Monday, January 31, 2011

Exclusive Organic Apples to Be Sold at Music Man Concession Stand!

After comments from readers about offering something "healthy" at the Middle School Musical concession stand, I arranged to buy this case of beautiful organic Pink Lady apples (leftovers will be good for baking) from a friend in East Hampton who runs an organic food co-op. He gave me the apples at cost but asked me not to publish his name--it will be months before he can accommodate the hordes of people who are already on his long waiting list. When The Music Man closes, I must come up with a scheme for getting to the top of that list...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Inspiration from...King Kullen?

One day about a year ago I spotted these naan breads (imported from Canada!) at King Kullen and decided to buy a package. They were good, especially when warmed for five minutes in the oven. In fact, I found them slightly addictive, and every so often I'd think of an excuse to cheat on the IGA and drive to the Bridgehampton Commons (in December it was printer ink at Staples, two weeks ago I was in search of white tights for my daughter's Music Man costume) just so I could do my shopping at King Kullen and buy more naan. When I was at B.J.'s in Riverhead last weekend, they were selling the naan by the case, and I considered a bulk purchase. I wasn't embarrassed about the 10-pound bag of Tootsie Rolls, but I didn't want to be seen with so much packaged bread in my shopping cart. "This has got to stop," I told myself. Last night I baked some naan of my own. To achieve the richness and flavor of the Canadian bread, I used some full-fat Greek Yogurt and butter in mine. I also kneaded in some cumin seeds. That's something they haven't thought of in Canada! My bread wasn't quite the same as the King Kullen bread, but it was very good with my Lime and Coconut Lentil Soup. Next time, I am going to brush the bread with melted butter and minced garlic two minutes before it comes out of the oven. Here is the recipe:

Cumin-Seed Naan
Makes 8 breads

1 cup water, room temperature (70 to 75 degrees)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt, room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into bits

1. Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the flour, cumin seeds, salt, sugar, yogurt, and egg with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms. Use an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. alternatively, knead by hand on a lightly floured work surface until smooth, 7 to 8 minutes. Knead the butter into the dough until incorporated, another 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 2 to 3 hours.
3. Place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball, press with the palm of your hand to flatten, and then pull and stretch each one into a 3-inch by 6-inch oval. Let rest uncovered on the countertop for 15 minutes before transferring to the baking stone, 4 at a time, and baking until light golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dreaming About Summer Baking

My Valentine's Day treats have been photographed. Come on over if you want some chocolate- and marshmallow-topped vanilla wafers. With no reason to head out into the snow, I spent my lunch hour doing some online shopping. I wonder why these measuring spoons caught my eye.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Doily Emergency

When I saw the snow was coming down at lunchtime, I was in the middle of gathering a meager selection of props for a Valentine's Day photo shoot. I didn't have a single paper doily in the house! Would Main Street merchants decide to stay home tomorrow morning if we were to have another big storm? Newsday photographer Doug Young swore to me that he would be here if he had to come on snowshoes. So while everyone else was stocking up on rock salt and soup ingredients, I ran to the Variety Store to pick up some doilies for my truffles, fudge, and chocolate bark.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Party Mix in Tribute to New York Jets

On Friday, my Newsday editor put me on notice that if the Jets won their game against Pittsburgh I'd need to come up with some green-tinged Superbowl recipes. All weekend, fun ideas were popping into my head. So I was bitterly disappointed when our team lost on Sunday night, but not for the reason that everyone else was. When I woke up this morning, I thought I'd give one of my ideas a try anyway. I'll be thinking fondly of the Jets as I munch on my wasabi-nut party mix during the Superbowl (or, more likely, as I watch a Top Chef or Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon) on February 6. Here is the recipe:

Wasabi-Nut Party Mix
Makes about 3 cups

2 cups wasabi peas
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until dry and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet, then transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 week before serving.

Movie Disappoints, But Pig Exceeds Expectations

I'd rather not go outside in the Winter, but yesterday I forced myself to leave the house to see a matinee on Main Street. I will not criticize The Tourist for its plot or acting. But can you believe that 90 percent of the film takes place in Venice and not once during that time is the audience allowed to vicariously enjoy an Italian meal? I was hopeful, at one point, when the heroine ordered a delicious-sounding risotto at the restaurant at the Hotel Danieli. But this scene cut to another as soon as the waiter complimented her on her choice! Oh, the disappointment.

To assuage our hunger, we decided to make some pasta after the show. Our Bridgehampton pork supply is dwindling (see the before and after photos of my freezer--will somebody please tell me what "pork stock" is?), but there was still a generous piece of my husband's home-cured bacon. He chopped it up and browned it and then built a spicy tomato sauce on top of the bacon fat. Here is the recipe:

Penne Amatriciana
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
Two 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 pound penne
Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove it to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
2. Add the onion and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook at a bare simmer until thickened and glossy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season with salt. Stir the bacon back into the pot. Cover to keep warm.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with 1/2 cup sauce and the pasta water. Divide pasta among pasta bowls, top each portion with additional sauce, and serve with grated cheese on the side.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Dream Come True

I usually do my shopping on Main Street, but today I drove all the way to B.J.'s in Riverhead with a special purpose: To buy the concession stand candy for the Pierson Middle School musical. I have always wanted to load up a shopping cart with bulk bags of Laffy Taffy and Hershey's Miniatures! I'm storing it all in my scary basement, so I won't be tempted to eat it before opening night on February 3. The show is The Music Man, and it will surely be spectacular. Click here for ticket information.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Two Hour Delay=Better Breakfast

Pierson's two hour delay gave us some extra time for breakfast, so instead of the usual bowl of cereal I made these open-face scrambled bacon and egg sandwiches on some leftover baguette, which I sprinkled with cheddar cheese and scallions and broiled for a few seconds.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

There Will Also Be Hot Chocolate at Sylvester & Co.

If you are tempted by the sight of this Long Wharf ladder leading into the Bay, keep your ears open. I've heard a rumor that the upcoming HarborFrost will include a Polar Bear plunge.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Black Pepper and Fennel Seed Focaccia: Perfect with Pig

Although I may not have mentioned my Ludlow Farm pig in a while, I have certainly been enjoying it. All good things come to an end, and last night we pretty much finished off what was left, roasting a beautiful pork loin, Tuscan-style, with garlic and rosemary. As an accompaniment, I baked this Black Pepper and Fennel Seed Focaccia. I am very much looking forward to a new new pig in the Spring. Here is the recipe:

Black Pepper and Fennel Seed Focaccia
Makes one 15-inch by 10-inch flatbread

One 8-ounce baking potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the potato in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, mash with a potato masher, and set asie to cool completely.
2. Combine the water, yeast, flour, salt, olive oil, mashed potato, fennel seeds, and black pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms.
3. With an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, knead the dough until it is smooth and soft, about 7 minutes on medium speed. Alternately, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured countertop. With floured hands, knead the dough with steady strokes until it is smooth, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Spray the inside of a dough rising container or large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has doubled in size and when poked with a fingertip doesn't spring back, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
5. Spray the bottom and sides of a 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch pan that measures at least 1 inch deep with nonstick cooking spray. With moistened hands, flatten the dough and press it into the pan. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and loosely drape with plastic wrap. Let stand until puffy and almost doubled, about 1 hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Just before baking, use your finger to dimple the dough at 2-inch intervals. Drizzle the dough with two or three tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
7. Bake until the bottom of the focaccia is golden brown and crisp and the top is golden also, about 25 minutes.
8. Use a spatula to remove the focaccia from the pan and slide it onto a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes and serve warm, or cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Giant Mrs. Russel Sage?

I am on pins and needles, after viewing some of Fear No Ice's work, wondering what they are going to sculpt on Main Street during the just-announced HarborFrost on February 5!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Whole Grain Waffles Recipe Now Available

This recipe is up on Zester now, in case you are hungry for something healthy this weekend. And while you're at Zester, take a look at a story by Nancy Harmon Jenkins on my latest obsession, Olio Nuovo.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Secret to Crowd-Pleasing Lentil Soup

You would think that adding bacon to lentil soup would have done the trick, but there was still one teenage holdout in the house who claimed to detest lentils. Finally, last night, I produced a lentil soup that she gladly ate. The secret? A lime wedge squeezed over each portion just before serving. The acidity made this version irresistible to everyone. Here is the recipe.

Coconut-Curry Lentil Soup
Serves 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
4 cups water
One 14-ounce can light coconut milk
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges for serving

1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic, curry powder, and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Stir in the lentils, water, and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat, and cook at a bare simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Puree one cup of the soup in a blender and return to the pot. Season with salt, ladle into bowls, and sprinkle each bowl with some cilantro. Squeeze a lime wedge over each portion and serve.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Healthy 2011

I've been enjoying my fig and sesame bran muffins for a few weeks now (I froze most of them in a zipper-lock bag; otherwise, I would have eaten a dozen in one day). In fact, I'm having one right now with a cup of tea, as I watch the clouds slowly clear and listen to the snow plows rumble around the village. The recipe is now up on

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

IGA Item of the Week

Firewood, of course. Go get your groceries and then enjoy the storm, warm at home.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Preparing for the Storm with Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

While my neighbors were rushing to the Emporium for bags of rock salt, I was frantic to get to the IGA for cookie dough ingredients and gallons of milk, in case I am stranded here on Wednesday with nothing to bake. I just made a batch of cookie dough, which I portioned out on a baking sheet, froze for a few minutes, then transferred to a zipper-lock bag. During the storm I can bake as many Blueberry-Lemon Oatmeal Cookies as I want. Here is the recipe:

Blueberry-Lemon Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 48 cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/4 cups dried blueberries
1 1/4 cups sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl
3. Place the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat together with an electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the oats, blueberries, and almonds.
4. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie. (The dough can be dropped on baking sheets, frozen, then transferred to zipper-lock plastic freezer bags and stored for up to 1 month in the freezer. Transfer the frozen dough to parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake a minute or two longer than directed.)
5. Bake the cookies until they are golden around the edges but still soft on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Slide them, still on the parchment, onto wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

No More Days Without Oranges

I saw this painting in the window of the Grenning Gallery on my way to Main Street this morning, and it put me in mind to buy a juicy navel orange at the IGA. Along with some pomegranate seeds and a spoonful of honey, my orange made a great topping for my whole grain waffles at lunch.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Last Night's Dinner: Borlotti Bean and Spelt Berry Soup

In the ongoing project of convincing myself that $42 is a reasonable investment in a bottle of olive oil, last night I decided to make Tuscan-style farro and bean soup, which is not ready to eat until it is drizzled with the stuff. I was a little put out when I had to settle for spelt berries at Provisions ("What? No farro in this entire village?!?"), but when I cooked the spelt I was delighted by its wholesome, nutty flavor and toothsome texture. I used dried Rancho Gordo Borlotti beans, but you could use any beans you like. To turn my soup into a one-dish meal, I stirred half a bunch of chopped kale into the pot right before serving. Here is the recipe:

Borlotti Bean and Spelt Soup
Serves 4 to 6

Frugal like the most traditional Tuscan cook, I used my inexpensive olive oil to saute the vegetables, reserving the good stuff for drizzling.

1 cup dried Borlotti beans, soaked for 4 to 8 hours
8 cups water
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 cup spelt berries
1 sprig sage leaves
One 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained
1/2 bunch kale, tough stems removed, chopped

1. Place the beans and 5 cups of water in a medium pot, bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Puree 1 cup of the mixture in a blender and return it to the pot.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion, and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 cups water, spelt, 1 teaspoon salt, and sage, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and cook until the spelt is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
3. Stir the bean mixture into the spelt mixture along with the tomatoes and kale and cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in more salt to taste. Ladle into bowls, drizzle each portion with a healthy amount of your best olive oil, and serve.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Celebrating the New Year with Pecorino and Pears


I haven't been posting for a while because I've been on vacation in Florence (please don't hate me), returning to the scene of my junior year and re-gaining most of my freshman 10. During the week, I ate delicious Tuscan pecorino cheese several different ways. Yesterday, after a quick trip to the Variety Store (New Year's crowns, 50% off) and the IGA, I stopped in at Cavaniola's for this young-ish Pecorino and a can of their most peppery olive oil to duplicate, if I could, a salad I ate on Tuesday in the Oltrarno:

Salad with Pears, Pecorino, and Walnuts
Serves 4

10 cups baby arugula
3 ounces soft-ish Pecorino cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large, ripe pear, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 or 3 tablespoons best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the arugula, cheese, pear, and walnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy!