Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dispatch from the Pumpkin Trail

While our generous Main Street merchants handed out candy to the kids, I ducked into Sylvester & Company for one of these adorable white chocolate ghosts.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fish Tale

A few weeks ago, our friend Jon mentioned that he has been fishing off of Montauk on Saturday mornings, and catching some pretty big striped bass. So yesterday I cleverly asked him to dinner tonight, thinking that if I got lucky I would be skipping a trip to The Seafood Shop. Sure enough, early this morning I got a photo of what Jon said was a very big fish. "How big?" I asked. A couple of hours later he sent a second photo in response.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Enjoying the Frost-Free Fall

Due to our lovely frost-free Fall, late summer vegetables like eggplant and corn are still available at local farmstands. I picked up some eggplant, and a big, beautiful bunch of cilantro at Falkowski's (Scuttlehole Road, Bridgehampton) yesterday, to make a broiled eggplant salad (adapted from Vegetables Every Day), for dinner last night. Here is the recipe:

Broiled Eggplant Salad
Serves 4

2 pounds eggplant, stems trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
4 medium scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

1. Position an oven rack closest to the broiling element and heat the broiler to high. Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet, brush them on both sides with the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil, turning once, until very well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Let cool on the baking sheet, chop into bite-size pieces, and transfer to a serving bowl.
2. Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, chile, and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the eggplant, add the scallions, cilantro, and peanuts, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Filling the Cookie Jar with James Beard's Molasses Cookies

In celebration of the grand new re-issue of James Beard's classic, American Cookery, the James Beard foundation has asked a bunch of food writers to cook from the book and write about the experience. To read about the molasses cookies I baked (the lard from
plays a large role), and for Beard's recipe, click here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wailing Museum

I had nightmares for a week after visiting the Whaling Museum on an Elementary School field trip in broad daylight, so I expect this evening event will be utterly terrifying.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pictures from a Cookie Swap

Some of Sag Harbor's finest bakers came over to my house yesterday afternoon for a cookie swap, and here are some snapshots of what they brought.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brightening up the Morning on Main Street

Even with my sunglasses on, I appreciated the IGA's newly installed blond wood floors this morning.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another Memory Recovered at the Milk Pail

The intoxicating scent of the freshly fried cider doughnuts at the Milk Pail on Wednesday reminded me to make one of my favorite fall treats, beer-battered apples. I bought a bag of Jonagolds, a hybrid of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples with a sweet-tart flavor and firm texture, and fried them up later that evening for dessert, but they'd be really good as a breakfast treat, too. (No worries about beer at breakfast--the alcohol quickly cooks off in the hot oil.) Here is the recipe:

Beer-Battered Apples
Serves 4

Use a light lager (I had a bottle of Southampton Public House India Pale Ale in the refrigerator, and it was just right), which will give the batter a nice, yeasty flavor without overwhelming the apples the way a darker brew might. And don't skimp on the powdered sugar--it's necessary for a properly sweet finish.

Vegetable oil for frying
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/2 cup lager-style beer, chilled
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into sixteen 1/4-inch slices
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Heat an inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
2. Whisk the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and beer together in a medium bowl.
3. Put 8 of the apple slices in the bowl and toss to coat with the batter. Lift them with a slotted spoon or spatula, one at a time, from the bowl, letting any excess batter drip back into the bowl, and put them into the hot oil.
4. Fry the slices, turning them once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Use a clean slotted spoon to transfer the fried slices to the baking sheet to drain. Repeat with the remaining slices. let the fried apples rest on the baking sheet for a minute or two, dust heavily with confectioners' sugar, and serve.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last Night's Dinner: Smashed Potatoes with Kale

When I looked at these small red potatoes from Quail Hill, they inspired me to try something I hadn't yet tried: Steaming them so they were creamy and soft inside, and then transferring them to a skillet and smashing them, so their skins would crisp up in a little bit of olive oil. I had some beautiful baby kale from the farm, too, so I decided to saute it while the potatoes steamed, and then toss the two vegetables together when the potatoes were nice and brown. It's hard to say whether this dish was such a success because of the brilliance of the cooking method or the quality of the vegetables. I like to think it was a little bit of both. Here is the recipe:

Smashed Potatoes with Kale
Serves 4

Be sure to use a large skillet (nonstick is best) that will give the potatoes enough room to cook in one layer after they've been smashed. To round out the meal, I grilled some hot and sweet Italian sausages from the IGA.

2 pounds small red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small bunch kale (about 8 ounces), large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped
Ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Steam the potatoes in a large steamer rack set over boiling water, covered, until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. While the potatoes are steaming, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the kale and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the kale is wilted, another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the kale into a bowl and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat (no need to was out the pan). Add the potatoes (they should fit comfortably in one layer, with room to expand). Smash each potato with a masher, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until crisp on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and cook until the second side is crisp, another 2 minutes. Stir in the kale and zest, stir to combine and warm through, and serve.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Sweet Way to Support Our School

Where have I been? I just this morning heard about Pierson PTSA's Cheesecake Fundraiser. Until October 27th, you can order locally baked Holey Moses cheesecakes and fruit pies, and then pick them up at the Pierson Gym on Tuesday, November 23rd, just in time for Thanksgiving. For information and an order form, contact your PTSA representative.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Shopping

I do love these candy buckets in the window of the Kramoris Gallery. They are just the right size for the bag of fun-size Milky Ways that I will have on hand on Halloween, and then eat by myself when the trick-or-treaters once again skip my street in favor of the less spooky Madison Street and Suffolk Street.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Last Night's Dinner: Colorful Lentil Soup

The blustery weather of the last couple of days put me in the mood for lentil soup. For some reason, I wanted a vegetarian version. Who knows. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had spent the morning making 10 pounds of pie dough with the lard I was keeping in my freezer. Lentils cooked on their own are very, well, brown. So I added healthy spoonfuls of paprika and turmeric, along with a can of chopped tomatoes, to give my soup some attractive color as well as bright flavor. Now if only I could figure out a way to make my delicious but rather gray baba ghanoush equally pretty. Here is the soup recipe:

Vegetarian Lentil-Tomato Soup
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
One 1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
2 teaspoons hot or sweet paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
One 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
4 1/2 cups water

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add the lentils, cilantro, tomatoes, and water to the pan and bring t a boil. Cover, turn down the heat, and cook at a bare simmer until the lentils are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Puree one cup of the soup in a blender and return to the pot. Season with salt and serve.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Great News

I wouldn't presume to think that my previous blog post has anything to do with it, but the Blue Duck Bakery is now bringing along their whole grain baguettes to the Sag Harbor Farmer's Market! But the market closes shop at the end of the month. I must now apply some friendly pressure to people at the IGA, who already stock the Blue Duck's ciabatta and Pugliese breads.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Loosening up in Time for Halloween?

For many years, I refused to wear any type of Halloween costume when I accompanied my children on the Pumpkin Trail, no matter how desperately they begged. And I've never, on some kind of strict principle although I couldn't explain it to you now if my life depended on it, used an emoticom in my life. But these masks are making me rethink my rigid rules in time for the 31st. Look for me, sitting on a bench outside the Wharf Shop, as you collect your candy.

Power Breakfast

My older daughter is taking the PSAT this morning, so I wanted to make a breakfast for her to feed her brain, something with protein-packed almonds and vitamin-rich apricots. Oh, who am I kidding? I was craving something buttery and warm when I got up in the dark, and a brand-new bottle of almond extract beckoned from its box. Just a half-teaspoon (along with a half-teaspoon of vanilla), gave my muffins the fragrance and flavor of marzipan. Yum. And I did save a couple for the children to enjoy before they went off to school. Here is the recipe:

Apricot-Almond Muffins
Makes 6

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2 cups sliced almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 6-cup miffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or lien with paper liners.
2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Whisk together the brown sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolk. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and almon extract. Stir in the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined. Stir int he apricots and almonds.
4. Sppon the batter into the muffin cups and bake until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove the muffins and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cooking Tip

Yes, it was brilliantly sunny today in Sag Harbor. But that's not the reason this young cook is wearing sunglasses. She put them on while preparing pasta with caramelized onions for lunch, and was able to chop a large yellow onion without shedding a single tear.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Liberry Ice Cream

I hope some of you had a chance to enjoy the Community Band, the cake from the IGA, and a special Bay Burger ice cream flavor, Liberry (strawberry ice cream with blackberry swirls), at John Jermain's 100th birthday celebration on the Custom House lawn today.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Support the Film Festival Stars of Tomorrow

James Franco and Stanley Tucci will appear at the Bay Street Theater on Saturday and Sunday, as part of the Hamptons International Film Festival's live programming. But on Friday night, on the same stage, you can hear some of Pierson's most talented vocalists, singing show tunes to raise money for the high school musical theater program. So before you check out established stars on Long Wharf this weekend, you might want to check out the talent in the pipeline.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Looking Forward to Ice Cream, Cocktails

I had already cleared my schedule for the library's All for the Books fundraiser on Sunday evening. And now I see I'll have to reserve 1pm for free ice cream on the Custom House lawn to celebrate John Jermain's 100th birthday.

Last Night's Dinner: Exotic Influences

I know I'm supposed to be making cookies with my McCormick Spices care package, but remembering the Cincinnati chili I ate at the airport on Saturday on my way home from Books by the Banks, I couldn't resist using some of the cinnamon and allspice to recreate the experience. Don't jump all over me for my inauthentic use of chopped tomatoes instead of tomato sauce (I just think tomato sauce is too sweet and artificial-tasting), or my choice of lean ground sirloin (I don't want to say that the Gold Star airport chili was just a little bit on the greasy side, but...). Remember, I'm from Sag Harbor, by way of New Jersey. To give my dinner a local touch (it is "eat local" week, according to the sign outside of Bay Burger), I used cheddar cheese from Mecox Bay Dairy. Here is the recipe:

Cincinnati Chili
Serves 6

I chose the 4-way variety (spaghetti, chili, beans, cheese). For 3-way chili, leave out the beans. For 5-way chili, add some chopped raw onion along with the beans and cheese as a garnish.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 1/2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
One 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice, pureed in a blender or food processor
1 pound spaghetti
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
One 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in teh garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute. Stir in the chili powser, cocoa, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the spices become fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add the ground sirloin and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until the beef has lost its color, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and pureed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the chili has thickened, about 45 minutes. Season with salt.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Divide among 6 bowls, top with the chili, cheese, and beans, and serve immediately.