Archive for SEASONAL DELIGHTS

Mary Lous’s garden …

photos: m&j

In late summer with the sun beating down in St. Michael’s, we thought it would be the perfect time to take Mary Lou up on her offer to come harvest some fresh, ripe figs from the famously giant, old tree in her lovely garden. She wasn’t there and, unfortunately, neither were ripe figs (our bad timing had us there just between bumper crops), but we found some lovely pink flowers, instead and a little shed with an overgrowth of climbing hydrangea next to it that seems like a great place for a troll or hobbit to live – so charming. Thanks for letting us sneak around, ML and Bill Mac and can’t wait to come visit you both again (and to taste those delicious figs!) next summer!

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Paupack Blueberry Farm

photos: m&j

The season’s last harvest of tiny, juicy, dark and delicious berries.

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 Tuscany on the Eastern Shore

photos: m&j

A magical evening occurred last month on a beautiful farm by the bay in Wittman, Maryland – an al fresco dinner, to which a few of us lucky souls were fortunate enough to be invited. Both the meal and setting will be remembered for a long time to come. And even more impressive than the natural beauty of the site, the graciousness of the host and hostess and the many talents of those who caught, grew and skillfully prepared the bounty of sumptuous offerings we gorged ourselves upon was the company, itself. It’s hard to recall an evening coming together so perfectly. It was supposed to rain, but instead the sun came out and set with a lovely blush to match the delicate Charles & Charles and Sancerre Rosés. Some of us had not previously met, but we are now communicating regularly and planning future escapades. The event and, indeed, the menu was only casually discussed, but suddenly it all seemed to come together as if it had been planned for months.

This is one of those great evenings that we see in photos and wish we could’ve been a part of. And, delightfully, we were. And it all came together in a relaxed and flawless manner that is the hallmark of great entertaining – thanks to the deft hand and eye (and taste buds!) of delightful Carol Bean (our hostess, chef, stylist and farmer), her charming husband Mark Connolly (a third generation waterman, who, along with his brother, caught the delicious fish we ate), Rachel Vecchio (a super-talented baker and pastry chef who supplied the desserts) and Kathy Bosin (a local blogger who graced us with her presence and charming dinner company).

We began with the lovely wine and worked in some freshly pressed & chilled watermelon juice for pacing. Then came the Red Cloud goat cheese served with grilled French bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and Carol’s special, handmade “fish” crackers with sesame seeds and black lava salt. While the whole rockfish – stuffed with lemon, garlic & fresh mint and wrapped in fresh fig leaves from one of the farm’s three fig trees – was grilling along with eggplant brushed with olive oil & sea salt. The parade of delicacies began to emerge from Carol’s magical kitchen; quinoa cakes with slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, yogurt and finished with the tiniest micro-arugula we’d ever seen, fresh honeydew melon salad with blackberries and radish micro greens – tossed with a lavender white balsamic vinaigrette, barley salad with fresh, local raw corn, slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes with fresh basil and fresh feta cheese, freshly grown and made chilled cucumber gazpacho “shooters” with a hint of lemon and garlic topped with beautiful, tiny micro greens – all fresh from the garden and Carol’s French green beans, pickled in her own chive flower-infused vinegar. As we ate, drank and enjoyed every nuanced bite of these super-fresh, simple yet complex culinary delights, the dessert table started to beckon …

Carol popped the cork on a bottle of Domaine Du Pre Semele and we started nibbling dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese, rolled in chopped, dark chocolate covered espresso beans, then fresh, local peaches, soaked in a lemon verbena simple syrup, dusted with fresh lavender flowers, drizzled with balsamic reduction which had been grilled on the fire and finally ripe brown Turkish figs fresh from Carol’s incredibly productive tree, sliced over the most delicate and decadent St. Angel cheese, drizzled with local honey. It cannot be stressed how delicious this cheese was (it will be eaten again. Soon!).  And then, just when we all thought things couldn’t get any better, Rachel brought out her now famous honeyed-thyme brown Turkish fig crostatas (made with local figs picked in nearby Neavitt and honey from Sand Hill Farms) served with homemade orange blossom whipped cream and an absolutely out-of-this-world rustic peach galette (made with peaches from Caroline County, and served with lavender-scented homemade whipped cream. Wow. Wow. And wow. We are still quite floored by it all and frankly, just longing for an encore! September, anyone?

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Oscar’s watermelon …

photos: m&j

This past July in Los Angeles, we were lucky enough to enjoy the craft services of our old friend, Oscar Eufracio -  who, to the entire crew’s delight, whipped up a variety of healthy and delicious on-set treats. One of the most simple and refreshing was this array of spicy watermelon “pops” – thank you, Oscar, for the constant nurturing and inspiration!

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poached guinea eggs and pea shoots

photos: m&j

Our farmer friend, Jaime Lamond’s White and French Pearl guinea hen eggs were a fabulous treat, poached (perfectly – thank you, Amanda Hesser and your awesome youtube video) on toasted Eli’s Health Bread and served over fresh, flowering pea shoots. As mentioned in our earlier post, the diminutive eggs have a high yolk to white ratio and very hard shells (you really have to give them quite a little whack). But once you break through to the golden richness inside, the rewards are plenty! Always check eggs by submerging in a large bowl of water: if they stay at the bottom and don’t float up, they are fresh and good to be enjoyed. Thanks again, Jaime, for these truly special and super delicious, little brunch stars!

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an armful of June peonies

photos: m&j

What a lovely surprise to see these beauties out in full force at the Union Square Market this Saturday with this unseasonably warm, early season we’ve been having. We grabbed all we could carry and have been reveling in them ever since!

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freshly foraged morels!

photos: m&j

We’ve been so excited to order our freshly foraged morels ever since we first read about Earthy Delights  – the wonderful wild harvested/foraged food company out of Michigan – back in March. And have been anxiously awaiting both morel season and a coinciding break in our work schedule to plan a shipment of wild fungi/cooking day. And the experience was a blast from the moment we started talking mushrooms with Chef David and Stefanie at Earthy.com. They told us that, because of all the crazy weather we’ve had this year, the blondes had peaked a few weeks early (sad!), but that we were just hitting peak black morel season now and that they were hoping to get a really tip top shipment of freshly foraged mushrooms within the next 24 hours and that we should call him the following afternoon to discuss. This is our type of detail – happiness from the get-go. And just look at these stunners – with wrinkly little honeycomb structures that conjure up ancient civilizations, the French countryside and even elves, if we’re completely honest. We’re planning to make a simple vegetarian dish with fresh asparagus and butter and just enjoy the pure love of this oh-so-special taste. We recommend you do the same – hopefully, Earthy Delights will still have a few left for you!

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last giant magnolia bouquet

photos: m&j

We are so sad to report that Chelsea’s Landing, our beloved family home in St. Michael’s, MD is in the process of being sold. So this will be our last summer there. And, though the official sale is good news for the family, it is oh-so-bittersweet.  Afraid you’ll see a lot of posts from the fabulous 17 acre grounds and garden, waxing on with less-than-faint nostalgia about the last time we’ll see, smell and taste each ripe, gorgeous fruit, vegetable, crab and flower as the season progresses. This Memorial Day weekend, it was giant Magnolia blossoms – and how lemony and heady they were. After trucking them back to the city, the scent has delightfully filled the entire apartment. We will miss you in all your glory, enormous flowering tree ! More to come …

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eggs delivered fresh from the farm

photos: m&j

How lucky are we to have a couple dozen of these gorgeous chicken and guinea eggs delivered to our studio, fresh from Jaime and Jenna Lamond’s farm Upstate in Philmont, New York? Very lucky, indeed! The conventional eggs are from a mixed flock of New Hampshire Reds, Golden and Silver Laced Wyandottes, Barred Rocks and Ameraucanas. The smaller, pointier eggs are from White and French Pearl guinea fowl – a wonderful breed of layer that is a little less tame than your average chicken, but prized for their rich, little (high yolk to white ratio) eggs and their tick controlling abilities, as well as their slightly wilder brooding habits. Jaime says his guinea hens occasionally use the laying boxes in the coop with the chickens, but mostly tend to lay in clutches in high weeds or in the multiflora rose bushes that grow all around their farm. Jaime says, “I’ll hear them doing their laying call out far away from the coop, and then we’ll have to stamp around in the thorns looking for the nest.” The ones we were fortunate enough to have delivered came from a clutch he found last Sunday behind the woodshed. So incredibly charming – a hen that enjoys smelling the roses is a hen we can relate to! Thank you so much, Jaime for this amazing late spring, farm-fresh treat.

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flower foraging in Litchfield County

photos: m&j

We are hard pressed to imagine a prettier place on earth than Litchfield County, CT in springtime. And there’s no prettier spread in the county than our dear friend Alicia’s 1808 colonial with all its textured finery, abundant and truly special offerings. Thank you, A for the spectacular feast for our hearts, stomachs and eyes and for letting us take home a few flower-filled “doggie bags” for our week in the concrete jungle xoxo. p.s. the much-coveted arrangements include; double lilacs, pink weigelia, helleborus, “knockout” pink roses, lilies of the valley and stars of Bethlehem.

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