Monday, January 28, 2013

Spoon Interview Part 2: Interview for The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

An Interview with Leeann Lavin from The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook Pt. 2

The below is the continuation of my interview with Leeann Lavin from The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook. If you missed the first half of the interview, be sure to check it out here.

What was your favorite part of creating The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook?

I enjoyed so many parts of creating the book that it’s hard to pick one favorite. I was truly honored to be able to discover and tell the stories of these locavore, homegrown chefs. I loved to see and hear their reactions to reading their profiles. They are so humble, that many were surprised to read of their accomplishments. To them, it’s “just doing their job.” Same for the artisanal food makers and growers. In interviewing the chefs and the growers, I knew I had to tell their stories in a unique wayit’s not enough to say, “Here are nearly 30 chefs and they use local ingredients.” That is boring. I had to discover or unearth from their personal background and life storyhow they got to be so devoted to using the best ingredients and local food makers when it would be infinitely easier to pick up the phone and “smile and dial” for a food delivery rather than walk the greenmarket and the farm and the docks. Those food stories and profiles make for a compelling and interesting book. I wanted the reader to be able to be intrigued and fascinated by the chefs as I amto learn how they got to be the kind of chef they are, why they're passionate about their culinary craft, and how they're able to create their homegrown recipes. 

There was lots of heartache in creating the bookfrom a computer crash to doubling the size of the book and then all the usualbut I honestly couldn't wait to tell the stories of the chefs and the growers who inspire them. They honor meand all of us. 

In terms of the photo shoots, I loved the placid beauty of the Peconic Bay Oyster Farm run by Karen Rivara. And the charm of walking in miles and miles of squawking, white Long Island duck at Doug’s Crescent Duck Farm! Or the beauty of the Paumanok Vineyards with its miles of grapevines pulsing with juicy grapes. Or Pike Farms with its postcard-like vegetable stand, or Balsam Farms with its chickens, dog and movie-set farm stand or….

What’s your favorite recipe (or recipes) in the book?  

Like a parent asked to choose a favorite childI cannot choose one or two. I've made them allfor family events, dinner parties or horticulture potlucks. I will only say that they are all very delicious and very easy to make. See above quote about the best ingredients. :)

How can we best support local restaurants and local food?

We can support local restaurants and food by dining at the local, chef-owned bistros and restaurants. Like in the TV show Cheers, everyone knows your name! There is a sense of shared love of food and community at the local restaurants. These chefs are passionate about what they do and the food they serve. They offer market-driven menus that change with the season. For the most part, you’ll never have the same thing quite the same way, even if you are enjoying a signature dish. On the other hand, many people have said they are using my book as passport of sortsmeaning they are traveling to each and every restaurant. What fun that is! This way they can experience the variety of culinary delights and wine tour delights found across the Island that make it a food tourist destination. They are asking every chef to autograph their books, too.  

At the same, I think the idea of frequenting local dining establishmentsin the European or Asian tradition, is a foodie’s dream. And in turn, frequenting local establishments and chefs who create market-driven menus, supports the local farmers and growersor what I call a true, real Food Network. See, if a chef is inspired by the artisan, local cheese, or just-caught bass or local honeymany of these kinds of growers are featured in the Hamptons & LI Homegrown book by the waythen he or she is creating a network of food-related jobs. This creates a source of sustainable, healthy food. We all need to eat local, not only because local food contains antibodies in the soil and water that help us ward off disease and these supergerms… 

What’s in your pantry?  

I have a great variety of foodstuffs in my pantry! In New York City, I go to the market every day so I really benefit from sourcing the evening meal fresh every day. In our Garden State country house, we have our herb garden and farm-ette—and a Friday Farmer’s Market. But here we just did a home renovation and have a drop-dead gorgeous blue marble island and counter tops—it looks like the sky or the Caribbean Sea as seen from a small plane flying over the blue waters and islands there. And I now have those terrific pull-out kitchen cabinets and drawers from Thomasville—so I can really see what’s in the pantry.   

We have a pull out spice drawer on the island next to the stove topmany of which we grew ourselves.  We have more than a dozen different olive oils and some are flavored. Likewise for the vinegars. We have maybe a half a dozen different salts and peppers for everyday use. We have the best butter we can buy, salted. We have the best dried pasta. We have a few different kinds of rice. More than a few kinds of beans.  In the winter especially, my husband Bill makes world-class soups so we keep in the basics and also stocks. We have three kinds of coffeewe get it from the roasters in townin both places.  And loose tea from Boise Tea Parlor in Greenwich Villagetransporting flavors! 

Whether you're a Hamptons & Long Islander yourself or just love the area, be sure to pick up your copy of Hampton & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook today.

As the movement to eat what is grown locally gains momentum, there is an increasing awareness of how best to incorporate this philosophy into our everyday lives. We can grow our own food and buy food grown locally at food cooperatives and markets, but what happens when we eat out? There are a number of chefs around the country dedicated to using only the freshest, locally grown ingredients in all the dishes they prepare and serve. This book takes the reader on a private tour of outstanding chefs of the Long Island area and their gardens. Each profile reflects the chef's personal style, cultural background, desire for healthy, just-picked ingredients, and gardening philosophy. Recipes, plant lists, garden layouts, and color photos are included. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Homegrown Author Interview with Spoon

Homegrown Chef Eberhard Muller checking frisee on his North Fork Satur Farm

An Interview with Leeann Lavin from The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook 

Part 1
From Spoon: 
"Celebrating Food and Culture, a Spoonful at a time."

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Leeann Lavin of The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

Hope you enjoy part one of my interview. More to come! 

When did your love affair with food begin?

As a child.  
My best friend and I would frequently cook up recipes from a Betty Crocker children’s recipe book. I still have the cookbook and the well-worn, splattered pages speak volumes about how often we used the cookbook and what our favorite recipes were. 

Also, as I noted in the Hamptons & LI Homegrown Cookbook’s acknowledgements, I delighted in helping my grandfather work in their small-scale farm. I remember thinking that digging up the potatoes was thrillinglike being on a treasure hunt.  

Even as a child, I loved the glamor of dressing up to go out to eatthere is that unmistakable heightened expectation that something magical will happen. Of course dating could only add its romantic stardust to the dining experience. Later as an adult, having the good fortune to travel all over the world and live in New York City, I experienced a great variety of cuisines and culture.  

From a business lunch to entertaining clients to hosting out of town guests, the culinary frisson starts the moment the decision is made to “eat out.” There is the communal discussion of Where; What kind of food do you want to try? I love the dynamics and rhythm of bringing people together to enjoy a meal together, to create a memory. Restaurant dining is full-frontal entertainment: from the décor to the food. The ambiance ignites the senses. Starting with a cocktail, the surprise of an amuse bouche and appetizer, followed by an entrée and a wine that will complement the meal. Desserts and coffee or tea allow the flavors and the conversations to linger and languish.  

And there is always the inspiration to try to recreate the drama of a dining experience at home. I adore creating a menu customized for the guests, the occasion and the season, followed by the shopping at the butcher, baker, specialty store or greenmarket to secure the best ingredients, or going into the garden to pick the homegrown food. That come-hither look I get from a fairy eggplant or a fresh, juicy tomato at its ripe, ready moment, or the heady fragrance of basil and lavender sends me! It’s been said I set a nice table too… filled with flowers, candles and surprises, whether for dinner, brunch or our famous Independence Day party (they shoot off the fireworks in the marina below us). And the sheer joy of cooking is really a way to show one’s love. I know it is for me. I love the process.  

So you see, I wear my heart on my sleevewhen you ask about my love affair with food there is no denying the scandalous hold it has on my senses and emotionsand that only increased throughout my life.

Why do the Hamptons & Long Island have the best recipes? 

Much of the unique flavors and tastes in the ingredients is a result of the soilor as we say in the edible garden and culinary world, it’s the terroir. Likewise, the fish from the sea has its own unique merroir imparting a flavor stamp or imprint, if you will, into the ingredients from the waters, including fish, oysters, and shellfish. Why, even the salt from the waters of Long Island are being harvested for its own distinct flavor. Chef Keith Luce, a featured chef in the Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, launched his own salts line of products farmed from the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay that have inspired others to do so as well.   

Long Island is the most productive farmland in New York State. Its unique geography allows it to enjoy an almost year-round growing and harvesting season despite its northern locale. The tip of Montauk stretches the Island and the US to its most eastern point. The land mass and waterways of Long Island produce a variety of microclimates that allow for excellent and extended growing for a vast variety of food ingredients.  Further, the ice age created a soil that is rich and blessed with nutrients to make that Long Island corn and tomatoes and wine and duck and dairy so noteworthy.

The ingredients are what make a cuisine or the recipes so memorable. I would further argue that Long Island benefits from a rather diverse cultural populationand so the best family heritage recipes from Italy, France, Germany, China, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, or the Native Shinnecock Indians enhance the Island’s reputation for quality food and now, as a food destination. 

The best homegrown chefs say, “Start with the best ingredientsand do as little as possible to them.”  
I couldn't agree more. 

Whether you're a Hamptons & Long Islander yourself or just love the area, be sure to pick up your copy of Hampton & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook today.



As the movement to eat what is grown locally gains momentum, there is an increasing awareness of how best to incorporate this philosophy into our everyday lives. We can grow our own food and buy food grown locally at food cooperatives and markets, but what happens when we eat out? There are a number of chefs around the country dedicated to using only the freshest, locally grown ingredients in all the dishes they prepare and serve. This book takes the reader on a private tour of outstanding chefs of the Long Island area and their gardens. Each profile reflects the chef's personal style, cultural background, desire for healthy, just-picked ingredients, and gardening philosophy. Recipes, plant lists, garden layouts, and color photos are included.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

East End Sag Harbor News Hails The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

Homegrown Hamptons: Where Farmers and Chefs Rule

By Annette Hinkle

In post W.W.II America, cuisine became largely about convenience in the form of packaged ingredients frozen in time and shipped from miles away. This was often as true for restaurants as it was in home kitchens.
But the last decade or two has breathed new life into old ways of cooking — reviving the European tradition of eating local. The East End is a center of the burgeoning Slow Food movement. Young farmers have reclaimed the fields, offering more diverse crops than ever and chefs have formed a tight alliance with those growers — ensuring menus are fresh, seasonal and above all … local.
In her new book, “The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook” Leeann Lavin focuses on the stories of South Fork, North Fork and Shelter Island chefs, highlighting their close relationship with specific farmers. The book also features recipes from using the bounty of the East End from places like The American Hotel, Southfork Kitchen, 1770 House and Vine Street Café and their partners at Pike Farms, Mecox Bay Dairy, Balsam Farms and others.
While the linking of chefs and farmers is a unique format for a book, for Lavin, a garden designer who loves to cook, it came naturally.
“I feel gardens are so inspiring to everyone, especially artists —including culinary artists who use the bounty of the garden in their artwork — so I started with that as the underlying foundation,” explains Lavin. “It seems today locavore is everywhere, but in 2002 when I started putting this together, that wasn’t popular. I wanted to find the chefs that don’t just call the purveyor and get it.”
Leeann Lavin
And Lavin soon realized local growers weren’t just raising fruits and vegetables — they were also making honey, harvesting oysters or producing cheese — all of which was finding its way onto the menus of chefs who were tuned into what was happening on the East End.
“Throughout the book I wanted to communicate how a chef has a special relationship with their growers and how both have a relationship with the land and the water. The picture tells the story — how much they embrace the land and love it.”
That’s certainly true for Jason Weiner of Almond in Bridgehampton. Before coming to the East End, Weiner worked on the West Coast, which is known for embracing the locavore movement. But when he opened Almond out here 12 years ago, the term took on a whole new meaning.
“My mind was blown. I’m in a situation where I’m watching leeks come out of the ground and using tomatoes out of the field that day,” says Weiner. “It was a new experience. I had worked in San Francisco where products came from Napa to our door, but there was a middle man. This was a direct relationship with growers.”
It was a relationship Weiner first saw in the late ‘90s at Nick & Toni’s where he worked alongside the late Jeff Salaway — a vanguard in using local ingredients, many sourced from the restaurant’s own kitchen.
“We had our own plot behind the parking lot, which is amazing,” adds Weiner. “The thing about the Hamptons, as much as it’s a playground for the rich and famous, the farming and fishing community remains today. It’s really important to support that.”
Weiner and his partners Eric Lemonides and Antonio Rappazzo, who also have a New York City branch of Almond, are scheduled to open a second restaurant there this week — L&W Oyster Company on Fifth Avenue. There’s a good chance diners will soon be eating potatoes from the Falkowskis, corn from the Pikes and heirloom tomatoes from Marilee Foster. That’s because Weiner loads up his Prius with produce once a week and drives it into the city himself.
Like Weiner, Bryan Futerman, chef and owner of Foody’s in Water Mill, personally picks up the ingredients he needs each day from local farmers as he drives between his home in Springs and the restaurant.
“I stop off at each one — the fish purveyor for locally caught clams and bass, the Reeves’ farmstands on the highway in Bridgehampton, the Halseys in Water Mill for potatoes, salad corn, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini.”
“It’s become a big trend now, but traditionally chefs have a close relationship with growers and always did. That’s always been the tradition in France,” says Futerman who worked alongside Guy Reuge at the Long Island eatery Mirabelle for six years. “We had a garden with the restaurant — and that was 20 years ago. He had great diversity and amazing ingredients, and a great relationship with the farmers.”
Since that time, not only have restaurant gardens bloomed, so to speak, so has the relationship between chefs and farmers. He notes it’s young farmers committed to staying on the East End that has made the relationship between chef and grower work — just like it did in the old days.
“You have places like Amber Waves growing wheat — we traditionally had that on the East End — they’re so unique in farming that crop and are bringing it to schools,” says Futerman who is active in the Edible Schoolyard programs which have sprouted up all over the East End. “We’ll be planting some wheat at Springs School as part of the curriculum.”
And there’s other new products coming to market, notes Futerman pointing to the seafood, craft brews, cheese and chicken now available locally. It’s a trend he hopes the Slow Food movement will continue to encourage.
“It’s really a privilege to be able to cook for people if they care about it,” adds Futerman. “Some people pay attention and some people don’t. Fortunately out here there is a community of people who pay attention.”
On Saturday, November 10, 2012 Leeann Lavin will speak about her book during a five course Homegrown Dinner at Foody’s (760 Montauk Highway, Water Mill). The dinner is a fundraiser for Slow Food East End. Additional donations will be accepted for Futerman’s Kickstarter campaign to develop a book for Edible Schoolyard programs around the East End. Seatings are at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The cost is $75 ($65 for Slow Food members). Call Foody’s to reserve at 726-3663.
Full, original story here:

Thank you Annette.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Homegrown Cookbook's Chef Rosa Ross' Easy to Make Blender Soup Recipe featured on Craftside

This news story and recipe were featured on the Craftside Foodie Friday post, January 11th.

The Recipe is from the North Fork, Scrimshaw restaurant, the delicious Homegrown creation of owner and chef, Rosa Ross.

Recipe for vegetable blender soup from the book The Hamptons and Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

This vegetable blender soup from the book The Hamptons and Long Island Homegrown Cookbook sounds just like my kinda recipe. It's made with what you have around and is quick and tasty!
Recipe for vegetable blender soup
Click on this page from The Hamptons and Long Island Homegrown Cookbook to enlarge and read the full recipe for vegetable blender soup or yummy soup made from what you have in the fridge!
 More about the Voyageur Press book:
Hamptons homegrown cookbook

Leeann Lavin


Jennifer Calais Smith

This inspiring book takes the reader on a private tour of outstanding chefs of the Long Island area and their gardens. Each profile reflects the chef's personal style, cultural background, desire for healthy, just-picked ingredients, and gardening philosophy. Recipes, plant lists, garden layouts, and color photos fill the pages!
For the past five-plus years, Leeann Lavin was the Director of Communications at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. As principal of Duchess Designs, LLC, Leeann is an award-winning landscape designer. Her garden book reviews have appeared in The TwoRiver Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ken Druse "Real Dirt" Interview episode with me for Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

It was a double header for me on December 17th
Perhaps a better turn of phrase and a more seasonal reference is to say I got two gifts in one on that Monday before Christmas.

First up was the taped interview with Ken Druse at 9 am.
Ken is a world-class, passionate, garden star.
His bio says it best: He is nationally known as a garden expert, and with the huge success of his six titles -- The Natural Garden, The Natural Shade Garden, The Natural Habitat Garden, The Collector's Garden, and Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation, and Natural Companions  -- is America's best-loved gardener.

I am proud to say I own and reference – and revere – all of Ken’s books. They are signed by him too as I have been privileged to learn from his lectures and talks – and those happy educational forays are most often accompanied by a book signing. 

So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to being a guest on his radio podcast show. 
Well, truth be told, I picked up the phone at our scheduled time but due to multi-tasking, getting ready for that afternoon’s Homegrown book talk and book signing at the United Way of Greater Mercer County at the Nassau Inn in Princeton, I ask “Who is this?” after Ken’s good morning greeting.  Lucky for me, Ken is a bulletproof Jersey & Brooklyn force of nature and didn’t hold it against me. 
We got right to work.
However, it’s not really “work” when we both get to talk about our favorite things: plants and edibles and food and wine. 
So, Ken directed the interview and well, just like that, he said the 20 -- or was it 30? –minutes were up. 
There was the hearty thank you and sign off.  Ken said he’d be editing the interview and let me know when he posted it. 
Ken emailed that he thought I’d like it. I wrote back that I like most everything he does...
But it was with great anticipation amidst all the holiday hullabaloo that I looked forward to hearing the Homegrown interview. 
I posted it straight away to the book’s Facebook page.
This is the first chance I’ve had to post to the Master Chef & Their Gardens blog.

Below is the text from Ken’s Real Dirt page.  

I’ve posted the link to his “Ken Druse Real Dirt” garden podcast

And to his MP3 File.  You can also subscribe and listen on your iPod via iTunes.
From Real Dirt:     
Long Island has rich sandy soil and gorgeous weather with long languid autumns that often do not end until December. For decades, this was farm country, and the number one crop was potato.

(Biodynamic farmer Kathy Keller with chef Robby Beaver of The Frisky Oyster,
Towns on the south fork of the east end of Long Island, NY, are often collectively referred to as “The Hamptons,” today, and are among the top vacation spots in the Country. And as for farms, many are still there, but the crops have diversified to serve weekenders and the restaurants they frequent -- many of which have become world famous.

Nick and Toni’s, Loaves & Fishes, The Frisky Oyster are but three of 27 establishments profiled in Leeann Lavin’s new book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook about locavore chefs and their connection to the land, the sea and the artisanal growers who inspire them. Leeann said,      “[It’s about] the respect and reverence the chef & farmer have for each other, their work and passion, and the respect and reverence they have for the land.”

     “Long Island is still recognized as the most productive farming area in New York State,” said Leeann. She profiles the growers on the north and south fork of Long Island and the chefs who are inspired by their produce. The book is filled with signature recipes from the featured restaurants.  The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook is a tribute to the farms, gardens, vineyards and waterways on Long Island. Leeann honors the chefs who are bringing the local homegrown harvest to food-obsessed patrons and in doing so support local farmers and a precious way of life.      To learn more, visit Leeann Lavin’s Chefs and Gardens blog.

The Frisky Oyster’s Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese
makes 4 salads

for the beets…
10 baby red beets

10 baby golden beets

10 baby candy stripe beets

1 bunch fresh thyme

2 cups balsamic vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

for the plating…
roasted baby beets, baby arugula - best fresh from a local organic farm
½ cup sherry vinaigrette
4 slices of Humboldt Fog goat’s milk cheese or your favorite goat’s milk cheese
1 cup salted pistachios
Place the beets, thyme, oil and vinegar in a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 375 until a toothpick or knife slides into and out of the beets with little resistance.

Uncover and allow to cool in the cooking liquid, then refrigerate for several hours or until cold.

Remove the beets from the liquid and peel each one, removing any peel around the stem end.
Cut them in half and set them aside.

for the pistachios…
1 cup pistachios, raw
1Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Place the pistachios on a baking sheet and put in the 375 oven to toast for 8-10 minutes.

While they are cooking, place a small sauté pan on a high flame to allow to get hot.

Add the tbsp of butter and swirl, remove from the heat and reserve for the nuts.

When the pistachios are done, place them in a mixing bowl, add the brown butter, salt and sugar and toss to evenly coat.

Set the nuts aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

for the sherry vinaigrette…
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 fl oz dry sherry
5 fl oz sherry vinegar
1 cup canola or neutral salad oil
½ cup pure olive oil
3 Tbsp walnut oil
salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients except the oils in a blender and process on high.
slowly stream in the oils, one at a time until the vinaigrette is smooth.
season to taste with salt and pepper to your liking.

Thank you, Ken. 
And of course, thank you to all the Homegrown chefs and their inspired growers and artisanal food makers.