last days of summer. melon obsession.

It is hard for me to believe that these last days of August are here already. I think for me, this was the fastest summer yet. I wanted to share a few  out takes from a shoot we did with Bon Appétit. We had a great time smashing and cracking these melons. We made quite a mess. You can find some of the recipes on line at bon appetit.com Get to know your melons here.

This is the perfect weekend to savor all the flavors of summer. Mix it up, with melons and herbs stone fruit and tomatoes.Pretty much any combination is right at summers peak.Do it now, pretty soon that cold wind will be blowing.

 

Thank you Alex Grossman. Susan Spungen and Kendra Smoot.

 

Happy weekend.

xx

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honey honey. food for the bees. westwind orchard.

Last weekend on our way upstate with our friend chef Camille Beccera we made a stop to visit friends Laura Ferrara and Fabio Chizzola who own and operate Westwind Orchards. I remember when they bought the farm in 2002. At the time it was a bit of a defunct apple farm and Fabio brought the trees back to life one by one.  When we heard Fabio was going to be spinning honey that weekend we decided to head up.

I have known Laura and Fabio for quite some time. He is a fashion photographer and she a fashion editor and stylist. How they manage to run this amazing farm and a busy commercial work load is a  mystery! I know they both have farming and food culture in their roots so I easily see that for the most part they do it for the love of it and to share it with family. They are both Italian and that strong food culture runs deep. They are the kind of people who put a meal in front of you effortlessly and without you quite knowing what happened when your intention was to just stop by and pick up some eggs! The farm continues to grow in so many different ways. A wood fired pizza oven is in  process and a beautifully curated farm store is in the works and somehow they always seem so composed. Laura wears farm wear like no one else! total chic. Anyway, I really can't say enough about these two, they are simply inspiring in every way!

 

On they way upstate we talked about food because it seems we are always hungry and it always comes around to food in one way or another. Camille brought out a little bag with an octopus in it and we decided then  to make a lunch using the new honey. It was a great impromptu afternoon.

Below you can find the recipes. They were super simple and you can adapt them easily to use the honey and the citronette on other things. You can also easily make the heirloom tomato salad without the octopus. Now is the moment for tomatoes. We used fresh coriander seed that we found in the garden for the tomato salad and it was amazing.

We also made a coriander salt for the squash blossoms.

This is one of those easy summer days we hope will inspire you!

Grazie Mille Laura and Fabio!

xx

 

Notes from Camille:

 

 

Tomato and Octopus Salad

 

Start with a flavorful court bouillon and cook octopus till tender, depending on its size and type this can take 1/2 hour and up to 1 1/2  hours.  Once tender, remove from the pot and when it becomes cool enough to handle cut the tentacles from the body.  Cut an array of tomatoes and line them on a platter along with some fresh herbs.  We came across some coriander in the garden that had just gone to seed, they were green and the flavor subtle and used them as our fresh herb element.  Drizzle the tomatoes with half of the dressing.  To finish the salad get a pan, preferably a cast iron gripping hot and sear the tentacles, season with a little coarse sea salt.  Slice the tentacles and arrange them on the platter.  Drizzle with the remaining honey-chili citronette.

 

Honey Chili Citronette

 

This is not a recipe but a blueprint that's easy to remember and whip up.  Start with lime or lemon juice, add thinly sliced fresh or dried chilies then slowly add the honey, stopping every so often to incorporate well and taste.  Once it tastes like sweet lemonade start whisking in a neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed.  Whisk in a fairly rapid motion and add the oil in a slow steady steam until the dressing has body, pay close attention to it's gradually progression.  Adjust and balance at the end, you'll need to season with salt, maybe some more chili or a little extra honey or citrus juice depending on personal preference.  

 

 

 

 

Frito Misto Of Squash and Herb Blossoms 

 

Collect some herbs that are blossoming, we used basil and fennel.  

 

Carefully stuff the squash blossoms, we used goat cheese for its tart flavor and tight consistency.  

 

Gradually heat some canola oil in a sturdy pot, an enamel cast iron works great.  While your oil is coming up to temperature get your batter ready, in a large bowl add some rice flour and slowly incorporate sparkling water till you have the desired consistency.  A loose batter will give you a delicate coating were as a thicker batter will give you a hearty crunchy one.  Somewhere in the middle is perfect we feel.  Play around by adding more rice flour or sparkling water.  Carefully dip the stuffed blossoms and herb blossoms and fry till golden brown.  As soon as they are removed from the oil, sprinkle with salt, arrange them on a platter and drizzle liberally with chili honey.  Best eaten warm.

 

Chili Honey

 

Slice some fresh or dried chills as thinly as possible, mix with honey and allow to sit for at least 1/2 hour so that the flavors develop.  Usually one medium size chili like a jalepeno or 5 small ones like chili de arbol to 2 cups honey.

 

 

You can visit Westwind Orchard in Accord New York. They have a u-pick it season. You can find the times and produce available through the website. They are in the midst of building a wood fired pizza oven for those who get hungry while visiting the farm.The pizza oven will run on weekend through October. 

where the wild things are. rosa rugosa ice cream.

For a while now, I have been thinking about making  wild rose ice cream. We have a tiny house upstate circled by dense woods. Lately with this temperate summer things have gone a bit rogue up there but I love it. The house is surrounded by an ever thickening bramble of blackberries and wild roses. We planted some Rosa Rugosa when we bought the house a number of years ago. I wasn't sure how it would fare in the elevated colder climate but it has thrived and has  taken over some of the other roses. I have always loved the Ragosa which grows wild along the New England coast. They remind me of the rugged coast of Maine where they dot the shore to form a dense wind break between the long the sea grasses and the ocean. The Rosa Ragosa is a single petal rose. For such a wispypy rose it gives off some serious floral perfume that is both a little spicy and salty. Maybe I imagine the salty part because I associated it so much with misty foggy days and salty sea spray. I could never resist these not even as a kid even though they are terribly riddled with tiny sharp spiky thorns. This past weekend Chef Camille Becerra came up to hang out in the woods and we decided to make some rose ice cream (amongst other things..but more on that in another post!) 

I would only do this with roses that are one hundred percent organic. NO PESTICIDES! 

I believe there are places where you can order organic rose petals for cooking but I will have to look into it and post  some info on that later.

 

The ice cream was so lovely and really well balanced. We decided to use a local maple syrup from our friend Dan Finn who sells his Moonshine Maple at his farm in Delhi and at Table On Ten in Bloomville., instead of sugar and the combination was really complimentary.

This is a subtle ice cream it is not for those of you who need abig flavor punch, it is mellowice cream, kind of like a foggy day at the beach. xx

 

Rosa Ragosa Ice Cream

 

4 cups heavy cream

4 cups offresh organic rose petals washed but not wet.

2 cups whole milk

1.5 cups maple syrup

2 good pinches of grey celtic sea salt

8 large egg yolks ( preferably from super happy chickens!)

 

I collected some Rose petals first thing in the morning when they seemed to be most fragrant.

In a large bowl gently bruise the rose petals by crushing them just a bit with a wooden spoon

Combine the rose petals and the heavy cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat to a simmer. remove from the heat and let the roses steep in the cream for thirty minutes or so.

 

In another pot, combine the milk and 1 cup of the maple syrup and bring to a gentle simmer.

Remove from the heat and set aside while you whisk the eggs.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and the remaining half cup of maple syrup.

Whisk until the yolks start to ribbon.

Add the hot milk to the yolks gradually whisking throughout to temper the yolks.

 

Return the mixture to the saucepan and gently heat until the mixture evenly coats the back of a  wooden spoon. Do not let the custard boil!

Set aside.

 

Strain the rose petals from the cream now that it has infused for a good while.

Press the petals against the mesh/strainer to release any remaining oil in the roses.

Discard the petals at this time.

Stir the infused cream gently into the custard and place in the fridge until it is good and cold all the way through.

At this point you can run your mixture through an ice cream machine. 

 

My opinion on ice cream makers is the better the machine the better the ice cream. I have made some good ice creams with my freezer bowl/ Cuisinart maker but now I really see the difference that a better machine makes.

I will include a link to a couple below.

So that is it! just garnish with a few rose petals and you are set to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer waned.

Summer seems like so long ago as we come quickly upon the darkest days of the year, but I know it won't be long before we see her again.  I never posted these photos from a week out at the beach on Long Island this past summer. For me, they are a light on this dark nor'easter morning.

x

august tomatoes.

It is August and you know what that means... tomatoes are out in full force by the bushel load!

The farmers market was bursting with every shape and size. Our little garden upstate is not too shabby either. It seems that hot spell was just what they needed. Delaware County has a ridiculously short growing season so when we get tomatoes we are ecstatic.

I am eating them every way I can. Last night I made a salad inspired by one I ate at the new restaurant Estela on East Houston Street in NYC. There is really no recipe here as I just kind of threw them together based on the flavors and ingredients I remembered from the dish.

This is what I put in mine.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Purselane

Canary Melon

I added some fresh herbs and topped it with olive oil and chive blossom vinaigrette.

Hope you are inspired to make something with tomatoes too! When January comes you will be craving a real tomato. So what are you waiting for?

You can see the completed salad on instagram here

Check out the August issue of Bon Appétit Magazine for some great inspired tomato recipes

xx

gascony france. the butcher. the baker and the armagnac maker.

The inquisitive pig at Dominique Chapolard's farm in Gascony, France.

The inquisitive pig at Dominique Chapolard's farm in Gascony, France.

Magestic Sunflowern in Moncault, Gascony,France. 

Magestic Sunflowern in Moncault, Gascony,France. 

Amazing summer fruits from the local market in Laverdac, Gascony France.

Amazing summer fruits from the local market in Laverdac, Gascony France.

  Famed Armagnac maker Alexandre Ladevèze.

 Famed Armagnac maker Alexandre Ladevèze.

Charcuterie from Dominique Chapolard with local wild peaches.    

Charcuterie from Dominique Chapolard with local wild peaches.

 

Dominique Chapolard, the butcher and master of  charcuterie.

Dominique Chapolard, the butcher and master of  charcuterie.

 Quiet town of Vianne, Gascony France.

 Quiet town of Vianne, Gascony France.

Laundry lines, Gascony, France.

Laundry lines, Gascony, France.

 Cecile Berthollet, Baker. Gascony, France.    The Berthellots, who proudly call themselves paysans-boulangers, or "peasant bakers," grow 250 varieties of wheat on their farm for their home-baked bread.

 Cecile Berthollet, Baker. Gascony, France.

The Berthellots, who proudly call themselves paysans-boulangers, or "peasant bakers," grow 250 varieties of wheat on their farm for their home-baked bread.

 Felix King at Camont.

 Felix King at Camont.

 Melons. Market Nerac .

 Melons. Market Nerac.

   The most exquisite Chasselas grapes from the Laverdac market, Gascony, France.

   The most exquisite Chasselas grapes from the Laverdac market, Gascony, France.

Peeping through the keyhole at the church.

Peeping through the keyhole at the church.

 Kate Hill's glorious pantry at Camont. Gascony, France.

 Kate Hill's glorious pantry at Camont. Gascony, France.

Fields of Sunflowers in Montcault

Fields of Sunflowers in Montcault

Last summer Condé Nast Traveler sent us to Gascony France to cover a food intensive story for their July 2013 food issue. I wanted to share a few of the photos we took for them. You can see a more extensive story at Condé Nast Traveler.com, both in the magazine and on the tablet. This story was dream to cover. We roamed the countryside with expatriate Kate Hill and her sisterStephanie  as our guides while they showed us an insiders view to Gascony. We photographed the butcher, the baker and the Armagnac maker and needless to say we ate and drank like kings. 

Kate runs a cooking school in Ste-Colombe-en-Bruihois  which she calls The Kitchen At Camont

Michael Ruhlman shares his picks  http://www.cntraveler.com/food/2013/07/french-culinary-vacation-travel-guide

japanses pickles.

Lush spring and summer produce is currently feeding my pickle obsession. I am dreaming pickles these days.

Lately I have been into exploring Japanese pickling techniques.

I have been delving into the recipes in Nancy Singlton Hachisu's book Japanese Farmhouse Food. Below are a few images from the current issue of Kinfolk Magazine

recipes to come.

Ceramics by the insanely talented Jessica Niello.

Knife available at  QUITOKEETO 

goodbye spring. hello summer.

Life is flying by at light speed these days. I am already feeling spring rolling into summer. What is with this crazy weather? My head is chaotic swirl of work and kid schedules. I am trying to eek out some time to just chill. The heady smell of these Lily Of The Valley, one of my favorite flowers, remind me now and then to just breathe and to take a moment to pause and appreciate.

xx