Food & Drink

Celebrated chef Michael Maroni died unexpectedly at age 57 Friday, March 8, while swimming in an indoor pool. One week later, his namesake restaurant in Northport resumed operations to the rhythm of the rock ’n’ roll music that he loved. 

Jose Vasquez of Maroni Cuisine. Photo by Donna Deedy

“Maroni’s is open,” said wife Maria Maroni. “Not only our doors but our hearts. Mike always said, ‘Maroni’s is not just business … it’s a beating heart.’ That’s what everyone feels when they come through these doors, not only amazing food and service … but love. Not only will that continue, but that heart will beat stronger and better than ever to make Mike proud. The beat goes on … come and see for yourself. If I can do it … so can you. Love wins.” 

Operations will continue with the same six chefs that have been cooking in the kitchen since Maroni Cuisine was established in 2001. The dining room and kitchen staff, Maria said, are committed to carrying on the legacy. 

The spot gained renown for both its menu-less, gourmet tasting meals and its hotpots of meatballs, prepared from the 110-year-old family recipe of Michael’s grandmother. The meatballs are served in cherry red enamel crockpots that are available for take out in a variety of sizes. 

The novel idea of serving fine cuisine alongside good home cooking became a quick success, Maria said, when she and her husband opened the restaurant near the harbor 19 years ago. 

Just a few wooden tables are arranged in the dimly lit dining hall. Candlesticks decorate the tabletops, while rock ’n’ roll memorabilia hangs on the wall.

The couple married in 1995 and from 1997 to 2003 they owned and operated Mirepoix, a popular upscale French-American restaurant located in Glen Head, before opening a second restaurant.

Somehow they have connected with the Northport community in a special way.

The couple’s photo is on display in the restaurant’s dining room. Photo by Donna Deedy

“Yes, the meatballs are good, but it’s really not just about the meatballs,” said Emily Climo, who prepares floral arrangements for the restaurant. “It’s about the love.” 

Lindsay Ostrander is co-owner of The Wine Cellar on Main in Northport. Her establishment offers patrons the cooking of other village restaurants, including Maroni Cuisine. She said that Maria’s eulogy for her husband was a moving, powerful and life-changing experience for her.

“I’m not sure if there’s a greater message,” Ostrander said. “Love wins.”

The original version of the story that appeared in the March 21 edition of the Times of Huntington Northport & East Northport incorrectly had the date of Maroni’s death. We apologize for the error.

Roasted Lemon Chicken

By Barbara Beltrami

There’s been a new development in our kitchen. It used to be that I did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen and my husband did the pots and pans. But lately I find myself doing the pots, or most of them, too. I think it’s because we recently got new cookware and, the control freak that I am, I want to keep them looking new and shiny, so I do them myself. That has led to another interesting development, though. In the interest of self-preservation, I’ve started to lean toward one-pot recipes, and of course I’ve gravitated toward the most obvious ones … those with chicken. Here are two I’ve tried that I think you’ll like too. They both go nicely with a tossed salad, but then, of course, there’s that bowl to wash.

Chicken with Black Beans and Corn

Chicken with Black Beans and Corn

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


½ tablespoon ground cumin

½ tablespoon ground coriander

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, pounded thin

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 frying pepper, seeded and diced

Two 14-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups thawed frozen corn kernels

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, lightly drained

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

4 scallions, trimmed, washed and sliced


Combine the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and rub into both sides of chicken. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; brown the chicken, turning once, until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet; set aside to keep warm. In same pan, stirring constantly, cook onion and peppers over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Add beans, corn, and tomatoes and cook over medium heat until liquid is evaporated. Place in serving bowl and toss with vinegar, cilantro and scallions; add more salt and pepper to taste. Slice chicken and place over mixture. Serve hot or warm with green salad and rustic bread, if desired.

Roasted Lemon Chicken

Roasted Lemon Chicken

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 large lemons

One 3½- to 4-pound chicken, cut up

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch diagonal slices

4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 F. Squeeze the juice and scrape the pulp from one lemon. Cut the other lemon into 8 slices. In a shallow roasting or baking pan, toss together the chicken, carrots, potatoes, onion, oil, lemon juice and pulp, oregano, salt and pepper until thoroughly coated. Place a lemon slice on each chicken piece. Roast, turning the veggies once or twice, until carrots and potatoes are tender and chicken is golden, about 45 to 50 minutes.  Serve hot with a green salad, if desired.

Photo from WMHO


Congratulations to Priscilla Kirch of Hauppauge, the winner of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s first Irish Soda Bread competition. Held during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook on March 3, the contest drew eight delicious entries. Above right, Kirch receives her prize, a $150 gift certificate to the shops and restaurants at the Stony Brook Village Center from Kristin Shea, the director of the Educational & Cultural Center.  

Irish Cream

By Barbara Beltrami

‘Tis a challenge to write about St. Patrick’s Day without resorting to the clichéd corned beef and cabbage. Sure and there are other Irish dishes that can also celebrate the wearin’ o’ the green.

There’s colcannon boiled potatoes and cabbage mashed together with butter and salt and pepper. Then there’s shepherd’s pie, a dish as hearty as they come, made with ground meat and veggies and topped with a mashed potato crust. I’d never made colcannon before, but after looking up a few recipes, it was easy to come up with my own version. I dug up shepherd’s pie from deep in my recipe files where I’d forgotten all about it and have happily restored it to my current repertoire. But I think my favorite is Irish cream, a whiskey blend with cream and an alcohol by volume content of 15 to 20 percent that will put green beer to shame.




YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and quartered

¼ pound unsalted butter

2 leeks (white and light green parts only) washed and thinly sliced

¼ large head cabbage, shredded

1¾ cups half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a large saucepan over medium heat boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Meanwhile in another large saucepan melt half the butter over medium heat, add leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring frequently, until soft; add half-and-half, stir and bring to simmer. Add potatoes, two tablespoons of the remaining butter and salt and pepper; stir and coarsely mash whole mixture. Transfer to serving bowl; melt final two tablespoons butter and drizzle over top.  Serve hot with fish, meat or poultry.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


3 to 4 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled in salted water until very tender

¼ pound unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1½ pounds ground beef

½ cup vegetable or beef broth

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 F. While potatoes are boiling, melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Add the broth and continue to cook, covered, over medium heat until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in thawed peas and season with salt and pepper. Mash potatoes with remaining butter. Spread meat and vegetable mixture in an 8×13-inch greased baking dish; spread potatoes on top to form a crust; bake until mashed potatoes turn slightly golden, about 30 minutes. Serve hot with a crisp green salad.

Irish Cream

Irish Cream

YIELD: Makes approximately 6 cups


1 cup heavy cream

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1¾ cups Irish whiskey

½ cup coffee liqueur

¼ cup chocolate liqueur

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature with hot coffee, over ice or with crispy cookies such as biscotti or wafers. Top with whipped cream if desired.

By Heidi Sutton

Teamwork was the key ingredient at this year’s Junior Iron Chef competition. The annual event, now in its 7th year, was held on March 9 at Whole Foods in Lake Grove. Hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, the one-day cooking challenge, described as “part ‘Chopped,’ part ‘Iron Chef,’ and part ‘Food Network Challenge,’” gave middle and high school students the opportunity to work in groups of three to five to complete a delicious dish of their choosing in under an hour. Fifteen teams from all over Long Island competed this year for the ultimate title of Junior Iron Chef.

“This is an amazing event,” said DJ Anthony Cafaro, from WEHM, who has served as the event’s emcee since its inception. “It’s cool to see some repeat competitors from year’s past and it’s awesome to see a lot of new competitors here,” he said.

The purpose of the event was to encourage budding chefs to learn new cooking skills and lead a healthier lifestyle while promoting the use of local food to support our local farmers and environment. Each team was required to  create a new healthy vegetarian or vegan based recipe that used local ingredients and could be easily implemented into school cafeteria menus.

“This is the seventh year I’ve done this and by far this was the greatest year with the best flavors,” said Cafaro as he tasted all the dishes.

Celebrity chefs Kayla Mitchell and William Connor helped judge the event last Saturday.

Among the 11 judges who graded the dishes based on flavor, health value, creativity and presentation was 14-year-old William Connor from Northport, a past contestant on “Chopped Junior” on the Food Network,  and 13-year-old Kayla Mitchell of Center Moriches who was a contestant on the third season of “MasterChef Junior” on Fox Broadcasting.

High school teams were given a secret ingredient at the last minute, a Sumo Citrus, to incorporate into their dish. Some chose to use the peel, others the juice. While the teams created their dishes, Cafaro kept the ever-growing crowd entertained with fun trivia and giveaways to places like the Long Island Aquarium and concerts.

While the judges deliberated, Executive Chef Jason Keubler and Anthony Cafaro visited each station, tasting each dish and giving feedback to the aspiring chefs. While Cafaro raved over everything that was put in front of him, Keubler gave positive feedback, from “These eggs are spot on,” “Flavors are very balanced,” “Great knife skills,” to pointing out the cleanliness of their workstation and asking them what their greatest obstacle was. “It’s all about teamwork and it shows in your work,” he complimented one team.

First place in the middle school division went to Team G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) from Seneca Middle School in Holbrook. Students Leah Ferraro, Sofia Iacono, Jacqueline Volo and Gianna Scolaro, guided by coach Robert Frontino, won the judges over with their creative Caribbean Breakfast Salad, which was comprised of cinnamon sugared French toast, grilled pineapple and arugula salad with goat cheese, topped with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

“That’s insanely good,” drooled Cafaro as he reached for a napkin. “The cinnamon and the goat cheese go so well together,” agreed Chef Jason. “The color is super vibrant, the spiciness goes with the sweetness with nice textures. Beautiful presentation,” he said adding that he was impressed by how nicely they worked together “just like in a professional kitchen.”

Second place was awarded to The 3 Breakfasteers from Suffolk County 4-H Trailblazers of Yaphank for their Vanilla Fruit Crepes filled with whipped cream and diced strawberries and garnished with blueberries. Corey Burke, Alexis Vladikin, Nora Nemickas and coach Nicole Vickovich made up the team.

The Junior Porters from Greenport Union Free School District grabbed third place for their Mediterranean Breakfast Crepe with an Herbed Whipped Cream. Coached by Katherine Ryan, Rocio Azama, DeShawn Solla, Aleyana Gungar, Ayania Smith and Brynn Dinizio were awarded for their healthy crepe stuffed with baby spinach, sundried tomatoes, black olives and low-fat feta cheese.

Team Almost Master Chef from Sachem North High School in Ronkonkoma captured first place in the high school division. Kaitlyn Seitz, Hailey McKishi, Kayla Salvate and Victoria Corcaran, under the guidance of coach Lindsey Shelhorse, impressed the judges with their Brunch For Lunch Chilaquiles dish featuring homemade tortilla shells topped with fried egg, cheese, onion and cilantro.

Second place was awarded to the Greenport High School’s Bacon Bits – Jhon Ramirez, Tommy Tsaveras, Colin Rossetti, Mateo Arias and Charles Staples – for their Gyro Style Veggie Burger on Whole Wheat Pita, which was served with sautéed onions and tzatziki sauce with a cucumber garnish. The team was coached by Marianne Ladalia.

The Salt Shakers from the Suffolk County 4-H Trailblazers garnered third place. Olivia Unger and Lexington Carrera, under the guidance of coach Adrienne Unger, were given high marks for their crispy Potato Latkes topped with a dollop of sour cream and garnished with chives and scallions.

The Mise en Place (everything in its place) awards were presented to Seneca Middle School’s Taco Bellas (Emma Bollinger, Amanda Madigan, Madeline Turano and Adrianna Sigler with coach Robert Frontino) and Almost Master Chef.

The Public Presentation awards, for the team with the best poster/informational display and judge presentation, were presented to G.O.A.T. and Bacon Bits.

“The kids today were just tremendous,” said Vito Minei, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. “This is truly a Long Island Junior Iron Chef competition with teams coming all the way from Floral Park, Franklin Square and Greenport,” he added. “I want to thank all the parents and families.You should be proud. These kids were fabulous. They all practiced teamwork and each child had an opportunity to shine.”

Brunch for Lunch Chilaquiles 

by Team Almost Top Chef, first place winners in the high school division


Tortilla Shell

10.5 ounces of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

7-8 ounces of hot water (110-120F)


Diced yellow onion

Diced and seeded jalapeño

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon ground chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt, to taste

Pinch of cinnamon

Can of tomato paste

2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Filling and Topping Ingredients

Can of drained and rinsed black beans

12 oz. Fiesta Blend Cheese (365 Everyday Value Brand)

3 oz. cotija

Diced red onion


6 Eggs


 Instructions for sauce

  1. Sauté the diced onion and jalapenos to the pan.
  2. Crush and smash cloves of garlic and salt and add to the onion mixture.  Add the cumin and chili powder.  Add the flour, oregano, garlic powder and salt into a small bowl and place it near the stove.
  3. Add the flour/spice mixture.
  4. While whisking constantly, cook until fragrant and slightly deepened in color, about 1 minute. Whisk the tomato paste into the mixture, then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
  5. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, whisking often, for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add more salt, if necessary.
  7. Stir in the black beans

Instructions for tortillas

To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the lesser amount of hot water (plus the oil, if you’re using it), and stir briskly with a fork or whisk to bring the dough together into a shaggy dough.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead briefly, just until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Round the pieces into balls, flatten slightly, and allow them to rest, covered, for about 15 minutes.  Preheat ungreased cast iron griddle or skillet over medium high heat, about 400°F. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a round about 8″ in diameter. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Fry the tortilla in the ungreased pan for about 30 seconds on each side. Then cut into wedges and fry them and add salt to taste.


Fry the eggs. Layer the fried tortilla shell with spoonful of sauce and cheese.  Top with the fried egg, more cheese, dice red onion and cilantro.

Caribbean Breakfast Salad

By Team G.O.A.T., first place winners in the middle school division


16 oz of arugula

8 oz of goat cheese

2 boxes of raspberries (7 oz. each)

1 pineapple

1 loaf challah bread

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cinnamon

4 eggs

2 tbsp honey


Challah French Toast

Preheat skillet to 350 degrees. Mix eggs in large bowl. In a separate bowl mix sugars and cinnamon. Dip the challah bread slices into egg mixture and then the sugar blend. Cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Arugula Salad

Mix oil, vinegar, honey and mustard and whip until blended. Strain the raspberries. Add raspberry juice to oil mixture until smooth to taste. Toss arugula, whole raspberries and cheese together with liquid dressing.


Cut outside skin of pineapple. Cut one inch horizontal slices. Dip in sugar mixture. Grill on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes.

All photos by Heidi Sutton

The reds are elegant and fresh with layers of delicate juicy red fruit and great balance. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Overall, the 2017 vintage in Burgundy was excellent, providing both high quality and considerable quantity. Both reds and whites have a good fruit-acid-alcohol balance.

The whites are splendid; perhaps the best vintage since 2014, with Chablis showing particularly well with floral aromas and flavors of melon, citrus and honeysuckle.

The reds are elegant and fresh with layers of delicate juicy red fruit and great balance – classic Burgundian pinot noir flavor profile. The best wines of the vintage should age well for 20 years.

At a recent trade event, I tasted over 100 wines with tasting notes below.

NV J.J. Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne (sparkling 100 percent chardonnay): Brioche, celery, dried flowers and citrus. Excellent balance.

2017 J.J. Vincent Bourgogne Blanc: Wow! So much fruit; orange blossoms, citrus.

2017 J.J. Vincent Pouilly-Fuissé “Marie Antoinette”: Subtle hints of tangerine, citrus and oil of bergamot. Don’t miss this one!

2017 Château Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé “Tête de Cuvée”: Bouquet brimming with orange, citrus and yellow plums. Well-balanced.

2017 Château Fuissé “Les Combettes”: Light bouquet with fruit flavors of honeydew melon; fruit-acid balance is superb.

2017 Château Fuissé “Les Brûlés”: An aroma and flavor of green apples, citrus, orange, pears and honeysuckle.

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru Les Champeaux”: Bouquet and flavors of raspberry, cherry, spices, licorice and oak. Smooth finish; great aftertaste.

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Chambolle-Musigny “Les Echézeaux”: Bouquet and flavor of ripe pinot noir berries; well-balanced; soft in the mouth

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Vosne-Romanée “1er Les Rouges du Dessus”: Full bouquet and flavor of raspberries, black cherries, yellow plums and hints of earth and brown sugar.

2017 Domaine du Comte Armand “Bourgogne Aligoté”: Perfumed aroma of white peaches, citrus and green apples. Hints of almonds and pine with an underlying tartness. One of the best wines made from the Aligoté grape I’ve tasted in years.

2017 Domaine Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru, La Combe aux Moines”: A fruity bouquet of plums, almonds and black currants. Great aftertaste.

2017 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos du Château”: Aromas of ripe berries, citrus and violets. Great balance.

2017 Armand Rousseau “Chambertin Grand Cru”: Sweet, concentrated, jammy, spicy fruit: layers of berries, plums, spices and vanilla.

2017 Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin “Clos des Ruchottes Grand Cru”: Medium-full bouquet and flavor of blackberries, jam, chocolate and Damson plums.

2017 Armand Rousseau “Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru”: Bouquet of jammy spices, plums, cola and cherries. Almost a sweetness in the mouth. Although young, it’s beginning to get velvety. What a wine!

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

Buckwheat Noodle Salad

By Barbara Beltrami

I heard a quote the other day. Unfortunately I don’t know its source, but it’s too good not to share. It goes something like this: “There will be peace when everyone in the world has enough noodles to eat.” And it occurred to me that noodles are one of those foods that cross so many cultures around this war-torn world. Call it what you will … udon or tagliatelle or nudel or cabeza, or lokshen, the noodle is a staple of myriad ethnic cuisines. Basically composed of flour and water and sometimes eggs, noodles sustain and enhance so many diets in so many ways …when they’re available. Some food for thought.

Buckwheat Noodle Salad

Buckwheat Noodle Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons Sriracha

¼ cup peanut oil

¾ pound buckwheat noodles

½ cup freshly grated carrot

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded

3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

4 large or 6 small radishes, thinly sliced

1 handful cilantro leaves, finely chopped


In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, ginger, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha and peanut oil. Cook the noodles according to package directions, then rinse in cold water and drain. Add to vinegar mixture and toss well. Top with carrot, bell pepper, cucumber, scallions, radishes and cilantro. Serve at room temperature with grilled shrimp or chicken.

Udon Soup with Baby Spinach, Bok Choy and Tofu

Udon Soup with Baby Spinach, Bok Choy and Tofu

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


One 8-ounce package udon noodles

3 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon peanut oil

¾ pound tofu, patted dry and cut into 12 pieces

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

One 10-ounce package baby spinach, washed

2 heads bok choy, thinly sliced

6 scallions, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons tamari

¼ teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth


Cook noodles according to package directions. Place 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Season tofu with salt and pepper and cook in oil until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes; remove and set aside to keep warm. Add remaining tablespoon sesame oil, peanut oil and veggies to skillet and cook, tossing frequently, until just wilted and soft, then add the red pepper flakes, tamari, sugar and broth plus any juices from the veggies. Ladle into 4 bowls and top with tofu pieces. Serve hot with sautéed sliced beef, chicken, pork or fish.

Noodle Pudding

Noodle Pudding

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


4 eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups cottage cheese

5 cups cooked egg noodles

3 tablespoons bread crumbs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl beat together the eggs, sour cream, salt and pepper and sugar; stir in cheese and noodles. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and transfer mixture to it; sprinkle with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Bake until thoroughly heated and top is crisp and golden, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a green salad.

Curried Cauliflower Bisque

By Barbara Beltrami

Many readers have asked me for more soup recipes and who can blame them? Winter chills have a way of making us crave bowls and mugs of hot soup for lunch as well as dinner. I make a huge pot of soup every week, as much, I think, for the comfort of its simmering on the stove as the comfort of ladling it into sturdy mugs and bowls and ingesting a sense of well-being despite what’s going on outside. For a little variety this time I’ve focused on pureed soups, which are smooth and very sipp-able from a mug (I think of them as winter smoothies), and I’ve come up with three favorites: Cream of Tomato and Cream of Mushroom, which are guaranteed to keep you zipping right past that canned soup aisle forevermore, and finally a nice spicy Curried Cauliflower Bisque, which will definitely get your taste buds singing.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of Tomato Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 servings.


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup chopped onion

¼ cup flour

4 cups milk

1 bay leaf

1½ teaspoons sugar

Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon baking soda

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


In a large pot melt butter over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 or 2 minutes until a smooth paste is formed. Slowly add milk, then bay leaf and sugar and continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes,  baking soda and salt and pepper; add to milk mixture and bring just to a simmer; remove bay leaf and discard. Let cool slightly and puree in batches in food processor or blender. Return to pot and, stirring frequently, bring back to simmer or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Do not freeze. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.


4 cups chicken broth

1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

2 shallots, peeled and minced

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup flour

½ cup half-and-half

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


In a medium-large pot bring chicken broth to a low boil; add mushrooms and shallots and simmer one hour. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour until smooth; slowly whisk in half-and-half, bay leaf and salt and pepper and cook until mixture is thickened and smooth, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add mushroom broth to mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Let cool slightly, then puree in batches in food processor or blender; return to saucepan and reheat, stirring frequently, over medium-low flame. Remove bay leaf and discard. Serve immediately with buttered toast or crackers.

Curried Cauliflower Bisque

Curried Cauliflower Bisque

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.


1 head cauliflower, separated into even florets

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 medium onions, chopped

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 teaspoons curry powder or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup plain Greek yogurt


Steam cauliflower until very tender, 10 to 15 minutes depending on size of florets. In a large saucepan heat butter and oil over medium heat; add onions and sauté until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add steamed cauliflower, broth, curry powder and pepper; stir, then transfer mixture in batches to food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Return to saucepan and heat over low flame. Top with yogurt and serve immediately with a cucumber salad.

Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash and Almond Salad. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that you have to wait for spring and summer for interesting salads. In fact, on the contrary, winter veggies offer some great opportunities for crispy crunchy salads that take the blah out of winter fare and are hearty and oh-so-good for you. Of course, there’s kale, the new wonder veggie, roots such as beets and carrots and all the members of the cabbage clan with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and, of course, cabbage itself, both green and red. Cooked, raw or a combination of both, deftly dressed and seasoned, a winter salad can become a whole meal in a bowl.

Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash and Almond Salad

Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash and Almond Salad. Stock photo

YIELD: Makes 6 servings.


3 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon orange juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced

1 large onion, chopped

2 bunches kale, washed, stemmed and sliced cross-wise into half-inch strips

½ cup toasted sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, ¼ cup olive oil, honey, orange juice and salt and pepper and set aside. In a large bowl, toss together the squash, onion and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; spread in foil-lined pan and bake, turning once or twice, until squash is tender but not mushy and onions are golden. Crumple kale by “massaging” with both hands; transfer to serving bowl and toss with squash and onions, dressing and almonds. Garnish with pomegranate seeds if desired. Serve warm with bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil.

Fennel, Red Cabbage, Orange and Red Onion Salad

YIELD: Makes 6 servings.


1 fennel bulb trimmed and diced

½ small red cabbage, thinly sliced, then chopped

2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

½ red onion, thinly sliced, rings separated

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or ¼ teaspoon dried

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large bowl toss together the fennel, cabbage, oranges and onion. In a small bowl vigorously whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, tarragon and salt and pepper; pour over salad and toss again to thoroughly coat. Serve at room temperature with meat, poultry or fish.

Golden Beet, Brussels Sprout and Kohlrabi Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing

YIELD: Makes 8 servings.


4 golden beets, peeled, trimmed and cut into 8 wedges each

4 medium bulbs kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each

1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise

1 head Boston or romaine lettuce, washed and separated into leaves

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

2/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ cup sliced scallions

¾ cup mayonnaise

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 F. Wrap beets and kohlrabi separately in aluminum foil. Bake until fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, steam Brussels sprouts until tender but still bright green, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and place in ice water for 2 minutes; drain. Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter; top with beets, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. Place dill, parsley, scallions, mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture is well blended. Sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper to taste and pour dressing over them. Serve warm or at room temperature with crusty multigrain bread.

The Smithtown Historical Society will host its first Victorian Tea Party on Sunday, April 14. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society

By Melissa Arnold

Whether it’s a holiday celebration or a football party, a rite of passage or a family outing, there’s something about food and drink that brings people together. In families, shared meals can be the perfect setting for passing down traditions, memories and personal history.

Cienna Rizza knows this intimately. A self-described “dyed-in-the-wool Long Islander,” some of Rizza’s fondest memories involve sharing tea with her mother and British grandmother. 

Rizza valued those experiences so much that she began to share them, hosting tea parties for friends that eventually grew to include their friends and even strangers. Armed with a deep knowledge of tea party symbolism and rituals, she created the Mad Harlot Tea Society, an organization seeking to empower and connect people from all walks of life. Taking on the persona of Miss Penelope Proper — a whimsical, rabble-rousing British authority on all things tea — she has shared her message of joyful, unapologetic confidence with women of all ages.

“Penelope is a free spirit, a leader for women who want to get out of the box. Although she is a character, she brings out the best in people and is still very ‘me,’” Rizza said. “While every tea party is a bit different, you can always expect a warm, loving atmosphere.”

On April 14, the Smithtown Historical Society will welcome Miss Penelope as she hosts a Victorian-style royal tea for ladies in the beautiful Frank Brush Barn. Proceeds from the afternoon will benefit the historical society.

“The Smithtown Historical Society works to preserve the historic properties in our town, and we seek to expand and improve upon programs for both adults and children,” said Executive Director Priya Kapoor. “All these activities require funding, and we have been fortunate enough to have the support of our wonderful friends and neighbors in Smithtown.”

The historical society holds a variety of fundraising events throughout the year, but this is its first tea party, Kapoor said. The idea was suggested by Myra Naseem, co-owner of Elegant Eating caterers in Smithtown.

“As a Smithtown resident since 1960, I feel that it is my town and I want to help it to be the best it can be. In the past, we’ve catered tea parties for bridal and baby showers and occasionally a Red Hat party — occasions when someone is looking for a dainty experience,” said Naseem. “I met Penelope Proper some time ago at a tea party where she was seated at our table. You can’t just sit next to that lady without totally enjoying her character.”

Naseem and Miss Penelope have carefully crafted the menu for tea time, which includes traditional fare — fresh-baked scones, tea sandwiches, berries and clotted cream, minicakes, tarts and more. Each guest will have her own individual teapot with a variety of teas to sample and enjoy, along with sparkling water or cider.

Miss Penelope loves revelry, so she’ll lead the group in some games and raffles throughout the afternoon, as well as the opportunity for pictures on the grounds. In addition to the food and frivolity, guests will be treated to a brief lesson on the history of tea and tea parties on Long Island, which grew in popularity following World War I. 

The Royal Victorian Tea fundraiser will be held at the Smithtown Historical Society’s Frank Brush Barn, 211 E. Main St., Smithtown on April 14 at 1:30 p.m. Please note, this event is limited to 30 people and is for women only.  Hats, gloves and costumes are encouraged (though not required) and prizes will be awarded for the fanciest hat and most historic costume. Tickets are $50. To reserve your seat or for further information, please call the society at 631-265-6768.