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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Kitchens in Charlie Palmer’s newest restaurant

Kitchens in Charlie Palmer’s newest restaurant at Dallas’s newest hotel The Joule are large and shiny, designed to serve tables in Charlie’s dining room and the hotels luxurious rooms and banquet facilities. They’ll even provide meals to all employees in the hotel and the restaurant, a big job that requires precision almost 24 hours a day. 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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The Swans and a Birthday Party

We still have a large flock of swans on Hook pond. For some reason they’ve chosen a shallow area around the bridge between the fourth tee box and green to congregate. Every day they skate back and forth in the breeze, one signette remains among them and I‘ve yet to see it fly.

On Saturday night we celebrated Roxanne Briggs, it was her 50th birthday. Ten couples in attendance at 20 Dunemere in the living room. She wanted everyone in the same room and it was accomplished with 4 round tables, the 4th table was occupied by our children, the 6 girls not only served a handpicked salad of greens, roasted beets, carrots and radishes in a mustard soy vinaigrette, they also wrote and delivered 2 excellent toasts. First the Ambrose girls followed by the Briggs children and then just about everyone else in the room. A highlight of the evening was a rousing card game of BS lead by Johnny Muse and his pal Mark Consualo’s. It was a special treat to have Mark and his lovely wife Kelly Ripa with us as Jess and I had never met them before. Read More »

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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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September on the East End

This is my favorite time of year—even the swans love it, they move about more now. Hopefully the missions that I see them flying back and forth over fairways are intended to teach the one remaining youngster. There are no grey signets on Hook pond now, only birds that appear to be full grown. On Town pond the family of seven continue to parade about. While the young are still light grey they have grown to resemble the adults in size and have not started to fly. Read More »

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Spaghetti Squash For 4

The rain falls like an electric blanket on 96th Street this morning, New York city is not much different than a steam bath. I walked Whittier and Lyman to school this morning following a new routine of waiting in front of the building at 50 East 96th St. for bus #164, Mansell’s new transportation to school at Windward in Westchester. Today opened a chapter of our lives that should be titled 58 dollars please—it seems every turn involves the next outing or uniform and $58 is the magic number.

Dinner on Sunday night served the family at our dining room table in Manhattan. It featured a chicken roasted in the rotisserie chamber at the local grocery store, bathed in herbs and the juice of 20 other chickens it was moist and flavorful. My contribution was a spaghetti squash roasted simply in its skin and separated from its seeds after 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven. I do what I can to feed the kids yellow vegetables at every meal that I prepare for them. The squash was topped with a sautee of garlic, green beans and sliced red pepper tossed with EVO and a touch of salt in a hot pan until the beans begin to soften. Start with the garlic and oil in the pan first then (as the garlic begins to brown) add the rest of the ingredients.

To serve, the squash should be shredded on to a serving platter then topped with a few teaspoons of butter followed by the bean and red pepper mixture.

For the Spaghetti Squash For 4:

1 spaghetti squash
1 large red pepper
1 quart green beans (tips snipped)
4 cloves of garlic (sliced thin)
¼ cup olive oil
salt to taste
4 teaspoons unsalted butter

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Swordfish stew w/ ginger jasmin rice and zucchini (big for 4)

East Hampton town pond plays host to a family of swans 7 strong, mother and father parade the signets (very large birds last night). Returning from the north woods of Wisconsin with Phobe Brigg’s (Lyman’s best friend) our driver turned to me and commented on the flock. It was 1:00 am so I kept my mouth shut about my friends on the golf course.

Last weekend I spent enough time with Wayne Philipps from Braun oyster to learn about big fish shoulder’s or the knape. My initial interest was in a piece of fish that might feed the family. An education in butchering fish followed. The Swordfish collar is full of treasure right down to the birdlike form it’s bones take as they emerge from the oven post roast. Read More »

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Pork and Potato Gratin

The beans and Blackfish sold out early on Saturday night, a big hit. Tonight we replaced the blackfish with meatloaf. It went well side by side with the green bean salad.

At The Lodge I was short on staff. Just Andrew and me on the line, family meal was an early priority, when the pork chops were delivered I open the brown wrapper to find 8 attractive porterhouse chops and several smaller tail pieces. The tail pieces were perfect for this casserole, on a cool night in August the staff was content with creamy potatoes and onions that surrounded the pork. Read More »

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Vegetable Enchiladas in Tomatillo Salsa Verde | On the menu for the Auto Club Group

Auto Club visit to the Little Kitchen

Occasionally the phone rings and a completely unexpected and welcome request comes through. On Friday, a man named Matt called, he was planning an outing for his auto club and had heard that The Little Kitchen served a good breakfast. Breakfast reservations are a challenge but when he told me that they would be arriving at 8am it was easy, plenty of room in the parking lot for 30 cars and seats in the dining room for what turned out to be 30 hungry men.

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