Pan Roasted Striped Bass with Amber Farms Wheat Berry and Rice Cakes

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 pounds Striped Bass
1/4 cup butter

1 cup wheat berries
1 cup organic brown rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup mixed chopped herbs
2/3 cup egg whites

This dish has supported our menu since the striped bass season opened on Long Island last July. The cakes are sometimes finished with mushrooms and truffle oil, sometimes sesame oil and sesame seeds, today with herbs from our garden, olive oil and egg whites. Read More »

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The Whalers Church Community Fund

I had a chance to share a few recipes and a story or two at the Whalers Church in Sag Harbor tonight. The crowd was alert and interested, what more could a guy ask for?

The Whalers Church is one of my favorite spots on Long Islands East End. It serves the community in more ways than I had imagined. Not only does it serve as a church and gathering point for the local food pantry, “The Whalers” is also a gathering place for all sorts of local groups. It’s an iconic building that has provided safe shelter and inspiration for Sag Harbor residents ever since this Village was more important to New York’s economic success than Manhattan. Hard to believe, and even more surprising to learn that this fabulous building is in need of fundraising support on a monthly basis.

That’s how tonight’s cooking class came to be, another of many positive efforts put on by the Community Fund. We had about 35 people show up, they all paid for my introduction to eating local. The recipes that follow were the focus of this 2 hour conversation.

It was an honor to serve my community tonight. I was happy to see the interest in our guests eyes, to hear their questions and watch them taste the flavors that come from farms and gardens that surround us.

whalers-church-s

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Cocojito

Cocojito

In the end of August, on a balmy Wednesday night I traveled to Montauk with Rupert for a sample of the offerings at Sean McPherson’s beach bar “The Crows Nest”.

Dinner was excellent. My favorite choice was the Kale Salad. Service was on the money, too. My take away came off the bar.

They were featuring a cocktail made with coconut water, mint, and some sort of rum. I don’t drink alcohol, the drink was delicious served virgin. I’m going to call it the Cocojito.

We don’t serve spirits at The Little Kitchen so I chose raw organic agave syrup and lime juice as a replacement. The muddled mint comes from our garden. It helps to shake the “Cocojito” on ice before serving. Try it in a 16 oz. shaker glass. Add a shot of Bacardi for the extra kick.

8 oz. coconut water
2 oz. lime juice
2 oz. raw organic agave syrup
5 mint leaves crushed on the bottom of the glass

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Lymanade, with cucumber and mint

The A. Sisters with Lymanade flavors

On Sunday last week a hurricane roared through Sag Harbor, her name was Irene and in the end my lemon cucumber plants were stripped of their leaves. Not a problem as the plants seem to be regenerating with new flowers and the existing cucumbers are much easier to find with the thinned foliage.

Lemon Cucumbers from the Estia garden for Lymanade recipe

Lemon Cucumbers from the Estia garden for Lymanade recipe

We’ve had a regular at the East Hampton farmers market asking for our Cucumber Mint Lymanade for a few weeks now. The A. Sisters table featured raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, peach, and cantaloupe Lymanades as the season has progressed. Now it’s time to respond to the call for the Mojito mixer that’s been a late summer hit for the past 3 years.

Lymanade Variety

Lymanade Variety

Each of our Lymanades feature a different seasonal, locally harvested fruit, but the basic recipe remains the same. Combine equal parts of lemon and lime juice (1 cup each) and then that much fruit puree (2 cups) with enough simple syrup to soften the citrus (1/2 to 1 cup)
and shake in an recycled wine bottle, chill and serve over ice with soda or your favorite spirit. Read More »

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Vegetable stuffed peppers with Amber Waves wheat berries

Another Tuesday on Quail Hill, sunny, dry, August at it’s best. I waited for a little girl to finish using the pitch fork in the potato bed. Her hair was tied back in a pink bandanna. If she dug 10 potatoes I’d be surprised but that’s not what it was all about. The look in her eyes, excitement on her face and tone of her voice screamed the story of perfect summer adventure.

On this particular evening we had an Amagansett resident visiting our table, he lives in a house that sits on the hill that overlooks Quail Hill’s fields. He’s an old family friend who’s been a vegetarian for years, oh sure a little fish, some chicken but when Alec comes to dinner, we always make an effort to include a vegetable center piece on the menu to ensure a full belly for the big man. Read More »

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Scallops and Prawns in Peach Ginger Sauce

Scallops and Prawns in Peach Ginger Sauce

This is one of the easiest “oh boy this is great” grilling recipes I know! A few basics to get started. Ask the fish man for 10-20 prawns and 10-20 sea scallops. That simply means that you’d like shellfish that come 10 to 20 per pound. When the prawns are thawed remove the main shell but leave the head and tail on. With a small knife slice the back of the prawn open and run the butterflied pieces under cold water to rinse away the brown stuff.

To clean the scallops, remove the muscle which is a little chip of flesh that comes off with the flick of your thumb.

Ingredients (serves 8):

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Hanger Steak & Fettuccine with arugula, garlic and butter

My daughters gave me a back yard fire pit for Fathers Day, it’s awesome. Tonight I tried a hanger steak on the grill and was amazed at the wonderful smokey flavor that placed this steak near the top of my lifetime list.

When I planned tonight’s’ dinner at the end of a long day it was the lemon pepper fettuccine that had my attention. I organized the ingredients quickly, having made the pasta for tomorrow’s farmers market in Amagansett earlier in the afternoon. The garlic and arugula came from the garden, and I had a piece of Parmesan in the fridge. Read More »

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Chilatole – Pork in Salsa Verde

Dave Bondlow got up early on Thursday morning and drove to Pine Plains New York to a small slaughter house that handles animals raised on farms in the immediate area using humane practices. He picked up one 180 pound pig, split and chilled.

As soon as Dave arrived in Sag Harbor I got busy breaking down the carcass, first removing the primals then separating the rib bones from the loins. The art of butchery takes time, as a novice working with whole animals, this was an exciting first step.

Serving 180 pounds of pork calls for a plan and this one was generated by a wedding rehearsal dinner that I executed for my late friend Christian Wolffer and his ex wife Naomi Wolffer-Marks. It was in celebration of their daughter Joanna’s wedding to Max, a handsome young man that she meet on a train 3 years ago. Read More »

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Jessica’s Asian Chicken Meatball Soup

I’ve been married to my wonderful wife Jessica for almost 20 years. The union has been spectacular, producing 3 wonderful daughters, several restaurants, a few comfortable homes and a common understanding that I cook and she drives the girls from here to there and back again. Tonight the menu has to be soft, Jessica has had oral surgery and as the pain and throbbing progresses, so will her hunger.
Soft chicken meat balls with spinach and Asian spice simmer in chicken stock as I write.

Why Asian spice you might ask. The truth is today I have no garlic in my pantry, if I did, this dish would have been made with 2 cloves. Instead I turn to the mystery jar, labeled only in Japanese. My best friend from grade school is married to a lovely Japanese woman. She is so wonderful that today she works in Japan for free, serving her country, rescuing dogs and cats that were orphaned in the earth quake. My friend Jeff has been home alone in LA for several weeks now, while his bride Mayu lives on the other side of the Pacific. Read More »

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Roli Roti Pork Belly with chili, ginger, garlic & cilantro

Roli Roti Pork

You’ll find a grocery on the edge of South Norwalk near the Rt. 7 extension with blue awnings. It’s called The SONO Country Market. My buddy “Hoops” calls it the pig store. There’s an excellent butcher at the “Pig Store” his name’s Arullio and he smiled when I asked for a piece of pork loin with the belly meat attached, rib bones removed.

My vision for this dish comes from a truck at the farmers market on the Ferry Building property in San Fransisco. The outfit is called Roli Roti, a rotisserie on wheels. Their pork sandwich rocks! In my view the trick is on the butchers cut. That’s where Arullio comes into the picture. He did what I asked when he prepared this special cut, bone off, belly on, pork loin. Read More »

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Chili con Carne

Chili con Carne

The fire’s blazing as I sit at home in East Hampton after a busy day in the “Little Kitchen”. We’ve had Chili con carne specials for years. It’s a good winter dish that supports the breakfast list as an omelet filler, Chili and jack cheese. It is served by the bowl at lunch. The recipes we use have come from the back of our minds as Raul and I improvise our way through the short, cold days of February.

This recipe is being organized with continuity in mind. As Auggie, our hard working prep cook aspires to a sous chef position, writing a chili recipe for Auggie is a labor of love. Today’s Chili con Carne and Jack Cheese Omelet were a hit. We also saw several tables share the Chili and Cheese Dip special with guacamole and corn chips.

Ingredients to serve a party of 10:

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One Legged Shepherds Pie

One Legged Shepherds Pie - it's made with Chicken!

This recipe was developed because last nights roasted chicken went uneaten. I call it “One Legged Shepherds Pie” because it seems logical that after loosing a leg, a sheep herder might scale back to chickens.

If you don’t have time to make the chicken stock from scratch its ok to make the sauce by combining 16 oz of chicken broth from a can with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste (double concentrated, from a tube “Amore”) and 1/2 cup Merlot or other red wine in a sauce pan and reduce by more than 1/2 (about 1 cup). Read More »

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whittier and Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Muffins for her class

Last night Whittier and I made 2 dozen blueberry muffins for her class breakfast scheduled for this morning. Then it snowed 14 inches overnight, the phone rang at 4:30 am: “Snow Day”. We put the blueberry muffins in two Ziplock bags and set them aside for Friday.

That’s when Whittier mentioned that she has 90 kids in her 6th grade class. Something wasn’t right, 2 dozen muffins, was someone else bringing muffins? In fact the answer was yes, one other family, but we were asked to bring 4 dozen “mixed muffins” so we went back to the oven.

Tonight we’re making Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins (with no nuts, a must in today’s school breakfast list of rules). Read More »

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Chicken and Chorizo Meatball Soup – Albondigas

Albondigas

The first time that I saw “Albondigas” on a menu was at our Christmas dinner in an excellent neighborhood restaurant outside of Cabo San Lucas. At La Fonda the Albondigas (meatballs) were served in a heavy tomato sauce on a large plate as an entree. After a bit of research I found that the Mexican meatball preparation is similar to the Italian preparation, of course a spicy sausage is used, in this case chorizo.

To adapt the recipe for The Little Kitchen we’ve used our house made ground chicken in place of ground beef. Another twist is using pre-cooked brown rice instead of bread crumbs. Read More »

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Whole Grain Pancakes

The New York Times called them “Eye-openers in the morning”. I’ll go along with that. For years I’ve played around with many different whole wheat recipes for our pancake specials. Last Wednesday, “The Minimalist” Mark Bittman set me straight. The trick to these moist pancakes, in my mind, is in the pre-cooked oatmeal.

I’ve taken liberties with Mr Bittman’s recipe, removing the white flour and adding wheat germ. The Little Kitchen approach also modified the texture further by removing nuts and fruit. Thereby allowing my staff the option of offering a whole grain variety with bananas one day and granola the next. Read More »

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Red lentil and chorizo soup for the “Empty Bowls” fundraiser in Springs

My day started at the restaurant. After checking in with our regular Sunday morning breakfast crowd, tasting a new whole grain pancake recipe and writing a new schedule, I packed out 5 gallons of soup. Oliver (our corgi) and I delivered the package to the “Empty Bowls” fundraiser in Springs.

The kitchen air, steamy from a dozen soups coming to a simmer on the stove, hit me in the face as I entered the firehouse door. Several chefs buzzed about tending to the days preparations. Some serious, some casual and chatty. I felt a community service vibe, one that makes everybody a winner. Leading the charge, organizers Joe Realmuto and Bryan Futterman had their sleeves rolled up, big smiles on their faces, too. Joe & Bryan, both local chefs, initiated this annual event a few years ago to generate funds to purchase seeds and supplies for the greenhouse at the Springs school.

Yesterday Raul and Auggie set up our contribution, a Red lentil & chorizo soup.

The following recipe has been modified to serve a family of 5 with some left over for another meal. Read More »

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Jicama and Toasted Butternut Squash Seed Salad

Mijita is a taco bar in the Ferry Building on San Francisco’s waterfront, in the shadow of the Bay Bridge, just off the Embarcadero. Colorful, sunny and friendly, this taco bar offers the real thing. There’s a comal in the window (handmade tortillas), a few jars of Agua fresca (fresh juices) on ice in the counter and a crisp “ensalada de jicama” on the menu.

We tried the fish taco (pescado), the pork taco (carnitas) the breakfast standard (chillaquillas) and the jicama salad. All garnished with wonderful flavors, including lime (pescado) pickled carrots and delicious red beans topped with queso fresco (chillaquillas).

The dish that turned my head was the jicama salad. I liked it because it was crisp and cold, tangy and crunchy. But it was missing a little something and that’s where I’ll take it at the Little Kitchen. Read More »

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The Taqueria in San Jose called El Fogon

San Jose is the first village south of Cabo San Lucas near the Sea of Cortez. The centro, or town center, is full of restaurants that share a Mexican flavor and silver shops, ice cream parlors, gift shops and the like. Very colorful, sprinkled with tradition.

We found what we were looking for a few blocks away, near the “freeway” in a Taqueria called El Faogon. The menu is posted on a large wall opposite the open kitchen. As you sit down a server approaches the table with a traditional plate filled with salsas and a smooth, buttery guacamole. We discussed the papas de arrachera, she explained (through our guide) that they were baked potatoes filled with braised beef, carrots, onions, and cheese. The wall also offered Papas de cameron, and adobada (shrimp and pork), so we tried one of each. Read More »

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Fish Tacos at the Tequila Sunrise Restaurant in Todos Santos

Yellow tail, grilled and served over corn tortillas. That’s how Manuel started to describe his fish taco presentation at “Tequila Sunrise”. He had me there, then he went on to describe the garlic and herb marmalade that makes these tacos so perfect.

Manuel is the owner of the Tequila Sunrise restaurant in Todos Santos, on Baja Sur, Mexico. The son of an Italian father and Mexican mother, he has arranged his local/organic offerings to represent both traditions. Read More »

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La Fonda Restaurant in Cabo San Lucas

‘This little place is made with a lot of heart—a real Mexican kitchen.” That’s what it says on top of the menu and it’s true.

Outstanding “Mole de la Casa” for anyone who wonders how it should be served in the authentic approach. They offer it with chicken or pork. We chose chicken, a succulent breast off the bone smothered with a black, very complex sauce, dusted with sesame seeds. Another choice featured perfectly braised pork in a “Pipan Verde Mole”, a heady pumpkin seed enhanced sauce.

We learned an important rule as it relates to dining at La Fonda. Choose either a variety of starters to share (empanaditas, queso fondido, tostadas & tacos) or the substantial entrees, we did both and it was overwhelming. The main plates are huge.

Everything is fresh and made with care. Service is spot on and the father and son who stroll from table to table singing with guitar in hand make
La Fonda splendid.

This is a neighborhood restaurant that sets a high bar, the menu is huge and needs to be navigated carefully.

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