Friday, July 31, 2009

Food Inc. at 6pm

This documentary about the highly mechanized underbelly of America's food industry is playing tonight at 6pm in Sag Harbor. No recipe today--not sure I will be hungry for snacks during the show...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

I love a supermarket that makes an effort to buy and promote local produce. I also love that I can take a pleasant walk to the IGA to get my corn now, rather than fight the traffic to get to a farm stand (only in the Hamptons would that last sentence make sense). Last night I cooked my corn and then melted some compound butter over it as soon as it came out of the pot. Here's the recipe.

Herb Butter for Corn
Enough for 6 to 8 ears of corn

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mash together the butter, herbs, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl. Cover with plastic, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and let come to room temperature before spreading over just-boiled corn on the cob.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Will My Children Carry These for Lunch?

Work, a small but annoying foot injury, and the intense humidity have conspired to keep me mostly indoors these past few days, with little opportunity to see what's happening on Main Street. More time for online shopping. I was ordering some specialty flours from King Arthur (I am just starting to work on a book about bread) when I stumbled upon these items, a lunch bag and re-usable sandwich wrapper. We will see if I can persuade the children to carry them to school in September.

Suffolk County Road Atlas Goes the Distance

My Suffolk County Street Atlas was in tatters, so I bought a new one at the Ideal (102 Main Street; 725-1670) for our house swappers from London, who are arriving next week and will need to know how to get to Sagg Main Beach. It seemed a shame to just toss the old one in the trash, so I covered some old bangle bracelets with the Sag Harbor and North Haven maps. For instructions, click here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

First Fruit Pie of the Summer; Roasted Beets

Blueberries were cheap this week at Citarella's, $1.99 a box, so I decided to bake a blueberry pie for a little dinner with friends. I used a new crust recipe, from Cook's Illustrated. The secret ingredient, vodka, keeps the dough soft and easy to work with, and then evaporates in the oven, making the pastry crisp and flaky. Jack made these beets, which he had picked at Quail Hill on Saturday. Roasting, he explained, preserves and even intensifies their flavor (boiling just makes beets bland).

Roasted Beets

2 to 3 pounds beets, scrubbed and trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Fresh oregano leaves for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets in heavy-duty tinfoil, place the tinfoil packet on a baking sheet, and roast until a skewer goes easily through one of the beets, about 1 hour.
2. Open up the foil a little to release some of the steam, and let the beets cool a bit until you can handle them. With paper towels, rub off their skins.
3. Slice the peeled beets, arrange on a platter, drizzle with oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and scatter oregano on top. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lesson Learned: Raspberries Should be Eaten Immediately

My daughter came home from a North Haven friend's house yesterday and handed me a container of raspberries she'd picked from a bush in their yard. I left them on the counter, ran out to the IGA to pick up some dinner things (was gone 10 minutes, max.), and this is what was left when I returned.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Excuse to Make Hot Fudge Sauce

The children returned from camp on Thursday night, which gave me the perfect excuse to make some hot fudge sauce to go with a pint of Joe & Liza's coffee ice cream. With so much bittersweet chocolate, I knew I would be eating a good portion of it out of the pot before they walked through the door. I also suspected it might be a bit rich and dark for them. I was right on both counts. Before they arrived, half of it was gone, but it didn't matter because they decided to eat their ice cream plain. More hot fudge for the grown-ups.

Hot Fudge Sauce
4 servings

If you're making this for kids, substitute semisweet chocolate for the bittersweet. If you want it all for yourself, use your favorite bittersweet chocolate. I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet from the IGA.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine cream and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and salt until smooth. Let cool slightly and serve warm over ice cream. Or refrigerate for up to 3 days and reheat in the microwave (don't let it come to a boil) or on top of the stove before serving.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Village Garden

My friend invited me to check on the progress of her garden, tucked between her garage and her neighbor's fence. I was amazed at how many vegetables she has been able to grow in this tiny space. She offered me some green beans (she's saving the cucumbers to sell at the Bridgehampton Farmer's Market at Hayground), but I'm waiting until more of her Sun Gold tomatoes ripen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On the Way Home from Main Street...

Once and sometimes twice or three times a day I pass by Blooming Shells (11 Washington Street; 725-9504) on my way to Main Street. Every time, I peek in the window and see the same basket of rings made out of shells. A few weeks ago I even went in to take a closer look and try one on. Could these really be as nice as I thought they were, if they were only priced at $8 each? Then yesterday, as I walked past the movie theater on my way home from the IGA I noticed a stylish young woman waiting for the Jitney, carrying an Hermes tote and wearing one of the rings! Without hesitation I headed straight to the shop. Blooming Shells' owner, Debbie-lou Houdek, says she can tell the difference between someone who is going to buy something and someone who is just looking in a matter of seconds. So she knew I was ready . She overturned the basket on the counter and helped me find one that fit just right.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nicoise Salad at Sunset Beach

I forgot all about this until I looked at my grilled cheese pictures yesterday: A lovely nicoise salad I ate at Sunset Beach (35 Shore Road, Shelter Island; 631-749-2001) on Shelter Island on Sunday evening. I’m actually a little conflicted about the experience. The salad was great, but oh, the horror of elbowing my way through the drunken, half-dressed crowd to get to the dining deck where it was served! Once I made it upstairs, I was able to relax. Tender green beans, new potatoes, and ventresca tuna were perfect, as was the view. I just might try to make something similar at home, since green beans and potatoes are ready at Quail Hill and Cavaniola’s (89-B Division Street; 725-0095) carries the very special imported tuna (they have it in small jars, too, but isn't this 1600g size awesome?) that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

Between my trip to Maine, my dinner party, and my determination to use up my leftovers, I neglected the IGA last week. Now I’m back to my routine (shop, cook, eat, repeat), and once again focussing on what’s on the shelves of my favorite supermarket. Just like King Kullen, Schiavoni’s stocks Kraft and Velveeta slices. But next to the processed “cheese” is something that you won’t find in at the Bridgehampton Commons: Real Cabot cheddar cheese, packaged in slices and ready for grilling. Since I was by myself for dinner tonight (enjoying the solitude—children and husband returning on Thursday), I decided to fix myself a simple grilled cheese sandwich, with a little mustard, on Bread Alone Whole Grain Health Bread. But that’s an item for another day…

Grilled Cabot Cheddar Cheese Sandwich
Serves 1

Two slices of cheese are necessary for a properly cheesy sandwich. If and when we get tomatoes this summer, I’ll add a single thin slice along with the cheese (don’t add too much tomato or your sandwich will get soggy). A tablespoon of butter is enough to keep the sandwich from sticking, but 2 tablespoons will take it to a level of richness that calls for a nice glass of Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

1 to 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
2 slices white or whole grain bread
2 slices Cabot Cheddar Cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons butter

1. Spread the mustard on one slice of bread, top with the cheese slices, and then the remaining slice of bread.
2. Heat half of the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sandwich and cook, pressing down on it with a spatula once or twice, until the bread is well-browned, 7 to 10 minutes.. Add the remaining butter, flip the sandwich, and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and the second side of the sandwich is browned, another 5 or so minutes. Serve immediately.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Pretty Little Boat

By this time in July, I practically stop noticing magnificent boats like The Seagull, docked in our harbor. But this pretty little vessel (it's name--"The Pug"--must be a joke) tied up across from The Dockside (26 Bay Street, 725-7100) and Billy Joel's buoy-covered garage made me stop and stare. Thank you, Billy Joel (I'm pretty sure this boat belongs to you) for contributing to the beautification of the neighborhood, on a small scale.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Love in July

As soon as I saw this (at Happy Mundane) I had to show it to you. So perfect for a July day in Sag Harbor. Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Leftovers Again

We have been living off of the leftovers from Tuesday’s dinner party. On Wednesday we finished the watermelon salad and the grilled sausages. Last night I wanted to use that couscous I bought but never cooked, along with my leftover chicken. I had some tiny, tender zucchini from Tuesday’s trip to Quail Hill that I cooked with some scallions (also from the farm) and butter. Then I tossed it with the couscous (now cooked!), chicken, olive oil, lemon juice (I had used the zest for Tuesday’s potatoes and green beans), a handful of mint, and some toasted pine nuts. Let’s see how many more nights I can go without shopping. I still have half a Robiola cheese and some salami in the refrigerator, salad greens, and an extra baguette in the freezer, so I know I won’t starve.

Couscous with Chicken and Zucchini
Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
1 ½ cups water
½ cup low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 cup couscous
1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Ground black pepper

1. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, scallions, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl.
2. Add the water and broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand until the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the couscous to the bowl and fluff with a fork. Stir in the chicken, nuts, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 6 hours and serve chilled.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

For the Littlest Blogger

Here's a Sag Harbor onesie I bought for a city friend's new baby yesterday at Land Shark (75 Main Street; 631-725-4933). Can you believe she is barely 4 months old and already has her own blog? I'm hoping to get on her good side, so she'll link to me...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Sag Harbor Express Celebrates

The Sag Harbor Express threw itself a 15oth anniversary party yesterday. I loved seeing so many of our V.I.P.s, including the Editor-in-Chief, the Mayor, the Chief of Police, and many members of the Ladies Village Improvement Society, under one Main Street roof. I was hoping for cake, but no luck. Maybe I left the party before it was presented. Fudgie the Whale would have been perfect for the occasion. It's still available after all these years at Carvel in Bridgehampton (2033 Montauk Highway; 631-537-2436).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tonight's Dinner

I invited some friends over tonight and had the whole menu planned, including a couscous salad with sugarsnap peas. But when I got to Quail Hill, the peas were gone and the string beans and potatoes were ready to harvest. So I served this instead, alongside a couple of barbecued butterflied chickens, a green salad, and watermelon, feta, and black olive salad. Oh, and Congo Bars (From Mom's Big Book of Cookies) for dessert.

Roasted Potatoes and String Beans with Lemon and Parsley
Serves 8

1 pound string beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
3 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
Ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.
2. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil and cook the beans until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
3. Toss the potatoes, remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste on the baking sheet. Spread the potatoes in a single layer and bake until soft and golden, 45 to 55 minutes.
4. Add the potatoes to the beans, stir in the garlic, lemon zest and parsley, and serve.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Preserved Memories

For a while I've been collecting the empty Mason jars from a recent IGA Item of the Week, Sarabeth's Spreadable Fruit, hoping to discover an exciting new use for them. When an online search produced dreary ideas like using the jars as votive candle holders, I was discouraged. So they sat empty in the pantry.

Then on Saturday, a window display at the Aarhus Gallery in Belfast, Maine caught my eye. The artist, Kate Chapin, had taken old photographs and placed them in canning jars, doubly preserving the past. As soon as I got home I put one of my many "child with lobster" photos, this one from a year ago, into one of the jars. I'm overjoyed. Not only have I found a use for my jars, but I've also come up with a good excuse to eat lobster more often.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Postcard from Portland

Hello after a two-day absence! I was in Maine for the weekend. This morning, before heading home to Sag Harbor, I stopped in at one of my favorite spots in Portland, Rabelais Books (86 Middle Street, Portland ME 04101; 207-774-1044). I buy most of my cookbooks locally, so I spent time looking at some of the more esoteric food periodicals not stocked at Bookhampton on Main Street in Sag Harbor (631-725-8425): Gastronomica, Culture: The Word on Cheese, Meatpaper. My favorite (something about its cover just called out to me) was The Diner Journal.

Friday, July 10, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

Because I can't go to Bay Burger for Joe and Liza's Ice Cream every day of the summer, I keep a box of these delicious and reasonably sized Horizon certified organic ice cream bars from the IGA in my freezer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Movie Night; Don't Forget the Snacks

This looks like fun. Why not bring your own snacks to enjoy during the show?

Rosemary Hazelnuts
Makes 2 cups

I’m still thinking of ways to work my way through a 5-pound bag of hazelnuts, but you could use whole almonds or pecans here if you’d like.

1 large egg white
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound blanched hazelnuts
2/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the egg white, salt, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Stir in the sugar and rosemary and toss again.
3. Spread the nuts on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until dry, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet and then break apart. Rosemary Hazelnuts will keep in an airtight cointainer for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Last month I saw this Jacques Pepin recipe for Pizza Margherita in Food & Wine. I had to try his trick of using flour tortillas instead of pizza dough to make quick thin-crust individual pizzas. Since I had picked lots of arugula, mint, and oregano at Quail Hill yesterday morning, I made a Greek-flavored version with some wilted greens on top. I just brushed the tortillas with some olive oil and baked them until they were puffy (this took only a couple of minutes), then spooned a lightly dressed Greek salad on top, sprinkled on some feta cheese, and returned the pizzas to the oven for a minute or two to barely wilt the greens. The arugula was warm but still fresh-tasting and the crust was perfectly, shatteringly thin. I will definitely be experimenting with toppings as different vegetables become available. Zucchini is just about ready at Quail Hill--it would be great, sliced thin, with some leeks and thyme and fresh ricotta cheese.

Summery Greek Pizza
Makes 2 personal-sized pizzas

If you don’t have a baking stone, place the tortillas on a preheated baking sheet. They won’t get quite as crisp, but will still be good.

Two 10-inch flour tortillas
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
3 cups arugula
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
3 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1. Place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
2. Brush both sides of each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the tortillas on the baking stone, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until they’re puffed and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, toss the arugula, tomatoes, olives, mint, oregano, garlic, and lemon juice in a large bowl to coat. Scatter the salad over the tortillas and then sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven until the arugula is just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.