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Hello, Hamptons

Posted on: Thursday, July 24, 2014

This past weekend, the two of us joined a few friends for our first excursion to East Hampton, NY. We had never ventured to this coastal destination in the past due to the daunting, traffic-high trek from Boston. Lucky for us, we were fortunate to hop onto a friend’s boat in Stonington, CT and zip across Fishers Island Sound in just over an hour. Puttering through East Hampton Three Mile Harbor lined with classic weathered shingled homes and vacationers beaching and clamming on the shores, we knew a relaxing retreat was in store for us.
We cruised through the winding tree-laden roads passing quaint farmer’s markets, lavish seaside villages and gorgeous dunes and wetlands until we reached out cozy shingled cottage. After a night’s rest in our antique twin beds, we woke up bright eyed and grabbed iced coffees from Jack’s Stir Brew to fuel us for surfing lessons with our wonderful instructors, Luca and Nick in Montauk.
Working up quite the appetite from admittedly being tossed around in the surf and swallowing our fair share of salt water, we headed to Amagansett Farmer’s Market and sampled their selection of fresh fruits- figs, about 5 kinds of cherries, peaches- lush greens, fresh squeezed juices, baked goods, assorted cheeses, and interesting salads. We absolutely loved the wheatberry with roasted vegetables. 

After our lunch, we were fueled for the day and decided to explore our surroundings. With dinner plans in mind, we sought inspiration at Stuarts Seafood for grill fare. We were greeted by pools of live lobsters, whole fish, and freshly prepared takeout dishes like lobster spring rolls. We opted for fresh swordfish and jumbo shrimp.
Back at the cottage, we lazed around our brick-adorned pool before prepping for our bbq ahead. With friends who share our love of cooking, we shook up some muddled Blackberry, Mint, Lime and Gin Cocktails while collaborating in the kitchen.
Big props go to our grill queen, Katie. Our menu included:

Garlic Infused Grilled Baguettes with Avocado and Lemon or Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, and Chevre
Arugula, Strawberry and Chevre Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
Grilled Fennel
Grilled Swordfish Steaks
Grilled Peel and Eat Shrimp
Taryn’s Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Content from our local, fresh, tasty meal, we were ready for a night out with live music at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett.

Fried Pickle Frenzy

Posted on: Thursday, July 10, 2014

The pickle is a summer staple. It’s the sidekick to any pressed panini while dining al fresco, any lobster roll while picnicking in a park, and of course in relish form at any barbecue. My friends have often poked fun at my enthusiasm if not obsession with relish but no need to embarrass myself with that explanation. Anyways, while there is nothing better than taking a bite of a cool and crisp dill pickle on a hot day, there are so many other ways to enjoy the tangy All-American veggie. Kara and I have sampled our share of fried pickles in Boston area bars, most notably at Redbones Barbecue with a version fried with jalapeƱo slices, or at JM Curley’s where the discs are deep fried alongside a mustardy Creole mayo. We are partial to pickle chips but have never turned down a fried spear.
For a party-friendly appetizer, I decided to attempt frying my own tart slices in a cornmeal crust alongside a tangy dip. The resultant lightly battered chips dipped in the smooth, zesty sauce were highly addicting. The pop-able snacks are perfect appetizers for any summer gathering and will rival any onion ring. 
Cornmeal Crusted Fried Pickles with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Spicy Dipping Sauce
1/2 c sour cream
1 T Sriracha sauce
1 t ketchup
Salt and pepper throughout

Fried Pickles
Vegetable oil
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1 T milk
1/2 c cornmeal
1/4 c Panko breadcrumbs, slightly ground
1/2 t chili powder
Salt and pepper throughout
1 (16-oz) jar dill pickle chips (Mt. Olive)

In a medium saucepan, heat 2-inches of vegetable oil on medium-high to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, prepare the Spicy Dipping Sauce. In a bowl, stir together the sour cream, Sriracha sauce, ketchup, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Arrange the pickles on paper towels to dry out a bit. In one shallow bowl, pour the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. In a second shallow bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. In a third shallow bowl, pour the cornmeal, Panko breadcrumbs, chile pepper and a dash of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Dredge the pickles in the flour, then the beaten egg, and then the cornmeal and Panko coating, making sure the coins are fully covered. In batches, carefully place the coated pickles into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the fried chips from the oil to paper towels. Serve warm with Spicy Dipping Sauce. Makes 24-26 fried pickle chips.
Photo by Taryn Talmadge

Game for Grilled Steak Tacos

Posted on: Thursday, June 26, 2014

While the World Cup is an arena for tremendous athleticism, it also offers a reason to serve up some South American-inspired dishes at a rowdy gathering. While I watch USA, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay (to name a few) pass and run with epic speed, agility, and incredible technique, I also look forward to stepping away to make some satiable bites. Breaking in my new molcajete, I whip up my go-to guacamole recipe with some blue corn tortilla chips.  
Alongside, I quickly pickle some red onions to place atop grilled steak tacos. Admittedly not a huge fan of raw red onion, the pickling brings out the sweetness and mellows the pungent bite. I pair the onions with cilantro, queso fresco, sliced steak, and a squeeze of lime. In between cheering and yelling, I arrange the tacos on large platters, so my guests can maintain focus on the game at hand.
Grilled Steak Tacos with Pickled Red Onions and Queso Fresco

Pickled Red Onions
1 medium sized red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 T honey
salt and pepper throughout

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Stir and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Taco Assembly
1 lb flank steak
simple rub- blended 1 t chili powder, 1 t garlic powder 1 t Adobo seasoning
generous salt and pepper
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c Queso Fresco
1 lime cut into chunks
6-8 small corn tortillas

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Cook the steak, about three-five minutes on each side, depending upon your desired doneness. Once cooked, set aside. While the steak is resting, grill the corn tortillas for thirty seconds on each side. Slice the steak, and arrange a few pieces on each warmed tortilla. Sprinkle with cilantro, queso fresco, pickled red onion, and an added squeeze of lime. Take a bite and enjoy!

Minty Cucumber Juicetail

Posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2014

With summer sun approaching, it’s time to break out the juicer for some super refreshing quenchers. While many drink juice to start the day, I enjoy a nice juicetail to end my day. With my favorite spirit gin, I shook up some fresh cucumber juice, lime and Kara’s Minty Simple Syrup. Cool, crisp and zingy.
Minty Cucumber Juicetail

2 oz Mint Simple Syrup
1/2 English Cucumber, plus 2 paper-thin slices for garnish
3 oz gin (Hendrick’s)
2 oz lime juice

Cut the English Cucumber into large chunks and throw it through a juicer. If you do not have a juicer, you can puree the cucumber in a blender or food processor, then push the pulp through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour in the cucumber juice, gin, lime juice and Minty Simple Syrup. Shake vigorously and pour over ice with a cucumber round float. Serves 2.

Stun your friends with the cool green hue!

Mint and Berries

Posted on: Friday, June 6, 2014

While a full garden for me is a little ambitious, I tested my green thumb by lining my back deck with decorative pots filled to the rim with my favorite herbs. With summer entertaining in mind, I planted herbs that I could use in both savory and sweet dishes- basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, sage and Marni's and my favorite, mint. With an abundance of mint overflowing my poor pot, I clipped off a handful to add a refreshing twist to a berry tart.
I grabbed some dough from the freezer and draped it into my favorite rectangular-fluted tart tin. I infused a simple syrup with the mint to add a crisp, aromatic touch to some fresh whipped cream. I dolloped the cool cream atop the prepared shell, and then tossed a mix of sugary lemon berries to place on top. Not only was this a crazy blend of flavors and textures, the pops of berry colors along the tart created quite the sophisticated spectacle.
Mixed Berry Tart with Mint Whipped Cream

Thawed Homemade or Store-bought Pie Crust
I used King Arthur Flour’s Recipe

Minty Simple Syrup
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/8 c water
1 c chopped fresh mint leaves, plus extra whole leaves for garnish 

1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1 t vanilla extract
3 c assorted berries (I used blackberries and raspberries)
juice of 1/2 lemon plus 1 t lemon zest (for garnish)
1/4 c granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a floured surface, roll out dough into a long rectangle and place in a 13 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch rectangular fluted tart pan. With a knife, trim the crust all around. Pierce the middle all over with a fork and bake until slightly golden, about 15-18 minutes.

Place a metal bowl and electric mixer whisk inserts in the freezer.

For the Minty Simple Syrup, in a small saucepan, heat 1/8 cup of water with the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh mint leaves. Let steep for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, toss the berries with the lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside.

Pour the chilled heavy whipping cream into the chilled metal bowl. With a fine sieve, strain the minty syrup into the bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Spread the whipped cream mixture generously and evenly atop the prepared shell. Pour the berries over the whipped cream and garnish with fresh mint leaves and lemon zest.
While it is tempting to indulge right away, I recommend letting the tart set in the refrigerator for at least a half hour before serving. Serves 6-8.

Can’t wait to experiment with the other aromas and flavors from my sprouting herb collection!

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