Food & Drink

Deep Dish Apple Pie

By Barbara Beltrami

Eden. A garden. Adam and Eve. That apple. Not a pear or a persimmon or a pineapple, mind you. An apple whose invitational impact launched one of the biggest, if not the biggest, succession of events ever. I don’t know what variety that first apple was, but we descendants have more varieties to choose from that you can shake a candy apple on a stick at, and many of them are grown right here in our own state. So here we are eons later still tempted by that apple and turning it into everything from sauce to pie to chutney to cake to cider and that’s the short list. If you think it was easy deciding what apple recipes to share, guess again. Anyway, here’s how I’ve narrowed that selection.

Apple Coffee Cake

Apple Coffee Cake

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups peeled, cored and sliced

Granny Smith apples (about 6)

5 tablespoons + 2 cups sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

Scant teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable or corn oil

4 eggs

¼ cup apple juice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch tube pan. In a medium bowl combine the apple slices, five tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 2 cups sugar into a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in oil, eggs, apple juice and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Drain the reserved apple mixture of excess liquid. Spoon one-third of the batter into prepared pan. Arrange half the apple mixture in a circle on top of the batter. (Make sure no apples touch the side of the pan.)

Repeat procedure with another third of the batter, then the remaining apple mixture and finally the last third of the batter. Bake for 1 to 1¹/₄ hours, until cake tester inserted in middle of circle comes out clean. If top browns too much before inside is done, cover with aluminum foil. Cool to lukewarm; invert onto serving plate. Serve with whipped cream and steaming mugs of coffee or tea.

Deep Dish Apple Pie

Deep Dish Apple Pie

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 to 8 slightly tart apples

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter

1 pie crust (10 inches or more)

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 425 F. Peel, core and cut apples into thin slices; place in baking dish or deep pie dish. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt, spices and flour; sprinkle mixture evenly over apples. Dot with butter. Gently place pastry on top, fold edges under and press them against rim of dish with fingers or fork tines. Brush crust with milk. Bake 40 minutes or until crust is golden and apples are tender. Serve with vanilla ice cream or cheddar cheese.

Crispy Baked Apples

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 tart apples, cored, then peeled halfway down

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons flour

½ cup brown sugar

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 425 F. Place apples, peeled side up, in a baking dish. Combine the butter, flour and sugar and pat it onto tops of apples. Bake at 425 F until crust is set; lower oven to 350 F and continue to bake until apples are tender (about 30 minutes). Serve with unwhipped heavy cream.

Kenyer Natural Bakery will return to the event this year.

Save the date! The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Dan’s Papers, will host its 10th annual The Taste @ Port Jefferson at the Village Center, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson overlooking the Harborfront Park and harbor on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m.

In celebrating this landmark anniversary, the chamber has reached out to the greater Port Jefferson restaurant community and will highlight over 30 restaurants and purveyors offering top-quality food tastings and desserts as well as samples of premium liquors, wines and beers. The event, for ages 21 and over, has been changed to a night venue, which creates new energy and features musical entertainment by the rock band New Life Crisis. In addition to the usual indoor setting, the event will spill outside under a 50- by 100-foot tent.

Try some delicious crepes from Crazy Crepe Café.

Participating food purveyors will include Amazing Olive, Bagel Express-Setauket, Bliss, Chick-fil-A at Port Jefferson, Crazy Crepe Café–Mount Sinai, Crazy Fish Bar & Gill, Curry Club, Danfords Wave Seafood Kitchen, Don Quijote, Dos Mexi Cuban Cantina, Kenyer Natural Bakery, Flying Pig Café, Land & Sea Seafood & Restaurant, Messina Market & Catering, Penntora Lao-Thai Catering, Port Jeff Lobster House, Slurp Ramen, Spiros Restaurant & Lounge, St. Charles Hospital, The Meadow Club and Tuscany of Miller Place.

Dessert samplings from A Cake in Time, East Main & Main, Kilwins of Port Jefferson and LaBonne Boulangerie Bakery will be offered along with beverage tastings from Starbucks, Port Jeff Brewing Company and Manhattan Beer.

Presenting sponsor this year will be New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, and chamber partner St. Charles Hospital will be highlighted as a silver sponsor. Other sponsors include BNB Bank, Farrell Storage and O’Brien Group, LLC, and the media sponsor is Dan’s Papers.

Tickets, which may be purchased online at www.tasteatportjeff.com, are $65 per person for general admission starting at 7 p.m. and $95 for VIP guests at 6 p.m., which includes early access by one hour, a special VIP lounge with tables and chairs, premium pours and desserts, VIP gift bag and special entertainment. For further details, call 631-473-1414.

Photos by Nicole Geddes

New England Clam Chowder

By Barbara Beltrami

If you’re wondering what the difference is between soup and chowder, don’t ask me. I have no idea, nor can I find anyone who knows. I do know they both are chunky mixtures with some featured ingredient usually enhanced by potatoes, celery and onions, sometimes cream, sometimes broth, often bacon and a few other veggies or herbs.

Most chowders I’ve come across emanate from New England, feature clams or local fish and are thick and creamy … except for Rhode Island’s which has a relatively clear broth and is full of the above-mentioned seafood as well as lots of diced veggies. Moving down the eastern seaboard we come to New York and its Manhattan clam chowder (which appalls New Englanders, by the way), which features tomatoes as well as lots of the potatoes and celery and generous sprinklings of thyme.

Then there is Maryland and its crab chowder. All this is not to say that chowders are indigenous to the east coast and middle Atlantic states. Further south chowders feature shrimp and other local products and across the continent it is hardly surprising to find salmon chowder from Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

What this tells us is that the best food comes from the nearby land and sea and that what is available is the engine that drives local and regional recipes. In the interests of geographic diversity I offer you New England Clam Chowder and Manhattan Clam Chowder. And some other time we’ll go into all the vegetarian versions of chowder … corn, bean, veggie, tofu … all of which corroborate my opening question. Really, what is the difference between soup and chowder?

All this is not to say that chowders are indigenous to the east coast and middle Atlantic states. Further south chowders feature shrimp and other local products and across the continent it is hardly surprising to find salmon chowder from Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

What this tells us is that the best food comes from the nearby land and sea and that what is available is the engine that drives local and regional recipes. In the interests of geographic diversity I offer you New England Clam Chowder, Manhattan Clam Chowder and Pacific Salmon Chowder. And some other time we’ll go into all the vegetarian versions of chowder…corn, bean, veggie, tofu…all of which corroborate my opening question. Really what is the difference between soup and chowder?

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 slices thick bacon, cut into thin strips crosswise

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium onions, diced

3 celery ribs with leaves, diced

4 cups clam broth

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

One whole bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup half-and-half or light cream

2 cups chopped cooked clams, preferably fresh

DIRECTIONS: Place a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, add bacon and cook until golden and just crisp. Remove pan from heat, drain bacon fat from pan, but leave bacon. Add butter to pan. Melt over low heat, add onions and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the pieces are opaque and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the clam broth, potatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and salt and pepper; cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes; discard bay leaf. Scoop 1½ cups of solids and ½ cup of liquid out of pot and transfer to food processor. Puree until smooth, then return to pot. Add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in clams and serve immediately with saltines, oyster crackers or pilot crackers.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan Clam Chowder

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 dozen cherrystone clams

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2½ cups diced onions

2 cups diced celery

1 cup diced carrots

One large clove garlic, minced

3 cups diced tomatoes

2½ cups dry white wine

3 cups peeled diced potatoes

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Place 3 cups water and clams in a large shallow pan; cover and cook over medium heat until clams open, 5 or 6 minutes. With tongs remove clams from pan and set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain liquid several times through fine mesh sieve; set liquid aside. Place oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook a few minutes until vegetables are slightly softened. Add tomatoes, 2½ cups of the clam broth, the wine, 4 cups water, the potatoes and herbs and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile remove clams from shells, dice, add to pot and simmer 3 to 5 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with saltines, oyster crackers or garlic bread.

Pacific Salmon Chowder

Pacific Salmon Chowder

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 slices bacon

½ cup diced onion

2 cups very hot fish broth

1 cup diced potatoes

1 pound fresh salmon, skinned, boned and cubed

2 cups hot milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp. Remove and crumble; set aside. Saute onion until tender in remaining bacon fat. Gently and carefully pour in hot fish broth and potatoes and cook over low heat until potatoes are tender. Add salmon and cook until tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Add milk, reserved bacon, salt, pepper and herbs and gently reheat. Serve with buttered pumpernickel toast and cucumber salad.

Carrie's Plum Crumble

By Barbara Beltrami

When little Jack Horner sat in a corner, stuck his thumb in a pie and pulled out a plum, I wonder if he knew what a prize he’d managed to get his hands on. There is something about cooked plums that far supersedes fresh raw ones, in my opinion. No matter how delicious the fresh fruit’s pulp may be, that sour skin is unpleasant. But when plums are cooked, stewed or poached with a little water and sugar, roasted or baked in a pie, cake, tart or crumble, they go through a magical metamorphosis as they release their sweet purple juices and become velvety and succulent. The recipes that follow are especially good made with plums but are also delicious when any stone fruit is substituted.

Plum Upside Down Cake

Plum Upside Down Cake

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

¹/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

6 to 8 medium plums, halved and pitted

1½ cups flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

3 large egg yolks

½ cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8½-inch round springform pan. Line bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Melt two tablespoons butter; pour into pan and tip to distribute evenly over bottom. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter. Arrange plum halves, cut-side down, over brown sugar; leave as little space as possible between plums to allow for shrinkage during cooking. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In an electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the remaining 10 tablespoons butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and almond extracts, then the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beating continuously, add half the flour mixture, then the sour cream, then the remaining flour mixture. Pour batter over plums and spread evenly. Place on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack of oven and bake one hour or a little more until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for one hour. Run a sharp knife around edge of cake, loosen ring of cake pan, then place plate on top of cake and invert onto plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Carrie’s Plum Crumble

Carrie’s Plum Crumble

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

1¼ cups flour

¾ cup oats (not quick cooking)

¼ cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

2 pounds plums, pitted and cut into wedges

1 tablespoon apple or cranberry juice

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a deep 9-inch round or square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine flour, oats, nuts (if using), half the sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter and with fingertips rub it into the flour mixture until it forms moist clumps. Toss plums with remaining sugar and juice together; transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle crumb topping over plums; bake until top is golden brown and fruit bubbles. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Roasted Plums with Balsamic Vinegar and Mascarpone

Roasted Plums with Balsamic Vinegar and Marscapone

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds plums, quartered and pitted

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 tablespoons brown sugar

6 tablespoons sherry or port wine

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 small sprig fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup mascarpone

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the plums, butter and brown sugar; toss well to coat. Place plums with any remaining butter and sugar on parchment. Bake 15 minutes or until plums are softened and release their juices. Meanwhile in a small saucepan bring sherry or port to a boil, over medium heat; continue cooking until liquid is considerably reduced, to about 2 tablespoons. Add balsamic vinegar and rosemary and simmer until mixture is reduced to about ¼ cup, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove rosemary and discard. Stir in granulated sugar and vanilla until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes or until thickened. Place plums on individual plates, spoon balsamic mixture evenly over each serving, then top with a dollop of mascarpone. Serve with biscotti.

Baba Ghanoush

By Barbara Beltrami

Actually, eggplant comes in many more shapes and sizes than the large purple global variety with which we are all familiar. A member of the nightshade family, its flowers, not the eggplant itself, can be female or male. So the preference for one or the other is based on myth. What you should concentrate on when choosing an eggplant is the skin, the weight and the hardness or softness of it. A fresh, ripe eggplant has glossy, taut skin, feels somewhat heavy and can be depressed with the thumb with just a little resistance and then return to its form.

While most people think of eggplant as one of the basic ingredients in the popular Italian American dish, eggplant parmigiana, it is, in fact, a staple of many diets, particularly in the Near and Far East. From the Syrian baba ghanoush to the Indian bhurtha to the Thai pud makua yow, eggplant crosses most ethnic boundaries to remind us that we’re not very much different from one another. I don’t often feature Asian recipes in this column simply because I have little experience with them. However, research among some acquaintances for whom the following recipes are traditional has expanded my repertoire.

Bhurtha

Bhurtha

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium eggplant

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 large tomato, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS: Preheat broiler. Rub eggplant skin with oil. Place under broiler and turn frequently until skin is charred and inside pulp is soft and mushy. Cut eggplant in half, scoop out flesh, cut into cubes and set aside. In a medium-large skillet, heat the oil, then add the onion, ginger, tomato, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until onion turns opaque. Add eggplant and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture is evaporated. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with naan (oven-baked flatbread), jasmine rice and peas.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 large eggplants

Juice of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons tahini

One large clove garlic, finely minced

Coarse salt, to taste

¹/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Wash eggplants and grill whole on gas grill over medium-low heat. Turn frequently until eggplant is cooked on all sides, skin is charred and pulp is soft. Remove from heat, place on a platter and let cool for one hour. Do not be alarmed if it collapses. Peel the eggplant, scrape any flesh that adheres to the skin and put that plus the remaining flesh into a bowl; immediately add lemon juice and mash it in with the eggplant. Add tahini, garlic and salt and mix well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill. Transfer mixture to a shallow bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita bread and black olives.

Pud Makua Yow

Pud Makua Yow

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 serrano chiles, stemmed and minced

2 to 3 medium eggplants (preferably the long Japanese ones), cut into one-inch cubes

1 cup water

2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1½ cups Thai sweet basil leaves, packed

DIRECTIONS: Pour oil into a wok or large skillet; add garlic and chiles. Over medium heat, cook, stirring constantly, until garlic releases its aroma. Add eggplant and one cup water; stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary, until eggplant is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. If too much liquid remains, uncover and continue cooking until it is evaporated. Add soy and fish sauces and stir; then add basil and stir again. Serve immediately with rice, tofu or chicken.

The cheese has a sweet, nutty flavor with a tart aftertaste, similar to cheddar.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Monterey Jack, a cow’s milk cheese, was developed in the 1880s in Monterey by a Scot merchant named David Jacks. He derived the name, Monterey Jack, from the shipping point, Monterey, California, and his last name, Jacks, minus the “s.” There are, however, several other versions as to the origin of Monterey Jack cheese.

Although the cheese was first developed and sold in Monterey, it is now produced in several other states and with variations from dairy to dairy. Most Monterey Jack has an inedible rind, often black in color. The rind is sometimes coated with a mixture of oil, pepper and cocoa. It generally has a pale yellow-orange interior with numerous small holes. It is rectangular or wheel shaped, depending on the preference of the dairy.

The cheese has a sweet, nutty flavor with a tart aftertaste, similar to cheddar. When old, the taste becomes sharp and tangy. It is sometimes flavored with caraway seeds, dill, fennel or jalapeño peppers. It has a semihard texture and when labeled “Dry Jack,” it is a hard, tangy cheese suitable for grating.

Dry Jack cheese is Monterey Jack that has been aged 6 to 9 months or longer. It came into existence during World War I, when San Francisco cheese wholesaler, D.F. DeBernardi found his Monterey Jack cheese had aged too long and “gone hard.” Italian immigrants immediately found it useful because it could be grated like Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino.

Monterey Jack is also called Sonoma Jack (brand name), California Jack or Jack. The cheese can be paired with syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and, of course, cabernet sauvignon.

Four California wines I recently tasted would pair quite well with a wedge of Monterey Jack. My tasting notes follow:

2010 Mayacamas, “Mt. Veeder” Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 95 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent merlot; aged 36 months in oak). Full bouquet with flavors of dried berries, herbs, black currants, dill and coffee. Full bodied, tannic and still quite youthful.

2012 Inglenook “Cask” Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent cabernet franc, 3 percent merlot; aged 18 months in oak). Dark colored with a bouquet brimming with berries (blackberry and blueberry), black cherries and black currants. Layers of fruit; great depth of flavor with plenty of acidity.

2013 Hourglass “Blueline Estate” Merlot, Calistoga: (blend of 84 percent merlot, 12 percent cabernet sauvignon, 4 percent malbec; aged 2 to 3 years in oak). Deepest color, very fruity with hints of plums, chocolate and spices. Quite smooth and elegant with toasted oak on the finish.

2012 Snowden “The Ranch” Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 75 percent cabernet sauvignon, 14 percent merlot, 8 percent cabernet franc, 3 percent petit verdot; aged 18 months in oak). Great depth of color; fruity and powerful with a certain sweetness; concentrated flavors and very complex with overtones of dark chocolate, oak and black currants.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or bkjm@hotmail.com.

Turkey Surprise Wrap

By Barbara Beltrami

I remember that when I was a kid, anybody who brought anything other than a bologna or PBJ sandwich in her lunch box was taunted and humiliated. Generally an apple or orange could pass muster, but heaven help the kid whose mom put carrot and celery sticks or dried apricots in her lunch box.

Now that the kids are back at school, the challenge of what to pack in their lunch boxes renews itself. I would love to think that nowadays no child gets ridiculed for what’s in his lunch box (or anything else for that matter).

With child obesity recently at an all-time high and hovering around 17 percent, it’s no longer advisable to slap processed meat and cheese between two slices of spongy white bread and slather them with mayonnaise. Likewise, cookies and chips, candy and cake may be what a kid prefers, but many of those goodies have little or no nutritional value, and the sugar in them serves only to wind the kids up and fill their tummies with empty calories.

With media attention on healthful eating habits and revised menus even in school cafeterias, it is becoming incumbent upon parents to observe and encourage those habits by providing nutritious alternatives to convenience and junk foods.

Here are some simple suggestions for yummy and healthful alternatives whose prototypes I’d like to hope will become what the “cool” kids bring in their lunch boxes, but they should be merely models to inspire your own concoctions.

Turkey Surprise Wrap

Turkey Surprise Wrap

YIELD: Makes 1 serving

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole wheat tortilla wrap

¼ cup guacamole

2 thin slices low sodium deli turkey

¼ cup shredded carrot

¼ cup fresh spinach leaves, washed and stems removed

4 large taco chips, crushed

DIRECTIONS: Lay the tortilla wrap on a cutting board; spread with guacamole to one inch from edge of wrap. Lay turkey slices evenly over guacamole; sprinkle with carrots, spinach and crushed chips. Starting at one end or side of the wrap, roll it and tuck opposite sides in as you roll. With a sharp knife, slice the rolled wrap into 2, 3 or 4 pieces. The surprise? The chips that give lots of crunch. Pack with a crisp apple or seasonal plums, juice or milk and trail mix.

No Nuts Granola Bars

No Nuts Granola Bars

YIELD: Makes 4 to 8 servings depending on size of squares

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1½ cups raw sunflower seeds

½ cup wheat germ

½ cup honey

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon coarse salt

¾ cup dried fruit, diced or minced

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch by 9-inch glass baking dish. On a small baking sheet, spread oats, sunflower seeds and wheat germ. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from oven, lower heat to 300 F and pour baked dry mixture into liquid mixture. Combine thoroughly; stir dried fruit into mixture. Pour into prepared baking dish, spread evenly, then press down to pack tightly. Bake 25 minutes, remove from oven and let cool. Cut into squares. Serve with yogurt, juice, milk or fresh fruit.

Apple Chips and Dip

Apple Chips and Dip

YIELD: Makes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons white sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 medium-large apples, cored and very thinly sliced

One 8-ounce container vanilla yogurt

½ cup applesauce

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 225 F. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Arrange apple slices on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with half the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake, turning halfway through and sprinkling with remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture, until edges curl and apple slices are dried, about 45 minutes to one hour. With spatula, remove slices from baking sheet and place on rack to cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt and applesauce. If any of dip is left over, it can be served on its own or used with other ingredients to make a smoothie. Serve with graham crackers, toast, granola bars, trail mix or anything else that goes into the lunch box.

Bread and Butter Pickles

By Barbara Beltrami

If you’re not picky about your pickles, you should be because there’s no comparison between homemade and commercially prepared ones. Although you need an uninterrupted couple of hours and a few special pieces of equipment to “put up” a batch of pickles, once you’ve made the investment of time and supplies, you’ll be hooked and do it every year.

Two great moments of culinary satisfaction happen first when you hear the sound of the jar lids popping to release the air and vacuum seal the jar and later when you stand back and regard the row of pickle jars sitting like so many green soldiers on your pantry shelf.

Here is a list of canning supplies available in most local hardware and agricultural supply stores. You most likely already have many of these things in your kitchen.

Large enamel pot with canning rack

Large pot for boiling pickles

Glass jars with ring and dome lids

Large spoons and ladles

Sharp knives and vegetable peelers

Large colander

Kitchen scale

Measuring cups and spoons

Wide-mouth funnel to fit circumference of jar tops

Cheesecloth

Timer

Tongs

Pot holders

A few precautionary tips: Jars should be unchipped; veggies should be fresh and unspoiled; after processing, jars should be closed tight with a small dent in the middle of the lid; jars, domes and rings and implements must first be sterilized in a hot water bath or the dishwasher for at least 15 minutes. Now that you’ve got it all together, you’re ready to start making your own pickles!

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles

YIELD: Makes 7 to 8 pints

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds medium or Kirby cucumbers, washed and cut into ¹/₄-inch slices

1 pound small white pearl onions (frozen are OK)

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced thin

½ cup kosher salt

3 quarts ice water

5 cups sugar

5 cups cider vinegar

2 tablespoons mustard seed

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon peppercorns

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, onions and peppers. Add salt, mix well and add three quarts ice water. Cover and let sit for 4 hours. Fill canning pot to indicated water level, cover and bring to a boil. In a large pot, mix remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; let boil 3 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the vegetables, rinse thoroughly and drain again. Add veggies to liquid and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat and pack into hot one-pint sterile jars; leave ¼ inch headroom.

With a damp paper towel, wipe the top and side rims of the jars; with tongs place domes on jars, then screw on rings just to the point of stopping; do not tighten. Using tongs or pot holders, carefully set jars on raised rack of canning pot, then gently, being careful not to topple any jars, lower the rack into the hot water, cover and return to boil. Process (boil) for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat.

With tongs or pot holders, raise rack and remove jars onto heat-proof surface. As you lift them out, you will probably hear them popping, which means they’re sealed. With your finger, poke any that do not have a slight indentation in the middle. If they still have a slightly raised surface in the middle after several attempts to depress them, put them aside, and when cooled, refrigerate and use within a week or two.

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

 

YIELD: Makes about 7 pints

INGREDIENTS:

¾ cup sugar

½ cup kosher salt

1 quart white vinegar

1 quart water

3 tablespoons mixed pickling spices

2 cloves garlic

35 medium Kirby cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise or cut into spears

7 to 8 heads fresh dill

DIRECTIONS: Have canning pot and rack ready with boiling water reduced to simmer. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and water in medium pot. Tie pickling spices and garlic cloves in a cheesecloth bag and add to mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes; remove and discard bag. Meanwhile, pack cucumbers into hot sterilized pint jars and add one head dill to each jar; leave half an inch headroom. Bring vinegar mixture to a vigorous boil and ladle hot brine over cucumbers; leave ¼ inch headroom. Proceed as in italicized part of previous recipe.

The Se-Port Delicatessen, located at 301 Main St. in East Setauket, will be featured on Travel Channel's 'Food Paradise.' Photo by Rita J. Egan

When a television show narrator fondly remembers his favorite hometown delicatessen, it turns into an opportunity of a lifetime for the deli’s owner to showcase his signature sandwiches.

The Se-port Delicatessen, located at 301 Main St. in East Setauket, will be featured in the Sept. 17 episode of Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise” in an episode titled “Bun-Believable.” Owned by Wisam Dakwar, the deli is a favorite of many in the area, including former resident Jesse Blaze Snider. The oldest son of Twisted Sister front man, Dee Snider, and 2001 Ward Melville High School graduate is the narrator of “Food Paradise.” When he was younger, Jesse Snider was a frequent visitor to Se-Port.

Jason Levine, co-executive producer of the show, said the deli was a perfect choice.

“Our host Jesse Snider grew up going to Se-Port Deli with his family,” Levine said. “There’s a sandwich called ‘The Snider’ on the menu, and he’s been going there for approximately 20 years at this point. And, anytime we can incorporate that much love from our host into a childhood favorite we’re going to go for it.”

Wisam Dakwar, owner of Se-Port Delicatessen, during filming of ‘Food Paradise.’ Photo from Se-Port Delicatessen

While Dakwar and Levine couldn’t discuss the sandwiches featured on the Sept. 17 episode taped earlier this summer, Dakwar said years ago the television narrator created his namesake sandwich that includes honey mustard, bacon, chicken salad, and melted mozzarella on a toasted garlic roll.

Dakwar said it was great seeing Snider again, and he was honored he appeared on screen to eat the sandwich. According to the deli owner, Snider usually only provides the voice-over and doesn’t appear on screen.

“I’ve known Jesse since high school, and his dad,” Dakwar said. “The whole family, they grew up here.”

The deli features specialty sandwiches bearing the names of other well-known residents — especially sports figures — including Mets pitcher Steven Matz, a 2009 graduate of Ward Melville. Dakwar said recently he received a call from Matz to deliver 35 sandwiches and Se-Port’s iced tea to his teammates at Citi Field in Queens.

For many, television appearances and recognition from sports figures may equal the American Dream. Dakwar has achieved the dream through hard work and long hours. He said when he emigrated from Israel to the United States in 1991 he worked at his cousin’s deli in Islip every day and played violin at Middle Eastern clubs in New York City at night to earn additional cash in order to save up for his own deli.

“I always wanted to own my own business,” Dakwar said. “I’m a workaholic. I’m not scared of working and nothing comes easy, I know that.”

Dakwar bought the Se-Port Deli and the building it occupies in the late 1990s and renovated it. Originally the delicatessen was approximately a quarter of the size it is now until he expanded when a TrueValue hardware store next to the deli closed. The Old Field resident, who only takes off Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, still works days and nights.

Dakwar said while working with his cousin he gained the knowledge to run a deli business, and he also improved his English language skills by interacting with customers. He knew very little English before moving to the United States, because being of Palestinian descent and living in Israel, he grew up speaking Arabic and Hebrew.

The single 40-year-old, who became a U.S. citizen in the late ’90s, said his parents still live in Israel and visit him once a year for a few months at a time. Dakwar said his parents are proud of the success he has achieved while living here.

Jesse Snider, Food Paradise’s narrator, with his namesake sandwich at Se-Port Delicatessen. Photo from Jesse Snider

“I’m thankful because I do a lot of business,” the deli owner said. “A lot of people come here.”

Lately, Dakwar has been busy creating a gyro sandwich, which offers a different taste than the average one by using various meats and ranch dressing. He has plans to install an additional counter where he can offer a wider variety of foods including Mexican favorites.

Dakwar said the day of the taping the restaurant was filled with cameras and the television crew, and he appreciated the customers’ patience. Abdul Mustafa who has worked behind the counter for four and half years said it was a good day for the deli.

“The place was packed with people on the day of the taping,” Mustafa said.

Mustafa said he and the other deli employees are looking forward to seeing themselves on television. However, Dakwar said he isn’t organizing a big screening of the show, because he said he would like to view it in private.

“I’m nervous because I’m not a camera guy,” he said. 

The deli owner said he’s grateful for his regular customers, and he’s looking forward to the exposure the show will give his business.

“I’m always looking forward to seeing new people, new customers from the area,” Dakwar said.

The Travel Channel will air the “Bun-Believable” episode of “Food Paradise” Sept. 17 at 9 p.m.

Tomato-Poached Eggs

By Barbara Beltrami

If we had a family crest, it would surely be the tomato. No matter the season, hardly a day goes by without tomatoes playing a role in one of our daily meals. Even in the winter we cook with good canned tomatoes and use campari tomatoes in salads and other dishes that call for fresh tomatoes.

Granted there’s nothing like a summer tomato, plucked still warm from the sun, sprinkled with salt and consumed on the spot. From tiny cherry tomatoes to the traditional Big Boys and beefsteaks to the ever more popular heirlooms, summer tomatoes are the true treasures of the garden. Although the cool temperatures this season have delayed their ripening, they’ve finally appeared in all their glory and I, for one, can’t get enough of them.

Sliced and doused with extra virgin olive oil, salt and fresh basil, they make an ideal lunch or side dish. Cut into wedges and tossed with cucumbers, red onion, an herb or two and feta or Gorgonzola cheese, they become the perfect salad to complement just about anything. Between slices of crusty bread and slathered with good mayonnaise, they make a tasty sandwich.

If you have any left over, here are a few unusual but simple Italian recipes in which they star along with their culinary mates, garlic and basil.

Tomato-Poached Eggs

Tomato-Poached Eggs

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups lightly pureed fresh tomatoes

Handful basil leaves, torn

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 to 6 large eggs

DIRECTIONS: In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil, then add the garlic and cook only until it begins to color and release its aroma. Add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until excess liquid has evaporated, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Spread tomato sauce evenly over bottom of pan. Carefully break the eggs over hot tomato sauce, cover and cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Gently slide the eggs and tomatoes under them onto a large serving platter and serve immediately with polenta or crusty bread.

Tomato–Garlic Bread

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 to 3 plum tomatoes

6 large slices rustic bread

1 garlic clove, peeled

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Slice the tomatoes in half; squeeze them to remove the seeds and juice. Toast the bread until light brown. Rub the garlic over the toasted bread, then rub the cut side of the tomato over the same side of the bread. Drizzle one tablespoon olive oil over each slice of bread; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with cocktails, wine, beer or as accompaniment to any meal.

Penne with Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Penne with Uncooked Tomato Sauce

 

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound penne

1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

¹/₄ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 handful Italian flat-leaf parsley, basil or arugula leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Cook penne according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large pasta bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add hot drained cooked pasta to bowl; toss to combine with tomato mixture (the heat of the pasta just barely cooks the tomatoes). Serve immediately, warm or at room temperature with a green salad, bread and cheese.

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