Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween at the Farmer's Market

Not only is it Halloween, but it is the last day of the Sag Harbor Farmer's Market, which will re-open in the Spring. Hoping to find some game farmers dressed in costumes, I ran down there before the children were even out of their pajamas. Winemaker Roman Roth was the first vendor I saw. He posed for a photo, and even agreed to let me post it here. Then he sold me this bottle of Grapes of Roth dry Reisling, which I expect will be delicious and I know I will need for medicinal purposes when this day is done. Thank you, Roman!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fortifying Myself for Tomorrow

Halloween festivities began today, with the Sag Harbor Elementary School parade. Once again, our music teachers dazzled us with The Monster Mash and our Principal impressed us with his costume. I caught an annoying cold earlier in the week, but I am determined to beat it by tomorrow afternoon when the Pumpkin Trail opens up. So yesterday I made myself a big pot of chicken soup, with matzoh balls, and I've been guzzling it nonstop. How big of a pot was it? I think it has perfumed the whole neighborhood. When you pass by my house on the way to Main Street, you may get the strange sensation that you've been transported to the Lower East Side, where Streit's matzoh meal (look for it at the end of the baking aisle at the IGA) is, for the meantime, still made. Here's the recipe (matzoh balls are straight from the back of the Streit's box; I peeled and cut some carrots to cook right in the finished soup while the matzoh balls poached in another pot):

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls

Makes a lot of soup!

2 carrots

2 parsnips

2 onions, peeled

1 bunch parsley or dill

6 to 7 pounds chicken parts (buy whatever is cheapest; I used legs since they were on sale at the IGA)

1 ½ gallons water


Ground black pepper

1.Combine the carrots, parsnips, onions, parsley or dill, and chicken in your biggest stockpot and pour the water in. Bring to a boil, lower the heat so that the water is simmering, and skim of any gray foam as it rises to the top.

2. Cover the pot and continue to simmer until you’ve extracted all of the flavor from the chicken, about 4 hours.
3. Pour the soup through a fine strainer and into a smaller stockpot. Refrigerate the soup overnight, and the next morning skim off and discard the solidified fat. Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked matzoh balls (see above for recipe) and enjoy.

UPDATE: My mother e-mailed, to say I forgot the celery heart! So if you want the original...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

IGA Item of the Week, Halloween Edition

My pick this week: Halloween candy, of course! I purposely waited until almost the last minute to buy mine at the IGA, but even so we've made a significant dent in our supply already. I may have to grab another bag or two before Saturday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Week: Last Night's Dinner

When the pumpkins are carved, I know it's time to make this Fall pesto. (The pumpkin seeds aren't actually from the pumpkins--they're hulled, unsalted pepitas from Provisions.)

Pumpkin Seed and Parsley Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

This recipe makes enough to sauce about 2 pounds of pasta (save a cup of the pasta water before draining, to add to the pasta and pesto little by little, so your dish is nice and moist). Keep leftovers in the refrigerator to use later in the week.

3/4 cups hulled unsalted pumpkin seeds

2 cups tightly packed fresh parsley leaves

1 medium garlic clove, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast until frangrant, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cool the seeds completely.

2.Combine the cooled pumpkin seeds, parsley, and garlic in the workbowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil and process until smooth.

3.Scrape the pesto into a bowl and stir in the pepper flakes, cinnamon, cheese, and salt to taste. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pesto and refrigerate for up until 2 days until using.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Week, Part 2

Those dogs at the Today Show have nothing on our Sag Harbor pets, who take a low key approach to dressing up. Don't they look great, without even trying?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Week Kick-Off

I was at The Today Show today, where they were already celebrating Halloween. I arrived at the studio just as Dan Aykroyd (still promoting Ghostbusters) was leaving. Since I had no husband or children to stop me, I photographed him as he was getting into his limo. In the makeup room, I saw Rod Stewart, but didn't feel as free to pull out my camera with so many security guards and other NBC employees looking on. Full of regret as I made my way upstairs to the Today kitchen, I passed by a half-dozen dogs dressed in Halloween costumes. I took a picture of a bulldog dressed as a sushi roll, as a consolation to myself. Then I took pictures of my cakes in the demo kitchen, right before going on to demonstrate how to make a pumpkin-chocolate chip pound cake. For the recipe (and to see me with Al Roker!), click here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thank You Everyone

Thanks to everyone who came to our "One For the Books" dinner last night in support of the John Jermain Library. And special thanks to the guest who brought me some of her homemade habanero pepper jelly, which I plan on enjoying later today, maybe on a sandwich with some store-roasted turkey from the IGA.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Now It Can Be Revealed...

Christmas came early yesterday. When I went to the mailbox, I found a package of "One for the Books" cocktail napkins. Now it can be revealed. My husband and I are hosting a "One for the Books" dinner party to raise money for John Jermain Library.

The book we chose is Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. In this surprisingly entertaining treatise, Harvard anthrophologist Richard Wrangham argues that cooking meat and vegetables over fire hastened evolution, by freeing early humans from having to spend up to eight hours a day chewing raw food. With time their hands, our ancestors could do things like invent the wheel, figure out how to plant seeds, and paint on the walls of caves. Wrangham presents plenty of scientific evidence from numerous university studies, but as compelling is the evidence he gathers on his own. At one point, he describes this casual get-together: "An informal experiment in which friends and I chewed raw goat meat suggested that the added leaves give traction. When we chewed thigh muscle together with a mature avocado leaf, the bolus of chewed meat was reduced faster than when we chewed with no added leaf. Australopithecines probably used similar practices when they caught gazelle fawns or other small animals." Although I'd love to meet him, I'm glad I'm not eating at his house tomorrow night!

ANYWAY...I am busy today with shopping and some cooking. Before I had breakfast, I made the dough for some cheddar cheese and mustard seed icebox biscuits, adapted from an old Gourmet recipe, which I'll bake tomorrow afternoon:

Cheddar Cheese Icebox Biscuits
Makes about 56 biscuits

8 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Combine the butter, cheese, egg yolk, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, mustard seeds, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times as necessary.
2. Add the flour and continue to beat until the mixture comes together into a ball of dough.
3. Overturn the dough onto a work surface and roll it into a 14-inch log. Wrap the log in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and place the rounds on the baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits are dry and golden on their undersides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough until you've sliced and baked all of the biscuits.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

I've been working on a book about bread for these last few months, testing a bunch of new recipes, including what you see here: A no-knead raisin and walnut boule, a rosemary focaccia, and whole wheat ciabatta rolls with flax seeds. Whatever I'm baking makes it to the dinner table, and last night was no exception. I made some Afghani naan, which I decided to grill outside since all of a sudden it got nice and warm. To go with: Spiced chicken kebabs, grilled red onions, and yogurt sauce. I like the way the purple onions and orange chicken look as we get close to Halloween! Here are a couple of recipes:

Chicken Kebabs with Afghan Spices

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon coriander

1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces

¼ cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1. Reserve Combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and coriander in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a large zipper-lock bag and pour the spice mixture over the chicken. Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken. Refrigerate until ready to cook, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

2. Preheat a gas grill on high. Thread the chicken on metal skewers and grill over medium-high heat, covered, turning once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Serve immediately, with yogurt sauce on the side.

Afghani Yogurt Sauce

Makes 1 cup

Use whole-milk Greek yogurt if you can find it (no excuses--it's at the IGA!). If the sauce is too thick for your taste, you can thin it with a little milk.

1 cup whole milk yogurt

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

¼ teaspoon salt

Combine the yogurt, garlic, mint, and salt in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve, stirring if the sauce has separated.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bittersweet News from West Babylon

Before the new no-homemade-treats-in-the-classroom rule goes into effect on Monday in West Babylon, a "cupcake brigade" of parents flooded the school with cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, in protest and as a last hurrah. The sad face, piped in blue icing, says it all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

Bay Burger isn't the only place in town that grinds its own beef. Our IGA does it, too. I remember a nursery school field trip to the market, when one of the butchers took the whole class into the walk-in to show the children how it was done. Surprisingly, this demonstration did not give my child nightmares or turn her into a vegetarian.

I went out in the rain this weekend buy a few pounds of freshly ground beef, and made a big pot of chili.

Ground Beef and Bean Chili
Serves 8 to 10

Go ahead and make a full recipe. Leftovers freeze well in an airtight container for the next windy, rainy day.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups finely chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 canned chipotle chili in adobo (or more to taste), finely chopped
6 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 pounds ground round or ground sirloin
Two 24-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water plus more if necessary
Three 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in th chipotle chili, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt.
2. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until it loses its pink color, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer until the chili is thickened, 1 to 2 hours, adding more water if it looks like it's drying out.
4. Stir in the beans, heat through, and serve.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looking Forward to Graduation 2017

Along with dozens of friends and supporters, I attended the Y.A.R.D. benefit to raise money for our youth recreation programs on Saturday at B. Smith's. My friend Barb walked away with the best door prize, a gigantic basket of apples. But I didn't go home empty-handed, outbidding other proud parents for this sampler, which will be custom-stitched for my graduating fifth grader, Pierson class of 2017.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Someone Finally Asks My Opinion

On Wednesday, the Op-Ed editor at Newsday asked me if I'd like to weigh in on the West Babylon school district's decision to ban homemade foods from classroom parties, and today they printed my opinion. Maybe now my children will listen to me and eat the cinnamon brioche muffins I baked this morning.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are?

What should I do this afternoon? Take the 10-year-old to a 2:00 screening of Where the Wild Things are in East Hampton, or stay home and make a Zebra Cake (page 55) from my just-shipped new book? Here's the recipe:

Zebra Cake

Serves 8

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup whole or 2% milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan, line with a circle of parchment paper, grease the parchment, and dust with flour. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Combine the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, stir in the milk, butter, vegetable oil, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Stir in the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time.
  3. Transfer 1/3 of the batter into another bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder.
  4. Place 1/4 cup of the vanilla batter into the center of the pan and let it stand for a few seconds so it spreads out slightly. Place 2 tablespoons of the chocolate batter right on top of the vanilla and wait another few seconds until it spreads. Continue, alternating vanilla and chocolate, until you have used up all of the batter and it has spread to the edges of the pan.
  5. Bake until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp paring knife around the edges of the pan and invert the cake onto a cutting board. Peel away the parchment paper. Re-invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slice and serve.
  6. Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Still cooking my way through the local Fall vegetables at Falkowski's (Scuttlehole Road and Millstone in Bridgehampton). I've been on a roasting kick, but my family thought roasted broccoli would be weird (for the record, I strongly disagree ...), so I made this soup. The sauteed shiitake mushrooms piled in the center of the bowl (an idea I got from this Fredy Girardet recipe) give it some welcome earthiness. You can use white button mushrooms or creminis if you like. Here's the recipe:

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Wild Mushrooms

Serves 4

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 bunch broccoli, stems and florets chopped into ½-inch pieces

2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth

2 cups water

5 ounces shiitake or other flavorful wild mushrooms, stemmed and sliced


¼ cup heavy cream

1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallot and cook on medium until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the chopped broccoli, broth, and water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the broccoli is soft, about 15 minutes. Puree in batches and return to the pot. Stir in salt to taste and the heavy cream. Cover to keep warm.

2. While the broccoli is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms an ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’ve given up their liquid and most of it has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

3. Puree the soup in a blender in batches and put in a clean pot. Stir in salt to taste and the heavy cream. Ladle soup into bowls and place some hot mushrooms in the center of each bowl. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Saturday Night at B.Smith's

I wouldn't miss a chance to honor Frank Venesina of Conca D'Oro (103 Main Street; 725-3167). Or to raise money for our town's Youth and Recreation programs . Or to find out what "dinner by the bite" really means. Would you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

IGA Items of the Week

It's not the Harrod's food halls, but today aisle 5 at the IGA had a very nice selection of teas for me to choose from, including these new organic Mighty Leaf blends, so I'd be all set when my crumpets were done. (Still working out the kinks in this recipe--will post a perfected version shortly, I hope.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

New on my John Jermain Library list

This new book makes me want to run to the Variety Store (45 Main Street, 631-725-9706) to buy yarn for Milk Pail apples, ice cream from Bay Burger, sushi from Sen, and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just ate while watching Gossip Girl.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Typical Sunday

It was a typical Sunday here in Sag Harbor, full of small triumphs and disappointments. I woke up early to make a loaf of buttery white sandwich bread, and while the mixer was kneading my dough I received an e-mail from my brother-in-law in Vermont, with a photo of a Shelburne farm stand where crowds flock to buy cider doughnuts. Those doughnuts must be good, because I'm sure there hasn't been a crowd that big in Vermont since the Jonas Brothers played the Champlain Valley Exposition last summer. Hoping against hope that someone had opened up a cider doughnut stand on Main Street overnight, I headed out. Since the Hamptons International Film Festival has been going on all weekend, I was betting on seeing Sharon Stone (who was due to appear at the Bay Street Theater at 1:30) eating a doughnut. But I was disappointed. No doughnuts and the only movie star I've seen this weekend is Alec Baldwin. No offense Alec Baldwin, I think you are hilarious! But I've seen you so many times before on Main Street that I wonder if you are following me! I'm afraid the closest I got to a cider doughnut was a gallon of Milk Pail cider from Falkowski's (Scuttlehole Road and Millstone in Bridgehampton). It was almost 2:00 when I walked into the tasting room at Channing Daughters and felt my luck turn. They had not yet sold out of their newest release, a coppery-colored wine called Ramato that I knew would be perfect with my Thanksgiving turkey if only I could get my hands on some of it. On the way home, I saw that Bay Burger had some new Fall ice cream flavors, so I stopped to pick up a pint of pumpkin. When I sit down tonight to enjoy my bread and ice cream, secure in the knowledge that I'll have plenty of wine to drink on Thanksgiving day, I'll only feel a little bit sad that I never got my doughnut.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Weekend

Goodbye summer, and hello Fall. Yesterday's wind overturned our potted dahlia, so my husband clipped the flowers and brought them inside. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

My cable is acting funny since yesterday's rain and wind, and Optimum says it may not be able to send someone over until Monday! Fortunately, I have entertainment options. I plan on seeing Hobson's Choice, a David Lean movie I managed to miss in college, at The Bay Street Theater tomorrow at 8. The IGA sells movie theater-size boxes of Good & Plenty, Goobers, and Raisinets at a very reasonable $1.29. I bought all three, in case anyone expects me to share.