Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Savory Roasted Tomato Tarte Tatin

         I recently came across a very detailed recipe for a tomato Tarte Tatin in August’s Bon Appetit.  Now I used to make Tarte Tatins at every opportunity.  They were hard to beat: You put butter and sugar into a cast iron pan and it magically turned into caramel.  You added pears or apples skin side down, covered the thing with pastry and into the oven it went.  Once done, you cautiously fiipped the tart over and voila!  Your pretty pears or apples glistened on a bed of pastry.  Add a scoop of ice cream and you had a dessert that even I could make.  This was of course before Andrew took up baking. Now, if I made dessert, people would be convinced that I’d lost my mind.  But I couldn’t get the Tomato Tarte Tatin out of my mind. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mushroom and Pepper Jack Tart with Long Island Mushrooms

Long Island Mushroom company is the brainchild of two Rhode Island natives who grew up in the same town, became High School Sweethearts, parted ways and re-kindled their romance thirty-two years later.  Jane Maguire and John Quigley are their names and Long Island Mushroom is their second act-–both personally and professionally.  The couple have taken to mushroom farming in a big way.  Their 6500 square foot growing space on the North Fork is packed with glorious
Left to Right: Shiitakes, Blue Oyster and
Miitake Mushrooms from
Long Island Mushroom
Shiitakes, Miitakes and Blue Oyster mushrooms, the perfect combination for creating “wild” mushroom dishes without foraging for them on your own.  You don’t even have to clean them.  That’s because they are grown without soil on pressed paper and sawdust logs that they couple brings in from ‘the mushroom capital of the US’, Kennett Square Pennsylvania.  They’re grown under strict temperature controls and in very high humidity.  Each log produces ‘blooms’ of mushrooms that are harvested simply by being snapped off.  Each log produces 3 crops of mushrooms in a 48 day period before being replaced.  With Jane manning sales and John keeping the farm growing, Long Island Mushroom has found its way into the top restaurant kitchens on the East End, including “The Topping Rose House” in Bridgehampton, Tom Collichio’s wildly successful foray into the Hamptons. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders, a recipe from Chef Ming Tsai

The Tastee Inn in Sioux City, Iowa
where you can get a Sloppy Joe or
Loose Meat Sandwich for $2.00
            The Sloppy Joe is hardly anyone’s idea of gourmet food. This may lie in the fact that making one requires virtually no culinary skills of any kind.  The original Sloppy Joe recipe calls for ground beef and celery to be cooked up with a ketchup sauce and then served on squishy white bun.  There may be dozens of secret family recipes for this classic but none stray too far from this basic formula.  And if, by any chance, it still sounds like there’s any degree of difficulty in making one, there are plenty of commercial products to turn to.  You can just open a can and you’re pretty well done.  Now if you are slightly turned off by the name “Sloppy Joe” which I confess I was, it’s precursor had an even worse moniker.  In Iowa, which lays claim to the invention of the Sloppy Joe, it was called a ‘loose-meat’ sandwich.  That was until the owners of a restaurant in Sioux City, famous for its loose-meat sandwiches, renamed it the Sloppy Joe in honor of their chef, a man named Joe.  It wasn’t really until the 60s that the name took hold. But it certainly never took hold in our house and quite honestly, I may never eaten one until I came across a recipe in this month’s Food and Wine Magazine.  Apparently, the Sloppy Joe is officially part of one of the great food trends of 2013.  Really!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Nathalie Dupree's Mississippi Caviar from "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking"

         Of this year’s cookbooks, “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubert (Gibbs Smith 2012) is at the top of every list of the year’s best.  I’ve already shared the story of my sideways connection to Ms. Dupree in an earlier post: I’ve barely skimmed the surface of this fascinating book and it’s 600 plus recipes.  Now, with New Year’s Day approaching, I want to share another of Nathalie’s recipes, which is particularly timely.  And I hope it has the intended consequence. Because in the South, it's a hard and fast rule that eating black-eyed peas at New Year’s, the basis for Mississippi Caviar, will bring good luck and prosperity for all of next year!  So here’s our New Year’s gift to you!   And if you’re wondering how the humble black-eyed pea rose to such exalted status, you may be very surprised at the answer. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hot-and-Sticky Lemon-Pepper Chicken Wings adapted from Richard Blais in Food & Wine

         A couple of years ago, I went on a Chicken Wing Diet.  It was about the time that New York restaurants were obliged to print the calorie count of their dishes on their menus.  In New York, with Mayor Bloomberg at the helm, we’ve gotten very used to the Nanny-state. And to tell the truth, it’s not all bad.  Smoking is virtually impossible—you cannot smoke anywhere indoors at any bar or restaurant or office building. You can't even smoke in city parks or on its beaches. There even are apartment buildings that ban smoking altogether. Thank you Mayor Bloomberg.
Think this Chicken Caesar is healthy?
No way!
          Nanny-state behavior or not, to me the requirement to list calories really was an eye-opener.  There, clear as day, was the Chicken Caesar Salad weighing in at something like 1200 calories. But on the same menu the Baked version of Buffalo Chicken Wings with dressing and carrot and celery sticks came in at a mere 535 calories.   Anytime I can save 665 calories at a clip, I’m there.  Besides, I love the things.  The heat of the hot sauce dipped into the creamy blue cheese dressing, the crunch of the skin and tender meat underneath are irresistible.  And of course, the wings were way less expensive than the Chicken Caesar.  So I pretty much adopted them as my blue plate special from then on.  I also made them any number of ways at home. In the land of budget cooking, Chicken Wings take the prize. But none were ever as delicious as the ambrosial wing recipe cooked up by Atlanta’s Richard Blais, ex Top Chef All Stars winner and proprietor of a new Atlanta restaurant called “The Spence” (5th Street NW, Atlanta GA 30308 Tel: 404-892-9111.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My new Molcajete and Diana Kennedy’s recipe for Guacamole con Tomate Verde (adapted)

My new Molcajete and my first Guacamole made in it.

Bridgehampton Tomatillos
         Nothing says summer like Guacamole and although we’re thousands of miles from both Mexico and that capital of Guacamole, the state of California, we’re proud of what we’re able to make right here on Long Island.  Of course, the avocados are hardly local. They’re very often not even domestic.  But thanks to a growing and vibrant Mexican community in our midst, “Tomates Verdes”, or tomatillos, are locally grown along with an increasing number of ‘chiles’ like the serranos that are the backbone of a great Guacamole.   But my excitement over making this spicy, rich party dish was multiplied by the arrival of my very own molcajete.  My friend Carlos carried it with him when he arrived from Mexico City this July.  The weight of the thing is astonishing and it’s hardly a carry-on item.  But my new molcajete is the genuine article.  Made it Oaxaca, it arrived seasoned and ready to go.  And I had to marvel at Carlos’ generosity-- never mind his muscle-- at lugging the thing onto a plane.   But it seems that last year I published a recipe for Guacamole that didn’t please Carlos one little bit.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Not My Mother's Vichyssoise

         Cold Soup is ideal to have on hand in summer heat.  You can make this soup up, store it in the fridge and then take it out and finish it off for any occasion.  When houseguests first arrive, they’re inevitably exhausted from their trip and a bit peck-ish.  It’s nice to greet them with a glass this rich, creamy soup and perhaps a tomato sandwich made with farm stand tomatoes on thin-sliced white bread.  This simple welcome will bide them over until dinner.  You can make up a glorious gazpacho, truly fresh tomato soup or you can put a little French accent on the proceedings with this recipe for Vichyssoise, a completely American invention.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet Corn Gelato and a simply delicious way to serve it.

Fields of Corn at the end of Brick Kiln Road
Country Garden Farm Stand, Scuttlehole Road, Bridgehampton NY

         The two most anticipated vegetables of the summer on the East End have arrived:  Our sweet corn and the ripest, reddest tomatoes of the year!  It’s hard to know which is the most welcome but I found a very different way to enjoy them both in a wonderful appetizer.  I realize I am asking you to think outside the box but once you’ve tasted this incredibly delicious combination, it will not seem all that strange to you.  I pared a rich, creamy and supremely corn-tasting gelato with the peak of the summer’s tomatoes and the result doubles the pleasure of these two seasonal favorites.
Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria, 1 Fifth Ave. NYC
         I first read the recipe for Sweet Corn Gelato in a recent Bon Appetit.  It was one of those ‘request’ recipes where someone falls in love with a restaurant offering and BA manages to coax the recipe out of the chef.  In this case, the gelato had been a dessert course at Otto (1 Fifth Avenue, entrance on 8th St. New York NY Tel: 212-995-9559), Mario Batali’s  downtown Pizza emporium.  This Greenwich Village location has long been a favorite of mine.  I go back—way back—to when it was One Fifth Avenue, a restaurant that had a decidedly Deco feel to it—down to the chairs which the owners had purchased, from the former Cunard liner “Caronia”.  I felt right at home in them as I too had bought them right off the ship when it was laid up in Chelsea.  It was the only ship in history to get a New York City parking ticket for non-payment of its port fees.  But I digress.
Otto is supposedly modeled after an Italian railroad station.  I don’t get the connection at all but it hardly matters because it’s a great place for a pizza, a glass or two of wine, a really nice cheese platter and some extraordinary gelato flavors, like Sweet Corn.
        Of course it was served as a dessert course.  And initially I thought that would be how I would use it.  But when it came time and I tasted this delicious ice cream, I realized it was a great starter.  It tastes like the essence of corn and the wonderful sweetness is a perfect counterpoint to the acidity of a great ripe tomato.
       Before getting to the recipe, I wanted to share a piece of information about corn that came as quite a surprise to me.  I knew that the best corn was fresh-picked and cooked on the same day.  What I didn't know was that you should keep corn, unhusked, in the coldest part of your refrigerator and then husk it just before you cook it.  Corn starts turning sugar into starch the moment it is picked.  The sweetest corn is corn that has the least starch. We are incredibly fortunate in that Country Garden, the farm stand we shop at most often, harvests their corn every morning and, if there's any unsold at the end of the day, it goes into the feed bin.  It is never sold on its second day.  How's that for fresh? Now back to our gelato.
         Making Ice Cream is really quite simple. And if you have children in the house, it’s a great activity to share with them.  It does require a great deal of patience on their part as there are a number of hours of cooling and freezing.  But the results thrill them and guarantee a memory no store-bought ice cream can buy. The flavors you can achieve are astonishing.  A great book on the subject is David Lebovitz’  “The Perfect Scoop” (10 Speed Press, 2007).  But you hardly need to buy it to make Sweet Corn Gelato
However, you do need to have an ice cream maker. If you don’t have one, please get yourself a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker.  They are an integral part of our summer.  There’s a ‘bowl’ which you keep in the freezer and haul out at the last minute. Turn the machine on and then in a final act of patience, you have to put the finished stuff in the freezer for an hour until it hardens up a bit. Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Sweet Corn Gelato adapted from Mario Batali’s Otto Restaurant in NYC

4 ears of sweet corn, preferably white, husked

3 1/2 cups (or more) whole milk

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 cup heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the appetizer:

1 medium ripe tomato per person

Finishing Salt. (I use black Hawaiian “Kilauea” Sea Salt from Williams-Sonoma

1.   Cut kernels from corn cobs. This is easily accomplished by putting the ear of corn flat on a cutting board and cutting the corn off in one straight line.  The cut side then become the “bottom” as you remove the rest of the kernels.   Reserve the cobs and break each one into 2-3 pieces.

2.   Bring milk to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add corn kernels and cobs. Remove mixture from heat, cover, and let steep for 45 minutes.

3.   Remove cobs from milk; discard. Purée mixture in batches in a blender. Set a coarse strainer over a large bowl. Strain mixture, pressing on solids; discard solids. Add more milk if needed to measure 3 1/2 cups.

4.   Bring corn mixture, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and cream to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

5.   Set a strainer over a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a medium heat proof bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture; return to saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until custard registers 175° on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.

6.   Immediately pour custard through strainer. Place bowl with custard over a large bowl of ice water. Let stand until cold, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cover and refrigerate custard for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.

7.   Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container; freeze for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. 

8.   Make the Appetizer.  Slice the tomatoes and fan the piece out on the plate.  Take one medium scoop of Sweet Corn Gelato and center it on the sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle sea salt over both tomatoes and gelato.  I use white sea salt on the gelato and black salt on the tomatoes.  Garnish with a sprig of basil and serve at once.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Lardons and Fried Egg Adapted from Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton NY

        It was hard to imagine the depths of despair that a lot of people felt when, in the middle of last winter, one of our favorite restaurants abruptly closed their doors.  Not only that, but they auctioned off the contents of the place, leaving us all wondering if Almond was gone forever.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Episcopalian Chopped Liver

        For my final Chewing the Fat post of the year, I wanted to share a recipe I developed about 25 years ago.  It appeared in Saveur magazine and if you google it, you’ll find it on several of recipe sites.  To me, what’s odd is that there’s no explanation on any of these sites that gives any indication of why it is called what it is.  The Saveur article gave the whole tale but neither the recipe nor the story (nor its author, by the way), made it onto  So here is the tale and the recipe.  I just made it for our Holiday Open House and once again, it was a huge hit. 
“Among the delicacies of Jewish American cooking, chopped liver is surely one of the greatest.  Its ingredients are humble:  Chicken livers, onions, eggs, salt, pepper and schmaltz.  As anyone with a knowledge of Jewish American idiom will tell you, schmaltz and its adjectival schmaltzy  means something that is over-done, over-decorated, over-emotional, over-the-top.  Schmaltz is chicken fat.  And when you put it together with the other ingredients in chopped liver, you have an appetizer that is unquestionably over the top.   It is a marvelous taste, rich and satisfying and rivaling any great pate.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wild Mushroom and Leek Tart

David Falkowski's  Oyster Mushrooms are beyond compare
Leeks from the Foster Family Farm
        One of the joys of being part of the Farmer’s Markets this fall has been getting first dibs on some incredible produce.  The market opens at 9 but everyone is generally in place before that.  I feel like an early bird at a Yard Sale because before we welcome our paying customers, I do a little shopping.  The bread from Blue Duck Bakery is superb.  You’ve read how good David Falkowski’s mushrooms are.  And right next to where I am, from the Foster Family farm in Sagaponack, there’s a beautiful array of vegetables every week.  That the farm still operates is a bit of a miracle:  The land is so valuable that mostly what has sprouted up in the neighboring fields are multi-million dollar houses.  At one point, Sagaponack was listed as the most expensive Zip code in the country.  But the Fosters carry on.  The soil in Sagaponack is said to be about the best on the East Coast.  Left behind millennia ago when the glaciers retreated, it’s six feet of loam in places!  So you can imagine how beautiful everything that’s grown there is.  Last week, I could not resist the leeks.  Putting them together with two of David’s mushroom varieties—dried porcinis and fresh Oyster Mushrooms— seemed the perfect thing to do.