Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting into Trouble on CyberMonday

Reminded by our Elementary School Principal at Morning Program that today is CyberTuesday, I felt compelled to come home and do some online shopping. At my first stop, Bake it Pretty, I was helpless in resisting these cupcake toppers. I also bought some bakery twine, perfect for wrapping some of my holiday gifts.

UPDATE: Just added a few of these Vintage Village Cupcake Decorating Kits for some lucky friends!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey is Eaten; Time to Buy Scallops

This sign in the window of The American Hotel (49 Main Street, 725-3535) reminded me that there's more to life than turkey and turkey sandwiches. Now is the time to buy bay scallops. According to Edible East End (via The New York Times), this year's crop is the best in years.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Candles for My Holiday Table

For a few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day I try to get over my intense fear of candles, caused by too many trips to the Sag Harbor Fire House during Fire Safety Week at the Elementary School. It is worth it, to improve the appearance of my holiday table. On Wednesday afternoon I realized that at my last holiday dinner the candles had burned down to nothing, so I ran to Flashbacks (69 Main Street; 725-9683) to buy some new ones for Thanksgiving. They have a great selection of sizes and colors. The ones in the back are all unscented (so important when you want to smell the turkey and the stuffing). One of the store's owners wrapped each of them individually so they wouldn't get scratched on the short walk home, and packed them in this re-usable shopping bag with a much-needed message about the important things in life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

IGA Items of the Week

Just one more thing to be thankful for if you live in our beautiful town: The IGA is open all Thanksgiving morning. So if you are still short a pumpkin/and/or/chocolate dessert for your Thanksgiving table you can run over there and pick up these two items to make the following:

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

For the brownie batter:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

4 ounces (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate

2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cream cheese layer:

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and that there is at least 1 inch overhanging the top of the pan on all sides.
  2. Make the brownies: Put 1 inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler or medium saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Combine the butter and chocolate in the top of the double boiler or in a stainless-steel bowl and set it on top of the simmering water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk together the sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Spread in an even layer into the prepared pan.
  5. Make the cheesecake: Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed beat the mixture until very smooth. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat again until smooth. Stir in the salt, cinnamon, ginger, and flour.
  6. Scrape the cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter and smooth with a spatula to create an even layer.
  7. Bake the brownies in the bottom third of the oven until they are set around the edges but still a little wobbly in the center, 50 to 55 minutes. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Refrigerate them until they are completely chilled, at least 6 hours. Grasping the overhanging foil on either side of the pan, lift out the brownies and place them on a cutting board. Cut them into 16 squares. Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There is Still Time to Brine Your Turkey

I picked up this organic, fresh-killed turkey at Cromer's (3500 Noyac Road, 725-9004) this morning, and my husband brined it, placing it in a cooler where he had already dissolved 4 cups of kosher salt in 4 gallons of water. He threw in a few ice cubes to keep it cold and closed the lid. It will sit in salt water for 6 hours, becoming well-seasoned and able to hold onto its juices in the oven. This really improves the taste and texture of your fresh-killed turkey (if you are making a frozen turkey it has probably already been injected with salt; if you are making a kosher turkey, it's already been brined) and there's still time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Busy Pre-Thanksgiving Morning

I've had a busy morning already, without leaving the Village. To start, I went to Morning Program at the Elementary School, where Mr. Fox performed Albuquerque is a Turkey, to the delight of everyone. Still humming the catchy tune, I drove over to Bette and Dale's. I had seen Bette late last week, and she told me that if I want some of their fresh salad greens for Thanksgiving, I'd better come on Tuesday morning, because she and Dale are headed to Arizona tomorrow for the winter. I'll miss them and and their marvelous produce! The salad I'm planning is a mixture of chopped celery root (which I bought at the IGA afterward---so sculptural), apples (from the weekend run to Falkowski's), and Stilton that I picked up at Cavaniola's on my way home (they'll be open until noon on Thanksgiving Day, by the way, for cheese emergencies). Now it's off the the airport to pick up my sister. Enjoy this rousing song.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bread Machine Brioche

I'm thrilled to report that I finished writing my bread book over the weekend. I just have a few more recipes to test, all of them in the Panasonic bread machine I ordered from Amazon a few weeks ago. I've been pleasantly surprised by the results of my first experiments. The breads have a ridiculous shape (the top of this one is sunken not because it was baked with too much yeast, but because I crushed it with the handle of the bread pan when I was trying to remove it from the machine), but I've enjoyed eating them all. The one I baked this morning was my favorite. I cut a few slices for the teenager, who was home from school early because of parent-teacher conferences. She made a pressed sandwich filled with turkey, cheddar, and bacon for herself, "Just like the one I ate at Panera." I'll cut the rest of the giant loaf in half, then cut each half into 1-inch-thick slices, and freeze for the morning after Thanksgiving, when there will be Brioche French Toast for everyone.

Bread Machine Brioche

Makes one towering loaf

I'm not sure how many of you own a bread machine, so this is for the friendly couple who sat next to me and a friend at the Dockside (26 Bay Street) last week. As I chattered on about t my new machine, they turned to tell us that they had worn out their first one from years of use and were impatiently awaiting the arrival of the replacement. I wish I had brought some of my sourdough with me. Maybe they would have accepted it.

3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt or kosher salt

6 large eggs

1/4 cup water

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bread machine pan. Add the eggs, water, and 4 tablespoons butter.

2. Place the bread pan in the machine, making sure it snaps into the machine properly. Close the top lid.

3. Place the yeast in the yeast dispenser and close the lid. (If your machine doesn’t have a yeast dispenser, place it in the machine first, before the remaining dry ingredients.)

4. Make your selections on the control panel of your machine. Depending upon how many options your machine has, choose the following: a bread program (basic), a bake program (bake), and a crust color (light). Press start.

5. 10 minutes into the kneading cycle, open the lid and add the remaining butter, a few pieces at a time, until it is all incorporated. Close the lid and let the machine finish kneading the bread.

6. When the machine signals that the bread is baked, promptly open the lid and remove the bread pan, using oven mitts. Overturn the bread onto a wire rack. If the kneading blade remains the bread, remove it with metal tongs.

7. Turn the bread upright and cool completely before slicing and serving. Brioche will keep for up to 2 days, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Shopping

I'm working, so my husband took the long list and went to King Kullen, Bay Burger, and the IGA in preparation for the big feast. I have the short list--chocolate turkeys from The Ideal (102 Main Street, 725-1670)..

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Midsummer Night's Dream Bars

Last night I saw this stellar Pierson production, and today I'm returning for the matinee. I'll bring these bars for the kids to eat backstage.

Midsummer Night’s Dream Bars

Makes 16 bars

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 whole graham crackers crushed
1 cup whole almonds, finely chopped

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1 ½ cups sweetened flaked coconut

One 7-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and that there is at least 1 inch overhanging the top of the pan on all sides.

2. Combine the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs in a medium mixing bowl and stir until all the crumbs are moistened. Sprinkle the mixture across the bottom of the pan and press with your fingertips into an even layer.

3. Sprinkle the chopped almonds evenly over the crumbs. Sprinkle both kinds of chocolate chips over the almonds. Sprinkle the coconut over the chocolate chips and press on it with the back of a large spoon to compact the ingredients. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the coconut.

4. Bake until the coconut is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the pan cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the bars from the pan by grasping the overhanging foil and pulling it up. Place the bars, still on the foil, on a cutting board, and cut into 16 pieces.

Friday, November 20, 2009

For My Teenage Readers

Here is something to keep you busy if you have failed to purchase advance tickets to tonight's opening of New Moon in East Hampton, or you can't go until Sunday because you are performing in Pierson High School's excellent production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (tonight and tomorrow at 7pm). This downloadable cross-stitch pattern of Robert Pattinson's face comes courtesy of The Guardian, via my friend in London who pointed me to that excellent newspaper's endlessly amusing life and style blogs. Supplies for this project are available at the Variety Store (45 Main Street, 725-9706).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

I am guessing that I haven't heard from many of you regarding my offer to share my sourdough starter, teeming with wild yeast native to our village, because you all know that sourdough improves with age and attentive feeding, and you've been waiting until it is at its peak of flavor and strength before you stop by to get some. Well, that time is here. Yesterday I made this semolina, golden raisin, and fennel bread (similar to the famous fennel-and-raisin bread baked at Amy's in the city and available sometimes at Citarella in Bridgehampton). The sourdough worked like a charm, giving my bread a great lift, open artisan crumb, and burnished crust just like Amy's bread. To celebrate, I walked over the the IGA and bought 1/4-pound of luxurious Prosciutto di Parma, which they stock, incredibly, right next to the Boar's Head ham. I asked the deli man to slice it not too thick but not too thin (I'm sure he never gets tired of hearing that request!) and then I draped slices over my bread, to serve along with some tomato soup I made in the afternoon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Please Indulge a Mother's Pride

My 10-year-old, inspired as much by a book she checked out of the Sag Harbor Elementary School Library and Aisle 1 of the Sag Harbor Variety Store as she was by our trip to London, created this model of the London Eye from styrofoam, a paper towel roll, and some Dixie Cups. Tomorrow she shares it with her class.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning a Project Once I'm Done Baking Bread

I saw these pretty nautical-looking cotton rope necklaces online and am hoping to make some of my own--once I finish what I'm working on. I've already bought the rope at Emporium Hardware (72 Main Street, 725-0103). But I might have to go to the Sag Harbor Ships Store (53 Bay Street, 725-2458) for help with those end knots.

UPDATE: Oh, no! It looks like these Michelle Lane necklaces are sold out. I guess we really are going to have to figure out how to make them ourselves!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jell-O Surprise

It was the Dutch Masters treatment of a troll doll that caught my eye as I looked into the window of the Grenning Gallery (17 Washington Street, 725-8479) today on my way to the IGA, but it was artist Anthony Ackrill's brooding Jell-O still life, reminiscent of Rembrandt's apples, that captivated me once I stepped inside. What an unsettling and honest depiction of this strange but colorful food!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

This week's item, anchovy paste, sits on one of the least appealing shelves at the IGA, tucked between Armour potted meat and Underwood deviled ham. But before you hurry by, averting your eyes, pick up a tube of Amore anchovy paste to keep in your refrigerator. Use it to make Caesar salad dressing, compound butter for grilled fish or meat, or blanched vegetables, and as the secret ingredient in a pasta sauce with canned tomatoes, capers, and olives.

Mozzarella and Anchovy Panini
Makes 2 sandwiches

You can also make the sandwiches in a skillet--just melt the butter instead of brushing it over the sandwiches, place them in the pan, and place another heavy pot on top of them. Cook, turning once, until they're golden on both sides. You could let these cool for 5 minutes, cut them into 1-inch pieces, and serve them as appetizers with any seafood friendly white wine, like the Sauvignon Blanc from Jamesport Vineyards or Matebella Vinyard's Matebella Famiglia White.

1 small garlic clove
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
Two 6-inch lengths baguette, sliced in half
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tablepoon finely chopped piquillo peppers or roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your panini press. Rub the cut side of each piece of bread with the garlic clove and then spread some anchovy paste on each side. Arrange the mozzarella on the bottom halves of the baguette pieces, and scatter the peppers over the mozzarella. Top with the remaining baguette slices. Brush the outsides of each sandwich with some melted butter (this is a little messy, but really adds something so don't skip!) and grill until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Way to Waste Time in Sag Harbor

As the deadline for my bread book approaches, I am taking coffee break procrastination to a new level, walking to Java Nation for whole Espresso beans, grinding them at home (my kitchen smells so good!), and then making cappuccinos for everyone. Do you like my coffee stencil? I am planning on using it on top of my next loaf of Sag Harbor Sourdough Bread...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Food Pantry Inspiration

Last week our fifth graders formed an assembly line and produced dozens of bags of trail mix, which they'll sell at Sag Harbor Elementary School tomorrow, proceeds benefiting the food pantry. I love how their recipe is right on the sign! Today, I'm taking my own fifth grader and a couple of her friends to see This is It in East Hampton, since they're out of school for Veterans' Day. Inspired by the children's project, I made my own trail mix, with some ingredients I had on hand. Let's see if I can persaude them to eat this instead of popcorn.

Trail Mix

Makes about 5 1/2 cups

1 cup pretzel Goldfish

1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

1 cup salted, roasted cashews

½ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds

1 cup milk chocolate chips or chunks

1 cup dried cherries

¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sag Harbor Yeast Does Not Fail Me

My faith and patience have been rewarded. This Poilane-style country bread, raised with my homegrown sourdough culture and baked this afternoon, proves that wild yeast lives in this town, or at least in my kitchen.