Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Supersize S'Mores

I've seen Supersize Me, and of course I disapprove of the large-size packaging of junk food as much as any other Sag Harbor Elementary School parent. And yet...I wandered into King Kullen yesterday after completing an errand at the Bridgehampton Commons and was captivated by this bag of "Giant Roasters." I brought it home, thinking I would make s'mores to celebrate the return of the children in a few weeks. Or I might make giant s'mores this weekend for my dinner guests. And since, as an empty nester, I have so much time on my hands, I might make some homemade graham crackers. In case you have time on your hands, too, here is the recipe:

Homemade Graham Crackers
Makes about 16 cookies (enough for 8 giant s'mores)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the honey, vanilla, and milk and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat until the dough comes together. Divide into two 4-inch squares, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one portion of the chilled dough into a 1/8-inch-thick square. Use a ruler to cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Repeat with the remaining portion of dough. Reroll the scraps to make more squares.
5. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets. Use a the dull edge of a knife to make an indentation down the center of each cookie and prick the top of each cookie with a fork (this will make the cookies look like "real" graham crackers). Bake until lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Slide the cookies, still on the parchment, onto wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last Night's Dinner: Quinoa with Corn

Would you be annoyed by someone who urged you to make a quinoa pilaf containing pancetta from Bridgehampton, corn from Riverhead, and home-grown herbs? Oh, and I forgot to mention the sprinkling of Sherry vinegar from Cavaniola's. That's why I threw in some cherry tomatoes from Florida (via the IGA, where I also bought my Bob's Red Mill quinoa). Keeping it real, here is the recipe:

Quinoa Pilaf with Corn
Serves 2

Quinoa is a complete protein, so I was happy to have this wholesome and wonderfully textured pilaf as a main course. But it would also make a good side dish for some simply grilled chicken or fish. In that case, it would serve four.

3 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 ears fresh corn, removed from cobs
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 teaspoon hot paprika (or you could substitute sweet or smoked, your choice)
14 tablespoons (a scant cup) low-sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar

1. Cook the pancetta in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan.
2. Add the shallot, corn, and 1/2 teaspoons salt to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the quinoia and paprika and cook, stirring, another minute.
3. Add the broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, another 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, stir in the pancetta, mint, and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Grown-Up Sunday Afternoon in Greenport

After we put one child on a bus to Maine and another on a plane to Colorado, I was ready to see a movie that wasn't Shrek or Toy Story. I was ready to see a documentary about Joan Rivers. The film wasn't playing on the South Fork, so my husband and I crossed Shelter Island to see it in Greenport. Arriving early for a matinee, we had time to stroll the waterfront before the start of the show. Immediately I was struck by the sight of virtually every pedestrian carrying a bright yellow a shopping bag from Scoop. When had Scoop opened an outpost on the North Fork? What were they putting in the water here, causing every Greenporter in sight to purchase a Bohemian-style beach cover-up or a $150 pair of jeans shorts on the same day? It wasn't the water after all, I soon realized when I spotted a table piled high with the bags. Everyone who was attending the Long Island Food and Wine Festival, taking place in two tents near the carousel, was picking up a wine glass for tasting and a bag to carry bottles home. This made much more sense than the drinking-water-creating-a-shopping-frenzy hypothesis. After 90 minutes of the hilarious but draining Joan Rivers, we needed a drink, so we returned to the registration table. Sadly for us but happily for the organizers, the festival had sold out. Not to be thwarted in our desire to support the Long Island wine industry, we headed Vine Wine Bar and ordered tastes of every Long Island white on the menu.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Whaling Museum Gift Shop Feeling Pressure?

First the Sag Harbor Express hinted that the Whaling Museum might upgrade its gift shop offerings with wooden salad servers similar to the ones sold at the Museum of Modern Art, and a few days ago my friend Gail sent me this link to another product--a ceramic pitcher--that I would buy in at our local museum if it were in stock, especially since it is featured in a catalog written entirely in Japanese, making it impossible for me to order one directly.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cupcake Surprise

My older daughter made some cupcakes yesterday to kill time while waiting for camp to start on Sunday. To kill more time, she is eating one every hour or so. She keeps complaining that the supermarket cupcake liners (sorry, IGA!) are difficult to peel away. She is sure to be hungry for cupcakes when she returns at the end of July, so I ordered these nonstick waxed paper gingham liners from The Baker's Catalog to surprise her.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

IGA Item of the Week

The IGA has a nice shelf towards the end of the baking aisle where they stock a variety of Rice Select grains: Arborio Rice, Orzo, Jasmine Rice, Sushi Rice, It is so convenient to keep these large-ish containers in the pantry, to use in combination with the vegetables I'm bringing home from Quail Hill. Would you believe that we already have zucchini, at the end of June? Last night I sauteed some of the yellow and green zucchini in butter and combined it with couscous, finishing off the dish with chopped basil. Sometimes the simplest preparations are the best. The way the zucchini browned and caramelized while it absorbed the butter in the pan was absolutely delicious. The couscous was perfect alongside some grilled IGA-made chicken sausage. Here is the recipe:

Couscous with Zucchini
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and then cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup couscous
1 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Ground black pepper

1. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the shallot and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with some salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, , 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl.
2. Add the olive oil and couscous to the pan and cook, stirring, to coat, about 1 minute. Pour in the water, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat off, and let stand 5 minutes.
3. Uncover the pan and stir in the vegetables and basil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

EcoWalk Fundraiser a Huge Success

Not only did Thursday's fundraiser collect $14,000 for the Elementary School's proposed EcoWalk, but it gave me the chance to bid on and win this Pavoni burr grinder plus a pound of coffee beans a month for the next year from Java Nation!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Last Night's Dinner

Before we demolished the blueberry pie last night, we ate some barbecued Boston steaks (steaks from a boneless Boston butt--a cut I wasn't familiar with until we brought our pig home) along with an old favorite side dish, grilled sweet potatoes with scallions. This is a quick and easy preparation, and really good with barbecue. Watch the potatoes carefully and turn them when they have nice char marks but are not too blackened. The scallions can be placed on the grill in a bunch and turned once. They'll cook more quickly than the potatoes.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Scallions

Serves 4

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches scallions, washed and trimmed from both ends
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cumin

1. Preheat a gas grill to medium. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Do the same with the scallions, keeping them in a loose bunch.
2. Place the scallions on the grill in a bunch and cook, turning once, until they're softened and lightly charred in places, about 5 minutes total. Remove to the baking sheet.
3. Place the sweet potatoes on the grill and cook, turning once, until they have nice grill marks on both sides and are cooked all the way through, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to the baking sheet.
4. Coarsely chop the scallions and place them in a bowl, along with the hot potatoes. Add the butter and cumin and toss to coat. Season with salt if necessary and serve.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day and a Suggestion about Lard and Vodka

After many years of hiding behind my cobbler recipe, I have lately made a new attempt to master pie dough, having discovered that two ingredients, lard and vodka, make a huge difference in the quality of my pies. You may think I am promoting lard because I have almost 10 pounds of it in my freezer, and of course I am motivated by this fact. But in my efforts to discover uses for my lard, I have indeed found that it gives pie dough incredibly rich flavor and flakiness. The vodka is a Cook's Illustrated trick that really works. Vodka adds extra moisture, making the dough easier to mix and roll than dough made with water alone. This is important since too much handling will develop the gluten in the flour, making the crust tough instead of tender. In the oven, the vodka evaporates. There is no trace of it in the finished pie.

Since lard and vodka somehow make sense on Father's Day, I used my lard and vodka pie dough to make my most successful blueberry pie to date for our dinner tonight. Something (maybe my Jewish heritage) is holding me back from making an all-lard dough, so I followed this recipe, using 10 tablespoons of butter and 10 tablespoons of lard, skipping the vegetable shortening altogether.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Last Night's Dinner: Farm-Fresh Pizzas

I still had some very fresh spinach and some of that delectable baby broccoli rabe from Quail Hill, so last night I decided to use the vegetables on top of pizzas. Taking Jim Leahy's Popeye Pizza as my inspiration, I topped the first round of dough (I used Dan Leader's recipe from Local Breads, but you can use your own) with four ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese and four ounces of shredded Gruyere from Cavaniola's. About 2 minutes before the pizza was done, I piled four ounces of my fresh spinach leaves on top of the cheese, left it in the oven until the spinach was just wilted (about 2 minutes), drizzled it with olive oil, and served. For the second pizza, I drained a can of diced tomatoes, gave them a whirl in the food processor, and spread them on the dough. I scattered my baby broccoli rabe over the tomatoes, scattered four ounces of shredded mozzarella over the broccoli rabe, drizzled the whole thing with olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt. You can see I baked both pizzas on parchment paper, which made it easy to get them into the oven without ruining them! I placed the parchment on rimless baking sheets, assembled the pizzas on the parchment, and slid them, still on the parchment, from the baking sheet onto a preheated baking stone.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I need a reason to buy this dress

Would it be wrong to buy this gingham Vivienne Westwood Anglomania dress from the new Marie Eiffel shop on Route 114 because it matches my blog background?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fifth Grade Celebration

I am a sucker for the details, so I really enjoyed today's meticulously produced graduation party at the Elementary School. From the elegant Sperry Tent to the handmade centerpieces (donated by generous parents) to the fried chicken lunch catered by Cromer's (3500 Noyac Road, 725-9004), everything was just right. My platter of chocolate chip cookies paled in comparison to Cathy Capozzola's rainbow-hued cupcakes (300 in all!) that were served while Vivian and the Merrymakers began to play.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

EcoWalk Fundraiser is Tomorrow Night

I'm planning on attending this event to raise funds for a new garden walkway at the Elementary School. I wonder what items (aside from signed cookbooks by a local expert on vegetables) will be offered at the silent auction...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Afterschool Snack

When I got to Quail Hill this morning I saw a big bushel of kale leaves and thought to myself, "Today is the day I'll make those kale chips everyone is talking about. They'll be a healthy afterschool snack for the children." So I took my share, 12 large leaves, washed them, tore them into pieces, tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt, spread them on a baking sheet, and baked them until they were crisp. After they cooled, I ate one, and then another, and before I knew it, most of the kale chips were gone. The kids would have hated them anyway. Good thing I had picked plenty of shelling peas as a back-up snack...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Risotto with Baby Broccoli Rabe

I don't know if the baby broccoli rabe is new this year at Quail Hill, or if I've just never noticed it since I've been so absorbed in previous years by the arugula growing in the next row, but this is the first time I've picked a bunch and brought it home. It was so tender that there was no need to blanch it (as I do when I buy it at the IGA in the winter) before doing anything else with it. So last night I just stirred it into a pot of risotto about 2 minutes before serving to cook it through. Here is the recipe:

Risotto with Baby Broccoli Rabe

Serves 4 to 6

I used some of my Bridgehampton pancetta in this recipe, but you could substitute a link of Italian sausage with fennel from the IGA, for a heartier version, or leave out the pancetta altogether and use vegetable broth or extra water for a vegetarian dish.

4 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
3 cups water
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 bunch baby broccoli rabe
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Ground black pepper

1. Warm the broth and water in a medium saucepan. Keep warm over low heat.
2. Cook the pancetta until just crisp in a medium pot. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.
3. Add a tablespoon of butter and the onion to the pot and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
4. Add 1/2 cup of the warm broth mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding warm liquid in 1-cup increments, always stirring, until the rice is al dente. If you run out of liquid, heat up some water and continue to add it to the pot until the rice is done.
5. Stir in the broccoli rabe and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon butter and the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among bowls, sprinkle each portion with some pancetta, and serve.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dessert Surprise

Last night as I was straightening up after dinner, I ignored the maddening electronic strains of Turkey in the Straw for only so long before shouting to the children to TURN DOWN THE VOLUME ON THAT COMPUTER GAME! They claimed they weren't responsible, and sure enough, as the music got louder and louder, I realized that it signaled the approach of AN ICE CREAM TRUCK! Can you believe that two teenagers I had never seen before hailed it down RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE? As they ordered we had plenty of time to shriek with surprise and grab some money. Not only was this ice cream man selling the usual creamsicles, firecrackers, and chipwiches, but he also had a soft-serve ice cream machine in his well-equipped truck. He said he was new in town, and would be around all summer. If you don't see him on your street, you can call him to cater dessert at your next party.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Warm Radishes on Toast

On Tuesday mid-morning I pulled these beautiful radishes from the ground at Quail Hill. They were still warm when I unpacked them from my bag! Remembering an old Alice Waters recipe for radishes on a buttered baguette with sea salt (not really a recipe, but a description of a common French breakfast combination that she urged her readers to try), I made an early lunch of my warm radishes, slicing them thin, scattering them on buttered whole grain toast, and sprinkling them with sea salt.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sag Harbor Souvenirs Continue to Show Promise

I am so happy about the recent general upgrading of Sag Harbor souvenirs as high season approaches. First there were the nautical tote bags at the Variety Store. Then today, as I was climbing the steps to Java Nation to pick up my espresso beans, I saw this elegant t-shirt hanging from a hook outside a new shop, Pailletts (78 Main Street; 899-4070). It will be the perfect thing to wear as I tour Buckingham Palace during my house swap later in the summer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tonight's Dinner

At Quail Hill, members harvest their own spinach and arugula leaf by leaf. That sounded tedious verging on unpleasant to me (before I joined the csa, I don't think I had kneeled in dirt since pre-school, and even back then I wasn't happy about it) before I tried it. But, mysteriously, I find that I go into the most pleasurable trance-like state when I'm picking my spinach and arugula at the farm, staring at the veins and tiny holes (no pesticides at Quail Hill) patterning each chosen leaf before gently placing it in an IGA bag saved for the purpose. I am so intent upon choosing just the right leaves that I barely notice the dirt. I pause only to look up and smile when another member makes joyful exclamation about the crop or offers cooking advice.

We ate the spinach over the weekend, but I had a few large handfuls of spicy local arugula left, so I made this simple pasta dish for dinner tonight.

Linguine with Arugula, Lemon, and Anchovies
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound linguine or spaghetti
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
6 flat anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cups baby arugula, washed

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta.
2. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and toasted. Set aside.
3. In a medium skillet heat the garlic and oil over medium-high heat until the garlic is fragrant, just a minute or two. Stir in the anchovies until dissolved. Set aside.
4. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of water, and return it to the pot. Stir in the anchovy and garlic mixture, arugula, lemon juice, and water to moisten if necessary. Divide among pasta bowls and sprinkle each portion with some bread crumbs.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

IGA Item of the Week

I saw a brand-new item yesterday at the IGA, these Tom Cat cheddar brioche pull-apart rolls. They will be yummy with my wilted Quail Hill spinach and bacon salad tonight.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Salad Days at Quail Hill

It was the first picking day for the members of Quail Hill Community Farm, and the best first day in recent memory. The spinach was lush and abundant, there were rows of arugula and tatsoi, and the lettuces were beautiful beyond belief. I'm off to a dance recital and then to dinner at Town Line Barbecue afterwards, but I will be having a big spinach salad tomorrow night, and then maybe some pasta with arugula (greens on the side) on Monday. Recipes to come.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tonight's Dinner: Rhubarb and Onion Jam on Toast

I haven't been cooking an awful lot this week, because the hours that I usually devote to shopping and preparing dinner have been occupied with driving the children to various rehearsals and end-of-the-school-year performances. I was determined to feed myself something homemade and delicious before spending a large portion of the night reading page proofs (here's a peek at my new book--isn't it cute?) while waiting for my daughter's practice to end. So I bought my family's favorite sourdough bread, a giant pane di casa from Citarella's, and used the rhubarb from the weekend to make a sweet-and-savory spread. I had some high-quality English Cheddar (a gift from a considerate friend--thank you!) in the refrigerator, which I sliced thin and placed on top of my toasted bread before spreading on some jam. After several days of leftovers, I felt satisfied and redeemed and ready to work while sitting in the lobby of the soon-to-be-shuttered Avram Theater at Stony Brook-Southampton.

Rhubarb is at its peak right now, and can be purchased at the Quail Hill stand at the Farmer's Market on Saturday. Here is my jam recipe:

Rhubarb and Onion Jam
Makes about 2 cups

It just occurs to my while I taste this jam that it would be a very good garnish for some burgers made with my Fairview Farm (69 Horsemill Lane, Bridgehampton) pork. Maybe this weekend...

One tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cups chopped rhubarb
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
1/2 teapsoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 15 minutes. Add the rhubarb, sugar, water, and vinegar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is evaporated and the rhubarb is very soft and jam-like, another 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt, stir in the thyme, and let cool to room temperature. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days before serving.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Strawberry Tea at Cor Maria

This tea at Cor Maria sounds like a delightful way to spend an afternoon, especially if you have never been inside the grand building at the end of the Retreat's long, winding driveway.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good News on the Ice Pop Front

Good news for everyone who wrote to me lamenting that the Variety Store (45 Main Street; 725-9706) was out of the small-size ice pop molds I used to make lemonade pops at the Variety Store (45 Main Street; 725-9706): They're in, and on sale for $1.99!