Thursday, February 27, 2014

First-ever Slow Food East End Carlo Petrini Award to North Fork Table & Inn; Plus Fundraising Event for Chef Gerry Hayden

North Fork Table & Inn partners accept Slow Food East End Carlo Petrini Award, L-R: Chef Claudia Fleming, Mary Mraz, Mike Mraz, Chef Gerry Hayden

No need to wait or hold out for the Academy Awards and Oscar®
The votes are in.

And the winner is the acclaimed East End restaurant, The North Fork Table & Inn and its James Beard award-winning chefs and co-owners, husband and wife culinary team: Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming, along with their managing partners, Mike Mraz and his wife, Mary. 

The Inn was presented with the first-ever Slow Food East End Carlo Petrini Award for its exceptional embodiment of the Slow Food principles of universal access to good, clean and fair food.

At the same time, the sold-out event was a “double feature.”
East End foodies gathered to raise funds to help combat the devastating ALS disease, while saluting and celebrating Chef Gerry Hayden and his fight against ALS.
Chef Gerry is also James Beard nominee this year for Best Chef, Northeast.

All the really big stars -- in the culinary constellation, that is -- were in attendance at Sunday’s very big night at The North Fork Table & Inn.
In fact, there were 50 chefs, staff and volunteers and nearly 20 chefs who participated in the evening’s star-studded night.  

The event was a sell-out with more than 220 tickets purchased and even more donations were tallied online, garnering a total of approximately $40,000. 
Chef Gerry was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. The money raised helps provide for his quality of care.  

The evening’s menu was extraordinary – with local, homegrown ingredients dazzling the Out East plates and palates. (Check out Rosa Ross' Vegetable Rolls!)

The best ingredient of the night?  Love.

Hat’s in the air to all the effort and community that helped make the night a success, especially, event planner Maria McBride of Peconic Productions, Kontokosta Winery and Anne Howard, Slow Food East End.
Slow Food East End Membership Chair & event hero, Anne Howard, Center
Chefs Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming are featured chefs in this Examiner’s book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, as are many of the chefs who turned out to support the fundraising event.

Of course they did. That’s what Homegrown Chefs do…

Special mention goes to Chef Kevin Penner, Bryan Futerman, Robby Beaver, Frisky Oyster, Rosa Ross, Scrimshaw, Gretchen Menser, Fresno, James Carpenter, Citta Nuova, and Jason Weiner, Almond, NYC/L&W Oyster Co.   
Chef Bryan Futerman, Left
Exuberant & beautiful: Chef Claudia

I wrote about Chef Gerry and Claudia’s vision and culinary leadership for the North Fork Table & Inn’s profile in the Homegrown Cookbook,
“The couple is dedicated to fulfilling the North Fork’s potential as a food lover’s paradise. They opened the restaurant here because they believe it offers the best of the culinary world’s future, with the highest-quality ingredients steps away from their door.  And because of their philosophy, The North Fork Table & Inn has become a food-lover’s destination.”

And inspiration, it should be added.

Photos Courtesy of Slow Food East End, photographer: Brittany Calderale

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Romantic Homegrown Dinner Menu Celebrates Cupid & Love

Our Homegrown Valentine’s Menu was memorable – from the tasty food to the heart-felt plated presentations.

I want to share our cupid-inspired dishes with you so that can re-create some heart-throbbing food memories of your own using these suggestions. 

Better yet, build on these; and let me know what you made for dinner this weekend.

It was a fun-filled double header: Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. 
This calendaring set up a whole lot of Martha Stewart-filled chances to theme the tablescapes, floral designs, and menus.
From candy hearts messages to chocolate to cherry pie to… 

On Friday the 14th, I shot my arrow and posted my Valentine’s Day Food & Drink story on Examiner about Kitchensurfing – a service that matches up chefs and people who not only love food but also need a cook. 

Following that fun foodie story I got down to the business of romance.

We all know the way to our hearts is through our stomach.
I further the delicious detour…

Remember the French adage: “The eyes eat first.”
So the presentation is paramount. And fun to prepare.

Next stop on the food journey to the heart are the taste buds. 
This is a long, luxurious stopover…

So after a trip to the markets, it was time to organize the menu and get to the preparation.

Just remember, of all the ingredients, the best one is love…
Have fun, relax and enjoy.

Homegrown Valentine’s Menu

Roederer Champagne – option to add Solerno Sicilian Blood Orange liquor or Lillet with a slice of blood orange.  and 

Crisp, cold Martini – You must make them with the classic, dry Dolan Blanc Vermouth (made with the same great recipe since 1821) & LiV Vodka – this is Long Island premium potato vodka.  With hints of fruit, vanilla and anise.

I’ve written about LiV – they have a fascinating, story – a true American success story.  A dedicated, quality, tasty, success story. (They also produce sorbets using local Long Island fruits, and award-winning Pine Barrens whisky – the first made in Long Island - repurposing the used oak barrels or casks from local Out East vineyards.
I’ve also been privileged to have done a Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook book signing at their distillery in Baiting Hollow in the heart of wine country – and surrounded by 5,000 acres of potato farms!

Pair the Homegrown Martini with Long Island Blue Point Oysters – with mignonette sauce made from our garden’s shallots and champagne vinegar.
It’s all the romance and beauty of the sea on that gorgeous oyster shell. Slurp with abandon.

The first course was “Heart-Beets.” 
Cute, right?

I got the recipe from the Food Loves Writing bog and then adapted it a bit.

I highly recommend this Heart-Beet dish.  It’s made with fresh beets, garlic, and Parmesan cheese, topped by its own beet pesto.
What’s not to love?

The beets are shredded and after the flour and cheese – and our Homegrown garden garlic was added, I worked it like bread dough.  It looked not unlike chopped meat.
I rolled out half the ball – it was almost like cookie dough. 
I then cut out the beet patties.
You can use a cookie cutter. I used heart-shaped ramekin dishes/cups. 

We love beet tops -- I usually cook them in olive oil, with garlic and anchovy paste.
I can’t believe it’s the first time we used the beet greens to make pesto. Especially since my husband make THE best basil pesto. 
Seriously.  And it’s not just my opinion.  He could sell it.  He has legions of Pesto fans.  He used lots of fresh cheese.  And walnuts vs. pignoli nuts

The Heart Beets were to be about ¼” or so thick. 
They are cooked for about 10 minutes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. 

The cooked beets are matched up again with their green tops – that we made into pesto.
Sweet love reunited.  
Sinatra could’ve been crooning, “Love is lovelier, the second time around…”

The Heart-Beets are just so darned adorable! 

They are also filling. 
The recipe calls for them to be stacked. 
And they do look impressive, towering with a Mies van der Rohe nobility. 

With the Heart-Beets, we sipped a light, poised French rosė: Chateau d’Eslcans Whispering Angel – often referred to as “The Water of the Hamptons” because it’s enjoyed with abandon and frequency all summer in the Hamptons.  Or as long as one can get the rosė.
It is made in limited supply and sells out quickly especially during the summer.

Meanwhile, I had made the lemon rice to accompany the Angry Lobster entrée. 
Angry Lobster is a fiery, spicy lobster made with red cayenne pepper.  Just what one needs to fire up a romantic meal...
I used our homemade chicken stock in the rice for an added heart-warming zing of taste.

With the entrée we enjoyed a Morgan Pinot Noir characterized as the “Crown Jewel of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine is terrific and went so well with the spicy lobster.  It is described as a: beautiful combination of earthy and floral, highlighted by dried herbs and raspberries. Black cherry, sweet oak and spice seamlessly transition from nose to the palate.

With Mother’s homemade bread and the candles and fireplace ablaze, we were all set.
Bill brought a vase filled with white roses and stargazer lilies and orange leaves.  
So rich looking against the wood table - and fragrant, too.

We topped it off with our homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Valentine’s Dinner was delicious and pretty.

The next day, I couldn’t wait to use those heart ramekins again.  I feel badly I’ve neglected them for so long, only using previously for desserts.

Saturday, we made individual lasagna servings in the heart dishes. 
Another triumph – made with homemade mozzarella and ricotta from the local Italian store, along with our garden tomatoes (I had frozen a lot in bags) and our homegrown garlic. 

Tear off some of Mother’s Italian bread and wow.   Simple and delicious.

President’s Day included what else? Cherry Pie!
Mother makes this favorite of Bill’s on more than one occasion – and I can’t tell a lie - with the homemade ice cream – it was an indulgence that I couldn’t resist.  

What did you make this long food-loving weekend?