Winter Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Lots of time between entries. The world has changed since July 4, 2008. Estelle and I parted ways in September. She left The Bridge first, for the season. I closed the kitchen on November  3rd. Estelle will remain the exec. chef, I will seek new employment. The Bridge lasted until late November, a good season. Brian and I continue to campaign the property, hard to predict it’s reopening schedule. The world’s economic balance has shifted, like a slick log on a river.

Today I helped a friend prepare chicken soup for her table. I was asked to help teach her a basic first step. The process seems easy, try it and see.

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Garden Fresh Arugula Vinaigrette

The temperature hit 95 yesterday, no air conditioning in the kitchen here at “The Bridge” made for an uncomfortable shift. My high point was a harvest visit to the clubs’ kitchen garden. There’s a valley below the entrance to the clubhouse here, about 250 yards from the kitchen door. The garden sits in an old sandy road bed, contained by a 12 foot fence, supported by a high tech watering system in all about 3000 square feet. Bob Rubin thought it would be a good addition to the grounds, he did it right.

The soil is 50/50 blend of compost and topsoil from Long Island compost, it measures about 18 inches in depth and has proven a perfect host for everything that I’ve planted to date.

On Saturday evening we produced our first cocktail party of the season. It was a birthday party for one of the members wives, 75 people, 6-8pm. The kitchen staff had prepared a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres and a raw bar. The crowd hardly touched the food. As a result we had a good deal of freezing to do, the club staff has also been eating well since then. Apparently the guests all had reservations and chose not to ruin their appetite.

Tuna was a big hit at the opening luncheon the following day and even more sushi grade tuna remained. Read More »

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Cool Spinach and Onion dip

It’s a quiet morning on the ridge line, when the wind blows hard (as it is today) the clubhouse at “The Bridge” moans and groans under the stress that its sail like design catches every blast of north wind, only the sound of whistles and howls gets through. The dining room with its 20 mile view over Shelter Island and beyond is still, not a breath of wind moves into the air tight chamber.

Mothers day weekend has come and gone, the kitchen team here had high hopes for a busy lunch shift, keenly interested in honing our skills with the menu that will grow larger and more complicated as the season progresses. We have a few veterans of last years service with us. The design of this room is more streamlined after the first season exposed assorted foibles and flow problems. It’s all straight out now and the chance to test our understanding of the plates and begin to choreograph the dance of a busy lunch service will require an active member involvement. It didn’t happen this weekend, 31 covers on Saturday and 21 on Sunday, Mothers day. Read More »

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Grapefruit Glazed Chicken Breast with ginger & garlic green beans & basmati rice

The past three weeks have started in a new light for me, literally. Every morning since April 7th I’ve rolled out of bed at 5:45 am. It’s been far easier than I imagined, when the windows in our bedroom begin to hold light my internal alarm shakes a bell. How this happens I’m not sure but I’ve been diligent about laying down by 10:30 every night. I’m up early because by 6:45 am the Bridge requires my full attention.

Working on a Bridgehampton ridge line that is The Bridge golf club has opened my eyes to a new world in food service. Because it’s a premium private club, only available to members who have invested a kings ransom to use the facility, we must be ready to serve a full menu for breakfast and lunch. Interesting to note that there isn’t even a breakfast menu although we are to be prepared for most any request. To date our busiest day has been 27 guests. Today we served no one. Read More »

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Veal Picatta with whole grain rice and artichoke

Tax day, the checks have been mailed (at 4:50pm in the general box at the East Hampton Post office, the line was out the door). After my trip to Gay Lane I headed to the golf course for a round in the perfect light of an East End spring evening. As I stepped off the 3rd tee and looked back toward the clubhouse I watched an osprey hunting over the second cut on the 16th fairway. It’s wings backing up holding the big bird in place as it eyed the movement of a rodent below.

After putting on the 13th green, ocean side, I dropped my putter near the flag and took a moment to step up on the dune and admire the perfect blue of todays’ ocean. The tide was out and the waves rolled in gently, touching the dog tracks that ran from Wyborg to the Jetty. This was my moment to relate thanks to my higher power, I’m lucky to be alive today. Read More »

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Shrimp & Vegetable stir fry w/ Lundgren’s wild rice mix

The Little Kitchen is on the market now. A bitter sweet situation as the price, if it sells will go along way toward supporting our family in the years to come. I’ve put all I can into the business over the years including moving profits from the sale of our Amagansett Café into the mortgage in Sag Harbor. Today we have a productive little business that keeps 6 people fully employed and it provides me with a part time commitment. I’ve put it on the market as a test to see if the value really does exceed 2 million dollars. If that’s the case it’s time to sell and open a new chapter in my life. If not, we’ll stay the course.

On Wednesday night the kids had a dinner at home prepared by Nanny Mimi, she makes a great effort but sometimes the results fall short of expectations. That was the case on this particular Taco Night. So Jess called on Thursday morning asking if I might come in to prepare “a healthy” dinner for the girls prior to our outing to a political fund raiser hosted by our friend and neighbor Cash Conway. Read More »

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Pan Roasted Chicken with garlic, rosemary, potatoes and broccoli

On Sunday afternoon lunch was served in Bob and Stephane Rubins dining room. They started with an espresso cup containing an organic vegetable puree with mini croutons and pomegranate syrup. Course two featured angel hair pasta in a pool of Parmesan broth, topped with a greenhouse salad from Quail Hill tossed in a red wine vinaigrette and topped with 2 poached quail eggs. The fish course utilized red lentils 2 ways, poached in a shrimp/saffron stock and crushed and crusted on local skin on cod over asparagus. The trick with the red lentil crust seems to be a dip flesh side down in egg whites and then a press in the ground red lentil, transfer to a preheated skillet over high heat with a shot of grapeseed oil. The color was brilliant, everyone seemed pleased and they offered me the job. I accepted, we begin preparing the kitchen for year 2 of service on April 1. Read More »

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Phesant for Four

The pond in February is a haven for ducks, geese, a few blue herons and the same 2 swans that draw my attention every time I walk the dog. Today could have been a scene from Dark shadows, a fog hung heavy over the East End. For the first time in a month I came across a deer crossing the 13th fairway, it watched me and then caught wind of the dog. Bounding left to right, white tail in full display it was gone in an instant.

A new chef position has come into view, in the end of January I heard that the new Bridgehampton Golf club “The Bridge” has been searching for a sous chef. The idea of following someone else’s lead was interesting to me so I followed up. After attempting direct contact to no avail I called my friend Marvin Shanken, a member of  The Bridge and he opened the door. A few weeks later in mid February I was invited to meet with the clubs General manager Roger. That interview lead to a meeting with the owner Bob Rubin and his wife Stephane which lead to a test luncheon prepared with the executive chef Estelle at Rubin’s home in Watermill. Read More »

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Butternut squash soup


2 pieces butternut squash, split and seeded
2 cups turnips, peeled and diced
1 large celery root, peeled and quartered
½ cup Spanish onion, ½ inch pieces
½ cup olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
salt & white pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees, rub all vegetables and place them on sheet pans.
Roast for 30-45 minutes until they begin to soften (onions will be ready first).
Bring all liquids to a simmer in a soup pot.

When the butternut squash is soft, remove the flesh from its shell and place in a food processor, run on low setting, slowly drizzling the hot liquid in as you puree, then add the rest of the vegetables cut into smaller pieces. When the whole recipe is in the processor (or blender) run on high for 30 seconds or until smooth. Then taste and season.

Serve with small croutons and a drizzle of reduced pomegranate juice or pomegranate molasses.

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Sea Scallop Schnitzel

As winters go, this one has been mild, no heavy freeze, very little snow, plenty of weekday customers at The Little Kitchen. A nice change from past winters filled with snow plowing, frozen pipes and empty dining rooms.

The same pair of swans move about on Hook pond enjoying the mild winter. My neighbor Lisa Ryan told me that another Dunemere Lane resident, Doug Mercer saved the frozen swan and delivered it to the wild life rescue center. Apparently the approach that worked involved walking out on the ice and placing a cloth bag over the bird’s head. This calms them enough to move to a safer place. As for the remaining pair they spend most of their time working in the same location of last springs nest.

In the last week of January on the 26th, a Saturday night we hosted a German Inspired Dinner featuring wines from the Wolffer Estate. I was pleased to watch as the reservation book filled up in the hours that followed the news letters release to the people on Wolffers’ List. In the end 65 people attended the 2 seatings. Read More »

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Manilla Clam and Parsley Spaghetti (for One in this case)

The swans have moved on, most of them anyhow. On my run to the beach this afternoon I only saw 2 mixed in with the hundreds of Canada geese that reside on Hook pond this time of the year. Last week we had a cold spell with the temperature dipping into the teens for several days. As the pond began to freeze solid, I came across an older swan in a small hole in the ice just to the south of the 4th tee box. The bird was moving in a sluggish manner and had little room to move. I did my best to get it to fly by brushing a long branch within 2 feet of the hole in the ice, to no avail. The next day as it was even colder I set out to check and found the bird totally frozen in but still alive, there was nothing to do but wait. That night the weather broke and in the morning of the third day the temperature had reached 40 degrees. In the afternoon I was pleased to see that the hole was empty and it appeared that there had been no struggle as I checked the remaining Ice. Today the ice is gone and the thermometer outside our kitchen door reads 52 degrees. Read More »

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Penne and Ham

Upon arrival in Hobe sound on Christmas Day we enjoyed a dinner of Baked Ham and Asparagus with Frank Mansell and his girlfriend Sandy Taylor. Frank’s faithful chef Kreta has loosened her grip on the kitchen just enough to allow me the honor of preparing the occasional meal for my children. On the second day after Christmas I was allowed access to make pasta for Whittier as she wasn’t invited to dinner at The Yacht club due to the rules, you must be 10 to dine there for regular dinner service, Whittie’s just 9. Read More »

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Apple Sauce in glass jars as gifts

Christmas is in the air on Dunemere lane. This Saturday after breakfast the Ambrose family set out to find a tree and by days end the chosen one was standing in the eastern most corner of our family room. The tree stands just over 7 feet tall, a balsam fir, it smells like Christmas and after a few hours of family time (and a few slices of yesterdays pizza) it looks like Christmas. Read More »

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London Broil Steak and Pine Nut-Crusted Tilapia

Family dinner on 96th Street last night was splendid.  On Jessica’s request, I prepared a London broil steak with thin cut French Fries and toasted garlic broccoli.  And for Lyman:  Pine nut-crusted tilapia with tangerine sauce.  In the middle of the table, a roasted Spaghetti Squash with sautéed red pepper and onions was served. Read More »

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Bass straight from the beach turned into rolled fillets of succulence

This was a family weekend to remember: 4 evenings in a row with all 5 of us in attendance each night with friends at a different table. The highlight of the weekend was last night Saturday at the Streeps. Thanksgiving dinner #2 — an annual event. Prior to Dinner we went to the beach, walking the dogs and casting a popper at the Jetty off Wieborg beach. We came up on a group of locals in pick up trucks towing a dory and to our great surprise we had a chance to watch them set the haul seine.

Mansell took a series of photos to document the event, a celebration of the sea on the beaches of East Hampton that may soon be completely outlawed. As the team pulled in the net, the large bass were tossed into the back of the truck while the shorts were returned to the sea, some too weak to make there way back into the shallow waves of low tide, a dramatic sight on this harvest moon.

As we were leaving, the girls asked one of the fishermen if they would mind if we picked up one of the short fish that had washed back up on the beach, he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. That was permission to us so we picked the exhausted fish up off the beach and carried it home in my tackle bag.

Lyman loves fish, this recipe was designed to use every ounce of our harvest. As the girls watched, I cleaned the fish, first removing it’s head and then opening the belly with thumb sized minnows pouring out on to the cutting board. Next step, slice the fillets from the spine to the tail and then remove the skin by laying the fillets skin side down on a cutting board and sliding the knife from tail end forward separating the skin from the flesh completely without having to scale the fish first. Next step is to go back to the remaining skeleton and trimming all the left over flesh.

This flesh is then diced fine and mixed with diced shallot and red pepper, parsley, salt & pepper. Sautee the mixture with butter slowly over low heat until the mixture is almost cooked through.

On the cutting board slice the boneless fillets in half from tail forward creating cardboard thin slices of fish (use your sharpest knife). Then roll the mixture into the fillets and spear them with a toothpick size piece of dried linguine.

For service roast 1 medium sized Spaghetti squash (@375 for 45 minutes w/ olive oil & water) and then remove the flesh, stir in 4 tablespoons butter, 1 cup diced shallots, red pepper and parsley mixed with a seasoning of salt and pepper. Place this mixture in a casserole and top it with the striped bass rolls, bake @375 for 25-20 minutes.

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Thanksgiving – how to make stuffing, creamed onions, butternut squash puree, and pumpkin pie

A Thanksgiving dinner promotion at the Little Kitchen kept me busy all day, working with Raul in a quiet kitchen, the dining room empty (it’s Tuesday and we’re closed) made for an exceptional day. He works efficiently and keeps his station clean. The stuffing recipe called for 6 loaves of bread, 2 seven grain, 2 Tuscan loaves & 2 rye. The bread was cut into cubes and then dusted with chopped parsley, oregano and allspice. Then Raul tossed it with olive oil and toasted the herbed bread cubes. In the morning we will add sautéed celery and shallots and then stuff 4 turkeys, a few sheet pans of the remaining croutons will be soaked with turkey stock and milk then toasted then stirred and toasted some more. Read More »

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Blackfish and Tomato Stew

The Brussels sprouts at Quail Hill are ready for harvest, many larger ones at the base of the plants were picked weeks ago but I’m finding the small top sprouts to be tasty and quick to prepare in the pan. Sautéed with a few chopped shallots and a tablespoon of butter they only take a few minutes. This weekend we’re serving them with a blackfish and tomato stew with Israeli cous cous. I like the little pasta balls which require the same amount of cooking time as the 7oz fish fillets (bluefish or weakfish would work with this recipe too). Read More »

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Poached egg and Chinese cabbage salad with pumpkin emulsion

Last weekend on Sunday night we hosted the 13th annual Quail Hill harvest dinner at Estia’s Little Kitchen. On staff, Lyman (14) & Mansell (12) Ambrose with Nicholas (16) & Christopher (13) Cinque. It was a rewarding evening for me and it seemed our guests enjoyed it too. In the prayer I gave thanks for the color of Quail Hill eggs and the beautiful beets that we add to salads, I also mentioned how much all the little hands help. On Saturday we harvested raspberries with the Briggs girls, in 15 minutes pie pans were full, not the case when I harvest alone and certainly a lot more fun to watch the children harvest, 1 for me 3 for you. Read More »

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Olive Oil Braised Fennel


– 2 large fennel heads, remove fennel tops
– Slice the trimmed fennel from root to steam
– Place the fennel in 2 cups of olive oil over medium heat and turn after 5 minutes.
– Now transfer to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving plate, squeeze a lemon over the top.
If they are small top with diced tomato, season with sea salt.

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Eggplant & Perfect Tomato Napoleon w/ purple basil & cream cheese

After further research the swan report has changed. We still have a single signet on Hook Pond and the birds feathers are still grey, I did not see it fly. The sky is blue and a light breeze moves. At least 20 swans move about. Ernie Clark explained the gathering of swans at the bridge, it’s a gaggle of males that have yet to hook up. They are eating something off the bottom, ravenous, preparing for a long flight south. I wish I could find out where they will winter.

Tonight I eat alone at home. Quail Hill delivered vegetables at 4 pm and my poached meal was the bounty. It’s tomato season so the red & yellow varieties from our special salad looked great, a head of fennel made the bag and I grabbed an eggplant too. My choice of protein was the remaining 6 inch end of last weekends pork loin special. Since Raul chose to trim the fat our refrigerator came to the rescue and provided a topping of thinly sliced salami layed over sliced red tomato and a seasoned piece of pork loin. It was roasted for an hour at 350 degrees. Read More »

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