Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Before the 3:40 showing of Avatar in East Hampton yesterday, I made this lentil soup. When we returned from the movies, I reheated it and stirred in some parsley pureed with olive oil and lemon juice, for a quick dinner. At the last minute, I remembered to shave some best-quality Parmesan (from Cavaniola's; 89 Division Street, 725-0095) on top of each bowl.

Lentil Soup with Lemon and Parsley
Serves 4

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Stir in the lentils, broth, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
3 While the lentils are cooking, combine the parsley, remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
4. Puree one cup of the cooked lentils and broth and stir the puree back into the pot. Stir in the parsley mixture. Season the soup with the salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Rolling Pin

I wish I had this rolling pin to roll out the empanada dough I just made.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Diligence and Modesty Can Raise Your Social Status

Will the fortune I received over the weekend at a Chinese restaurant in the city prove prophetic? This morning I diligently made 100 modest buttermilk biscuits for a little party I'm planning. I put them in the freezer and will bake them right before everyone arrives, so they're fresh and warm, to serve with thin slices of smoked ham. Click here for the recipe (just omit the chives and use a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to get about 20 little biscuits) that I hope will help to raise my social status.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rest and Recuperation

After watching the heroic efforts of my husband as he prepared Christmas dinner (including his first ever buche de noel), I'm exhausted. It may take me a few days to recover...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

After opening gifts, including chocolate bars from Cavaniola's (89 Division Street; 725-0095), a brain-teasing puzzle from the Wharf Shop (69A Main Street; 725-0420) and a tote bag from Satori (95 Main Street; 725-7248), we sat down to a breakfast of homemade cinnamon buns and lots of fruit, including an oh-so-fun-to-seed pomegranate.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Last night's dinner was just the kind of rich, warming dish that we were all happy eat after coming in from the cold. I briefly marinated thin slices of flank steak in some rice wine vinegar and turmeric, and then stir-fried the beef. Then I cooked an an abundance of sliced onions with some fresh ginger until the onions were beautifully browned. I tossed everything together and served it over basmati rice. The recipe is very loosely adapted from a recipe in a book I rely on all winter to make flavorful food, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes By Ruta Kahate. Kahate's idea is that if you have coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, cayenne, and turmeric in your pantry you can make a wonderfully diverse group of Indian-spiced dishes with very little effort. Order it from Bookhampton (20 Main Street; 725-8425) to take you through the next few months.

Anglo-Indian Stir-Fry
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, sliced against the grain, as thinly as possible
1 1/2 tablespons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
4 or 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1. Combine the flank steak, vinegar, salt, and turmeric in a medium bowl. Let stand 15 minutes.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the beef in two or three batches, adding a tablespoon of oil to the pan as necessary, until browned on both sides, transferring the cooked beef to a clean bowl.
3. Add another tablespoon of oil to the empty wok and add the onions and ginger. Cook, stirring, until well-browned. Add the beef back to the pan and cook for another few minutes, stirring, until heated through. Serve immediately over white basmati rice.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Standout Decorations

Most of the holiday decorations in the Village are rather restrained, so these extra-large "lights" in front of a house on Jermain Avenue, just across from Pierson Hill, really stand out. I love them!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hot Cocoa Break

A few days before the storm I noticed this machine in Sylvester and Company (103 Main Street, 725-5012), with a blade that spins luscious-looking hot cocoa around and around. Perhaps its rotating mechanism hypnotized me, because I couldn't get the image out of my head while shoveling snow yesterday. This morning I dragged my older daughter to Main Street with me just to try the cocoa (no need to visit the IGA, since my pre-storm shopping has left me with enough food to last until Christmas Eve). It exceeded my expectations, perhaps because it was consumed in such an amusing environment, with numerous Etch-a-Sketches laid out for our enjoyment and "A Christmas Carol" playing near the coffee thermoses.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

After the Storm

While some people waited in vain for the next Jitney out of Sag Harbor, others were happy to enjoy the amusements that a quiet Main Street had to offer in the aftermath of the blizzard.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baking Through the Blizzard of 2009

In anticipation of today's storm, I went to the Variety Store yesterday to buy some cookie tins. Right now I'm filling them with Pecan Bars. It's already started snowing, so if you haven't yet done your shopping you will have to wait until the blizzard is over. In the meantime, enjoy the idea of me standing in front of the 5&10, taking this video:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 8: Rugelach

The menorah on display at Long Wharf reminded me that, although it's been a busy week, I shouldn't let Chanukah come and go without making traditional rugelach. I'll serve them tonight, after a dinner of honey-glazed roast chicken and, of course, Potato Latkes. Here's the rugelach recipe:

Chanukah Rugelach
Makes 32 cookies

Don't try to bake these cookies without the parchment paper--they get very sticky and you won't be able to lift them from an unlined baking sheet.

For the dough:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped almonds
2/3 cup apricot jam
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2/3 cup golden raisins

For the glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cream cheese and butter and pulse until the mixture just comes together in clumps.
2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and press into a ball. Divide the ball into 4 equal pieces, press each piece into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lien 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Make the filling. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place the almonds, jam, chocolate chips, and golden raisins in separate small bowls.
5. Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator and with a lightly floured rolling pin roll out the dough into a 9-inch circle on a lightly floured work surface. Using a 9-inch plate or pie plate as a guide, trim the edges to make a neat circle.
6. Spread 2 1/2 tablespoons of the jam over the dough. Sprinkle with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the raisins and 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the almonds. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar. Pat the filling firmly with your fingertips to secure it to the dough. Cut the dough circle into 8 wedges. Roll each wedge into a crescent and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough disks.
7. Brush the frozen rugelach with the heavy cream and bake them until they are golden, 24 to 26 minutes. Transfer them to wire racks with a metal spatula and let them cool completely. Rugelach will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

Since I am a fan of the Tom Cat French baguettes sold at the IGA, I was happy to see these bread sticks from that fine New York City bakery at my favorite Main Street supermarket. I bought a package and had some with my lunch--reheated butternut squash soup from earlier in the week.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

I finally got myself over to The Seafood Shop (356 Montauk Highway, 537-0633) for some local scallops. With an old Marcella Hazan recipe in the back of his mind, my husband cooked them with olive oil, garlic, and hot red pepper flakes, and then added some white wine to the pan. The toasted panko bread crumbs take the place of cheese (Marcella would never put cheese on top of scallops). Here's our recipe:

Peconic Bay Scallops over Spaghetti
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
5 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces spaghetti
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 pound Peconic Bay scallops, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Place the bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespooon olive oil in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the spaghetti until just tender.
2. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the scallops in one layer and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, turn the scallops, and continue to cook until they're just cooked through, about one minute longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the scallops and sauce. Divide among pasta bowls, sprinkle each portion with bread crumbs, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Something Beautiful

My friend Barb urged me to go and see the beautiful wreath, provided by Sag Harbor Florist (3 Bay Street, 725-1400), that's decorating the windmill now. So this morning before I went to the post office and the IGA and Java Nation I walked over to Long Wharf to check it out. Before I could take any photos, I just stood there, happily surprised by all of the little things that made the scene memorable: The starfish on the wreath, the historic windmill, our beautiful bay in the background, and the fragrant pines (for sale to benefit the Lions' Club) perfuming the air. My photos on their own don't begin to convey the little thrill I got just from stopping at this spot.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There's Still Time to Cook a Chanukah Brisket

I made a juicy brisket on Friday, and we've been dining on leftovers all weekend. Hope some of you will cook and enjoy this simple recipe:

Beef Brisket with Onions
Serves 6 with leftovers

1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
One five-pound beef brisket, trimmed of most visible fat
1 1/2 cups low-sodium canned beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup water
5 large onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the paprika, salt, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl. Rub the brisket all over with the spice mixture.
2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove the brisket from the pot and add the broth and water. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
3. Return the brisket to the pot, cover with the onions and garlic, cover the pot, and bake for 1 hour. Uncover the brisket, turn it so the onions are underneath the meat, and cook uncovered for an hour. Cover and cook until the meat is fork tender, an additional 1 1/2 hours.
4. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and slice thinly, against the grain. Skim the fat from the liquid in the pot, spoon the liquid and onions over the meat, and serve.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Night School

The Elementary School's gingerbread house workshop always inspires me. So many creative decorating ideas. Last night's event was bittersweet, since it will be our last one--my fifth grader is graduating this year. Along with their houses, wrapped in cellophane, she and her friend took home early diplomas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

I am ready for Chanukah, which begins at sundown today, with candles and a beef brisket (look for the recipe tomorrow or Sunday) from the IGA.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bond Issue Fails; Students Need Fingerless Gloves

I was so disappointed to read in today's Sag Harbor Express that the school bond failed to pass on Tuesday. It will pass in the Spring, I know, but in the meantime the temperature is dropping in the inadequately heated Pierson band room. After last night's triumphant Winter Concert, it would be a shame if the children couldn't continue to develop their impressive skills. I must knit some of these fingerless gloves for my high school saxophonist. The Variety Store ( 45 Main Street; 725-9706) has some cozy-looking "thick and quick" yarn that might help me accomplish this project over the weekend. For directions, click here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

When I saw these small egg bows at the IGA, I had a craving for kasha varnishkes, a delicious dish of toasted buckwheat groats, browned onions, and pasta that isn't often made by anyone under the age of 75. I ran right from the IGA to Provisions to buy the buckwheat, so excited about eating this childhood favorite that I seriously thought about making it for lunch. But that would have been selfish. It's not much to look at (I guess I could have stirred in some chopped parsley to make it prettier), but the children enjoyed it very much alongside some broiled flank steak that I had rubbed with paprika and thyme. Here's the recipe:

Kasha Varnishkes
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
Ground black pepper
4 ounces small bow-tie pasta
1 large egg
1 cup buckwheat groats (kasha)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water

1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and peper and transfer to a bowl.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until just tender, drain, and toss with the onions.
3. Lightly beat the egg in a medium bowl. Add the buckwheat groats and stir to coat.
4. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and heat over high. Ad the egg-coated buckwheat groats and cook, stirring constantly, until they are toasted and dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and water, bring to a boil, lower hte heat, and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed and the buckwheat groats are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Stir in the onion and pasta mixture, season with salt and pepper, heat through, and serve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tonight's Concert

Decorating some gifts with my new cupcake toppers from Bake it Pretty has put a spell on me. When I saw this sign, taped to a bench on Main Street, shortly afterwards, I had an intense urge to attend the Community Band's holiday concert tonight at the Old Whaler's Church.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Necessity and Luxury

Luxury is a cup of peppermint hot chocolate made with half-and-half. Necessity is adequate heating in Pierson's music room (the high school band is practicing for their winter concert today in a space that's probably about 55 degrees!). If you agree, you can vote tomorrow for a bond to pay for this improvement along with other necessities, including fire-rated doors, safety glass, and adequate exhaust fans at Pierson and the Elementary School.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Serves 2

1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

1. Bring the milk and half-and-half just to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the chocolate and cocoa powder until smooth.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peppermint extract. Pour into two mugs and serve immediately.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

Chipotle chiles in adobo are smoked jalapenos packed in a flavorful tomato puree. When I first moved to Sag Harbor, I had to order them by mail or buy them in the city. Then one happy day a few years ago I saw them at the IGA, right next to the Old El Paso refried beans. I use them constantly to add a smoky, spicy flavor to innumerable dishes, including these quick chilaquiles. To make this dinner even quicker, you can use plain corn tortilla chips from a bag (the IGA ha some good all-natural options) instead of making your own.

Chipotle Chicken Chilaquiles

Serves 4

One 7.5-ounce package corn tortillas
Two 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 small canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves,
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium canned chicken both
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Cut the tortillas into 8 wedges each. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the tortilla wedges on the baking sheet, spray with more cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden, 6 to 9 minutes.
2. Combine the drained tomatoes and chipotle chile in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Add to the pot and brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
4. Add the onion to the pot and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Add the tomato mixture and cook, stirring often, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, cover, and simmer until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon and cover with foild to keep warm.
5. Add the chips to the pot, bring to a boil, cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand until the chips are softened but still chewy, 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Portion the chilaquiles into soup bowls, top with some of the chicken, shredded. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.