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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Mi Casa Restaurant in Cabo San Lucas

Mi Casa Restaurant in Cabo San Lucas

Christmas eve dinner @ Mi Casa was fantastic. The bar area was quiet when we arrived @ 7:00pm. Entering through the gift shop/ tequila emporium is something to behold. Settling in at the table, we realized that this is a serious restaurant with food and service in mind. Every dish was spectacular, real food, handmade, locally grown. When the band stopped at our table to entertain us and the room, they stayed just long enough to make our Mi Casa experience special.

On ordering we explained that it was our intention to make the church on time for Christmas eve service. The church is 1/2 a block away. Every minute for the next hour was perfect. The soup “De Tia” (chicken stock and vegetables) may well have been prepared by someones favorite aunt, a splendidly simple chicken soup. Read More »

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Potato Soup with Bluefish

Harvest season came early this year. With that in mind a late September event seemed appropriate to Roman Roth when East End Hospice asked him to host a fundraiser on the Wolffer Estate. Generally vineyard hands in Bridgehampton start getting busy in the first week of October, this year was different. Due to continuous warm, sunny days in August and September, the grapes were ready for their bins ahead of schedule. As a result Roman’s plate was full on the last Saturday in September with a full team in the vineyards finishing up the harvest, and 1200 guests in a tent sampling food and wine from our regions best chefs and vineyards. Read More »

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Quail Hill Farm, Common Table Dinner including a Shiitake Mushroom Stuffed Pork Loin

As the sun began to sink in the sky to the west of Quail Hills’ apple orchard, the activity around our “Common Table” began to stir. The table was set for 180, forks and knives in place, wine glasses shining in the afternoon light, a burlap table cloth in place lay flat on the surface that ran the length of a football field.

My family arrived just in time to set their plates at the western end of the table. Our guests Cinnie and Julia May gazed across the table into the orchard and began to ask questions about what was in store for this special evening.

The nights menu was to be prepared by 5 chefs from some of the areas busiest kitchens. A bouillabaisse would be presented by Kevin Penner, Coq au Vin from Brian Futterman, bite size Croque Monsuire as Joesph Realmuto imagined it, James Carpenter arranged a wonderful Charcouterie and Cheese plate, and my Shiitake Mushroom Stuffed Pork Loin complimented the main courses. Read More »

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Squash rounds with hot quinoa, pepper squares and curry sauce

As the fall season sets in, creative programming becomes standard practice here at The Little Kitchen. I reach out to those who have a following in the food business but need a room to touch the customer. In this case the lovely Giulianna Torre from East Hamptons’ Juicy Naam has agreed to team up with me. We’ve created a vegetarian tasting menu supported by wine pairings from the Heller Estate, an organic winery and vineyard that’s been making wine in Carmel Valley California organically for over 30 years.

Last month, as the leaves began to turn we sat down and discussed our goal of creating a menu specific to vegetables and grains. During our chat, as we were bouncing ideas for quinoa around, Giulianna mentioned a memorable dish that she enjoyed in Manhattan, back in September at The Waverly Inn. She went on to describe a combination of organic red quinoa and diced vegetables with a sensuous green curry sauce, “but how to prepare it? What were the main ingredients?” I asked. Read More »

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Chili Rubbed Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash Puree & Sauteed Swiss Chard

Cooking for a living “is hardly glamorous” as Peter Sherwood suggests in his recent Cookingvillage.com piece, Celebrity Bites. And there are times—especially when I find myself slaving over a hot stove during the height of a dinner rush—I have to agree. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a labor of love, or extremely rewarding in the end. And, sometimes, the most un-glamorous cooking methods yield the sexiest dishes.

Being in charge of the menus at my restaurants gives me a great deal of freedom, taking me out of the kitchen (with its attendant hot stove) to explore and taste. Most often, inspiration comes to me from cookbooks. When I’m looking for juice, I often find myself walking the racks of used bookstores; the tomes that usually catch my eye offer more stories than they do recipes, more process than precision.

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Apple and Camembert Harvest Salad for 4

A period sits at the end of my 2009 season, regular Monday afternoon trips to Manhattan commence. Today I chose to drive, not my normal choice as I find the Jitney far more productive, faster, safer and more “footprint friendly”. However it is my duty to return Oliver (corgi) to his “regular” routine as a Central Park tree sniffer.

After a productive lunch shift @ The Little Kitchen we set off on the back roads, as the turn onto North Sea Mecox came into view it occurred to me that the Islands’ best apples were on sale on the east side of the triangle. I’ve been told that the trees on this triangle are special; but I never made time to stop, today was the day for a taste (and for Ollie a last pee) before hitting the LIE.

As we approached I noticed that the table was full and the proprietor on site, she was overjoyed with Oliver & we made friends quickly. I was looking for 2 specific apples, one soft for baking and one crisp and sweet for a matchstix cut that would compliment a sharp cheddar sliced the same way.

When I asked, she smiled and told me that it had been a few years since she had taken a bite of her apples,”Hard to keep track with so few teeth”. The transaction was easy, she had a mixed bag that offered enough for me to make my own choice. It also reminded me how things should be, teach yourself then make your own decisions.
A crisp, sweet apple tells it’s own story, a good baker will be softer, rounder and less assertive on the first bite. In time, if you live near the trees you’ll know which one produces the best results from an oven or on the breakfast table. If you don’t know the tree let the first bite guide the menu.

For the Apple and Camembert Harvest Salad:

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