Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Parade Makes Me Hungry

Today's parade brought out a huge crowd. I enjoyed the Community Band's rousing marches, bought a poppy in support of the American Legion's Ladies' Auxiliary, and applauded our local veterans as they drove by in antique cars, fire engines, and pick-up trucks. And this year there were no pesky celebrities jumping in front of my camera . I was hungry by the time it was all over, so I made myself a midmorning snack of leftover guacamole on toast.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Cobbler

I picked up some rhubarb at the Farmer's Market, baked a cobbler (and a pecan-chocolate chunk pie), set the table. The giant pork roast is on the grill. Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone. See you at the parade.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
Serves 8

4 cups local strawberries, stemmed and halved if large
1 cup chopped rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the berries, rhubarb, 1/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl and let stand, stirring once or twice, until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Cream together the butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the flour, salt, and baking powder until incorporated.
3. Scrape the strawberry-rhubarb mixture into an 8-inch square baking pan. Drop tablespoonfuls of the cobbler dough on top of the fruit. Bake until the dough is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My New Bookmark

Look what I made! A beachy bookmark that I saw here a couple of days ago. It will hold my place in the ridiculously readable novel I bought at Bookhampton last week and hope to finish on Monday after I've polished off the pecan pie that I'll be baking this afternoon (one has to prioritize). Conveniently, the twine, shells, and button were already sitting in the kitchen drawer that holds random small items with no connection to each other (a tape measure, two AAA batteries, Channukah candles?). A Southampton Publick House bottle cap gives my bookmark a local touch. I had to drink a bottle of India Pale Ale last night to complete the project, but these are the sacrifices one makes for one's craft projects.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

IGA Item of the Week

There's no excuse to put off training for Bay Burger's Labor Day event--the First Annual Lobster Roll Eating Contest--since the IGA has stocked their lobster tank for Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Last Night's All-Pork Dinner

I ventured into the freezer for last night's dinner, plucking some sirloin pork chops for the grill. Realizing that the opened package of pancetta was not going to last forever, I determined to finish that up, too. I covered the chops with a spice rub before cooking them, and then decided to mix the pancetta into some cornbread batter as an accompaniment to the chops. Here is the recipe:

Cornbread with Pancetta and Rosemary
Serves 6

3 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground and organic (the IGA and Provisions both have it, so what is your excuse for buying Quaker?)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups whole or lowfat milk

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the inside of an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Cook the pancetta in a skillet until almost crisp but not too dark. Drain on paper towels.
3. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, rosemary, and pancetta in a medium bowl.
4. Whisk together the cooled melted butter, egg, and milk in a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture until just combined.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the cornbread cool for 5 minutes in the pan and serve it warm.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pound Cake for a Piano Recital

Yesterday I hosted a short recital featuring some of Ellen Johansen's hard-working and talented piano students. After a program of Kabalevsky, Bach, Burgmuller, and others, we enjoyed fudgy brownies, strawberries, and lemon pound cake (that's sparkling French lemonade in my new buckets, in case you are wondering). This particular pound cake (adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes), is one I turn to often in the summer, not only because its fresh, lemony flavor pairs well with berries, peaches, and other summer fruits, but because it starts out in a cold oven. The cake has plenty of time to rise to great heights and gain a beautiful golden crust while the oven gradually heats up. And skipping the pre-heating may does keep the kitchen cooler in the warmer months. Here is the recipe:

Cold Oven Pound Cake
Serves 10 to 12

3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with flour. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.
3. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. When all of the flour has been incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 1 minutes.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the cake in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 325 degrees and bake without opening the oven door until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes.
5. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, invert onto a wire rack, and cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar before slicing and serving.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hazardous Street Sign

I was so eager to buy my first pint of local strawberries at Bette and Dale's (1726 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike) that I almost drove into oncoming traffic when I saw this sign while driving south towards Scuttlehole Road earlier today. After safely turning around and parking at the stand, I did snag some of the early harvest.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You know it is almost summer around here when you see the Escalades, Range Rovers, and Mercedes station wagons parked near a yard sale sign. One weekend before Memorial Day, my neighbor, who owns the American Hotel, was selling a whole bunch of hotel cast-offs. I passed on the dusty wine bottles, but grabbed four Champagne buckets for $5 each.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Preview of Coming Attractions

Don Sineti was the guest at the Elementary School's Morning Program today, where he gave a preview of tonight's free concert, sponsored by the Whaling Museum but taking place at the Old Whaler's Church at 7pm. See you there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Celebration Time

I felt like celebrating when I heard that Sag Harbor's school budget had passed, so I bought this confetti at the Variety Store (45 Main Street; 725-9706). It's the good kind--made of tissue paper and easy to sweep up (as opposed to the bad kind--made of bits of foil and destined to be winking from in between your floor boards when your great grandchildren take possession of your house). I'll use it to decorate my table on Sunday, when I'm having a little party.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last Night's Dinner: Bulgur Salad, Part 3

You may have been wondering why I've been so quiet about the Fairview Farm pig these last two weeks. It is true that aside from some juicy, gigantic grilled pork chops a little while ago we've practically been vegetarians around here. But that's only because we've been patiently waiting for our home-cured bacon to be ready! The process, seasoning some pieces of our pork with spices and salt, refrigerating the meat in a plastic bag and turning it every once in a while, was simple. We are still sometimes confused by the multitude of packages in the freezer, some of them unlabeled. And there was a moment of doubt when my husband was slicing this meat and wondered whether he had cured salt pork instead of bacon. But then we fried some up and it tasted like bacon, so we are calling it bacon! In addition to enjoying it for breakfast since Monday, we had this salad last night (I simply cannot resist the package of bulgur in my pantry). Here is the recipe:

BLT Bulgur Salad
Serves 4

1 cup fine bulgur
1 1/2 cups water
4 ounces bacon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 cups arugula
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
Ground black pepper

1. Combine the bulgur, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, fluff with a fork, and let stand 15 minutes to cool.
2. Cook the bacon until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Whisk together the reserved bacon fat, oil, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
3. Add the arugula, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and scallions to the bowl with the bulgur. Toss with the dressing to coat, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, May 17, 2010

IGA Items of the Week: School Budget Edition

Thanks to the IGA's weekly specials, I will feel a few cents richer tomorrow morning when I give my children an economical and tasty breakfast of Irish oatmeal, apple-smoked bacon, organic yogurt, and orange juice before I go and vote Yes for our school's budget.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another Reason to Love Sag Harbor

I bet there are not many places beside Sag Harbor that offer free Sea Chantey concerts! I heard Don Sineti perform his haunting and beautiful songs a few years ago outdoors at the Breakwater Yacht Club, and am excited to hear him again at the historic Old Whalers' Church.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Our School's Garden and Greenhouse

A highlight of last night's Elementary School Open House was a tour of the school's amazing vegetable garden and greenhouse. The baby lettuces looked just like the ones growing in the greenhouse at Quail Hill. I was mystified by the sign underneath, which reads "no watering people," until my daughter explained that it was a reminder to students that the watering cans were for watering the plants, not each other.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Salad in Sag Harbor Getting More Beautiful

When I stopped by Bette and Dale's to pick up salad greens, I was delighted to see that they have begun to include edible flowers in their mix. Not only that, but they are selling nasturtium plants so you can grow your very own edible flowers if you'd like. In honor of the seasonal occasion, I made a lemony herb vinaigrette for my salad tonight. Here is the recipe:

Lemon and Herb Vinaigrette
Makes about 1/2 cup

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of mint, basil, oregano, and thyme)
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine the herbs, shallot, garlic, mustard, honey, and salt in a small bowl. Mix and mash with the back of the spoon to make a paste. Stir in the vinegar and lemon juice.
2. Scrape the herb mixture into a jar with a lid. Add the oil, screw the lid on tightly, and shake until the vinaigrette is emulsified (this reminded me of shaking the Four Seasons salad dressing in its special bottle when I was a kid). Use immediately, or refrigerate until ready to use, shaking again before dressing your salad.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Arrival at the Variety Store

Look at these nautical tote bags, which are new at the 5&10 (Main Street, 725-9706), just in time to bring to the Sag Harbor Farmer's Market on Memorial Day Weekend. In addition to navy and green, they come in pink, turquoise, and orange. I can't wait to fill mine with flowers, bread, baskets of local strawberries, and artisan pickles.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last Night's Dinner

I picked up these asparagus at a self-serve farmstand in Southold on Sunday afternoon, and last night I grilled them with some pounded chicken breasts. A quick pesto made with pistachio nuts and orange zest was good with both. Here's the recipe:

Pistachio Nut Pesto
Makes about 3/4 cup

3/4 cup unsalted roasted shelled pistachios
1/4 cup chopped mint
Grated zest from one small orange
1/2 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper

1. Combine the pistachios, mint, zest, and garlic in the workbowl of a food processor and process to finely grind the nuts. with the motor running, add the olive oil and process until smooth.
2. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, stir in the Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days until ready to use.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vintage Photos in Greenport

Before a lovely Mother's Day lunch at The North Fork Table yesterday, we stopped at the Winter Harbor Gallery in Greenport, where I saw these digital reprints of vintage local photos. I was tempted by many of the food-related pictures, but finally chose this one of two Southold potato farmers to take home with me.