SUMMER TIME / RECIPE: SUNGOLD, CORN AND ROASTED ONION SALAD, July, 2016, Orient, NY

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All of a sudden it’s summer and things are growing! I’m not sure how
spring went by so fast… it seems like over night the farm went from
a brown/grey dirt patch to a lush bright green garden! It’s crazy how
many things and how much has grown just from Calvin and Peter working
the land – I must say I’m very impressed. Grass and weeds are
everywhere and we even have some food! Raspberries are popping up on
the bramble bushes – red, purple and yellow! Some veggies are ready to
pick – already made a salad from radishes, shallots and baby kale.
Meanwhile, the North Fork went from shuttered winter to open for
business summer. All the restaurants and attractions (aka the mini
golf place) are open and the summer crowds are coming out every
weekend. All the other farm stands are open for business and we
finally have a bounty of local produce – garlic scapes, kale, herbs
and hella zucchini. We’ve been making crazy fresh meals every night,
and on nights when we eat early enough ( we usually don’t eat till 10
pm) we even eat outside al fresco!

I have to say, I liked the North Fork in the winter but I love it in
the summer. It’s so nice to lounge by the pool or on the beach all day
and then just walk to the nearest farm stand to make dinner. It’ll be
even better in August when I can have Calvin pick our dinner from all
the veggies he grew himself!

Today I’m sharing a recipe I’ve already made several times this season
– sungold and corn salad. TBH almost none of the ingredients are
available locally (corn and tomatoes usually aren’t in season till the
end of the summer on Long Island) but its’ just so yummy and fresh I
can’t stop making it. It’s also a real crowd pleaser, super simple and
most importantly, can be made ahead of time! In the summer, I don’t
want to be in the kitchen for hours, I just want to have light and
simple meals that don’t require to much cooddeling. This is one of
those recipes.Though there are a few steps there are only a handful of
ingredients. This recipe is based off of one I read in Food52 a few
years back but I’ve tweaked considerably.

As per usual, recipe and farm photos below!

SUNGOLD, CORN AND ROASTED SUMMER SALAD ONION SALAD

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INGREDIENTS

3 ears of corn – sweet corn is preferable if you can find it
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 pint Sungold Tomatoes (those sweet little yellow guys), halved
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

PREP

1. Boil water and set oven to 375 degrees F

2. Chop onion and spread out on a cookie sheet – cover with olive oil,
salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes – until pieces are
cooked and slightly brown. Let onions cool so they can be handles and
then place in a large bowl.

3. Shuck corn, snap or cut cobs in half and boil for three minutes.
Let cool then carefully cut kernels off the cob and throw into the
same bowl as the onions.

4. Add halved sungold and thinly sliced scallion.

5. dress with 1 tbs of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Eat
right away while slightly warm, keep out and enjoy at room temperature
or refridgerate and eat later. It’s all good!

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FARM UPDATES / RECIPE: SLOW COOKER FRENCH ONION SOUP, April, 2016, Orient, NY

It’s been two months since Calvin moved to the farm and things are starting to come together! The boys –Calvin and his best friend Pete (who’s family farm Calvin is managing)– have been working double duty, setting up the farm during the day and renovating the house at night. The house, originally built some time in the 19th century, was moved a couple blocks from its original location and then renovated in the 1970s. The place is huge –you might’ve seen some pictures, three bedrooms, living room, dining room, den, sun room, green house AND pool! There are tons of windows, it’s incredibly bright and has amazing views of a (different) farm and the bay. But it is a little outdated – fake wood floors, wood paneling everywhere, dirty dirty stairs and sparkly peeling wallpaper in every other room. While cute and cozy the house wasn’t really our style and we – well, mostly entirely the boys – have been turning it into our little late 20s dream home!

The first space they tackled was the living room/dining room – the rooms where we spend most of our time. The first thing the boys did there was whitewashed the wood-paneled walls and floors – and it looks incredible. Getting the entire room painted took some time but once it was done the room was transformed into a bright, modern space. We then culled the furniture in the house and brought in a couple of our own pieces to make the space feel more like us. We kept the old cozy couches, church pews and a newly refurbished wooden dining table (thanks to Pete!) and added our Oriental and Mexican rugs and some plants (also thanks to Pete!). The house now has a shabby chic feel. It’s not done yet –there are still paintings and photographs and stuff to hang on the fresh white walls. We’ve reserved one corner for a gallery wall and another for the Monstera plant of my dreams. I’m only out there two-three days a week so I can’t pitch in as much as they’d/I’d like, but I do  have some little weekend projects for myself, including these honey comb shelves, painting the dirty stairs and making a cork board. It’s so much fun to witness the transformation in progress. I’m excited to participate more over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile on the farm, things are slowly but surely blooming. I have lent a hand out there, but only barely, maybe an hour a week, but hey, that’s more than anyone expected of me. I helped hoe, plant and water berry bushes, and put up tree guards. (Meanwhile, Calvin’s planted hundreds of bushes, chopped down trees and built a chicken coop. He wins at farming) This past weekend the peach and nectarine trees blossomed, an awesome sight. The boys planted their first few trays of seedlings and will be able to plant hella vegetables and herbs in a few weeks and then we can look forward to eating our own food! That’s really what I’m most excited about, all the vegetables I’m going to be able to cook, pickle and can.

This week I wanted to share with you my crazy easy recipe for slow cooker French onion soup. That’s right, the whole thing is made in a slow cooker and takes almost no effort to get restaurant quality soup –and I can say that because I own a restaurant. I like to start this recipe before I go to bed – let the onions caramelize overnight and then add the beef broth when I wake up in the morning. That way by the time I’m home from work (at least when I’m not working the dinner shift) all I have to do it ladle the finished soup into ovenproof bowls, top them with some toasted crusty bread and grated gruyere cheese, and pop them in the broiler. It’s a great recipe to make for a Friday night dinner party, or, on the weekends when we entertain friends all day and don’t want to worry about making dinner. This super simple recipe is sure to wow and please a crowd.

ALSO, don’t toss those leftovers; save them for a slow braise later on in the week.

SLOW COOKER FRENCH ONION SOUP

serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

6 spanish onions, sliced

1 32 oz package of Pacific Organic Beef Broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 loaf of crusty bread

1 tsp olive

8-10 oz of grated Gruyere Cheese

SLOW COOKER or CROCK POT

PREP

1. Set your slow cooker on low, throw in sliced onions and cover. Let sit 6-8 hours, until onions are caramelized.

2. Once onions are fully caramelized, stir  and make sure you get any stuck on bits from the bottom. Don’t worry if some a little more browned that others. Add beef broth and cover. Continue to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

3. Once cooked salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into over proof bowls or ramekins. Cut bread in hearty pieces that nicely fit into your bowl – then lightly toast in a heavy bottom pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Top soup with bread and the cover with grated cheese.

4. Pop into the broiler at high for 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and tinged brown.

Serve with salad and enjoy!

CALVIN’S BIRTHDAY RECIPE ROUNDUP, March, 2016, Orient, NY

The week before last was Calvin’s birthday and for the first time in three years we actually got to spend it together! I wanted to do something special but since we live three hours away from all of our friends back in NYC a party party really wasn’t an option. Besides I’ve thrown Calvin a party party before. For his 25th birthday I organized a bowling  party at my favorite bowling ally/dive bar in Brooklyn, The Gutter. (Fun fact – Calvin was on the bowling team in high school and is the only person in Oberlin history to skip Bowling 101 and go straight to Bowling 202. He’s that good.) I invited all our friends, made shirts for everyone that said “I Lurve Calio” (including a special crop top version for myself) and a tank top for him that said “CALIO!” on the front and “THE BIG 25” on the back. Bowling was followed by an epic dance party at my old party apartment plus a keg of beer brewed specially for his birthday. I’m pretty good at parties.

Now that we’re old country folk, doing something special means preparing a dinner party – a dinner party FEAST composed of recipes by professional chefs and my favorite blogs.! Today instead of posting my own recipe I want to share ALL the recipes I made for Calvin’s birthday dinner – every single one of which I have made on many occasions and are always a hit! If you follow me on Instagram (which if you don’t, you probably should) you know I make a lot of Asian-inspired meals and these are some of my favorite gringa-Asian (my own term) recipes. For the main course, I decided I would prepare the Momofuku style Bo Ssam pork butt that you may remember from one my very first blog posts (!) plus so many fixings. Below is the full menu with all the links and descriptions, in case your inclined to make them yourself! Plus, obvi, some photos!

Momofuku Bo Ssam Pork– is pork butt that has been dry brined in a salt/sugar/brown sugar rub over night, slow roasted until pull apart tender then served with white rice, bibb lettuce, a ridiculously tasty ginger-scallion sauce AND a spicy Korean vinegar hot sauce. Full disclosure – I am not the  biggest fan of the ssamjang soy bean paste the hot sauce calls for it’s hard to find and use up- so I forgo-ed it this time and substituted a tablespoon of brown sugar to balance out the heat in the sauce. Once all your Bo Ssam fixings are ready you take your lettuce, fill with a spoonful of rice and a heap of pulled pork covered in both sauces – it’s sweet ,salty, spicy and fresh all at once. If you make this you’ll be sure to win the dinner party!

Jean-Gorge Ginger Fried Rice – I have not been lucky enough to dine at Jean Gorge and try this dish myself but Mark Bittman published this recipe almost a decade ago on NYTIMES and it’s been one of my favorites ever since. Super simple recipe, the only thing I change is when making for a crowd I’ll scramble 4 eggs into the rice instead of topping with a fried egg. I also add a dash or two more of sesame oil because I have a thing for sesame oil.

Sriracha Garlic Roasted Broccoli – this recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs, Food52, and is a staple in my kitchen. I make it for Asian inspired grain bowls or as a side for Korean fried chicken night. It’s super simple and crazy tasty. Plus you can make it spicier if you prefer just by adding extra sriracha.

Cold Rice Noodle Salad– another gem from Food52, I made this dish to help satisfy the vegetarian that joined us for dinner. You can use pad Thai style noodles as recommended in the recipe but it’s just as good with vermicelli rice noodles. I personally prefer using only cilantro in my salad but if you want to add all the herbs go for it! This is a great dish for a dinner party on it’s own!

Green Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing– the most important part of this salad is the dressing! The recipe comes from my fellow Fieldston alumna’s blog, Feed Me Pheobe, it tastes just like the carrot-ginger dressing you love at sushi restaurants and is actually super healthy! I make this dressing all the time and keep it in the fridge – it goes well with any green salad!

Kimchi – the ONLY thing on the table I didn’t make! I’ve heard it’s super easy to make yourself though *warning* it can stink up your fridge. It’s a necessary condiment when serving any Korean inspired meal – extra points if you serve more than one type! My favorite brand is Sunja’s Medium Spicy Kimchi– it’s not too hot so great for us gringos!

Funfetti Cake– yes that is right I made funfetti cake FROM SCRATCH! This recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers Molly Yeh  I’ve wanted to make it for years but just never found the right occasion to put in all the work. I mean, boxed funfetti cake is so delicious and easy but you know, pretty much processed food poison. I usually make Calvin his favorite strawberry short cake for his birthday but this year I decided to make both! Then got so wrapped up in the funfetti I never got around to the strawberry short cake… TG the funfetti was deliciousness enough to make up for it (though I still owe you a strawberry short cake, Calio). I made a naked cake (frosted on the top and middle but not the sides) because I do not have the proper cake decorating tools (offset spatula, cake stand, lazy susan, etc…) to execute a perfect full on frosting. I lightly colored the frosting pink and tried my hand and basic lettering with a $5 pastry bag from the IGA. I also trimmed off the edges of the cake once it was assembled to reveal the sprinkles inside. It wasn’t the prettiest cake ever but it was the yummiest and I’ll definitely be making this recipe again for all birthday occasions!

Plus, I finally got Calvin the chainsaw he’s been asking for and have room for now that we’re out of Brooklyn and at the farm! All in all it was a successful and delicious birthday! Pictures below!

SIX MONTHS LATER…/ RECIPE: SHEPARD’S (AKA COTTAGE) PIE, March, 2016, Manhattan, NY

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I’ve never been very good at keeping resolutions. One year for New Year’s not so long ago I decided to give up my bottled water habit – I have a thing for Evian – it just tastes better – but I knew bottled water was bad for both the environment and my wallet. I was so proud of this decision I flaunted my resolve to my friends and roommates, bragging how easy it would be, how much money I would save. By January 8th I’d totally caved, walked around the corner to Hana Food and indulged in a $3 bottle of water. When a roommate came home and caught me in bed with that tall drink of water, I humbly confessed, “I gave up.”

This year (of my birth, not the calendar), instead of setting resolutions I set goals. I realize that benchmarks are a more feasible alternative to my ambitious and perhaps unrealistic resolutions. But if you read my last post (from SIX MONTHS ago) you probably noticed that I have set A LOT of goals. Eating better, working out, writing more, traveling, success! I mean, I know I had a whole year ahead of me but I also have much I need to accomplish. I must say I’ve done pretty okay on some of my goals. Six months into my twenty-eighth year (okay, technically it’s my twenty-ninth) year I thought this would be a good time to evaluate my progress and finally update my blog. First and foremost, I GOT MY FUCKING DRIVERS’ LICENSE – something I’ve been putting off for 12ish years (I mean, I am a New Yorker, crazy good at the subway and a top-notch passenger), but an adult needs driver’s. Now I just need to master stick shift… I also renewed my passport, which will help me attain future goals! I’ve already pampered myself with a two-week vacation in Hawaii (travel blog-post coming soon) AND a trip to Uruguay (blog posts about both coming soon!). I’ve reshuffled my restaurant staff and have been booking parties left and right. At one point I was working out daily, though recently my work out schedule has dwindled, but hey, that’s way better than my exercise commitment over the past few years, which was never.

Going forward I plan to focus more on my blog and my diet. So here I go blogging about my eating habits AND sharing a super cozy recipe for the last cold nights of winter! Cold grey weather almost guarantees poor diet choices. The homemade pastas at my restaurant have been beckoning me with their delicious sauces and fresh meats and vegetables. I’ve also imbibed a fair amount of booze. But over the past few months I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect. Everything in moderation is my mantra now; not exactly the Party Girl Plan, more like the Party Girl Plan Lite (but still pretty heavy). If I want to have gnocchi for lunch I’ll have a salad for dinner, not only because salad is the healthy choice but also because I know those greens will help my body digest the gnocchi, and TBH I really like salad. Smoothies in the morning instead of bagels. Dessert once (or twice) a week instead of every night and usually homemade. And for good measure, I’ll throw in a Pilates class here and there. It’s sweater season and I’m feeling good about myself and so should you!

In honor of the cooler weather and my dabbling with indulgence today I’m sharing the recipe for my mom’s Shepard’s Pie. I know, with a name like Isabella Gambuto you’d think I’m 100% Guido, but alas that conclusion is flawed. My mother is Jewish, of South African and English decent. My Grandmother Patricia is a very proper Londoner (accent, marmite, Sainsbury’s Red Label tea, keep calm and carry on and all that). This recipe is my mom’s version of one of her grandmother’s signature dishes. Though classically made with lamb, mom now makes hers with ground turkey and the rest of us make it with ground beef, which in the UK they call Cottage Pie. But this one is my recipe and I’m going to call it what I damn well please! Caramelized onions and seasoned ground beef, topped with layers of peas, roasted sweet potatoes and creamy mashed potatoes, all covered with grated sharp cheddar and baked in the oven. It’s the perfect one pot meal, great for a crowd or family dinner. Preparation is a little time consuming but totally worth the effort. It’s also even better the next day! I mean, I’m pretty sure this recipe could win a Shepard’s/Cottage Pie competition, if such thing existed…

 

FullSizeRender-3.jpgSHEPARD’S  aka COTTAGE PIE

Shepard’s pie is pretty much an entire meal – meat, potatoes and veggies – stacked into one delicious casserole. I apologize for the so-so photo – I made a super fun GIF of all the layers but an too computer illiterate to figure out how to post it on wordpress (help?!).

Serving size: 8-10 people. This is a good dinner party dish!

INGREDIENTS

2 LBS ground beef

1 large Spanish onion, chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 beef boullian

1 cup water

3 large sweet potatoes

4 large potatoes

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)(I know, a lot of butter)

1/4 cup heavy cream (yea, I never said this was particularly healthy)

1 bag frozen peas

1/2 cup sharp cheese of your choice SHREDDED (I used a mix of parmesan and white cheddar)

salt and pepper

***heavy bottomed pot like a Le Creuset 

PREP:

  1.  peel potatoes and chop fourths. place in a medium pot and cover with water and bring to a boil. once water has boiled uncover pot and lower heat to a simmer and let cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. once cooked, drain water and mash with butter and cream. salt and pepper to taste.
  2. while potatoes are boiling prick your sweet potatoes with a fork two or three times each and place on a tin foil lined baking sheet. put in over and heat to 425 degrees feranheit. bake for 30-45 minutes, until fork tender. once cooked, scoop out roasted potatoes and discard skins, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. while your sweet potatoes are roasting heat a large pan with olive oil and brown ground beef. make sure to drain any liquid released from beef from the pan – do this by covering your pan and carefully pouring out excess liquid into a bowl. you can discard this excess liquid
  4. once meat is nice and browned set removed from pan and set aside. add onions into same pan and sauté, making sure to pick up any little bits of beef stuck to the pan (that’s flavor baby!) you may need to add another glug or two of olive oil here. cook until tender and sweet about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn down heat to 400 degrees farenheit.
  5. add meat back in with onions, throw in beef boullian cube and cover with water. let cook until water is fully reduce and taste. if too salty or too dry add another 1/2 cup of water and let reduce again. salt and pepper to taste.
  6. the final step before layering your pie is to defrost your frozen peas! this can be done in the microwave, a steamer or a shallow pan filled with 1/2 inch water. just make sure to drain any excess liquid post defrosting!
  7. at this point you should have all five (YES FIVE) components of your pie ready and waiting! In your heavy bottom pan layer your ingredients in this order: : beef and onions, peas, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes. Make sure you are evenly spreading the sweet and mashed potatoes.
  8. once put together it’s time for your final finishing touch: CHEESE! sprinkle the cheese of your choice all over the top. also feel free to add a couple pats of butter if you’re feeling crazy!
  9. once fully assembled place pie uncovered into oven (which should still be heated from your roasting) and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and the top is lightly browned. Let cool at least five minutes and then dig in!

***Optional eating advice — I like the mash my pie all together, unto a big ugly mess, that way you get a bit of beef, peas, sweet and mashed potatoes in every bite! But that’s just a suggestion!

And now a smattering of photos from the last half year of my life just because!

MY BELATED BIRTHDAY SLASH PETER’S ACTUAL BIRTHDAY PARTY / RECIPE: HERBED LAMB KEBABS, September, 2014, Orient Point, NY

First off, let me apologize for my long blogging hiatus. Let’s blame it on a combination of Mercury Retrograde and being crazy busy at the restaurant. Now that my ruling planet isn’t sucking the life force out of me and my bar manager has returned from her month long vacay, I promise to be posting again at least once a week. AND share more recipes! So let’s begin with a belated post about my belated birthday / my roomie Pete’s actual birthday party at his family’s home in Orient, NY!
If you remember from earlier posts, I lived in the Hamptons for about 6 months while the boyfriend was farming in Ammagansett. It was the worst!
It was so over crowded and expensive, it would take 30 minutes to drive to the beach, which often, you’d have the pay for! We never went out, barely went food shopping, TG we had unlimited free vegetables! I haven’t been back since. The North Fork is the other side of the end of Long Island, kind of like the Hamptons, but it doesn’t suck. The beaches are rocky (which makes for great photos!), the houses are quaint and even during the busy season you still feel the small town country vibes. Orient Point is the very last town on the North Fork. It’s an adorable little village with great antiquing, little shops and it’s quiet! It’s a popular vacation spot but has yet to blow up. Though as I’m writing this I can feel it getting more and more popular. There are already Brooklynites that have moved out there, notable my favorite little sandwich shop/ microbrewery (my dream establishment), Fork and Anchor. The popular Brooklyn pie shop (and one of my favorite cookbooks) Four and Twenty Blackbirds even has a pop up shop there! The Treiber;’ have a sprawling but cozy and impeccably decorated home they allowed up to co-opt for the weekend. I was excited to have our friends come enjoy the Trieber’s beautiful country home and check out a part of Long Island many of them had never been before!

Continue reading

DINNER FOR TWO (PLUS SPENCER) / RECIPE: SUN GOLD BUTTER, August, 2014, Bushwick, Brooklyn

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This past Sunday the boyfriend and I had tentative plans to join some friend’s out on Shelter Island. But after driving to and from the Hamptons the day before for work the boyfriend just wasn’t up for it. Though I was slightly bummed, I understood his plight (especially since I’m a big unlicensed 26 year old loser), I got over it (though forced him to take me to the beach the very next day). He made up for it by bringing me to my favorite Sunday shopping spots: The Cooper Park Farmers Market and The Meat Hook! We bought way too much food for just the two of us (mostly tomatoes) and prepared a decadent dinner. Luckily, I ran into my oldest friend, Spencer, while running out for some pink wine and I forced him to join us. As per usual we had a lovely roof top BBQ and I finally got to make SUN GOLD BUTTER. Continue reading

“WEEKEND” GATHERINGS / MY FIRST RECIPE: SUPER EASY COLESLAW, July, 2014, Bushwick, Brooklyn

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As a “restauranteur” (I put restauranteur in quotations because I feel uncomfortable calling myself one when I only own 50% of one restaurant) I don’t get many weekends off. Friday and Saturday nights are my busiest of the week, so more often than not, I’m working while everyone else is playing. (And the weekends I do get to take off nowadays are booked up with weddings, oh being in your late twenties…). Instead, I usually take Sunday and Monday off as my “weekend”. Luckily, the boyfriend (who work’s for a photo booth company) also has an erratic schedule, and can take the days off with me. This post is about my lovely “weekend” on the last hot days of July (I mean, can you believe it’s August right now?! I feel like I’m in San Francisco with this weather!), which culminated with a little roof top gathering (of course). Continue reading