Monday, December 24, 2012

A Fortifying Breakfast

Before I could face the preparation of holiday cinnamon buns, pecan bars, palmiers, and creme brulee, I ate a bowl of steel-cut oats (look for them at the IGA, with all of the other Bob's Red Mill products) topped with dried figs. Cooking them pilaf-style, covered without stirring, gave them a great texture, toothsome but not crunchy. A nonstick pot is essential. Here is the recipe:

Steel-Cut Oats with Dried Fig Compote
Serves 3 to 4

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 1/4 cups water
Pinch salt
1/2 cup dried figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Milk or half-and-half

1. Melt the butter in a nonstick pot over medium-high heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook without stirring for 30 minutes.
2. While the oats are cooking combine the figs, brown sugar, ginger, and remaining 1/4 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and cook at a bare simmer until the liquid is thickened, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir the oatmeal, divide it among 3 or 4 bowls, and top with the figs and their liquid. Serve immediately, with milk or half-and-half if desired.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Decorating with Cupcake Liners

My younger daughter discovered that cupcake liners make the best paper snowflakes. And then she got out her hot glue gun and made a garland with them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pasta Friday: Holiday Edition

Pierson Seniors are allowed to leave campus for lunch. Eight or so of them always show up at my house on Friday for pasta and cookies. I usually take some chocolate chip cookie dough out of the freezer, but today, in honor of the coming holiday, I baked spicy molasses cookies. They aren't the most beautiful cookies, but  teenagers really like them. Here's the recipe:

Molasses Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until well-combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
3. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake until the tops are just dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Chocolate and The Challenge

Although I'm pretty sure they're not kosher, I love the coffee cups I received from my uncle for Chanukah on Sunday. Last night we watched the Pierson Quiz Bowl team battle East Islip on MSG Varsity, while enjoying some rich hot chocolate in the new cups. The lobster looks like he made it out alive. Here is the recipe:

Rich Hot Chocolate
Makes 4 cups

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Pinch salt
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the chocolate chips and salt in a heatproof bowl.
2. Combine the milk and cream in a heavy pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low. Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the bowl and whisk to melt the chocolate.
3. Return the chocolate mixture to the pot and whisk constantly until smooth.
4. Off heat, whisk in the vanilla. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Chanukah is getting off to a slow start at my house, I'm afraid. On Sunday, my husband smoked the Fairview Farm pork bellies he had been curing for the past 10 days (instructions are in the new America's Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook). Then he made BLTs for lunch. No one complained, especially because we knew that latkes and brisket were for dinner.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm Back, with Wheat Berries

I've been in and out of town a lot during the past few months, working on an exciting new cookbook project that I will tell you more about in the coming weeks. But I've missed my blog! I have quite a horde of Quail Hill wheat berries in my freezer, so I combined them with some shiitake mushrooms I picked up at Citarella's yesterday for a warming dinner. Here is the recipe:

Wheat Berries with Mushrooms
Serves 4

2 cups wheat berries
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Place the wheat berries in a medium saucepan, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until soft but not mushy, 30 to 60 minutes (taste frequently to see how they are doing). Drain, return to the pot, and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the broth to the pot with the wheat berries and cook over medium-high heat until simmering. Stir in the mushroom mixture and heat through. Off heat stir in the butter, Parmesan, and parsley. Adjust the seasonings and serve.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Harborfest Temptations

At lunch time yesterday I headed into town to enjoy the weather and HarborFest. Troop 455's hot dog stand on Long Wharf beckoned, as did the Bay Burger ice cream cart, where I sampled a new flavor: Vanilla mixed with big chunks of Round Swamp Farm brownies. While everyone else was watching the whale boat races, I shopped the sidewalk sales. The dining table tennis kit at Sylvester & Company tempted me, as did the Save the Whales pillow at Country Lane.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

End of Summer Souvenir

In addition to these hand-lettered stones, our crafty and considerate house swappers from Amsterdam left us a case of Wolffer Estate Rose as a thank you gift when they left Sag Harbor. As I finished the last bottle, I started to feel creative myself, so I made this key chain (I got the idea here) from the Wolffer cork. I love how the winery's phone number is printed right on it! I'll attach a house key for the Swedish family we have booked for August 2013.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Best Wedding Centerpiece Ever

My good friend, an artisan baker, invited me to his daughter's wedding on Sunday, and look what I brought home: A giant sourdough miche stenciled with the happy couple's names! Yesterday morning I enjoyed some toast with blood orange marmalade for breakfast. For dinner, I grilled the bread and spread some white bean and rosemary puree on top. Here's the recipe:

White Bean Bruschetta
Serves 2

Four 1-inch-thick slices country bread
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, peeled
Ground black pepper

1. Preheat gas grill to high. Brush bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
2. COmbine beans, lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, pepper flakes, rosemary, and basil in the workbowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
3. Grill bread, turning once, until golden with grill marks. Rub each slice with the garlic clove and then top with the white bean spread. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fresh Wheatberries!

On Saturday I brought home something new from the farm: Just-harvested wheat berries! It was a chore to wash them, but boy was it worth the work (especially since my husband volunteered for the job). Then I toasted them lightly before boiling them until tender. Unlike the wheat berries I buy at the supermarket, these only took 20 minutes to cook and were so plump and delicious. I didn't do much with them before we ate: Just dressed them in olive oil and lemon juice and stirred in some olives, tomatoes, feta, and thyme. Here's the recipe:

Wheat Berry Salad
 Serves 4

1 1/2 cups wheat berries
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper

1. Place the wheat berries in a medium saucepan, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes for fresh berries, 40 to 60 minutes for storebought berries. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add oil, lemon juice, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and thyme to bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or refrigerate for up to 1 day until ready to serve.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

No Farms, No Food

Everyone sitting in the long line of traffic on Scuttlehole Road today had to pass this sign at the roundabout. So true! You can hear what Senator Kristin Gillibrand has to say about sustainability and farming's future on the East End tomorrow morning at Quail Hill Farm. For info about the event, click here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sag Harbor Kids Are the Cutest

My kids are now too old to appear in my annual Newsday back-to-school lunchbox story, and even my nieces in East Hampton have aged out of the job. So I was grateful to some generous Sag Harbor parents who lent me their very cute child for our photo shoot a few weeks ago. But do you think she is upstaging my roast beef sandwich on a mini-bagel?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bread Salad a Darkhorse Winner at Dinner Last Night

The corn has been so sweet and juicy lately. I knew I wanted to eat it again for dinner last night. The main course--a bread salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and mozzarella cheese was really an afterthought. But a big handful of chopped oregano and thyme leaves from my backyard pots gave it a remarkably lively flavor and freshness (the whole wheat boule and cheese from Cavaniola's didn't hurt). Here's the recipe:

Whole Wheat Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Serves 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
Six one-inch-thick slices whole wheat country bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/3-inch pieces
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
2. Combine bread, tomatoes, tomatoes, and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until bread is moistened by dressing and tomato juices. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beverages for All Purposes

This morning I took my daughter to have some difficult baby teeth pulled by our very skillful dentist. It all seemed worthwhile when she got her chocolate milkshake at Bay Burger. And I couldn't resist buying a bottle of locally made Sweet 'tauk lemonade as a treat for myself.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Home and Happy Not to Cook

I returned from a nice, long vacation in Amsterdam and Dublin (expect stroopwafel and brown bread recipes in the coming weeks) just in time for Quail Hill's At the Common Table dinner last night. Good company and food that was so much nicer than what my jet-lagged self could have thrown together! I probably ate more than my fair share of scallop ceviche with cilantro, before sitting down at the long table to enjoy tomatoes and mozzarella, striped bass, roasted potatoes, and panna cotta with rhubarb and peaches from the farm. And I took home some leftover pickled beets, which may well become a goat cheese and beet salad in an hour or two.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Reason to Go to the Beach?

Bringing a pie to a beach picnic isn't really practical. But these hand pies are a different story--no need for a pie server, plates, forks. Now I have no excuse to stay inside. Here is the recipe:

Blueberry Hand Pies
Makes 6 hand pies

3/4 pound (enough for a single crust) pie dough, chilled
3/4 cup blueberries, rinsed and picked over
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Sanding sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the blueberries, vanilla, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally and mashing a small amount of berries with the back of a spoon, until the sugar is dissolved.
2. On a lightly floured countertop, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 5-inch round saucer as a guide to cut out as many circlesas you can from the dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with flour.
3. Working with one circle at a time, place about 2 tablespoons of filling on one side of the circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold dough over blueberries. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining dough circles and blueberries.
4. Space the pies at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Use a sharp paring knife to cut three 1/2-inch vents in the top of each one. Brush with the cream and sprinkle with the sanding sugar. Freeze for 15 minutes. (At this point, you can slide the hand pies into a zipper-lock bag and freeze them for up to 2 weeks before proceeding.)
5. Bake the pies until golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tasteful Show at Gallery Valentine

 Have you seen these giant layer cakes in the windows of the Gallery Valentine in East Hampton?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Quick Dinner Makes Up For Time Stuck in Traffic

The summer traffic hasn't really bothered me lately, because I've spent most of the week in Sag Harbor Village, walking to the IGA when I needed groceries. But yesterday I had to drive to East Hampton to buy some movie tickets for that evening (I wouldn't risk waiting until just before the show), so I decided to do my marketing at Citarella's. So many cars! So little parking! I grabbed some of the Aidell's chicken sausages with habanero chiles (already cooked, just heat through) and mixed them with some whole wheat couscous (10 minutes and it's ready), a nectarine, some scallions, some lime juice, and some curry powder for a super-fast dinner that got me back to the movie theater in time to get a good seat. Here is the recipe:

Whole Wheat Couscous with Chicken Sausage and Nectarines
Serves 4

1 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat couscous
2 spicy chicken sausages, cooked and sliced
1 medium nectarine, pitted and chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
Ground black pepper

1. Bring broth, water, and butter to boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, cover, and turn off heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
2. Stir sausages, nectarine, scallions, olive oil, lime juice, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste into couscous. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day and let come to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vegetables for Breakfast

Farm stand etiquette prevents me from peeling away a bit of husk from each ear to before I buy my corn. So I always buy an extra ear just in case I discover a bad one when I get home. What to do with the leftover ear of corn? This morning, I removed the kernels and added them to some polenta. With a sprinkling of brown sugar, blueberries, and a spoonful of sour cream, it made a delicious breakfast. Here is the recipe:

Breakfast Polenta with Fresh Corn
Serves 4

4 cups water, plus more if necessary
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 large ear of corn)
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Brown sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (optional)

1. Bring water to boil in a medium nonstick pot (nonstick is essential here--polenta is a pain to clean up). Slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking, until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the salt. Cover, turn the heat to low, and continue to cook at a bare simmer, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the polenta is smooth and thickened but not too stiff (it should be the consistency of runny yogurt, thick but not able to hold its shape).
2 Stir in the corn kernels and cook until heated through, about 1 minutes.
3. Spoon polenta into shallow bowls, top each bowl with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Scatter berries over polenta if desired. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tasty Postcards to Camp

I've just returned from visiting day at my daughter's sleepaway camp in Maine. Now that I'm home, I have to start sending mail to her again. So I felt lucky to find these food-themed postcards from Museum of Modern Art collection in Romany Kramoris' sidewalk bins for $1 each.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Squash Blossom Quesadillas!

I always wanted to make these, and yesterday I took my chance when I saw rows and rows of blossoming zucchini plants at Quail Hill. The Poblano peppers were from the IGA, but I decided to make a suicide mission to the incredibly crowded Citarella's in Bridgehampton for the better corn tortillas. Was it worth the odyssey? I think so. Here is the recipe:

Squash Blossom Quesadillas
Makes 6 small quesadillas

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 poblano peppers, roasted, seeded, peeled, and chopped
24 squash blossoms, washed and dried, stems and stamens removed, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
12 small (4-inch) corn tortillas

1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add poblanos and cook another minute. Stir in squash blossoms and cook, stirring, until wilted and liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
2. Sandwich some filling and 1/2 cup grated cheese between 2 tortillas. Repeat with remaining filling, cheese, and tortillas.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook quesadillas one at a time, turning once and adding more butter to pan as necessary, until cheese is melted and tortillas are browned on both sides. Cut into wedges and serve hot from the pan. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Celebrating the Holiday Early with a Raspberries and Cream Pie

My red-white-and-blue icebox pie recipe appears in  Newsday today, just in time for the holiday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Crops Inspire Simple Dinner

I guess the warm winter has resulted in an early crop of zucchini at Quail Hill. I can't remember another summer when I was able to pick squash and shelling peas on the same day! Something else I don't remember, but I sure did appreciate yesterday--being able to dig fresh and juicy garlic bulbs directly from the ground. It's been awhile (at least a week) since I made a pizza, so I wanted to use my haul in a topping. I brushed my dough with lots of the chopped young garlic and some olive oil. Then I sauteed the zucchini with some butter and stirred in my preserved lemon. Serving the zucchini on the side, and spooning some of it onto the slices as I ate them, there was no danger that it would make my crispy flatbread soggy. Here is the zucchini recipe:

Sauteed Zucchini with Preserved Lemon and Mint
Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cups zucchini cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemons
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint

Heat butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add shallot and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini releases most of its water and begins to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in preserved lemon and mint and serve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Spoons for My Kitchen?

These vintage spoon illustrations now gracing the window at Ruby Beets would look so great in my kitchen...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On my way to the Orient ferry this morning, I saw a sign for local chocolate-covered strawberries at The Candyman, so I stopped and bought three for my trip. I realized what a mistake I had made when they were gone. I should have bought more! So on my way home this afternoon I stopped again.