Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Pre Order Homegrown Book Date with Destiny

We are now a week away from the official ship date for my book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook!

Can you believe it?

It is still available in pre-order until the “street date” scheduled for June 5th or 6th when it will be available in book stores, botanic gardens, the featured restaurants – and anyone who would like to offer to sell a superlative book about local chefs, restaurants and their gardens.  J ha!  I am giddy with expectation. 

I am told the pre-order price is a bit more sweet than retail… So if price is a concern, go for the pre-order good through May.

I need to complete the Author’s page at B&N… sorry. 

However, as you will see at Amazon and on various calendars and blogs, my first speaking opporuntiy for the book will be May 16th at the very prestigious, 92nd Street Y as part of their speaker’s program. 

I have asked two of the master chefs featured in the book who also have a New York City presence to participate.  I know how crazy the Island’s chefs and restaurants get while anticipating the “silly season.” 

This will be a fantastic launch.  There will be an overview presentation by me, the author and I have invited two of the master chefs from the book to accompany me.
They will provide a cooking demonstration, a food tasting, and recipes from the book..
Also, this will be the first venue that the book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook will be available for sale in the real world! 

This will be the premiere book signing!

Hope to see you at the Y.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Stars are aligned: Long Island Restaurant Week, Earth Day & The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

I started this post saying it’s been a good week so far and it’s only Tuesday. 
Then so much more happened.
It came in waves.
But rest assured by Friday, it only got better. 

And to put the proverbial cherry on top ¾ or in this case, CherrieS: as in plural, because today heralds two big, celebrations that relate directly to my book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook.

Today kicks off Long Island Restaurant Week – the second, follow-up seasonal event after last year’s spring success.

And it’s also Earth Day – with lots of only-in-the-Empire State and Gotham-festivities, to mark the green scene Earth Day New York

Being superstitious, I see this stars aligned in this constellation as a very good sign from the food goddess and Mother Nature…

First up, news is the book will be in the warehouse May 5th. 

I am told this is when the pre-orders will get the books shipped to them. 
The pre-orders?  
The pre-orders, ahem – are, to my way of thinking, those fabulous, blisteringly, glamorous foodies who have already made the wise decision to get the advance, red carpet treatment for the book.  (These food-forward people were probably first with sustainable food choices and shopping the GreenMarkets, not to mention the first to own a Vitamix!)

The Postcards

I came home to the Gotham apartment on Monday to find a box from my publisher, Quayside Press on the welcome mat.

Welcome indeed!

I eagerly opened the box to discover the best gift ever.

Voyageur Press/Quayside produced the postcards. 
A few weeks ago I worked with Steve, the Quayside marketing genius on the text.

According to Steve, the postcards are to be used for upcoming events and speaking opps. 

They look great! 
The cover of the book is on the front of the card – good coloring and sharp image. 
With the notation: Featuring recipes and profiles of local chefs, restaurants and their gardens.”
I like that.

The back features the title, my name J and the names of the photographers, of course: Lindsay Morris Lindsay does the photography for the award-winning Edible East End Magazine. 
The magazine’s editor Brain Halweil, wrote the Forward for the book.
I am still so impressed. 
The book’s other photographer is Jennifer Calais Smith 

The postcard text is an overview of what the book is about, the list of restaurants and the book’s availability.
It reads:
The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook celebrates the distinctive cuisine of Long Island and the Hamptons.
Brimming with food stories from the region’s best real-food chefs and the growers who inspire their homegrown menus, more than 100 tempting recipes, and stunning photographs of the iconic dishes, authentic & sustainable ingredients, and the majestic land and seascapes that are the romantic hallmarks of the area’s food culture.
 Featuring profiles on Long Island’s best pasture to plate chefs who, with their dedication to connecting to the land, to using locally grown or just-caught & seasonal food, produce menus that boast delicious homegrown flavors. The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown restaurants include:
 18 Bay, 1770 House, Almond, Amarelle Restaurant, The American Hotel, CoolFish, Cuvee Bistro & Bar.
The Frisky Oyster, Grey Horse Tavern, Jedediah Hawkins Inn, Kitchen A Bistro, Kitchen A Trattoria, The Lake House,
The Living Room, Loaves & Fishes, Mitch & Toni's American Bistro. Nick & Toni's, North Fork Table & Inn, Mirabelle Restaurant,
Satur Farms, Scrimshaw, Southfork Kitchen, Starr Boggs, Swallow, Vine Street Cafe
I was so excited after opening the postcard gift that when I answered the door to find my super asking me if I wanted the AC put in (in April, mind you) I thrust a few postcards at him instead. He was genuinely elated and said to put some in the lobby. I put out 10 at a time just to test the waters… Our building is rather small, also. (Oh, and I held off on the air conditioning for now – at least until the calendar is sliding towards Memorial Day, climate change being what it is…)

Lecture at the 92nd Street Y

The talk I am to give at the 92nd Street Y was just confirmed too, so the postcards came at a serendipitous time. 
The Y asked me to take up a bunch in time for a Wednesday night related genre event because they wanted to distribute them to the audience there. 
So proud as a peacock, I hopped on the subway to deliver the goods.

I took them to the ticket counter and asked if this is where I should leave them.
The really nice woman behind the counter desk looked at them and said, “Sure. You can leave them here.”
I thanked her and playfully suggested she attend the event (scheduled for May 16th )and that she buy the book.
Turning the card in her hand, she asked, “Are you the author?”
“Yes,” I replied, feeling like an imposter. 
She must’ve sensed my emotion and declared, “You’ll do great!  Everyone loves to eat!”

A food philosopher right in front of me…

Now I am working on the Powerpoint presentation and will coordinate with two of the chefs and a grower who will join me and make the lecture sizzle.  We’ll have tastings, naturally…


I also got back to creating the Author’s profile page on Amazon that my cousin’s wife, Denine suggested I do.
And be sure to check out her self-published book, Don't Give Up on That Dog!
The book is a charming an heartwarming real-life tale about love and canine loyalty.

My Author’s Central profile got up without too many birthing pangs. Further, the service people at Amazon who are there to help the authors couldn’t be nicer and more helpful and responsive. 
So what if people are afraid they’re taking over the book world.  This is a benign dictatorship!

Here is my Author’s profile:

Restaurant Week
Do not hurt my feelings -- Do NOT miss Long Island Restaurant Week.  Go for the amazing food.  You will thank me.

Here are my recommendations for the best tasting food on the Island. 
Visit one or two restaurants a day – and you might be able to dine at all 28 featured in the book: The Hamptons and Long Island Homegrown Cookbook.

Restaurant Directory

18 Bay
23 North Ferry Road
Shelter Island, NY  11964

1770 House
143 Main Street
East Hampton, NY 11937

One Ocean Road
Bridgehampton, NY 11932

Amarelle Restaurant
2028 North Country Rd
Wading River, NY 11792

The American Hotel
Main Street
Sag Harbor, NY

Mitch & Toni’s American Bistro
875 Willis Avenue
Albertson, NY 11507

6800 Jericho Turnpike                             
Syosset, NY 11791                                 

Cuvée Bistro & Bar, Greenporter Hotel
326 Front Street
Greenport, NY 11944

East Hampton Grill (formerly Della Femina)
136 North Main Street
East Hampton, NY 11937

760 Montauk Highway
Water Mill, NY 11976
631-726-food (3663)

8 Fresno Place
East Hampton, NY 11937

The Frisky Oyster
27 Front Street
Greenport, NY 11944

The Grey Horse Tavern
291 Bayport Avenue
Bayport, NY 11705

Jedediah Hawkins Inn
400 South Jamesport Avenue
Jamesport, NY 11947

Kitchen A Bistro                       
404 N. Country Rd         
St. James, NY 11780      

Kitchen A Trattoria
532 North Country Road
St. James, NY 11780

The Lake House
240 West Main Street
Bayshore, NY 11706

The Living Room at the Maidstone Hotel
207 Main Street
East Hampton, NY 11937

Loaves & Fishes
50 Sagg Main Street
Sagaponack, NY 11962

Mirabelle Restaurant
150 Main Street
Stony Brook, New York 11790

Nick & Toni’s
136 North Main Street
East Hampton, NY 11937

North Fork Table & Inn
57225 Main Road
Southold, NY 11971

OSO Restaurant Southampton Inn
91 Hill Street
Southampton, NY 11968

Satur Farms
3705 Allvah’s Lane
Cutchogue, NY 11935

102 Main Street
Greenport, NY 11944

Southfork Kitchen
203 Sag Harbor Turnpike
Bridgehampton, NY 11932

Starr Boggs
6 Parlato Drive
Westhampton, NY 11978

Swallow Restaurant
366 New York Avenue
Huntington, NY 

Vine Street Café
41 South Ferry Road
Shelter Island, NY 11964

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Postcards from the Edge -- of The Hamptons & Long Island

Good news!

The postcards for my book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook are ready and will be sent to me and the chefs and their restaurants  and their growers.
So exciting.

My publishing marketing team, including Steve and me and Brenda, are kicking in and planning events.

I have tried valiantly to add Pinterest to my blogs so better to share images and story boards about the book and the making of the book.
Feel free to add to my story boards.
I love this!

I have established a separate, distinct, Facebook page for the book.

I'm finding it a challenge to keep a "Chinese wall" between Friends and now the book world.
But it's new and I'm trying..

Please do Like it?

I am confident we will work it out.

Thank you for your patience and support.

When you read about "my" chefs and their Growers and their recipes -- all will be forgiven...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Celebrate Spring Awakenings with a Goddess of Pastry: Chef Claudia Fleming

In March, we celebrated Women’s History Month and culinary culture with this unique food story about one of the “best known and most respected pastry chefs in America” and now we can celebrate the goddess of Eastre--the goddess of rebirth, spring and new beginnings.

The profile of Chef Claudia here is excerpted in part, from my book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook slated to hit bookshelves in May.

Chef Claudia & Gerry, North Fork Table & Inn

A lot has been written about Claudia Fleming and Gerry Hayden, the husband-and-wife co-owners of the North Fork Table & Inn. She’s a 2000 James Beard Award–winning pastry chef and bestselling cookbook author, “The Last Course: Desserts from Gramercy Tavern.”

He’s a 2011 James Beard Best Chef nominee and earned Esquire Magazine’s Best Restaurant Award. But descriptions of their impressive accomplishments are usually followed by the story of how they chose to leave the bright lights of New York City to open their North Fork restaurant, modestly nestled among the vineyards and farms of Southold. Their vision helped lead what would soon become the North Fork-as-a-culinary-destination experience.
During the second stage of a golden age that swept Gotham’s restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s, Claudia joined Jonathan Waxman shortly after his 1983 return to New York from Chez Panisse to open Jams restaurant. As a struggling dancer, she worked in the front of the house merely to pay her bills.
She grew up in a Long Island Italian family and explains that while they ate very well—never canned or frozen food—at Jams, her eyes were opened to ingredients she’d never seen before. Claudia found her true artistic calling in the culinary world and decided she needed some formal training. She attended Peter Kump’s cooking school in Manhattan, then studied for a year in Paris at the Fauchon Patisserie.
Claudia discovered her passion for pastry when she worked at the then-groundbreaking Union Square Café.
She hugs the seasons, first and foremost, parsing what’s ripe and ready. When she worked with Chef Tom Collichio at Gramercy Tavern, he always told her, “If it grows together, it goes together,” and she agrees.
Further, her personal “Rule of Claudia” mandates that “it’s okay to use a given ingredient if it comes from a region naturally and is not ever going to be available locally.”
She uses bananas and coffee, for example, because, while they are imported to the United States, they are sourced from their native habitat.
Chef Claudia Fleming with Oyserponds' berry farmer, Tom
Chef Claudia & her berry farmers 
Upon establishing their restaurant, Claudia and Gerry had to develop ties with their growers, which Claudia says was not easy. The growers and fishermen were not used to providing products to a single source on a regular basis. There were no business terms; they wanted cash. However, they persevered and gradually built relationships on a mutually beneficial foundation, including their friendship with Tom Stevenson at Oysterponds Farm.    

Claudia’s Blueberry Cobbler
Serves 6-8

Cobbler Dough:
1 2/3 c. all purpose flour
3 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. (3 oz.) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 hard boiled egg yolks
2/3 c. very cold heavy cream plus 2 tbsp.
2 tbsp. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and hard-boiled egg yolks. Pulse to combine, until the yolks are broken down. Add very cold butter; mix until the dough resembles fine meal. Add the cream, and pulse until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, gently gather the dough into a mass (the dough needn’t be smooth). Using a large spoon dipped in flour, form dough into 8 to 10 2-inch shaped balls. Chill for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.

Peach-Blueberry Filling:
2 lb. sliced, fresh peaches
1 lb. blueberries
6 tbsp. granulated sugar

In a large bowl, toss together the peaches, blueberries, and sugar. Put the fruit in a shallow 2 1/2-qt. baking dish. Arrange the 2-inch dough ball biscuits on top, leaving approximately 1 inch between them. Brush the biscuits with the remaining 2 tbsp. of cream, and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake the cobbler until the fruit is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown (30 to 40 minutes).

 The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook can be ordered from Amazon or Barnes & Noble:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Did You Celebrate Women’s History Month with the “Girl of Sandwich” at The Grey Horse Tavern

It’s still not that easy to find a woman executive chef heading up the kitchen of a major restaurant.  A lot less easy is finding one who is helping to head up a Real-Food Movement.

But Chef Meredith Machemer is one talented lady. 

And the lucky-girl extra credit goes to her two female owners of the The Grey Horse Tavern: Linda Ringhouse and Irene Dougal.

The profile of Chef Meredith here is excerpted in part, from this reporters upcoming book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook slated to hit the bookshelves in late May/early June.
To celebrate Women’s History Month and food culture, enjoy this unique food story:

Chef Meredith didn’t always know she wanted to be a chef, but always worked in restaurants during the summers near her home in Rockville Center, Long Island.  

A friend got her job working at Churchill’s restaurant as a pantry fry cook.  She’d never really cooked before but determinedly figured she could do it. 
Nothing gained, nothing lost.
“I wanted to try it out and it turned out to be an amazing experience,” she says delightedly in re-telling of her momentous cooking epiphany.
Like the good daughter she is, she remembers coming home and exclaiming to her mother, “Oh my God!  Look! I made a sandwich.” 
If it wasn’t refrigerator-posting material, it was nevertheless, a life altering experience for Meredith. 

She never attended culinary school; she learned on the job instead.
“It’s been an amazing privilege to work with people who loved their craft and loved to teach it,” she says with utmost sincerity. 

In a stroke of good fortune, she adds, “I never worked for a chef who was screaming.” 
Rather, she described the kitchen cum classroom where, over the course of her career, she asked questions, and they’d show her how it was done.  “I know it sounds unusual, but I’ve only worked in family-like kitchen environments.”

One has to ask if that’s perhaps because she’s a woman, she sought that kind of environment.

“Not at all,” she replies.  In fact, her first professional cooking job was in a corporate position at Legal Seafood, the seafood chain that since it was founded in 1950, prides itself as being a “fish company in the restaurant business.”  But she does say it was the first time the kitchen staff worked alongside a woman.  The vendors were a tough group who would always opt to seek out one of the men first -- not her -- when doing business; an anachronism that persists to this day that still surprises her. 
When they learn she is the executive chef, they somewhat sheepishly remark, “Wow, a girl chef!”
Unaffected, she doesn’t let things like that bother her.
“I had to work a little harder in the beginning,” is the extent of that discussion.
“Now, my kitchen crew is all guys. And there’s never any problem.”

She worked at Legal Seafood for almost five years, defending their attention to not only their “pier to plate” philosophy but also their work with garden-fresh purveyors.  
She claims they only worked with seasonal, sustainable fish to turn out consistent quality meals.  
Here she worked with farm to table pioneer, chef Stephen Cardello for four years. 
When Chef Stephen discovered the Grey Horse Tavern’s 65-seat restaurant and showed Meredith the farm-inspired menu, she remembers she was jealous of what she saw was the creativity and freedom of food expression.  She was feeling stuck in the corporate food world.  She soon joined executive chef Stephen at the Grey Horse Tavern as his sous chef. When Chef Stephen left for Lincoln Center’s Arpeggio restaurant a year later, Chef Meredith took over the reins as the executive chef.

Linda and Irene were visionaries, she thought, seeing how they posted their mission statement to the menu, promising to serve local farm fresh food, including eggs. They only served humanely raised meat, supported local farmers, and artisans. 
They listed all their farmers and fisherman and dairy names and locations on the menu. The restaurant was just opening, but the philosophy and the opportunities were too tempting to pass up. She “interviewed” with Stephen who was looking for a sous chef.

She signed on as the Grey Horse Tavern chef.

Today she uses Satur Farms as she did at Legal Seafood.  Now, Paulette Satur texts Chef Meredith’s smart phone all year; two to three times a week with notices of what’s just been picked, what’s coming in season and what’s new, replete with images.
Chef Meredith continues to maintain the relationships with local growers established from the early days when she first accompanied Chef Stephen.

Given her chance to be completely creative with her food ingredients and cooking, Chef Meredith expanded the restaurant’s sources, citing a roster that reads like a who’s who of the best farmers market: Catapano Farms goat yogurt, local honey dressing, goat cheese; scallops from Mastic, the Long Island fish market that is up the block; Braun’s Fish Market who delivers. Murry’s Ranch for chickens; Myers meat market in Farmingdale for ground beef for burgers; and D’Artagnan’s ranchers she says are determined to do the right thing, providing only grass fed beef. 

In particular, Chef Meredith cites the delicious Long Island clams tasting of their terroir, from the Peconic Bay.
She can especially rhapsodize because of Kevin Cusack from Little Neck, Long Island.
“He clams all year long, even in the winter, dropping off the fresh clams in the afternoon.  She refers to his catch as “Clamtastic!”

Chef Meredith prepares them simply.  For the raw bar? Just open up. 
Or she’ll sauté them with a little locally butchered bacon, fresh oregano and tomato and a just baked loaf of bread with homemade butter. 
To Chef Meredith’s point, it does sound simple.  Yet it also sounds simply, sinfully decadent.
The mix of salty, briny and sweetly acidic is perfect.  She intuitively knows what goes together with the right blend of fresh ingredients.

Chef Meredith and the owners consistently seek out quality, local food sources.
 “On Thursday’s, Irene and I go out to the Organics Today Farm in Islip to get the melons, eggplants and heirloom tomatoes, for example, she explains. 
“In the spring I volunteered at the Farm to help plant,” she beams; unwittingly characterizing the essence of the grower, chef and garden relationship!  
Can’t get much closer to the food source than that.

The only thing they don’t make is the pastry.  All the baking is masterfully done by “Just Amy” in Greenpoint. Her creations hit the right note to pair up with The Grey Horse’s sophisticated but decidedly comfort-food menu items. The cookies, beignets, chocolate ganache and fresh raspberry preserves are favorites with the customers and the restaurant’s employees.   

Chef Meredith likes cooking in every season. 
“There’s always a different aspect that makes it interesting and challenging.” 
She comes at cooking in order to have fun with food and make things that everyone understands. 
“I love slow cooking -- bringing out all the different, unexplored flavors.”
In winter it’s soups, beans, and broth: hearty fare. 
She says she also loves to make tacos and corn tortillas using meats she’s braised for a couple of hours.
She doesn’t mind winter -- with all the complex, slow cooked foods and pickling, but then she can’t wait for spring to come.  “I look forward to the sugar snap peas, and fingerling potatoes.”
She also notes how she loves the contrast of hot to cold such as hot salads with cold chicken or shrimp.

Hands down though, her favorite season to cook is summer. “Summer is so light and easy and simple. 
“I love being outside, using fresh vegetables & fruits -- making a peach and beefsteak tomato salad or local sea scallops.” 
Her favorite thing to cook is smoking BBQ.  “It’s simple and delicious.” 

Chef Meredith comes up with menu ideas when she sees what’s available and fresh at the markets. 
She says it’s an interesting process She professes to have a conversation in her head.
“I refer to the interesting recipes profiles I save in my books.  I research cookbooks.”  She follows that by a lot of talking back and forth with others.
“I might sees things at the market or in the garden and that I can’t wait to use.” 
“Most times I’m working with flavors rather than trying to follow from a written recipe.” 

In what she describes as a visual learning experience  -- perhaps not unlike her start – Chef Meredith goes over things with the cooks. 
They go through a testing process. “The more I make it and work on it, the more I might change it.”
When I know what I want, I’ll get in the ingredients and then, maybe a couple of days later, it will go on the menu,” she explains.

Because of the restaurant’s tavern style and the fact they offer live music, many of the restaurant’s guests come to The Grey Horse Tavern several times a week. 
They come for the food and then stay for the music and art vibe, according to co-owner, Linda.
That can only be a good thing, right?
While most restaurants would envy that kind of customer loyalty, few would disagree it poses another curious challenge of keeping the menu consistently basic but different. 
You can’t bore your customers nor alienate them with things they don’t know or think they won’t like.

Chef Meredith acknowledges there is no turning back though.  She knows The Grey Horse Tavern may be ahead of the curve but they will continue to work hard to do the right thing.   For those who don’t readily “get it,” she admits, they are committed to persuading customers to enjoy the seasonal menu with -- outstanding taste!

Chef Meredith continues to be inspired by so many things.  “I am obsessed with Thomas Keller.
It seems I’m always online checking out Alice Waters.”  I adore Claudia Fleming, North Fork Table & Inn.  I love her cookbook from Gramercy Tavern.  
Also, she says she’s inspired every day that she gets to work with such great people. 
“The owners are amazing, the support and server staff who love the food keep her excited.  And not surprisingly, customers that smile.  She says it’s so great.
“It’s the little things like that that truly make it a pleasure to come to work every day.”

She respects the ingredients.  And keeping the food simple.
“When I’m working in the kitchen and need to eat, I love putting something wonderfully delicious on two pieces of bread.”  
She still marvels at the magic of making something.  “I can make a very cool sandwich!  And that’s something.”  
She can never get over where a simple sandwich took Chef Meredith.

To pre-order my book "The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook" at B&N, Amazon:

The Grey Horse Tavern is located at:
291 Bayport Avenue
Bayport, NY