Leaves are falling but farmers markets on the East End are alive and well. On Saturday, October 1, I had a book signing at the Sag Harbor Farmers Market on Bay Street for my book, Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food & Wine of Long Island’s East End. Meeting and greeting many very interesting people made the experience all the more enjoyable.
The market continues to buzz with vendors and I took some time out to make some purchases. Martine Arbitol’s delicious Swiss chard and onion tart melted in my mouth and I took home her glazed raisin scone – scrumptious for breakfast the next day. I also stopped by to see Jeri Woodhouse of Taste of the North Fork with her array of jams, jellies, olive oils and vinegars, as well as Catapano Dairy’s goat cheese – from the North Fork – that I enjoy tossing into salads. David Falkowski’s gorgeous shiitake and oyster mushrooms were perfect for my mushroom caviar to bring to a dinner party that evening. And Kate Plumb, of the East Hampton Farmers market – held on Friday mornings – represented Foster Farms with Marilee Foster’s fabulous heirloom tomatoes.
I could go on and on with the colorful array of all manner of vegetables, crusty baguettes, and even herbed sea salts, seafood, wine and fudge that were available to the happy shoppers.
With the recent outbreak of serious food-borne illnesses in 19 states it’s nice to know where your food is coming from. At the same time you will be preserving the local economy by supporting the local farmers, fisherman and artisans of the East End.
LAYERED EGGPLANT AND TOMATOES
Before frying eggplant, coat the slices with beaten egg white.
The technique prevents the eggplant from soaking up the oil.
Serves 6 to 8
2 medium eggplants, about 2 pounds
2 egg whites
Vegetable oil for frying
3 to 4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chiffonade of fresh basil
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 to 3 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
2 to 3 tablespoons chicken stock
1. Rinse and dry eggplants. Cut off root end and rub the two cut surfaces together to draw off indigestible juices. (The technique eliminates salting the eggplant). Cut eggplants into 1/4-inch slices and set aside.
2. Beat egg whites in a bowl until frothy and set aside. Pour oil about one inch deep in a deep fryer or iron skillet and heat to 375 degrees.
3. Dip eggplant slices, one at a time, into the beaten egg white, shaking off excess. Put several slices at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides; drain on paper towels. Continue until all slices are done.
4. Lightly oil a baking-serving dish and alternate layers of eggplant, sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper, garlic slivers and herbs. Can be done ahead to this point. Refrigerate covered as necessary.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
5. Spoon chicken stock over the top layer to moisten just before baking. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until hot. Cut into wedges for serving.
RICOTTA-STUFFED SWEET PEPPERS WITH TOMATO SAUCE
Just a simple stuffed pepper that my mom, who loved Italian food, prepared
for her family. Top with your favorite homemade tomato sauce.
Serves 6 to 8
6 to 8 red bell peppers
2 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups basic tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350 ° F.
1. Carefully slice off the pepper caps. Discard the stem and chop remaining portion of caps. Reserve. Scoop out the seeds, trim the membranes and rinse clean.
2. In a mixing bowl mix the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, mint, salt and pepper to taste and reserved chopped bell pepper. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary.
3. Fill each pepper with the ricotta mixture up to just below the opening. Place the peppers in a single layer in a lightly greased baking dish large enough to hold them tightly.
4. Spoon tomato sauce over the tops of the stuffed peppers to completely cover. Place in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until peppers are cooked but still firm. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot or at room temperature.
Please visit my website, www.Savoringthehamptons.com, for more recipes and my latest blog posts.