Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Out East" Eats - Hamptons Inspired Menu

The other day, I received a very thoughtful gift from my sister in law. It was a beautiful cookbook celebrating one of our favorite places in the world.
My Newest Cookbook, Photo: NK
"Just because" gifts are always extra sweet, but this one happened to be amazing. Silvia Lehrer's book, Savoring The Hamptons, includes an exhaustive listing of the many noted restaurants, wineries, and specialty food and produce purveyors in the Hamptons, along with easy recipes that they have either created and inspired. 

The East End of Long Island is a place that holds special meaning for me and my family. When are lucky enough to be "out east" we tend to stay away from the vibrant social scene that the area is known for, opting instead for a lazy day on the beach, a quick visit to the North Fork to check out a winery, and at night, family meals at home, cooking and grilling with the best fresh ingredients the pristine local land and sea can offer.

For today's post, I thought it might be nice to adapt a few recipes from Savoring The Hamptons as a way to share a taste of one of my all time favorite destinations.

Beautiful Zucchini Blossoms fresh from our neighbor Freddie's Hamptons Garden, NK

Hamptons Inspired Menu 
Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Coulis
Fava Bean and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad
Roasted Striped Bass Fillets with Capers and Croutons

Out East Appetizer:
Let's start simple with an easy and light pasta dish with a quick cooking fresh tomato sauce. Coulis is like the quick-cooking cousin of the raw sauce we explored a few weeks ago, Crudaiola. It's basically a fresh preparation that is only slightly cooked. Anything can create a Coulis - berries are a popular ingredient in dessert coulis, usually used as toppings. Back to our tomato version - in just five minutes, a light tomato puree develops to create a super fresh tasting sauce. You'll have just enough to gently coat slender stands of angel hair. Use the freshest tomatoes you can find and don't forget to de-seed. 

Angel Hair Pasta With Tomato Coulis
Adapted from Savoring The Hamptons by Silvia Lehrer 
Serves 4 as an Entree, 6 or more as an Appetizer

8 Roma Tomatoes or 8 Plum Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Shallots, chopped finely
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped finely
3 Tablespoons fresh Basil chiffonade
2 Tablespoons flat leaf Italian Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 LB Angel Hair Pasta 
Kosher Salt (for boiling pasta water)
1/2 Cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, for serving 

Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. 

To prepare the Coulis, make an X on the bottom of your tomatoes. 

Prepping the Tomatoes for Blanching, Photo: NK

Peeling the Tomatoes is easy after a cold water bath, Photo: NK

Boil up some water in a small saucepan and plunge tomatoes one by one into the boiling water for 40 to 50 seconds. When you pull them out, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When cool enough to touch, peel, seed and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

In a saucepan, heat up the Oil over medium heat and sauté the Shallots for up to 2 minutes until they are translucent. 

Add the Garlic and continue to sauté for 40 to 50 seconds until tender. 

Add the Tomatoes, Basil, Parsley, Salt and Pepper to taste. Lower heat a bit to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if you like. 

Once your pasta water is boiling, prepare pasta according to the box instructions or until al dente. 

Drain and toss with the Tomato Mixture. Serve with grated cheese and sprigs of Parsley to garnish. 
Angel Hair with Tomato Coulis, Photo: NK

Out East Side Dish:
What goes well on the side of this light and fresh pasta dish? 

In keeping with our Italian theme, thought I'd try out one of Tuscan inspired sides in my book, Fava Bean and Mozzarella Salad. I adapted the recipe using creamy, buttery, Buffalo Mozzarella. Fava Beans are more readily available in Spring so if you aren't able to find them fresh in Summer (I wasn't), feel free to use canned Fava Beans as we do below. They came out very tasty. Of course fresh is ideal both for taste and because fresh Fava has a lovely green color. If preparing the Fava Beans fresh, simply bring a pot of salted water to a boil, drop in the beans, and return the pot to a boil for about a total of 2-4 minutes. Drain them in colander and rinse with cold water. Split the pods open and slip the beans out of their pods. Also, Marjoram and Lemon are a classic Italian flavor combination. If you haven't explored yet, I suggest you check it out.

Fava Beans and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad
Adapted from Savoring The Hamptons by Silvia Lehrer 
Serves 3-4

1 can Fava Beans, rinsed well in cold water and dried
1/2 Garlic Clove, finely chopped
8oz Mozzarella di Bufala chopped into small bite sized chunks
1 Tablespoon fresh Marjoram or 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Marjoram
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 -3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive oil 
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Pepper
A few pinches Chopped Italian Parsley (Optional) for serving

Place the Garlic, Mozzarella, Marjoram, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, Oil, Salt and Pepper to taste in a mixing bowl and stir to incorporate. Add the Fava Beans and toss gently. Taste, and feel free to adjust ingredients to your preference, perhaps you like it more lemony?

Prepping the Buffalo Mozzarella, Photo: NK

Preparing this one day ahead will allow flavors to blend well. Try to let it sit at least 4 or 5 hours if you can't prepare in advance. Give it a toss, garnish with optional Parsley and serve at room temperature. If your guests are bean shy, you can always serve a smaller dollop of bean salad on top of a bed of greens or herb salad. 

Fava Bean and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad, Photo: NK

Out East Entree:
Few fish are more East End than Striped Bass, or Striper, as it's affectionately called on the Forks. Once again, I chose an Italian-inflected preparation of this local catch from my cookbook, opting for a roasted Bass enhanced with capers, olives, and crunchy croutons. Enjoy it with a dry Chardonnay -the book suggests North Fork Macari Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay. 

Roasted Striped Bass Fillets with Capers and Croutons
Adapted from Savoring The Hamptons by Silvia Lehrer 
Serves 4

1 Garlic Clove, finely chopped
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
4 portions of Striped Bass Fillets, 6 to 8 oz each
1/2 bunch Scallions, white and green parts, cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
1/4 Cup finely chopped Italian Parsley
Fresh Fillets of Striped Bass, Photo: NK
1/2 Cup diced Roma Tomatoes (about 1.5 to 2)
3 Tablespoons Capers
2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 Cup store bought Croutons - unseasoned if possible. 
16 to 20 Nicoise or Kalamata Olives, Pitted

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly oil an oven proof serving platter large enough to hold all fillets in one layer. 

Place the platter in the oven while it is preheating.

Lightly rub the flesh side of the Fillets with Garlic, Salt, and Pepper to taste. 

Garlic, Salt, and Pepper Rub, Photo: NK     

Combine the Scallions and Parsley in a bowl and set aside. 

Scallion ans Parsley, Photo: NK

When ready to cook, remove the platter from the oven and place the fish, skin side down, on it. Reduce the oven temperature to 375.

Scatter the Parsley and Scallion mixture over the Fish Fillets and then scatter the Tomatoes and Capers on top.  Drizzle Fillets all over with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

Bake for 14 minutes.

Remove fish from the oven and scatter the Croutons and Olives over the fish. 

Adding the Capers and Croutons, Photo: NK

Return fish to the oven and bake another 3 to 5 minutes longer until Fillets are springy to the touch.  

Roasted Striped Bass Fillets with Capers and Croutons, Served Alongside Butter Lettuce and
Vidalia Onion Salad Over a Bed of Thinly Sliced Raw Zucchini, Photo: NK 

Serve straight out of the oven on the hot platter, seasoning with a little extra Salt and Pepper.

Photo: NK

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