Author: Elizabeth Keyser

Best Tomato Season Ever

This long, warm summery fall has extended tomato season in our little garden. Last year, we harvested only green tomatoes. This year, we’ve had the best harvest ever, growing this heirloom variety for first time. I don’t know their official name. My husband grew them from seeds he saved from an heirloom tomato we bought from Sport Hill Farm the previous summer.  They’re multi-colored, showing shades of yellow, orange, pale green, blushed with red. They grow to be over a pound.  The sweet flavor takes well to quick sauces filled with fresh herbs.  They also slice up beautifully as a side dish for dinner, or for sandwiches. For a size comparison, here’s one of our Peachy Giants (which is what I’ve named them because when I chop up a quart to freeze, they look a lot like the quarts of frozen peaches)  with tomatoes we got at the Black Rock Farmers Market. Of course, those tomatoes were delicious too. Juicy and ripe. Sliced, sprinkled with salt, drizzled with olive oil, and scattered with fresh herbs, basil, chives, fresh mint, …

Peach Tart

Start with beautiful peaches. These were grown in New York State, and sold at Sport Hill Farm in Easton, CT. At home, they ripened. They were so ripe, it was easy to slip off their skins, without using boiling water. Then I made a crust. Ground up almonds with a little sugar in the food processor, then added flour. Half almonds/half all purpose white flour. Add butter and pulse. Add water, and press dough into tart pan and refrigerate. Back to the peaches. Slice the juicy ripe peaches, and arrange slices in tart pan, top with butter and bake. It looks like this when you take it out of the oven. To make it glisten, heat up apricot jam with some lemon juice. Sieve it, and brush the glaze over the top of the tart. But I didn’t use apricot jam. In the very back of the refrigerator, my husband discovered the last of last year’s peach jam. A most delicious peach jam. See those big pieces of peach in the pan? And here is the peach-glazed …

Chef’s Tasting Menu at Olea

When guests visit for days, I often take them for a jaunt to New Haven. It’s about a half-hour drive from Fairfield, and offers the Yale University Art Galleries. New Haven also has great restaurants. I’m adding another to my list. The owners of Olea, a Spanish-Mediterranean restaurant, invited me to experience the chef’s tasting menu. Olea has a calming, contemporary atmosphere, that looks upscale, but soon transformed into a buzz. In the site of the former Ibiza, Olea shares a heritage with that acclaimed Spanish restaurant; the new chef/co-owner is the former chef of Ibiza, and worked at Meigas and Meson Galicia in Norwalk with chef Luis Bollo, when it was the best Spanish restaurant in the Northeast. Olea is now assuming that mantle.  The Mediterranean food reveals classic technique, with fun molecular gastronomy touches of foams and soils, bound in a love of craft and of cooking for restaurant guests. The meal began with a sampling of three tapas on a rectangular plate. A clear glass of pureed orange-hued gazpacho balanced sweetness and acidity (a quality in many of the dishes to follow). A codfish …

Bringing Something to the Party

What to bring to a summer party? I got beautiful carrots and beets from the Black Rock Farmer’s Market. The beets came from Sport Hill Farm. My friend Red Bee Marina, who was hosting a little gathering in her garden, suggested coleslaw, but the carrots were too cute to shred. So I cleaned them up, blanched them, and pickled them whole. The brine was one cup of apple cider vinegar, one cup of warm water, salt, pepper, onions, ginger, herbs from the garden–lemon balm, thyme, marjoram, chives–and a little honey. Beets Because it’s summer and I didn’t want the house to get too hot, I boiled the beets. (Roasting in the oven is my preferred method.) After they were tender, I slipped off the skins, sliced the beets, and put them in brine.The carrots and beets rested in the brine, in the fridge, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., till we left the house. I repacked them in Ball jars for travel. After a glass of prosecco, everyone went to Marina and Vic’s garden, and picked greens for pesto.  I picked mint and …

What to Forage Now: Dandelion Leaves and Wild Onions

My basic theory of gardening is that plants want to grow. And if they want to grow — if they spring up on their own and we can eat them, don’t interfere. That means dandelions in the yard and vegetable garden (they grow strongest in the sun). Wild onions have shot up everywhere too. I’m very much against poisoning them.  Pulling up “weeds” is the most effective way of dealing with them (despite what you’ll read on the internet about vinegar solutions). Dandelions aren’t “weeds” to me. Picking and eating dandelions in the early spring is an ancient ritual. They are filled with minerals and vitamins, and are good for the liver. Dandelion leaves can be bitter. The are less bitter when small and the flowers haven’t bloomed. Large leaves from blooming dandelions can be cooked to mellow their flavor and make them tender. Dandelions don’t have poisonous lookalikes, according to Wildman Steve Brill, an expert forager who leads tours in New York and Connecticut. Chicory looks like dandelion and is edible, so if you’re foraging, you’ll probably pick up both. To …

Lunch at The Modern

A great meal, the three-course prix fixe at The Modern in New York City. First, an amusing amuse bouche. Glasses of shredded, dehydrated beets, into which the server poured warm broth. With it, a bowl of fresh cheese with beet chips.  A waiter appeared with a tray holding six adorable mini rolls. I think the waiter told us we could have as many as we wanted. We demurely (so I like to think), took one, a pretzel roll for Paula, and a whole wheat roll for me. It was light textured, slightly sweet. My first course, sea bass with sunchokes and watercress. No words needed. Paula started with this gorgeous salad. There’s burrata beneath the leaves. For my second course, beef with marrow, celery root and black truffle. A waiter holding a little copper saucepan spooned truffle sauce onto plate. Paula’s second course was seared salmon. Sensible girl. It had Meyer lemon confit, endive and radicchio. And then, dessert. I had chocolate marquise with earl grey ice cream. Paula’s dessert was ricotta cannoli with picked rhubarb and crème fraiche sorbet. …

Video Prep Chili

After prepping the food for a cooking video last week, I came home with extra prep from a chicken ranch salad. At first I thought I’d make soup, so I sautéed the vegetables. There was extra chopped red onion and chopped parsley from another dish (we shot five ), so I added those. Chopped the remaining half of a jalapeno that had topped the cheese on another dish from the shoot,  deconstructed stuffed cabbage, otherwise known as cabbage-beef casserole. Crumbled bacon was the finishing touch on the Ranch chicken salad. Tossed into the pan, along with an extra slice of cooked back-up bacon, rough chopped.  I was reveling in not having to be precise.  I decided to make chili rather than soup. Added a can of whole tomatoes and their sauce. In the freezer, I found chicken stock, and added about a cup and a half.  Chili powder, from the cabbage-beef casserole, and a teaspoon of homemade habanero sauce from the fridge. Used my favorite little spatula to cut the tomatoes into quarters.  Look at all those vegetables! Makes me feel healthy …