Vegan Paella: Estia’s Earth Day Dinner

Vegan Paella at Estia's for Earth Day weekend

Serves 4 people as a main dish


  • 1 large artichoke – heart removed, sliced into 8 sections
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas – chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb – sliced thin
  • 1 cup sweet corn
  • 1 carrot – peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks – diced
  • 1 cup zucchini – sliced
  • 1 small Spanish onion – diced
  • 4 garlic cloves – diced
  • 4 tomatoes – canned, cut into ¼ pieces 
  • 10 green olives – sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock 
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron threads 
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 large orange –  juiced
  • 1.5 cups jasmine rice

Preheat oven to 400° degrees.

Vegan Paella at Estia's for Earth Day weekend

Start by stirring saffron, salt and paprika into the vegetable stock, set aside for a few hours.

Vegan Paella at Estia's for Earth Day weekend
Vegan Paella with artichokes at Estia’s for Earth Day weekend
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Roasted tomato and basil pasta sauce: The A.Sisters Christmas giving

It’s been 8 years since the A.Sisters have made a batch of pasta with our machine at Estia.

Now that each of my daughters has their own kitchen and more of an interest in cooking (Mansell especially), we thought it was time to put together a Christmas gift of red, white, and green pasta with a simple tomato sauce and a chunk of cheese. We gifted these to family friends and a few hard working chefs that I love, too.

The finished Gift box
The finished Gift box
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Thanksgiving story & Turkey Roulade

Turkey Roulade for Thanksgiving

After a traditional Ambrose family Thanksgiving day breakfast of roasted pork loin and sweet corn hash with red skin potatoes and poached eggs, Mansell and I stuffed the turkey that we’d boned out on Wednesday morning.

All of the vegetables we used came to us in a farm box from our friends at the Foster farm in Sagaponack.

We diced carrots, chopped green onions and garlic, rosemary, arugula and 4 lovely dried Shishito peppers. In a sauté pan the vegetables were softened with Cromer’s Italian sausage. After the mixture cooled we rolled it into the boneless bird and tied the roulade off with sage.

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Cornbread for the Thanksgiving table

Estia's Cornbread

My corn crop was destroyed by birds this past summer. It was coming in strong, 6 feet tall with a wonderful showing of several cobs on each plant in mid July. The bed I set wasn’t large, about 25 feet wide and 40 feet long. Then, late in the month a freak hurricane named Hanna ran up the Mississippi River and turned right mid way through the country, we were hit with its tail end. Just enough force to mess with my corn, twisting it up and opening the tightly packed rows. This in turn provided the birds access to each Cob which are generally buried tightly in the mass of plants that I refer to as my wall of Oaxacan green “Indian corn”. The birds ate all of my corn this year, it was hard to watch nature take her share.

The birds got to share our Estia’s garden corn this year.
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Boneless Beef Short Ribs

Boneless Beef Short Ribs

Sunday night dinner with all 3 of the A. sisters home. That is a special night. We had planned on dining out at the Main Street Tavern in Amagansett, 177 Main Street. This is a special address for my family as we spent 16 years in that space running it as a coffee shop and restaurant. It would be safe to say that our family was born out of this coffee shop which started in that address in 1981. It was commonly known as Estia.

Jessica and I purchased the lease for Estia in 1991 and maintained a business there until 2007. Since selling the lease, 3 different operators have worked the space. Presently Main Street Tavern which has been open since the spring. Challenged by the Covid pandemic it’s been a struggle for them and I’ve chosen to wait to visit. Tonight’s reservation was canceled, apparently they have plumbing issues. Chalk it up to growing pains. Operating a restaurant in Amagansett is not easy in any business climate. We can wait.

With tonight’s plan for dining out off the table, I volunteered to cook (my daughters are all good cooks now) and I decided to let a walk through Citarella steer my menu. As I looked in the butcher case, braised short ribs were the easy choice, 3 1lb boneless short ribs to be exact.

Boneless Beef Short Ribs
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Carmelita with ice cream

Estia's Carmelita with ice cream and dulce de leche

Serves 12

1/2 sheet pan, butter pan, preheat oven to 350°.
Bake in two layers.

Layer #1

  • 3 cups A.P. flour
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups melted butter

Combine in a bowl and spread evenly on 1/2 sheet pan.
Bake 10 minutes.

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Mexican Sweet Corn Chowder

Mexican sweet corn chowder Estia's style

|serves a crowd|

Add ingredients in a large pot:

20 corn cobs – ( remove corn from cobs first and save kernels for later)

Bring 2 gallons of water to a simmer then add:

  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • 1 quart 1/2&1/2
  • 1 large white onion – chopped
  • 3 bunch cilantro, stems included (rinsed twice)
  • 20 poblano chilis – (cut peppers in half and don’t remove seeds or stems)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • Add corn cobs
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Turkish Lamb Kebab with Tomato Chutney & Israeli Couscous

Lamb Kebab on the Big Wood River in Ketchum, Idaho

Recipe from Scott Mason of the Ketchum Grill, Idaho

Serves 8

Ingredients for Lamb Kebabs:

5 lbs ground lamb 1/2 bunch chopped fresh mint 3 shallots, diced 1/2 cup currants 1/2 cup pine nuts 1 tbsp chopped garlic Salt 3 tbsp cinnamon, ground 1/2 tblsp clove, ground 1/2 tbsp fenugreek

Mix all together. Shape onto skewers and grill. Serve with flat bread, bib lettuce, couscous, chutney and yogurt!

Turkish Lamb Kebabs cooking riverside
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Chocolate Pudding for 40 kids

Cooking at the Hayground school with the students

The annual Hayground school visit is a highlight on my winter schedule. This year the class was all boys. We started in the classroom and watched the riverside video demonstration for our main course recipe from Estia’s American Rivers Tour website.

Cooking class at the Hayground school

Both situations were a first in my experience cooking with the students in that school. I think the kids were excited and better informed going into the kitchen after watching a recipe demo in the classroom.

Our menu included corn bread crusted chicken pot pie, cranberry sauce, a salad of spinach, arugula and cabbage in a tangerine, mustard vinaigrette, and for dessert, chocolate pudding.

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Chewy Brownies for the Holidays

Estia's Fudgy Brownie recipe


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2  1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1  1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1  1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips and butter together over low heat in a double boiler. Combine all ingredients in a mixer. Pour into buttered 1/2 sheet pan & place in preheated 375°F oven for 25 minutes.

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Sofrito from field to plate

Estia's Sofrito

Harvesting different types of peppers at the Quail Hill Farm

Reporting in from the Quail Hill Farm on October 30th. My membership here extends back to the early days, having joined New York’s first Community Supported Agriculture adventure (CSA) in 1993 I’m always thrilled to harvest here.

Harvesting carrots was my first task.  Take a look at our carrot video in the Estia Seed to Plate series. Once I was finished with the pitchfork in the carrot bed I moved on to find an abundance of chili’s three beds to the west. As always my eye was distracted by the beauty of the farm that’s been created and maintained by the Quail Hill crew now run by farmer Layton and mentored by poet and seed specialist Scott Chaskey.

Last week my email inbox featured a note from my pal Laura’s wife Catherine. She had visited a garden—planted by a man she spoke fondly of—and she carried a large bag filled with peppers home that day. Her note to me requested a recipe that might properly celebrate the harvest. Read More »

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Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

Ingredients for crust:

  • 1 pound butter – cold – cut into pieces
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups gram cracker meal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup corn starch

Combine flour, gram cracker meal & butter in a food processor, pulse for 30 seconds.

Add the rest and run until it starts to turn into a ball.

Line a ½ sheet pan with parchment. Roll the crust dough out to flat with a rolling pin and line the bottom of the sheet pan with the dough. Place in a 350°F oven for 25 minutes. Read More »

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Ramshackle Ranch Salad

Ramshackle Ranch Salad

It’s been years since a good, simple ranch dressing has graced the menu at Estia’s Little Kitchen. Inspired by Julia Moskin’s article “Ranch Nation” (Sept. 2018 NY Times) I put this recipe into play. The dressing is not original ranch style in that it doesn’t contain mayo. Instead, yogurt and red wine vinegar have been added, along with egg yolks to tighten it up.

For years my dinner menu has featured a Crisp California Chicken, finished with agave/chili sauce which has been made to order. Fingers crossed that this new salad finds an audience. The agave/chili sauce will now be prepped in advance and used on both dishes. I think it goes as close as our kitchen will to a simple, light buffalo chicken wing sauce. With that in mind, the salad is finished with just enough blue cheese to counter point the sweetness that the agave lends to the salad. Read More »

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“Over the top” Mac & Cheese

Estia's “Over the top” Mac & Cheese

This is a dish that I started using as a big starch filler for our annual Christmas party last year. The key ingredient was love as I had my 3 daughters by my side, each of them stuffing penne into rigatoni, singing Christmas songs and making it all so easy.

Today as I stood alone in the kitchen I was missing the girls—and their hands, their smiles & their cooking enthusiasm. Then our pals Stew, Tina and Amy walked in and took over the pasta stuffing. I made the béchamel, added the cheese, and in 15 minutes there were 3 casseroles going into the fridge, ready to be baked and served at tonight’s harvest dinner.

Recipe serves over 20 people


  • 2 boxes Penne (DeCecco, Penne lisce #10)
  • 2 boxes Rigatoni ( DeCecco, Mezzi rigatoni #26)
  • 16 oz Swiss cheese, grated
  • 24 oz Gruyer cheese, grated
  • 16 oz Mozzarella, grated
  • 3 cups, salted butter
  • 1 cup A.P. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons salt

Estia's “Over the top” Mac & Cheese

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Sweet corn & rye berry salad

Sweet corn and rye berry salad
Serves 10


  • 6-8 corn cobs
  • 1 cup dried rye berries (or wheat berries)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

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Little Kitchen Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Recipe serves 30 cups


  •  6 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 10 plum tomatos
  • 25 Guajillo chilis (stems removed)
  • 3 Arbol chilis (stems removed)
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 dozen fried, chopped tortillas

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Chili Chicken Rellenos at Estia's Little Kitchen

Serves 4


  • 1 3.5 lb chicken, roast, remove all meat in advance
  • 4 poblano peppers, medium size
  • 2 x large eggs
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small Spanish onions, diced fine
  • 3 tablespoons chipotle with adobo
  • 1 cup shredded jack cheese
  • 2 cups queso fresco, cubed
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 12 oz Lange Pinot Gris
  • 2 tablespoons saffron
  • 36 oz chicken stock

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Beaverkill Hatchery Rainbow Trout with Roasted Grape Relish

Beaverkill Trout Hatchery rainbow trout with roasted potatoes and roasted grape relish

Adapted from a recipe by Galen Sampson, Chef and G.M. at the Beaverkill Valley Inn that he demonstrated over fire at the BVI.

Galen Sampson has settled into a comfortable life with his wife on the edge of the Upper Beaverkill River in the Catskill mountains. As the Chef and General manager of the Beaverkill Valley Inn, Galen works hard to create new and interesting dishes and experiences of all kinds for his guests. Chef Sampson’s recipe is a good example of how he responds to expectations that an Inn on a famous trout stream should serve trout, without pulling fish from the Inn’s private stretch of river. This is a highly prized trout fishing paradise that requires all guests to agree to catch and release practices prior to stepping into the special mile of river.

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