Tag Archives: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Lobster Bake in Princeton; Philly Restaurant Recommendation; Old-Fashioned Tomato Soup Recipe

$19.82 Lobster Bake to Celebrate Nassau Street Seafood‘s 1982 Founding

Princeton’s foremost fishmonger is hitting the big three-oh and to mark the occasion owner Jack Morrison and crew are holding an outdoor lobster bake at the Nassau Street store on Saturday, September 8, from noon to 4 pm.

Colin Rooney. Nassau Street Seafood

There’ll be live music by Pi Fight, family activities, and trivia, but the centerpiece will be the lobster bake, which includes a one-and-a-quarter pound lobster, Jersey corn, steamed potatoes, coleslaw, drink and dessert. 1982 was a good year, and $19.82 is a great price. Just show up at the appointed time at 256 Nassau Street.

While we’re on the subject of seafood….

I Had a Terrific Meal at Philly’s The Farm and Fisherman

One of my best meals of the summer was at this very personal 30-seat byob on Pine Street. So many restaurants tout “farm to table” but this one, by the husband and wife team of Josh & Colleen Lawler, is the real deal. Every dish is bright, light yet satisfying, and most of all inventive, with unexpected combinations that work. Some prime examples:

Grilled Sicilian eggplant with blueberries, pistachios, burrata, golden raisins, tomato confit.

Bloody beet steak with yogurt, pan drippings, aged balsamic, amaranth.

Marlin with cherry tomatoes, anise hyssop, red grapes, purslane, cucumber.

Next time I hope to try Chicken Its & Bits: terrine, cockscomb, liver, oyster, concord grape. Yowza! The Lawlers have a pretty impressive pedigree: she was sous chef at Picholine and he chef de cuisine at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Local Girl Scout Troop Takes on Sustainability & I Get a Free Cookbook

If you stopped by the West Windsor Farmers Market on some Saturdays in August you would have come across a table of Girl Scouts with a sign offering FREE COOKBOOK. Well, that’s a siren song I never resist, and what I found impressed me. The cookbook – a glassine folder of 25 recipes – was but one result of their journey towards earning the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Under the guidance of Lynn Mahmood and Angie Crichton of Princeton Junction, co-leaders of Troop 70676, seven of the troops, all incoming high school juniors this fall, had tackled the “Sow What?” project. Each of the girls had visited a local farmers market and then together toured Cherry Grove Organic Farm in Lawrenceville. They also calculated the food miles of popular supermarket items and the resulting carbon footprint.

Scout Lauren McTigue took on the task of developing the cookbook. She elected to focus on recipes for apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, and tomatoes, and uncovered a series, new to me, of charming recipe booklets with “Old” or “Old-Fashioned” in their titles. All are by J.S. Collester, a historian at Indiana University. Among the 30 titles Collester produced through Bear Wallow Books are, besides those that focus on each of the above ingredients, those for pumpkin, cheese, candy, bread, bread puddings, and honey-maple syrup-sorghum. Others offer traditional Shaker, pioneer, fishing village, and Native American recipes. All are charming, inexpensive, and available through small distributors like AbeBooks.com and Kauffmansfruitfarm.com.

When I came across the old-timey tomato soup recipe in the Scout’s folder, it made me realize that although I use fresh Jersey tomatoes all the time to make gazpacho and cooked and uncooked tomato sauces, I had never thought to make homemade American-style tomato soup. My family loves Campbell’s so, I thought, why bother?  Well, because this simple recipe is a taste revelation – not to mention lower in sodium and, as Troop 70676 would point out, food miles/carbon footprint.

OLD FARM-STYLE TOMATO SOUP
Slightly adapted from “Old-Fashioned Tomato Recipes” by J.S. Collester (Bear Wallow 2000)

8 to 10 firm ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Combine tomatoes, onion, celery, green pepper, and bay leaf in a soup kettle and cook, stirring frequently, until celery is tender. Push mixture through a sieve or food mill and return to kettle. Make a paste of the flour and butter and stir it into the cooking tomato liquid. Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring frequently for 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Makes 3 cups.

(Reprinted in part from the August 31, 2012 edition of The Princeton Packet)

Doing Good While Dining Well

I love it when these two things come together. Usually, it means patronizing a high-end food and wine gala that raises funds for a worthy non-profit. Each of the three instances below, though, offers a different take on dining well while doing good.

Elijah’s Promise: Community Supported Dinners

How I wish I lived or worked in the New Brunswick area! Elijah’s Promise, the multifaceted social enterprise non-profit that started out as a soup kitchen, is offering a new slant on the CSA model. Instead of buying shares in weekly farm produce, subscribers get a weekly gourmet dinner to take home that’s prepared by the folks at their Promise Culinary School. You sign up and, beginning June 1st, you pick up dinner for two or four each Friday afternoon at either their New Brunswick or Highland Park location.

Elijah’s Promise has already launched a successful Community Supported Bakery program along the same lines. This one offers dinners that use seasonal, locally sourced, sustainably produced ingredients prepared by their staff and students.  Each includes a starter, entree, and side, with meat or vegetarian options. Here is a prototypical menu from their globe-trotting offerings:

Starter: Watermelon, feta, and mint salad

Entree: Beef brisket braised in tangy bbq sauce

Side: Old-fashioned potato salad

Now, the meat for this meal comes from The Student Sustainable Farm at Rutgers, the nation’s largest organic farm managed by university students. (Be proud, New Jersey!) The watermelon is an heirloom variety. The tomatoes are grown by First Field (originally known for their Jersey ketchup) and processed by teen volunteers from an affiliated program, Urban Mitzvah Corps – how great is that?  I think the dinners are a bargain at $12.50 or $15 apiece. The money not only goes into the coffers of a terrific organization, it also furthers hands-on culinary training for deserving folks trying to get back on their feet.

Click here (then scroll down to the bottom of the page) to get complete details and to download an order form.

Outstanding Farm-to-Table Restaurants in NJ & Westchester County

Are you familiar with the free, county-based series of Health & Life Magazines? In the spring 2012 issues I spotlight one outstanding farm-to-table restaurant in each of three NJ counties and provide a statewide list of the top ten. When you dine at any one of these places you’re assured not only a first-rate experience, but you’re helping them support responsible local farms and fisheries. Hence, dining well and doing good.

English: Natirar Park and Mansion, Somerset Co...

English: Natirar Park and Mansion, Somerset County, New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can check out online my story and pick for Morris/Essex County (it’s Ninety Acres at Natirar), and for Westchester (it’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns). The Westchester edition includes the top 5 farm-to-table restaurants thereabouts.

Out in print, but not yet online are the Bergen edition (Picnic in Fair Lawn is my choice) and the Monmouth edition (JBJ Soul Kitchen).

My choice for Middlesex (The Blue Rooster) will appear in the summer issue of Middlesex Health & Life. Look for it soon.

You’re Never Too Young to Do Good While Dining Well

yea.... It hasn't changed much

yea…. It hasn’t changed much (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

..or at least trying to dine well. Have you heard about the 9-year-old Scottish schoolgirl whose blog about the sorry state of her cafeteria’s lunches got results after just a few posts? While also receiving a comment from none other than Jamie (“Food Revolution”) Oliver? Here’s one newspaper story about the phenomenon. Be sure to follow the embedded link in it to the neverseconds blog. You’ll find that this youngster is a talented and engaging blogger as well as food crusader.