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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and because it embodies the essence our immigrant culture and lends itself to many wonderful interpretations. I have seen Thanksgiving meals with a Southern spin, Latin or Asian spice, as well as farm to table vegetarian renditions. However, my most memorable Thanksgiving dinner was my first, East coast Italian-American Thanksgiving at my husband’s aunt’s place in Massachusetts; the same year we were married.
Aunt Virginia was a tall, elegant woman with giant, bejeweled glasses and large manicured hands. She was the sister of my husband’s father whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Aeolian Islands; off the coast of Sicily. I remember her demonstrative reception at the door as she ushered us to the dining room table that was set up like a buffet. At the time, I thought it was the dinner buffet but little did I know it was just the antipasti. Stuffed artichokes, prosciutto with melon, mortadella, sorpressata, olives, pepperoncini, bread, white bean dip, caponata. Then out came cheese ravioli and a large platter of meatballs. I ate heartily and was relaxing over a glass of wine pondering what elaborate desserts would appear when out came the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other fixings and more wine. OMG!
Somehow I made room for the turkey and fixins’ and the five-hour dinner was full of laughter as Aunt Virginia told stories of her youth, her Italian family and her three husbands. All of this as she smoked a cigarette, in between courses, from a long tip cigarette holder in her long dress and gold slippers.
Over the years I have come to learn that this type of dinner is not so uncommon. You may find yourself lucky enough to be invited to a Thanksgiving dinner of a family whose roots date back to some part of Italy, a generation — or two or three ago; during a time when the family was everything.
I asked a colleague to share her own family Italian-American Thanksgiving menu to see how it compared to Aunt Virginia’s and sure enough, the menu even rivaled hers in variety, abundance and flavors. Even if you don’t have the amount of family or helpers on hand to pull off this incredible menu, you may at least benefit from the mostly cook-free antipasti table. We are hoping this menu will inspire you to ask an aunt or grandparent for a recipe that has been passed down over the years. Maybe it will prompt the sharing of photos, some family history or some connection to the past. Maybe this will bring a new appreciation for the present and for what the future has to hold.
Here’s to the memory of all Aunt Virginias out there! May we forever celebrate them. Che mangiamo e beviamo nel tuo nome!
Tags:antipasti·asparagus·baked clams·balsamic salad·basil·beets·black olives·bread·broccoli·brussel sprouts·carrots·cauliflower·celebration·chocolate trifle·Christmas·cream puffs·Dessert·dinner·garlic·green beans·green olives·Hanukkah·Holiday·holiday leftovers·holiday parties·Italian·italian food·italian-american·kalamata olives·Lasagna·Mozzarella·mushrooms·North Fork·North Fork cooking·pastries·prosciutto·Raphael Vineyard·Raphael Vineyards·red peppers·red wine·roasted eggplant·shrimp monachina·stuffed artichokes·stuffed mushrooms·Stuffing·sweet potato·tapenade·taste north fork·Thanksgiving·Thanksgiving Dinner·thanksgiving leftovers·thanksgiving side dishes·tomato·Turkey·turkey leftovers
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My husband always says that, after friends and family, Thanksgiving is all about the stuffing and the gravy. However, we have been at many Thanksgiving dinners where the gravy was scarce or a little thin.
Whether people are cooking a traditional Thanksgiving turkey or a meal for vegetarians, most of the questions I get around Thanksgiving have to do with the gravy. My strategy is to ensure that it is delicious and that there is plenty of it, so I start a batch the day before. If making a meat gravy, you can use the neck and giblets and snip the wings off your turkey and no one will miss them. If you are making a vegan or vegetarian gravy, you can use dried mushrooms instead of bones along, along with olive oil or butter, and milk or cream of choice. If you are a vegan and are using soy or nut milk, make sure it’s not sweetened.
Start your gravy tonight and make it just right!
Two turkey wings, one turkey neck with contents of giblets bag
5 sticks of celery with leaves attached
5 whole carrots
1 large white or yellow onion quartered
4 to five bay leaves
1/4 cup of EVOO
1 stick of butter (unless you are vegetarian)
1 liter of Water
1/4 cup of half and half or cashew milk
One cup of red wine
- Use large stock pot
- Add 1/4 olive oil to the pot
- Then place bones in pot and brown
- Then add giblets, including the neck
- If vegan/veg, substitute the meat items for a 5 0unce bag of dried mushrooms and two cubes of organic vegetable stock
- Then add carrots, celery and onion and sweat
- Add bay leaves, peppercorns and make a bouquet garnis with a few sprigs of your favorite herbs (but do not use rosemary or any other strong herb as it will take over the flavor of the stock).
- Once you have browned the bones (or the dried mushrooms) and vegetables, add a cup of red wine, then a liter of water and allow to boil for 1 hour. Set your timer and work on chopping veggies for your stuffing, have a glass of wine and a simple dinner of salad, hummus or cheese and crackers and finish your lists for the next day.
- When the timer goes off, allow to cool for another hour and season to taste for salt, additional seasoning and taste again. Remove all the bones and set aside.
- Remove the bouquet garnis and check that all the veggies are cooked because you will be using an emersion blender to purer everything together. If you are using the veg recipe, remove the bouquet garnish but still purée all veggies in your stock including the dried mushrooms.
- Whisk a quarter cup of corn starch into a cup of water to make a smooth paste to add to the stock but be sure it’s not lumpy. Put the pot back on the stove and bring to simmer until it starts to thicken.
- Allow to cool again and put back in fridge to give a final taste the next day. I find that stocks and soups taste better the next day when all the flavors have incorporated.
- The next day, out back on stove to reheat and taste again for salt and be sure to ask for a second opinion so as not to go overboard on the salt.
- If too thin, make another slurry but only add half at a time. You might not need the other half if too thick add more water one ounce at a time. Finally add the half and half or nut milk and finish with butter or olive oil to give it a nice sheen by whisking it in.
Tags:black pepper·carrots·corn starch·extra virgin olive oil·food·Garden Stock·Gardening·gravy·Herbs·onion·salt·Thanksgiving Dinner·turkey gravy·Vegan·Vegetarian·water
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On Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4th, the Village of Greenport will celebrate its 5th, annual “shellfish-small plate-restaurant crawl”, known as Greenport Shellabration. During this weekend, a thousand people descend upon the Village of Greenport, from all over the tri-state area, to celebrate the revival of the shellfish industry in our local waters. Supporters make a $20 donation (advance purchase/$25 after the deadline of Nov. 25th) and receive a wristband that provides them access to $5 plates and $3 pours of wine at participating restaurant and vineyard partners (please click the banner above to see restaurants and vineyard participants). All proceeds benefit SPAT,(Suffolk Project for Aquaculture Training), and the Back to the Bays Initiative, both efforts of Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program and based out of the Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center; an educational center for research, training and community collaboration located in Southold.
Shellabration was the brain-child of Greenport resident, John Kramer who floated the idea by friends and potential participants during a quiet winter. In his first year, he sold out his wristbands as participants came in from all parts of Long Island, New York City and Connecticut to participate. The SPAT program, which Shellabration supports, was founded by another pioneer, Kim Tetrault at Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program.
In 1998, Kim Tetrault, who holds an undergraduate degree in Field Biology from Connecticut College and a Master’s Degree in Shellfish Aquaculture from University of Rhode Island, made his was to New York. After completing his master’s work, he was offered a full-time position to run the Cornell shellfish hatchery with an emphasis in culturing scallops in the wake of the brown tide. While attending a conference he was inspired by a presentation that changed his life and upon his return, he wrote a business plan for a community training and gardening program that would expand the community effort beyond that of the confines of the hatchery, into the public waters of the East End of Long Island. He founded SPAT in 2000, as a sanctuary for shellfish to hatch their young until they could reach an adult size and release their spawn into local creeks and bays and promote wild settlement.
The founding of Greenport Shellabration and SPAT are inspiring as they were both community, grassroots movement projects that became larger initiatives with national recognition. The festival is being managed for the second year by Kim Barbour, head of outreach programs at Cornell Marine Program.
SeasonedFork’s Interview with Kim Barbour about this year’s Greenport Shellabration
How does it feel to carry this torch forward and run this fundraiser and celebration in our village?
It’s exciting to manage this event and keep it going for its 5th consecutive year in the very Village where it was born. There are so many things to love about Shellabration and how it reinforces the partnership between local businesses, our local shellfish industry, and our community. Most importantly, it raises awareness and support for our science-based programming conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program, specifically our SPAT Program and Back to the Bays Initiative. Both of these projects create opportunities for people to get involved with efforts that are making a real impact on the health of our bays.
Tell us more about the Cornell Marine Extension? Describe the educational programs.
The core of our mission is educating the public, and conducting programming and projects that are focused on our marine environment. Our efforts are designed to inspire youth and adults to become stewards of our environment. This is done through programs like SPAT, which give anyone the opportunity to become an oyster gardener and learn just how important species like oysters are to the health of the bays. We also conduct extensive marine and coastal habitat restoration projects, and large-scale shellfish enhancement projects focused on bringing back our bay scallops, creating oyster reefs, and seeding clams into our waters. Our scientific professionals work very hard on these efforts each year, and through our Back to the Bays Initiative, we are able to provide our community members with unique experiences to get involved with this science-based work. Shellabration directly supports these efforts.
For young people interested in pursuing a career in agriculture or marine sciences, what is your advice?
I have a degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Public Relations from Marist College and Masters in Environmental Management from SUNY Stony Brook. In addition to planning and overseeing fundraising and outreach events, I also work on projects that involve fieldwork. This sometimes requires me to be out on a boat, diving in the water or hiking through a marsh-it’s a pretty diverse job sometimes.
I know it doesn’t happen much these days where you go to school and study something and then you get to work in that specific field. I’m very lucky to have an opportunity to have a career that reflects what I formally studied in. To high school and college students looking to pursue careers similar to mine, I’d recommend volunteering, interning and working on building your networks and skill set. We take on interns and volunteers each year, and several of them now work for my organization. It may take some patience and persistence, but it is possible to make a career out of what you’re passionate about, and what you choose to study in school.
Why are shellfish so important for our environment?
The shellfish industry was a big part of our maritime heritage and marine economy but various water quality issues and related population decline of various shellfish species has made it more difficult to make a living on the water in recent decades. This is where resource enhancement and aquaculture come in. We need to build back our natural stocks, and in the meantime, aquaculture has become a viable alternative for those seeking to work on the water.
Our aquaculture experts like Kim Tetrault and Gregg Rivara help people who want to grow shellfish, either commercially for a living or on a smaller recreational scale with our SPAT program. By helping train people in the field of aquaculture and through the shellfish seeding activities we do in partnership with local municipalities, we are facilitating the growth of millions of shellfish in our waters each year. These filter feeders help improve water quality, create jobs, and when harvested get to be enjoyed by us at events like Shellabration!
photo credit: SPAT
What can we do, as individuals (who do not have waterfront property and don’t have the ability to farm oysters), to protect our local waters?
You want to be mindful that everything that happens on land can eventually impact our waters. We all possess a certain amount of power that can collectively help protect our resources. Also, simply getting involved with SPAT and Back to the Bays can go a long way in helping our marine environment! Each year we put out a publication that features a wide variety of “Ways to Give Back to the Bays” including everything from educational lectures, special events and fundraisers, science-based youth programming, stewardship workshops, the list goes on. We try to offer accessible ways to get involved and give back. By learning about the issues facing our bays and getting involved with growing oysters, restoring eelgrass, or by sending your children to one of our Marine Summer Camps, we can all become for informed and more involved. That’s what’s going to help us see positive change! Check out ccesuffolk.org/marine to learn more about a way to get involved, and I hope to see you at Shellabration!
Tags:Back to the Bays·clamming·clams·Cornell Agricultural Extension·Cornell Cooperative Extension·Cornell University·drink local·eat local·Gregg Rivara·internships·Kim Barbour·Kim Tetrault·local·local oysters·North Fork·North Fork Oyster Co.·North Fork Oysters·oyster farming·Oysters·Scallops·Shellabration·SPAT·taste north fork
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On the North Fork, winter is almost always a bit late and you won’t see the leaves begin to turn until early November. The copper colors of maple and the yellows and oranges of oak dot the roads of vineyards and farmland with their majestic hues. Visitors are often amazed by the variety and colors of vegetables on the stands even though winter is around the corner. Nonetheless, you will find the stands replete with members of the Brassica family like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi and the Brassica rapa like Chinese cabbage and turnips; along with a myriad of squash varietals from Long Island cheese pumpkin to Kobocha and Hubbards. Most of these are as delicious raw as they are roasted or sautéed and they are great conductors for sauces and dressings that you can enhance with the herbs remaining in your garden.
This salad of kale with roasted butternut squash, or pumpkin of choice, brings the end of autumn together with holiday flavors and still makes for a light and healthful dinner of substance.
Preheat oven to 425
Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds
Set aside seeds to clean and roast separately
Drizzle EVOO on the meat sides of the squash and sprinkle with North Fork Sea Salt
Bake with skin side up for 45 minutes
While squash is baking, clean the seeds by removing the pulp and wipe them dry with a damp towel.
Place in a bowl and toss with EVOO and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. When removing from oven, sprinkle generously with salt and other seasonings of choice and set aside for salad garnish or as a pre-dinner snack.
Take apart a head of kale
Remove the tough stems from the kale and soak in water
Drain the water and place leaves on towels to drain/dry
Rough chop the kale and place in bowl
1/4 cup EVOO
1/8 cup of Apple cider vinegar
1/4 of North Fork Sea Salt
1 tablespoon of Agave syrup
2 tablespoons of garden herbs (I used sage, Greek oregano, and celery leaves)
Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until emulsified.
1/4 of dried cranberries
Seeds and or nuts of choice
Peel and cube one side of the squash and save the other for another meal. It will keep at least a week because is has been salted and roasted.
Place the kale and the cubes of squash in a large bowl, pour the dressing and toss. Then add your garnishes on top for color.
Serve with a glass of semi-dry Riesling from Paumanok Vineyards.
Tags:apple cider·butternut squash·cilantro·cranberries·Kale·north fork sea salt·Salad
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I am am happy to see Persian cuisine getting it fair attention these days, as it is among my favorites. I had so many Persian friends during my college days in the Midwest and many of them were studying in exile as their country was in post revolution turmoil.
I recall the savory stews with green hues from spinach and herbs, crispy rice and so many other wonderful dishes. That Persian tradition was reintroduced into my life in when I arrived in New York became familiar with the dishes of the Bukharan-Russian Jewish community. Although Uzbekistan and Tajikistan pertained to the Soviet Union, their roots are in Iran and they speak a derivative of Tajik Farsi.
It is so amazing to sit in front of a plate of this dish at my friend’s table in a New York, Russian neighborhood. The spinach, legumes and chicken that has been in my friend’s family for generations; stemming back to Iran, made it all the way to Rego Park, Queens, where it is also serve it atop the familiar the aromatic rice with crispy bottom to the girl from Ohio.
Dont let this recipe intimidate you because it’s a flexible stew of beans, spinach or whatever greens you have. Any meat will do but the fattier the better as it will hold up in a slow cooker (when time permits) or in the pressure cooker (what I will do tonight).
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Tags:basmati rice·Chicken·chicken stew·cilantro·dried black Persian limes·fresh parsley·GARBANZO BEANS·Kale·Kalustyan's·Kidney Beans·leeks·onion·rice pilaf·seasonedfork garden stock·tumeric
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Photo by Cooking Planit
1/2 head of cauliflower (any color or try romanesco), riced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 small white onion, chopped
1/2 cup of grated or finely cubed carrots
peas or edamame
1/2 cup of bean sprouts
2-3 tablespoons tamari
2 eggs, lightly beaten (tofu is good if vegan)
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
After ricing the cauliflower, heat the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat and pan fry until slightly toasted or browned and set aside. In the same pan, add the onion and carrots and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes and set aside.
Next, saute the eggs quickly in same pan and do not allow to form large clumps (should be in small bits). Once cooked, then add all the veggies back in and add the tamari. Lastly add the chopped green onions and bean sprouts.
Tags:asian·carrots·cauliflower·Cauliflower Fried Rice·Eggs·gluten-free·healthy fried rice·Meatless Monday·recipe·scallions·sesame oil·soy sauce·Vegetarian·What's on the Farm Stand?·white onion
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Photo: Courtesy of Devour Seville Food Tours
This week, Village of Greenport will welcome a Tall Ship, El Galeon Andalucía, that will be on exhibit to the public from Tuesday, October 18 to Sunday, October 23rd. Tonight’s Meatless Monday post is Spanish-inspired and features eggs as the main source of protein. I feel that the concept of a meatless meal is less about eliminating meat but more about learning to not make meat the featured entrée on our American plates. This is how our ancestors survived for centuries; on a diet of grains and vegetables using meat sparingly as a flavor enhancer–not as the main “event”. On the best stocked vessels that sailed from Spain to the New World, meat would have been rationed even though the Spanish explorers were known to sail with chickens, pigs and other animals aboard but they understood the need to conserve.
Tonight’s for Huevos a la Flamenca,”>recipe was adapted from a the website of a foodie tour company that takes people on food tours in Seville and surrounding areas,Devour Seville Food Tours. I cut down a bit on the meat additions as I want to feature our fresh, organic and silky eggs, baked with tomato, peppers, vegetables, herbs and garnished with just a tiny bit of ham (Serrano or Proscuitto) and/or a few bits of minced, smoked chorizo sausage for flavor. If you are vegetarian or kosher or don’t have access to your favorite prosciutto or Serrano ham, just use whatever sliced ham or sausage you have in the fridge or eliminate the meat all together.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red peppers, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes (grated on a cheese grater or finely minced)
4 slices of Serrano ham
1/2 cup finely minced smoked chorizo
5 ounces asparagus, blanched and chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (Pimenton)
Salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 395 F
Pan fry the onion and peppers slowly in the olive oil until they are soft.
Then add the garlic. This should take approximately 10 minutes.
Continue to fry until you start to smell the garlic, then add the tomatoes and paprika.
Continue to fry over low heat for 15 minutes.
Divide the tomato, onion and pepper mixture into 4 ramekins.
Break 2 eggs on top of each.
Top each ramekin with 1 slice of ham, a tablespoon of minced chorizo and 2 tablespoons of chopped asparagus on top of each.
Bake the ramekins for about 10 minutes until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
Garnish with parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of dry, fino Sherry from this Southern region of Spain, Jerez de la Frontera.
Tags:Andalucia·Andalusia·baked eggs·Devour Seville Food Tours·diced tomatoes·Eggs·Fino·Jerez de la frontera·Manzanilla·Manzanilla Sherry·Olive oil·smoked paprika·Spanish Sherry
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Grilled cheese is just one of those things we never outgrow. The image of warm cheese oozing through the buttered bread, soft on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside remains forever alluring; regardless of age.
Nowadays, I want the grilled cheese without all the bread and a corn tortilla is the perfect solution for this dilemma. You an also opt for a whole grain, low carb tortilla for your cheese “receptacle” as well.
Add butter or EVOO to a heated pan and place the tortilla in the pan, followed by the cheese of choice — grated. I love Manchego, smoked gouda, a really good cheddar cheese or a creamy local goat cheese from Catapano Dairy Farm. After you pile on the cheese, you can add minced jalapenos or peppers of choice; in their pickled or or preserved state of relish or jam as well. If it is a smaller tortilla shell, add another on top and flip it to griddle the other side. If it is a larger tortilla, merely fold it over. Allow the finished quesadilla to slightly cool and cut into triangles to enjoy with a bowl of garden harvested cream of tomato soup! Enjoy!
Tags:Catapano Dairy Farm·Cheese·corn tortilla·Gouda cheese·grilled cheese·kosher cheese·Manchego Cheese·North Fork·quesadilla·Tomato Soup·tortillas
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cheese quesadilla ” width=”300″ height=”225″ />On these chilly evenings, I crave comfort foods like this fresh version of cream of tomato soup with grilled cheese quesadilla and jalapeño relish.
If you haven’t already picked all your tomatoes, these are the final days of the tomato harvest on the North Fork. Even if they are green, you can let them ripen on the window sill or make green tomato soup or salsa.
Ingredients and instructions
Sauté the following ingredients in 1/8 cup of EVOO, until slightly browned.
1/4 cup of chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons of chopped white onion
2 tablespoons of chopped celery
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Red chili flakes
1 cup of your favorite tomatoes and additional salt and seasoning like celery salt or pimenton and sauté lightly
2 cups of seasonedfork garden stock
Use emersion blender to purée
1/4 of heavy cream or half and half
Serve hot with your favorite green garnish like Basil or cilantro.
Tags:caramelized onions·cream of tomato·farm stands·Greenport·grilled cheese·jalapeno·North Fork·Pimenton·quesadilla·red peppers·smoked paprika·Soup·tomato
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It’s Autumn in New York and bright colors of pumpkins and squashes dominate the farm stands on North Fork of Long Island. Spaghetti squash, cheese pumpkin, butternut, delicata and acorn squash along with all shapes and colors of gourds welcome in the new season. Pumpkin or any squash stand-in make great staples for Meatless Monday and this Meatless Monday happens to fall on Rosh Hashanah — L’Shanah Tovah!. Pumpkin empanadas or bourekes make a great main dish for this holiday if made larger, along side a salad or soup. And if made smaller, they make great finger food for a vegetarian smorgasbord for the holiday along with leek and potato latkes, vegetable coconut curry and some local honey wine.
Package of puff pastry or empanada dough
2 cups of baked Pumpkin or dense squash of choice
1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon of curry
1 tablespoon of local honey
A dash of cinnamon to taste
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Tags:Appetizers·Bourekas·butternut squash·Cuvee Seafood & Grille·empanadas·Greenport·Greenporter Hotel·kashrut·North Fork·puff pastry·Pumpkin·Rosh Hashanah·squash·The Greenporter Hotel·Vegan·Vegetarian·vegetarian Rosh Hashanah·vegetarian Thanksgiving