The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘Falmouth MA’

Poached Cod with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

In Fish, Recipes on September 2, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Poached Cod with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

Poached Cod with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

Despite the proliferation and availability of Cod on the eponymous Cape where we’ve made our home for the past several years, I usually refrain from cooking it, as it does not lend itself to many cooking techniques. You can’t grill it, it falls apart too easily. Similarly you can’t sauté it, it quickly turns to mush. I suppose you could bake or roast it, but who wants to heat up the oven to 400 degrees in the summer. My dear wife (a/k/a Grammy) has been after me to prepare it for some time. So yesterday, after recalling an earlier success with Pan-Seared Cod, I decided to try poaching and picked up a lovely one pound fillet at our local fishmonger. It was a perfect piece, center cut, about one inch thick throughout, which makes for even cooking.

Ever helpful, Grammy suggested a combination of tomatoes, olives and capers, similar to the preparation used in Red Snapper LivorneseI complied with her suggestion, I’d be a fool not to,  and last night’s dinner was a rousing success.

(Total preparation and cooking time 30 minutes; serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 lb. Cod fillet, preferably 1 inch thick throughout
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped shallots
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup clam juice or fish stock
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1 cup stuffed green olives (with pimento) halved widthwise
5 tbsp. capers with juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:

1. Salt & pepper the Cod fillet on both sides.
2. In a braising pan or a sauté pan  or a skillet that has a cover, heat the olive oil on medium low, add the shallots and cook until soft.
3. Add the white wine, bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the seasoned Cod.
5. Add the clam juice, or fish stock.
6. Add the tomatoes, olives and capers, cover and poach for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish begins to flake.
7. Gently remove the Cod fillet, divide in two, plate and keep warm.
8. Bring the sauce to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes then, spoon the sauce equally over each plate.

Luigi the Barber

In General Articles on July 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM

That bastion of the male world, the Barber Shop, with its candy-striped pole, leather strop and copies of the Police Gazette lying around for your perusal as you wait for your favorite barber to call you next, may have for the most part disappeared; but the art of conversation between a man and his barber (for want of a gender-neutral term) has not. For the past 30 or more years I have had my hair cut by Luigi, who with his brother Enzo, runs “The Isaia Hairstyling Salon” in the Riverdale section of The Bronx.

Luigi (Louie) and Enzo emigrated with their parents from a town near Salerno in the Campania region of Italy when they were children. They started life in America in the Belmont section of the Bronx, also known as Arthur Avenue. When Louie was a stylist working at Vidal Sassoon in Manhattan, he was known as Bernard. That name stayed with him for a time after he left, but eventually he became Louie once again, as the brothers’ own business began to flourish, back in Da Bronx.

When my hair used to grow more quickly, I’d schedule a visit to Louie about once every 4 or 5 weeks. These days visits are usually 8 to 10 weeks apart, and it’s not because I’m letting my hair grow longer, there’s just less of it to cut. So I figure that Louie and I have had at least 250 conversations over the years. We’ve discussed politics, sports, the economy, crime, religion, family and the changes in the neighborhood. But every visit has included a conversation on our two favorite topics, movies (principally Italian Cinema) and food.

Louie enjoys cooking and sometimes, when he knows I am coming in for a haircut, he surprises me, as he recently did, with something he whipped-up the previous night. On our most recent visit to our hometown New York, which included a haircut from Louie, the surprise was Mussels Marinara, not with linguine, nor tagliatelle nor penne or some of the more fashionable cuts of macaroni, but with good, old-fashioned, comforting, spaghetti. It was delicious and Grammy and I devoured it that night when we returned to Falmouth.

The other day,  I made a visit to The Clam Man, our local fishmonger, and as luck would have it, they had a batch of big, black, shiny mussels. With an eye to preparing Louie’s mussels and spaghetti, I bought 2 dozen of the bivalves. Remembering what Louie had told me about his three special additives: brandy (I used Martell Cognac, which I use for my Steak au Poivre), jalapeño pepper and Knorr’s Caldo con Sabor de Camarón and guessed at the proportions. I don’t think it was exactly the same as Louie’s version, but it was delicious.

So here it is folks, the real deal, Mussels Marinara with Spaghetti alla Luigi.

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Uncle Fred, The Godfather

In General Articles on August 30, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Big Mike‘s older brother Fred was my godfather and favorite uncle. Fred was born in Italy and at the age of 7 emigrated to the U.S. aboard the Principe di Piemonte, accompanied by his mother and two younger sisters. They were met in New York by my grandfather, who had arrived in the U.S. a few years earlier in order to get established. Big Mike was born three years later in what was then known as Italian Harlem. Grandpa later moved the family to Yorkville, where he had a shoemaker business and where Big Mike grew up before he left for service with the CCC. Later grandpa and grandma moved to DeKalb Avenue off of Gun Hill Road in The Bronx, where, I believe, this photo was taken.

Dapper Fred with Grandpa

Fred was a consummate New Yorker whose sartorial elegance can be attested to in the above photo. He raised his family in Parkchester, the Bronx, while working for the Agence France-Presse in Midtown Manhattan. When Fred retired in the 1960s, he and his wife moved to Falmouth on Cape Cod. My wife and I, along with our two daughters, spent many summers on the Cape during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, before establishing residency there ourselves, a few years ago. During those summers we always stopped in to see Uncle Fred and Aunt Jo and bring them a supply of provisions from New York, which were unattainable on The Cape.

Fred invariably reciprocated with something from his freezer, which would serve as our first night’s dinner in our rental house. He also was generous in sharing his recipes, one of which was ‘Kale with Black Olives’. Kale, a dark leafy vegetable that serves as an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium and fiber, was one of his favorite vegetables and he used it both as a side dish and in soups. More of his recipes will be published in the future, but for now, I begin my tribute to Uncle Fred with Kale Steamed with Black Olives.

Also see: Uncle Fred’s Lentil Soup

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