

Garlic Scapes
Garlic scapes

Note on Garlic Scape:
Often just called “scapes”, these beautiful curly  greens are the flower stems that are snapped off the garlic in early summer in order to give more energy to the bulb to grow. Their taste is
milder than garlic bulbs. They can be chopped and used in stir fry like green beans or asparagus. A real delicacy, and I look forward to see them at the Farmers Market or Food Coop every June. (For more info read this article on Mother Hearth News).

lotte aux pousse d'ail

Water Bottle Drift

Water Bottle Drift

verrazano bridge

I walk along the Verrazano Narrows on Shore Promenade several times a week. On Memorial Day Shore Promenade was busier than usual so I decided to “catwalk” next to the water on the other side of the fence. It was low tide and I wanted to look at what had drifted into the boulders. Between 68th street and the Verrazano bridge there was only one patch of sea shells, but many, many clusters of empty plastic bottles. There is of course other junk, but the litter is mostly made of individual plastic bottles.
I work seriously on decreasing my use of plastic bottles, bags and packaging in general. I do have a few individual bottles saved, I fill them up with water from my filter carafe, keep them in the fridge and take one along when I leave the house. If I forget, I try to find a water fountain but occasionally I do buy a water bottle. Paying close attention to this insane accumulation along The Narrows increased my awareness and I’ll sure try to avoid the occasional bottle purchase as much as possible.

I try to imagine how did this place looked like before Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed through it in 1524. The Italian explorer, who was at the service of the French crown, wrote his employer King Francois 1er that he believed he had found the opening to the Pacific Ocean, therefore a direct route to China. It is reported that while anchored between Staten Island & Brooklyn, Giovanni da Verrazzano “received a canoe party of Lenape people”  and he called what today is called  The Verrazano Narrows in his honor: New Angoulème. The Lenape where hunter gatherers, not by lack of equipment or sophistication but most likely because the natural resources were so plentiful that they didn’t have to worry about planting, growing  or attending crop. It was all right there available for hunting, fishing & picking  (read Anne Mendelson Chapter “The Lenape” in Gastropolis: Food and New York City).

It is so painful to witness the current destiny of this so unique water-based environment. What was an osmosis between man and nature has became its antonym. Today, despite being one of the major water highways of the world — flanked with litter — The Narrows’ commanding views still moves me deeply. This is the mouth of the Hudson River, and one can feel the incredible elemental forces; remember that the Ocean tide is felt all the way to Albany!

The native name for the Hudson River is Mahicanituck, which means: the river that flows two ways. It was very shortly after I took my first walk there that I wrote the song that was in my CD The Bi-Continental Chowder / La Garbure Transcontinentale. I was still living in Albany and the next day I took the train back and kept filming along the Hudson. The video and the song are part of the live performance of The Bi-Continental Chowder / La Garbure Transcontinentale. Below is the recording and the video:

Percussion: Danny Welchel, Voice over: Ben Chadabe, Text/voice/video: N.P.

Another good reason not to buy bottled water is that beverage companies often take water from municipal or underground local resources: you are probably aware that about 40 percent of bottle water comes from the tap! Other negative factors are: transporting the bottles uses energy, increases landfill and and emits toxic chemicals.

Molokhia, Corète potagère, Corchorus Oilitorius,ملوخية

Molokhia, Corète potagère, Corchorus Oilitorius,ملوخية

It can be spelled Molokhia, Mulukhiya, Malukhiya, Molokia; A.k.a: Juteplante in Germany, Jew’s mallow in the UK, corète potagère or chanvre du bengale in France, Crain-Crain or Krin-Krin in francophone’s Africa, Corchorus Olitorius in Latinand finally, in Arabic, ملوخية. Until my trip to a Syrian grocery store yesterday in Bay Ridge, NY, I had never heard of it. It is a very well known Middle Eastern & African mucilaginous leave-vegetable that grows easily; it belongs to the family of the Tiliacea. It as been cultivated for century both in Africa and Asia, it is found wild on both continents.

Same family as jute (white jute is Corchorus capsularis and Tossa jute Corchorus olitorius). Raw jute was exported to the western world to make cordage, ropes and is better known in the USA as burlarp.

Once cooked the leaves produce a viscous or gooey texture similar to okra. I bought a frozen pack and since I knew nothing about it, I just followed the simple recipe on the package, just adding a few pickled chili pepper . Next time I will add a few drops of fresh lemon juice.

Molokhia soup

Molokhia Soup Recipe
Drop frozen molokhia in 2 cups of boiling water or broth.
Mix often until totally unfrozen.
In a sauce pan melt 1 tbsp of butter and lightly brown 6 finely chopped garlic cloves adding a pinch of coriander.
Add the molokhia, stir, adjust seasoning and serve.

So voilà! my dinner last night:  Molokhia soup and a batch of home made French fries. It was a quick, unusual and satisfying dinner.