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.

As the cherry tomatoes started to sweeten in the Lodge garden I parted with my job as chef. While I miss the men and women who shared the kitchen my eyes are firmly on a productive future and The Lodge was not focusing on the same goals. Today I worked the dining room at the Little Kitchen and fell in love all over again. Christian Wolffer was in for lunch and he reminded me just how lucky we are to share the East End in September, it’s a fabulous day with blue skies and magical light.

Tomatoes were featured on the Cod special this weekend. Asa Gosman sold us whole fish fresh from the Montauk docks, the fillets were cut leaving skin on. As with bass it helps to dry the skin and then apply a coating of almost melted butter, into the hot pan skin side down and leave the flame on full. When the skin releases from the pan place the pan in the oven until the flesh cooks through (time varies based on the thickness of the fillet).

Vegetables are in full swing at Quail Hill. Whittier harvested Purple Peruvian potatoes, Swiss chard and Turkish eggplant along with her friends Maxwell and Chloe Baschey. The harvest started in a fairy tale mist, as we began to gather apples for a pie, it turned to rain. The children held strong and worked the soil of the potato field with pitchforks until the basket was full and we were all soaked to the bone. Tomatoes would have to wait until later in the day after the sun took over our sky.

To plate the dish Raul shocked the Swiss Chard and the diced potatoes then added them to a hot sauté pan containing olive oil, softened leeks, and peeled eggplant. The fish was plated on top of the vegetable and then topped with a simple sauce of reduced fish broth and roasted tomato puree (run through a ricer) finished with saffron, a splash of red wine vinegar, and finely chopped parsley. At the Little Kitchen many of our specials are enhanced by Raul’s spice blend of Kosher salt, white pepper, course garlic (dry) and toasted cumin seed that’s been chopped in a coffee blender into powder form, cod filet is an exceptional candidate for this seasoning.

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