|Posted on April 5, 2013 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
Florist on Main Street - Northport Village
I've been hearing alot of negative talk about a certain groundhog who mistakenly predicted an early spring this year. I'm sure he had been hiding out in shame somewhere hoping like you and me that spring would just get here already. Well, alas I think it finally has. Maybe not in full force, but the temps during the day hit over 80 degrees yesterday! I'll take it! Daffodils peeking out from garden beds, tulips galore, people walking around in flip-flops and shorts.........aaaahhh, summer is right around the corner.
Photo - courtesy of the Produce Bible
One particular food that I associate with spring is the Pea - that sweet, tender, sleeping away in a pod, pea. Then there's one particular recipe that comes to my mind when I think of peas. It's a pasta dish that I had once on a trip I made to Cape May, NJ. I can't recall the name of the restaurant, although I do remember what the place looked like - a Victorian home all covered in dense, green ivy, a wrought iron black bench in the front, dimly lit lamp posts lighting the way up to the stairs of this gem and of course, one of the most memorable meals I have ever had. ........Buccatini with prosciutto, peas and toasted pignoli nuts
Buccatini with peas, prosciutto, and toasted pignoli nuts
1 lb of Bucatinni pasta (can substitute with spaghetti, angel hair, etc.)
I cup of fresh shelled peas (can substitute with good quality sweet, tender sweet frozen peas that have been thawed)
1/2 cup of thickly sliced prosciutto, cubed (can substitute with thick sliced bacon)
1/4 cup pignoli nuts (lightly toasted)
1/4 extra virgin olive oil - extra for drizzling
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
freshly grated parmigianno reggiano cheese (optional)
In a large pasta pot, bring lightly salted water to a rolling boil. In the meantime, put a small saute pan onto med/high heat. Place pignoli nuts in dry pan, flipping nuts until they are just slightly toasted and golden brown- Do not burn as the nuts will taste bitter! Remove nuts from heat and set aside.
In another saute, heat olive oil over medium heat, add cubed prosciutto and garlic. After about 5 minutes of sauteeing and garlic has turned a light golden brown, add the seasoned breadcrumbs. If mixture is too dry, add a bit more olive oil. Once bread crumbs have absorbed olive oil, add the peas to the mixture, gently folding them in so as not to bruise them.
Drain pasta, add pea/prosciutto mixture. Sprinkle individual plates with a generous amount of the toasted pignoli nut and some grated cheese if you would like.
|Posted on March 19, 2013 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
Life has been a bit hectic lately with all good things but I will be back in full force soon!
Until then, I thought I would share a photo of a sign I came across one day while window shopping out east. I absolutely love signs especially those that are a bit more creative and are able to even interject some humor along with their message.
Enjoy and of course, take heed of the warning!!
|Posted on February 5, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (2)|
Lucky, all smiles, on his way to Coindre Hall
Long Island's dog parks are a great place for both dog owners and their canine companions to do some socializing and get some exercise.
I try to put some myself in my dog's shoes, or paws I should say, as to where he might enjoy spending some time. When I do, I imagine a place without fences, with rolling hills of green, and perhaps some water. Now imagine a medieval french style chateau on the grounds of this already idyllic setting. Well such a place actually exists right here on Long Island - Coindre Hall of Huntington.
Entrance to Coindre Hall - after a snowfall
Just a little info about Coindre Hall, Coindre Hall Park is a 33 acre park and 80,000 square foot mansion overlooking Huntington Harbor. Built in 1912, this mansion represents the height of the Gold Coast era with its Medieval turrets and sweeping views of the harbor. No need to wait for the spring or summer to visit Coindre Hall. It's actually my favorite place on LI to do some sledding. The grounds boast a few rolling hills with a fairly steep incline so you can pick up some speed. However, although the grounds have many trees, they are off to the side so you can feel safe when flying down the hill.
Dogs and their owners enjoying the stunning views of Huntington Harbor from Coindre Hall
Of course spring and summer are also a great time to visit. Especially on a nice warm day, you can take a leisurely stroll down a pathway that leads to a small beach and let your dog go for a refreshing dip into the waters of Huntington Harbor.
So basically, every season is the best season to visit Coindre Hall. if you don't have a dog, don't let that stop you, but if you do, you must visit Coindre Hall. Your dog will love you even more for it.
Check out info below for address/phone #
West Neck Farm - Browns Road, Huntington
Park Phone: (631) 854-4410
Tour and Event Information: 424-8230
|Posted on January 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
Being from Italian family, one of the things you can be sure to find in my home or in those of any of my relatives around Christmastime is Panettone.
So now that the Christmas tree is down, the tins of butter cookies now empty, and the lights put away, this is when I might feel a bit melancholy, but no need to despair, I still have a few Panettone breads to enjoy.
If you're not familiar with what Panettone is, or perhaps have seen it in stores especially around the holidays but have never actually tried it, it is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan . Shaped like a chef's hat, it has more of a sweet bread texture and usually contains raisins, citron, candied orange, or chocolate. Originally an Italian dessert, it is now enjoyed on Christmas and New Year in France, Brazil, Switzerland, Columbia, the US and more.
I'll be honest with you, I wasn't a huge fan of this italian fruit cake/bread when I was a child mainly because of the little bits of citron that studded this otherwise pretty decent dessert. So maybe it would be more fair of me to say that I am not a fan of citron rather than the Panettone. However, years later I discovered a very simple and delicious recipe using the extra Panettone I always end up having in January - Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto sauce, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
2 tsp. cornstarch
butter, for baking dish
1 -1 lb. loaf Panettone bread (crusts trimmed, cut into 1" cubes
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
to make sauce
Bring the cream, milk and sugar to a boil in small saucepan over medium heat. In another bowl mix cornstarch and Amaretto to blend then whisk into cream mixture. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.
to make bread pudding
Lightly batter a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes in the prepared dish. In a larage bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk and sugar to blend. Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press gently to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the pudding unitl it puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon the bread pudding into bowls and drizzle with the warm sauce.
|Posted on November 2, 2012 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all
affected by this devastating storm - Long Island and beyond.
|Posted on October 22, 2012 at 10:00 AM||comments (2)|
Enjoying the fall foliage around Argyle Lake, Babylon
October is just flying by like a witch's broom across a Halloween sky. Before you know it, it will be time to prepare for Thanksgiving and then dare I say it.....begin Christmas shopping.
Let me slow down for a moment, since October is not over yet. All over Long Island, Oktoberfest celebrations have been taking place - fun loving people enjoying their wiener schnitzel, potato pancakes, and very large mugs of St. Pauli Girl and Becks clanking together while singing along to some good ole fashioned German Oompah bands.
All these German celebrations coupled along with the crisp cool Autumn air inspires me to make one of my favorite German dishes - Sauerbraten with gingerbread gravy.
Although the authentic way of preparing sauerbrauten requires marinating the roast in a blend of spices and vinegar for at least two days, I came across a recipe that is quite simple and requires only two hours to cook, yet delivers the same intense flavor.
Sauerbrauten with gingerbread gravy
My sister Grace and husband Scott enjoying their meal (hopefully!)
Beef pot roast, with fat on one side
4 tbsp. Olive Oil
5 medium onions, sliced into large rings
2-4 quarts water
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
12 Ginger Snap cookies
4-6 bay leaves
4 carrots, chopped into large chunks
salt & pepper to taste
Over high heat, heat oil in a large dutch oven. Brown the roast on ALL sides. When roast has been browned, place the meat in the pan with the fat side up.
Add onions on all sides and on top of roast. Season with salt & pepper.
Add water so that it comes up to half of the height of the meat. Add vinegar, Ginger Snaps and bay leaves.
Cover with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Let simmer for approx. 2 hours. Add carrots and let simmer for an additional 40 minutes or until meat is done.
|Posted on October 15, 2012 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
I just can't stay away from the East End and why should I? It's a relatively short drive to a destination that feels worlds away.
I've already picked a few hefty pumpkins, ravaged several ears of roasted sweet corn, but what about them apples? Yes, I could pick a crisp tart apple from a bushel to sink my teeth into, or peel and chop a few of them to bake into a pie but why would I when Briermere Farms or even Mrs. Smith does a way better job than I ever could. So what's a girl to do with these apples? The answer: a savory recipe I recently came across using apples & sweet potatoes - Sweet Potato & Apple Gratin (adapted from Rachel Ray's Magazine).
It's just the perfect amount of sweet crunch atop a basically savory and hearty dish.
3 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth, warmed
2 1/2 lbs. sweet potato, peeled and sliced in 1 " thick slices
2 lbs. apples - peeled, cored, and sliced into med-thick slices
10 gingersnaps, crushed
salt & pepper
1. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add onion, stirring for about 7 minutes until softened. Gradually add flour, stirring until blended. Gradually whisk in broth in until slightly thickened.
2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a medium casserole dish. Arrange sliced potatoes on bottom of dish, top with half of the onion/flour sauce, layer sliced apples on top of potatoes. Add additional sauce (reserving some to use on top). Add additional layer of potatoes, then apples. Top off with onion/four sauce.
3. Cover the dish lightly with aluminum foil. Bake for appoximately 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
4. Remove casserole from oven, dot top of casserole with butter. Sprinkle gingersnap crumbs and bake the gratin uncovered for about 25 minutes.
|Posted on October 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM||comments (4)|
already picked pumpkins and gourds at Harbes Farm - Riverhead, LI
You know the saying........"one man's trash is another man's treasure". That was my exact thought this weekend while pumpkin picking out on the East End.
While some over-zealous pumpkin pickers were ripping pumpkins off their vines, myself included, something else in the field caught my attention - the delicate, rich gold colored flowers( zucchini blossoms) peeking from underneath the weight of the pumpkins, tangled in between vines, being completely ignored or even worse....trampled upon by unknowing innocent pumpkin pickers.
I immediately recognized these flowers since my dad had grown zucchini in his garden when I was a child. Although we enjoyed the zucchini itself, it was the zucchini's blossom that was the real treat. My mother would prepare it quite simply - battered and fried in olive oil to a light golden crisp, sprinkled with a little salt. So what did I do? You guessed it - I picked about 20 or more of the blossoms and gingerly placed them in my bag...far from the heavy pumpkins.
Squash blossoms can be a challenge to find. Usually found in late summer/early fall - you may check Farmer's Markets that sell zucchini and ask for the blossoms before they are discarded, Asian markets, or your neighbor's garden. You may also check online for companies that will ship them to you.
FYI - According to The Produce Bible,"there are both male & female blossoms, with the female blossoms being more robust and requiring a slightly longer cooking time than their delicate male counterparts"........hmmmmm.....sounds familiar???
Okay....on to a simple recipe taken to a sligtly higher level with the addition of goat cheese.
FRIED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE
1 dozen squash blossoms (lightly brushed off with a wet paper towel, pistils and stems removed)
Olive oil for shallow frying
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup plain seltzer
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of goat cheese, slightly softened
few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, chopped
In a bowl combine flour, water, seltzer and pinch of salt.
Mix until it is a smooth consistency, similar to that of pancake batter (add water if batter is too thick, or flour if batter is too thin)
Heat oil in heavy based frying pan to medium high heat.
In another bowl mix softened goat cheese with chopped parsley
Slightly open the blossom and spoon a small dollop of goat cheese mixture into the center, gently closing the petals with your hands
Carefully dip one stuffed blossom at a time into the batter, shaking off any excess, gently drop into hot oil
Fry for approximately 3 minutes or until a light golden brown
Drain onto paper towel lined dish
Sprinkle with sea salt
|Posted on October 3, 2012 at 8:30 PM||comments (4)|
If you were stuck in an elevator for three hours, who would you want with you in that elevator ? If you were stranded indefinitely on a deserted island with only one book, what book would you want to have with you? If faced with the prospect of having your last meal ever for the rest of your life, what would you choose to have?
As you ponder these questions, I will answer at least one of the three -what would I choose to have as my last meal?......it's a no brainer........PIZZA. From the moment I lift up that cardboard box top, releasing the heat from the pie, the aroma of fresh ripe tomatoes, melted cheese and fragrant basil wafts upward through the air, permeating the senses and for a moment, I experience true bliss. Seriously, I LOVE pizza!
This got me thinking of what my favorite pizza place is. Of course I have my local favorites, but why limit oneself to a 5-mile radius. I decided I need to be fair and conduct thorough research, giving as many places on LI a try so I can find THE BEST PIZZA ON LONG ISLAND.
What qualifies me to judge and ultimately bestow this most prestigious title you might understandably ask? and to this I respond....I may not know many things, but trust me when I say I KNOW PIZZA!
So I now embark on this journey to find the best pizza on LI - how many days will it take? I do not know. I expect this could be a most treacherous expedition as I venture through unchartered territory, the threat of possibly incurring mediocre pizza, a little water retention and extra pounds.....but all for the sake of research so I must keep calm and carry on ...........and wear some looser clothing.
and so it begins.........Week 1 - PROJECT PIZZA. Destination - yet to be determined.