By Cathy Huyghe | Thursday, June 2, 2011
We've said it before and we'll say it again. The Nantucket Wine Festival is THE place to kick off the summer season of wine. Now that it's come and gone, we can put on our hindsight-is-20-20 sunglasses and review the Festival's best highlights. Last weekend's highlights, fortunately, will be there all summer long. Consider this your hit list for the island.
KIDS MENU AT AMERICAN SEASONS. This secret is so hidden that it literally doesn't exist. American Seasons restaurant, with arguably the best chef on an island of very, very good chefs, does not have a kids' menu. But take some kids in there, and they will not be "cooked down to." No chicken fingers with French fries here. The kitchen will prepare anything from their menu in a plain-ish, kid-friendly style — Wild King salmon, say, but cooked all the way through and minimally seasoned — that wind up being so pure that they may just make the adults at the table jealous.
FRANZ HILL VINEYARD WINE AT CURRENTVINTAGE. Price inflation is the immediate effect for most wines that receive a 90+ rating from uber-critic Robert Parker. Except if your wine is Zinfandel from Franz Hill Vineyard in Napa despite a stellar score of 93 from Parker for their 2005 vintage, this Zin stays at a very earth-bound price of $30 a bottle. Production is extremely, extremely limited but currentVintage on Easy Street has a direct line to the producer. Find it there. Show it off. Whether you tell your guests what a bargain it is is completely up to you.
BEST NANTUCKET STORY. The tagline for Donelan wines is "Wine is a Journey Not a Destination." For founder Joe Donelan, that journey's gone from college at Holy Cross in Worcester to supplying paper for LL Bean catalogs in Maine to trailing one of Nantucket's greatest sommeliers around the world. Donelan is old-school (he hand-writes some 3000 thank you notes every year) which, in addition to some incredible winemaking, add up to a super-high ratio of customer loyalty. Today Donelan splits his time between his vineyards in California and a kitted-out (for wine lovers, that is) home close to his roots on Nantucket. Look for his wines in shops and restaurants on the island and all over Massachusetts.
BEST BOOKSTORE. There are two, actually— Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner. Both are excellent because both are oozing with personality. These are not corporations. These are people. They have literally read the books and will gladly share their opinions. But even if you don't actually engage in conversation with anyone working in the shops, you'll feel invited to browse until you find Just The Right Book for your Nantucket getaway.
BEST GUEST SERVICE. It's the high season now and Nantucket's service in dustry has officially shifted into gear. The standard-bearer for guest service is, hands down, the White Elephant hotel and residences. Sure there are the things they offer every guest, like van service to the ferries or into town or to a partner restaurant. But come to them with a particular request or problem and they kick it into overdrive. They take it personal. Call it Humane Hospitality. Or just call it whatever it takes to get you one heck of a restful night's sleep.
MUST-DO ACTIVITIES. Rent a bike, or bring your own. Take a Pilates workshop. Visit the Whaling Museum. Take a walking tour with the Nantucket Preservation Trust. Try ice cream flavors you've never had before. Cake batter, anyone?
This is definitely a New England recipe. Anadama bread is one of the most popular breads here, and for good reason—it's absolutely delicious. Try smearing a mixture of butter and local honey on it and, you'll be hooked. This is my friend and mentor chef Jasper White's recipe, Jasper uses a bit more corn meal and less molasses than most recipes, so it serves dual roles as a breakfast bread or alongside hearty chowders.
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/4 cups (approx.) warm water (105-115 degrees), divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled to room temperature
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 teaspoons salt
3-1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for work surface
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Vegetable oil or butter
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water (egg wash)
In a medium-size bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer with hook attachment), combine yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water; mix well. Add melted butter, molasses, salt, flour, and cornmeal. Slowly add up to 1 cup more warm water; mix to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. Add more water if necessary. Knead by machine about 10 minutes, or by hand about 15 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
Oil (or butter) a large bowl lightly. Shape dough into a ball and place in the bowl; turn it once so it's lightly greased all over. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let dough rise until volume doubles, about 1 hour.
Grease two 9-1/2x5-inch loaf pans. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place each loaf in a pan, return to a warm spot, and let rise until volume doubles, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Brush the tops of the loaves with egg wash and bake 1 hour, or until deep golden brown. To test for doneness, remove one hot loaf from its pan and tap the bottom of the bread; you'll hear a hollow sound if it's done. If it's not done, return it to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. When loaves are done, turn them out of their pans and cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes.
2 small broiler chickens (about 2 ½ pounds each and preferably free-range)
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil
½ pound sweet Italian sausage (preferably without fennel seeds) cut into 1-inch pieces
10 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
4 pickled cherry peppers, cut in half and stemmed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Cut each chicken into 12 pieces. Wash and pat the chicken pieces dry, then season them generously with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 475F.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add as many pieces of chicken, skin side down and starting with the leg, thigh and wing pieces, to the skillet as fit without touching. Cook the chicken, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
Remove the chicken pieces as they brown and drain them briefly on paper towels. Place the drained chicken pieces in a roasting pan large enough to hold all of them in a single layer. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more oil to the pan as necessary and adjusting the heat to prevent the bits that stick to the pan from overbrowning. As room becomes available in the skillet after all the chicken has been added, tuck in pieces of sausage and cook, turning until browned on all sides.
Remove all chicken and sausage from the pan, add the garlic and cook until golden, being careful not to burn it. Scatter the cherry peppers into the skillet, season with salt and pepper and stir for a minute. Pour in the vinegar and bring to boil, scraping the browned bits that stick to the skillet into the liquid and cook until the vinegar is reduced by half. Add the white wine, bring to a boil and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the roasting pan and stir to coat. Place the chicken in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and sticky, like molasses, about 10 minutes. If the sauce is still too thin, place the roasting pan directly over medium-high heat on the stovetop and cook, stirring, until it is reduced, about a minute or two. Once the sauce is thickened, toss in parsley and serve.
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s ItalySaturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44.
The radio series Action Speaks examines specific and underappreciated days in history that bear an impact on today's most important issues. In this preview of the upcoming season, which airs Sundays at 8pm on 89.7 WGBH, beginning Nov 14, host Marc Levitt talks to Chez Panisse’s founder and chef Alice Waters. Waters discusses how and why she started this award-winning Berkeley, CA restaurant, her belief in the importance of locally grown food, and her groundbreaking Edible School Yard Project.
Listen to Marc Levitt's interview with Alice Waters:
By Cathy Huyghe | Thursday, August 12, 2010
"I have a hotpot stove thing."
“The breadmaker works well too.”
“The George Foreman grill is usable.”
Eventually, my friend confessed, “I basically have a kitchen in my dorm room.”
Spurred on by the cornucopia at Russo’s in Watertown – it’s like the civilized offspring of a Chinese and Parisian open-air market or a homier Whole Foods – we decided to cook in her room the next day.
Cranberry beans, which I’d only seen in pictures, looked even more beautiful in person, and although I had no idea what to do with them, I still scooped up half a pound. We also took home some sugar snap peas and Asian pears.
Later, standing in front of the meat section at Shaw’s and wondering how to slice the meat thin enough for Korean barbecue, my friend casually mentioned that her parents had bought a deli slicer precisely to solve this problem. A rather extreme yet admittedly admirable act, I thought to myself. We grabbed some ribs and marinade and teetered home on bikes with handlebars laden with produce.
The next day, we convened in my friend’s dorm room. A couple plates of rice, salt, pepper, sugar, and oil had already been foraged from the dining hall. My friend had warned me during the day, when we had been exchanging recipe ideas via email, that her Foreman grill was “tiiiny.”
“Like the size of one burger patty. Ideal for a dorm room. I guess.”
She also mentioned that her roommates were slightly skeezed out by the raw meat marinating in their fridge. The results, however, were impressive and absolutely worth any doubts that we, or her roommates, might have had.
The Foreman grill did its job, no oil, no smoke-sucking hood needed. The meat was smoky, juicy, lightly charred with tones of peanut and soy sauce.
We sautéed the sugar snap peas with garlic and slivers of rehydrated shiitake mushrooms and dropped in bits of prosciutto at the last minute.
As for the gorgeous cranberry beans, I decided to simply boil and sauté them. While waiting for them to crisp up, I spied a jar of chili-lime popcorn seasoning on the shelf. I dropped a pinch of it on the beans, tasted, and then dumped in more. In the end, I wished I’d bought more of these beans at Russo’s.
Halfway through eating the Asian pears for dessert, we realized that we’d created a major faux pas. In Chinese, fen-li (splitting pears) is a homonym for fen-li (separation). Did this bode ill for our friendship? We were determined to ignore cruel fate and meet again for another delicious meal of dormitory cooking.