HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lazy Man's Bouillabaisse with Lulu Peyraud's Quick Rouille


Since we live in one of the great ocean fishing areas of the country, the temptation to eat the freshest seafood imaginable is an almost daily event.   The fishing boats go out early from Montauk and their catch is in our fish markets later that morning.   The waters abound in striped and black seabass, flounder, jumbo porgies, fluke, cod, monkfish, swordfish and bluefish.  This past weekend, local monkfish, the white dense fish with a taste vaguely similar to lobster, was to be had for $9.99 lb.  I call that price irresistible.  And it immediately brought to mind a great Bouillabaise I once enjoyed in Provence, north of Marseilles.   Bouillabaisse can be incredibly complicated to make: First of all, you need a great stock as a base for your creation.  No self-respecting cook would dare serve the dish without a “Rouille”, that overwhelmingly garlic-y saffron tinged sauce. essential to the dish.  And then there’s the fish itself.  Any self-respecting Provencale cook could find the requisite fish—rascasse, rouget, congre and lotte. The only one readily available is the lotte which is monkfish in French.  Still I was determined to use the underpinnings of the dish to make a Bouillabaisse. But I wanted one that would not restrict me to the kitchen for the bulk of the day. To the rescue came none other than The French Chef herself: Julia Child.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ceviche of Fluke, Shelter Island style


        
Aerial View of Shelter Island 
Shelter Island, for those of you who don’t know, is a 5 minute ferryboat-only ride away from The Hamptons, or more properly Sag Harbor, or more specifically North Haven. On the other end of the island, there’s an 8 minute ferry to Greenport on the North Fork.  Despite its close proximity, a ride over to Shelter Island is seen by many of us as a “vacation” from the hubbub of the Hamptons.  Shelter Island was included in the land grant that King James I conveyed to the original Plymouth Colony in 1620.   Since no one made any use of the island or, for that matter had settled anywhere on Long Island, in 1636, King James’ heir, Charles I gave the island to William Alexander, Earl of Stirling. His agent and attorney, a man named James Farret, was then allowed to choose 12,000 acres for his private use.  He chose Shelter Island and the neighboring Robbins Island as his reward. Farret in turn, sold the island for all of 1600 pounds of sugar.  The recipient of this largesse was a man
Sylvester Manor 
named Nathaniel Sylvester who became its first European settler, the island having long been inhabited by native Americans of the Manhanset tribe.  Using African slave labor and indentured English servants, the vast Sylvester Estate raised food crops and livestock for slaughter.   The Sylvesters, who also owned property in Barbados,  were part of the Triangle Trade between the American and West Indies colonies, Africa and England.  His descendants kept slaves into the 19th century.  One of them built a fine mansion, Sylvester Manor in 1730, in the center of the island.  It remains there today, now apart of the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, a group founded in 2011 to "share, preserve and cultivate the land and the history for and with the community' according to its Director, Maura Doyle who took the time to email me after this post first appear. Until this year, the estate had been whittled down to 243 acres. Just last month, the heir to the property gifted an additional 225 acres to the foundation. For a complete list of the Farm's offerings, go to www.sylvestermanor.org.

 The Sylvesters gave refuge to Quakers, a group much persecuted in the 1700s.  Much to my surprise, in doing some genealogical study, I found that my 10th Great Grandfather and Mother, Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, were among those Quakers and are buried at Sylvester Manor.       

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Coconuttiest of Coconut Cake of all time from John Barricelli of SoNo Bakery and Café

       
         Our friends, Don and Jeff had a dinner party this weekend.  Among the invitees were two of their friends from Miami, where they have a winter home. We'd met Jorge and Peter before.  In fact, the last time we met them, Andrew had brought the dessert pictured above (on Don and Jeff's kitchen counter).  As it turned out, Jorge had fallen so hard for this coconuttiest of all cakes, that whenever and wherever he saw Coconut cake on a menu, he would order it. For two years,  he kept hoping he'd find one that matched this incredible recipe.  And no wonder, this is a coconut lover’s dream, because it’s coconut on coconut covered with more coconut.  The result is a decadent buttery cake filled with coconut pastry cream. But it doesn’t even stop there.  Shredded coconut covers the coconut buttercream icing like a blizzard of sweetness.  It’s a three layer cake made in a single nine inch pan.  Is it hard to make?  Well I tried to convince Jorge and Peter that they too could achieve this result in Miami.  But I don't think I got very far.   Andrew then offered the following piece of new news.  Apparently one of our friends told him that she had taken a cake recipe off Chewing the Fat, gone to her local bakery and they had baked the cake for her. I keep thinking that Jorge might be able to pull that one off himself.  Because if he did, I could almost guarantee that baker would put this cake on their regular cake list instantly.  To non-bakers like Jorge and me, anything this elaborate looks difficult.  But Andrew assures me it’s not.  And I can promise you that the results are worth any degree of difficulty, it’s just that good.