Food & Drink

Fireworks Cupcakes

By Barbara Beltrami

When it’s not dark enough yet for fireworks or when the fireworks are over and you’re hankering for a nice cup of coffee, it’s time to bring out the dessert. The following recipes are delicious finishes to a long day celebrating our independence They all are patriotically correct red, white and blue and sure to please.

Fireworks Cupcakes

YIELD: Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes


For the cupcakes:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 2/3 cups sugar

3 egg whites, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 cup vanilla cookie crumbs

For the frosting:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 tablespoons milk

Red, white and blue sprinkles

Star sprinkles 


For the cupcake batter:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 cupcake pans with cupcake papers. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add one egg white at a time beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another large bowl, thoroughly combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Fold in cookie crumbs. 

Fill prepared cupcake tins two-thirds full; bake about 22 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 

For the frosting:

In a large bowl combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. Add the milk very gradually to form a stiff frosting; beat until smooth. Spread the frosting on cooled cupcakes; top with sprinkles. Serve with coffee, milk or fruit punch.

Fourth of July Pie

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


One baked 9” pastry crust

1 pint raspberry sorbet, softened

2 cups sliced strawberries

1 pint strawberry ice cream, softened

2 cups blueberries

1 cup sweetened whipped cream


Spread baked pastry crust with raspberry sorbet; top with half the sliced strawberries; and freeze for one hour. Spread strawberry ice cream evenly over the strawberries; top with half the blueberries; freeze two hours. Top with whipped cream; arrange remaining berries in an attractive pattern on top. Let sit in refrigerator half an hour before serving or freeze, covered, for up to 48 hours. Serve with coffee, milk or fruit punch

Strawberry, Raspberry and Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler

Strawberry, Raspberry and Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


1 pint blueberries

1 pint raspberries

1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8” x 8” square baking dish. In a large bowl toss together the berries, the half cup sugar and cornstarch.; transfer to baking dish. In a large bowl with mixer on medium speed, beat together the one-third cup sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes; add egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.

In a small bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture; beat on low speed just until combined; beat in the milk, then the remaining flour mixture. Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the berries; bake until berries are bubbly and top is golden, about 45 minutes to one hour. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

I think of scallions as the kinder, gentler member of the onion family. They have the flavor without the bitter aftertaste but offer the nuances of an onion-y taste. Suited more to delicate dishes than robust ones, they are especially nice in Asian-style cuisine. The other day I dug a lot of them out of my garden, brought them inside and vigorously washed the dirt off them. Then I trimmed them and laid them in a beautiful pyramid on my cutting board and realized I had more than I could use. Or did I? What about a creamy scallion soup? Or scallion pancakes? Or a scallion salad with radishes, cucumbers and herbs?

Creamy Scallion Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


6 to 7 bunches of scallions

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large potato, peeled and diced

6 cups chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup snipped chives for garnish


Wash, trim and thinly slice the scallions. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat melt butter with the olive oil; add scallions and, stirring often, cook until wilted but not browned. Add potato and chicken broth and over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potato is mushy; season with salt and pepper. Let soup sit until cooled slightly, about 15 minutes, then puree in food processor until smooth. Stir in cream; garnish with chives and serve hot, warm, at room temperature or cold with crusty bread and a tomato and cucumber salad.

Scallion and Kimchi Pancakes

Scallion and Kimchi Pancakes

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 cup flour

1/2 cup rice flour

Coarse salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sparkling water, seltzer or club soda

6 scallions, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 cup drained kimchi (Korean preserved cabbage)

1/4 cup liquid from kimchi 

1 tablespoon minced fresh red chile pepper

4 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 300 F. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, rice flour, salt, egg, sparkling water and kimchi liquid. Stir in scallions, kimchi and chile pepper. In an 8″ nonstick skillet heat 1 to 2 teaspoons oil. Ladle half a cup of batter to cover bottom of skillet and form an 8” pancake. Cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes each side; transfer to shallow baking pan or baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining batter. Cut each pancake into quarters and serve hot or warm with Korean dipping sauce. 

Scallion and Herb Salad with Radishes and Cucumbers

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


8 scallions, washed and trimmed, whites and greens separated

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

Coarse salt to taste

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup fresh arugula

6 to 8 radishes, washed, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced,

1 red chile, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds


Thinly slice scallion whites. In a large bowl, toss them with rice vinegar, sugar and salt; let sit about 10 minutes. Thinly slice scallion greens. Add them along with cilantro, arugula, radishes, cucumber, red chile, sesame oil and sesame seeds to scallion whites. Toss to combine all ingredients. Serve immediately with fish, poultry, pork or beef.

The King Kullen in St. James. File photo by Phil Corso

Stop & Shop’s long-pending acquisition of King Kullen is no more. The announcement was made on June 10.

The two chains, along with Stop & Shop parent Ahold Delhaize USA, said they have mutually decided to terminate the deal because of “significant, unforeseen changes in the marketplace that have emerged since the agreement was signed in December 2018, largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

“Both companies have put forth an incredible amount of effort to work through unanticipated challenges that have arisen, and we regret that we’re not able to move forward,” Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid said in a statement. 

“King Kullen has a strong legacy on the island, and we wish them continued success. Stop & Shop remains committed to the Long Island community, to serving our customers in the market well, and to investing in our associates and our stores in Nassau and Suffolk counties,” he said.

At the time of the acquisition deal, there were 32 King Kullen supermarkets, but three underperforming locations were closed last year including Mount Sinai on June 20 and Ronkonkoma on Aug. 22. The remaining supermarkets include St. James, Huntington, Wading River, Middle Island and Manorville. The company also has five Wild by Nature stores on Long Island including Setauket and Huntington.

“We look forward to continuing to focus on what we do best: serving our great customers across Long Island and supporting our hard-working store associates,” said Brian Cullen, co-president of King Kullen. “We are enthusiastic about the future and well-positioned to serve Nassau and Suffolk counties for many years to come. In short, we are here for the long term.”

A recipient of Stony Brook University Hospital's Starbucks give-back. Photo by Patti Kozlowski

Cup of Cheer

In an effort to give back to the healthcare heroes working around the clock to battle COVID-19, the community has raised more than $18,000 in donations to supply complimentary coffee to all Stony Brook University Hospital staff.

Headed by community members Holly Smugala, Patti Kozlowski, Nicole Volpini and Stefanie Devery, the group started when Volpini’s sister, a healthcare worker at the Hospital, snapped a photo of the Hospital’s Starbucks, which is adorned with photos and positive messages. Instead, said Smugala, something else jumped out at them. 

“We noticed all the staff waiting online for coffee and wanted to do something to give back to them,” she said. 

The women began a social media donation page dedicated to the cause shortly after. The funds donated go towards purchasing Starbucks gift cards at the hospital location, which can be used by any hospital employee that is working during the pandemic, from doctors and nurses to custodians and administrative staff. 

In order to enable healthcare workers of all shifts to be able to enjoy the benefit, the group worked out a plan with Starbucks in which $250 gift cards are used at different intervals during the day to pay for the drinks of any staff member that comes in. 

“We set an initial goal of $1,000, but we reached that in about an hour. Now, we just want to see how much it will grow. We don’t know how long this is going to go on and we don’t want to stop until it stops,” said Smugala. 

Those who are interested in donating to the cause can visit the group’s Facebook page, Starbucks for Stony Brook Superstars. 

“We are so thankful to be able to give back, because [this hospital] has touched all of our lives in one way or another. We are very thankful for everyone at Stony Brook,” Smugala added. 

Pinot Grigio grapes come in a range of skin colors. METRO photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Pinot Grigio is the number one selling white wine from Italy and has been for many years. This fruity, easy-to-drink, dry to off-dry wine is made throughout the world with the bulk coming from Northern Italy.

The popular wine has been grown in Italy since the beginning of the nineteenth century, when it was first introduced in Piedmont. Cultivation of the grape moved eastwards over the decades and now finds its home in the Tre Venezie, a term used to describe the three contiguous northeastern regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige. The Tre Venezie offers a combination of geography and climate well suited to producing high-quality grapes.

Pinot Grigio is a thin-skinned, medium acid white grape. The grape’s skin color ranges from a bluish gray to a delicate pink. During winemaking, the grapes are crushed releasing a clear juice, which is fermented minus the skins, which would otherwise add some color.

In some wine shops you can find examples of Pinot Grigio made with limited skin-contact, which are copper-colored. These wines have a greater depth of color and flavor. The Italian term for this copper-colored wine is ramato. Besides Pinot Grigio, another white wine that is made from pinkish-colored grapes is Gewürztraminer.

Grapes, like people, sometimes have alternate names; for example, Bill, Billy, Will, or Willie instead of William. Depending on their place of origin, grapes can have several or even sometimes over 100 different synonyms (names). An example is Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris; same grape but different names depending on where it is grown. Other synonyms for Pinot Grigio are Grauer Burgunder and Ruländer (Austria and Germany).

This particular wine is pale straw-yellow in color, with light green reflections. It has a delicate aroma and flavor of apples, citrus (lemon, lime, tangerine), figs, kiwi, lychee, melon, nectarine, passion fruit, pears, watercress, and white peach. Its aftertaste is of almonds and hazelnuts.

Pinot Grigio can be paired with many types of cheese. Some of my favorites from Italy are Asiago, Bagozzo, Bel Paese, Burrata, Burrini, Fontina, Montasio, Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Robiola Piemonte, and Scamorza.

There are hundreds of brands of Pinot Grigio available in the U.S. coming from dozens of countries. Some recommended Italian Pinot Grigio brands are Alois Lageder, Eugenio Collavini, Dorigo, Barone Fini, Ronco delle Betulle, Ca’ Montini, Càvit, Ecco Domani, Elena Walch, Livio Felluga, Marco Felluga, Maso Canali, Jermann, J. Hofstätter, Santa Margherita, Santi, and Zonin.

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 [email protected]

Pasta Salad Caprese

By Barbara Beltrami

These times are causing us to rethink how we feed ourselves. Even as the weather brings us outdoors and procuring provisions becomes easier, it is still a challenge to come up with ideas that break away from the same old, same old kitchen fare and backyard barbecue. 

But here’s what you can do: You can park outside your favorite restaurant, order takeout, have it delivered to your car (maintaining all distancing and COVID-19 protocol, of course), and have a tailgate picnic. It will give you a break from your routine and help to support local restaurants and their employees who are struggling to recuperate from their financial losses during the pandemic. 

And if you’re just not up to takeout, but still need a change of scenery for mealtime, here is one of my favorite do-it-yourself picnic menus, tailgate or otherwise, that requires little preparation and the addition only of some fresh summer fruit and a beverage or two. So find an unpopulated space with a nice view and breeze and enjoy a little change of venue. 

Pasta Salad Caprese

Pasta Salad Caprese

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings. 


1 pound fusilli, shells or other short pasta

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 garlic clove, bruised

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn


Cook pasta according to package directions. While it’s cooking, in a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic clove; set aside. When pasta is ready, drain but do not run cold water over it. Transfer to large bowl. Remove and discard garlic from oil and vinegar mixtures and while pasta is still hot, toss it with the dressing. Let sit at room temperature until ready to serve; add mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and more salt and pepper; toss again and serve immediately with frittata and wine or lemonade.

Artichoke, Asparagus and Spinach Frittata

YIELD: Makes 4 servings. 


1 pound fresh baby artichokes, outer leaves trimmed

6 extra large eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, minced

1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces


Sprinkle artichoke hearts generously with salt and steam until very tender, about 15 minutes. Immerse in cold water. In medium bowl beat eggs vigorously with salt, pepper, herbs and cheese; stir in spinach leaves. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat warm oil, add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onion starts to wilt, a couple of minutes. Add artichokes and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes

Pour in egg mixture and swirl pan to distribute evenly; distribute asparagus pieces evenly over top. Shake the skillet gently and tilt the pan while lifting the edges gently with a spatula so that liquid from center runs to outside edge of pan. Reduce heat to low, repeat tilting-lifting procedure every two minutes and cook till eggs are nearly set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer frittata to upper third of oven and monitoring carefully, cook until top is light golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven, slide or invert onto plate, and when somewhat cooled, cover with aluminum foil. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature with pasta salad and wine or lemonade.

Oatmeal and Dried Cherry Cookies

Oatmeal and Dried Cherry Cookies

YIELD: Makes 4 dozen


1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

3 cups old-fashioned uncooked oats

1 cup dried cherries, chopped


Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl with mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until fluffy and creamy; add eggs and vanilla and beat well. In another medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to butter mixture; mix well. Add oatmeal and dried cherries; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet; bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool one minute on cookie sheet, then finish cooling on wire rack. Store in airtight covered container.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

By Barbara Beltrami

There are certain magical combinations in the food world. Some are because their flavors or qualities complement each other, some are because they are what the earth and the barn and the sea provide, and some are because they grow and ripen simultaneously. And so it is with strawberries and rhubarb which are at their peak right now and abound at farm stands and in markets. The sweetness of the former and tartness of the latter form a perfect pair, particularly in desserts. 

While strawberry-rhubarb pie may be the most well known one, there are some others that are just as mouth-watering, maybe more so, than that old standby.  One is a strawberry-rhubarb custard pie where the creaminess of the custard is a perfect foil for the sweet-tartness of  the fruit. Another is a roll where cake and syrup create a perfect pair, especially when topped with whipped cream.  And finally, a strawberry-rhubarb crisp gives crunchiness to counter the soft fruit. They are all recipes that I remember from way back when.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

YIELD: Makes 8 servings. 


3/4 cup flour

2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar

Generous pinch salt

3/4 stick chilled unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts or almonds

Finely grated zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled and halved

3/4 pound rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 1/2” slices


In medium bowl, thoroughly combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar and salt. With fingertips or pastry blender, work in butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Add oats and nuts and blend thoroughly. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or butter an 8 or 9” square nonreactive baking dish. In a medium bowl combine the one half cup sugar, lemon zest, vanilla extract, strawberries and rhubarb. Transfer to prepared baking dish; sprinkle oat mixture on top. Bake until filling is bubbly and top is golden and crisp, about 45 minutes. Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream or yogurt or whipped cream.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Roll

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings. 


1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup water

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

1 cup washed, hulled strawberries, halved

1 cup diced, trimmed washed rhubarb

1 /2 tablespoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 F. In a medium saucepan combine one cup sugar with water. Boil 5 minutes,  until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into an 8” x 8” baking dish. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, one tablespoon of remaining sugar and baking powder. With fingertips or a pastry blender, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Stir in milk just until mixture is thoroughly moistened. Turn onto lightly floured board and knead 30 seconds. Roll into a 8” x 15” rectangle; spread with fruit; combine remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over fruit. Starting at the long end, roll like a jellyroll. Cut into 8 to 12 slices and place in syrup in baking dish. Bake until done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm with whipped cream.  

Strawberry-Rhubarb Custard Pie

Strawberry-Rhubarb Custard Pie

YIELD: Makes 6 servings.


Pastry for a 9” two crust pie

2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved (or quartered) depending on size

2 cups washed and trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1  tablespoon unsalted butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten


Line pie plate with two-thirds of the pastry. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine strawberries and rhubarb and place in pastry-lined pie plate. In a medium bowl combine, sugar, flour and nutmeg. Cut butter into tiny pieces and add, along with eggs, to flour mixture. Mix well. Pour mixture over fruit in pie plate. Roll out remaining third of pastry dough, cut into half-inch strips and arrange in lattice design over pie filling. Place pie in oven; immediately reduce heat to 350 F. Bake until rhubarb is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


By Barbara Beltrami

It’s spring! And that means getting out in the garden and planting things to please the palate as much as the eye. This year more than ever cultivating a garden has become a particularly popular pastime as we eagerly gravitate to the great outdoors after our long winter’s hibernation and isolation. There’s something so rewarding and satisfying about planting tiny seeds or sprouts and watching them grow into mature edibles. 

Early seasonals like spinach, peas and lettuce that don’t mind the cold weather are the first to gratify our efforts, and not far behind are herbs. Some are perennials and start peeking through the soil early on; a few are annuals and need to be replenished every year, but all are fragrant, flavorful and pretty edibles that keep on giving right into the fall and are welcome plants that can be used fresh or dried on their own or as additions and enhancements to other dishes.

Herbed Popcorn

Here’s something to happily crunch on while you’re binge-watching TV. You can even omit the butter and probably won’t even miss it.

YIELD: Makes about 4 quarts


2 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried dill

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

Finely ground sea salt to taste

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter


In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat for 30 to 45 seconds, until it starts to shimmer. Turn off heat, add herbs and pepper, stir and let sit about 20 minutes so the oil can absorb their flavors. Pop the popcorn in the microwave, an air popper or by your favorite method. Immediately transfer to a very large pot or bowl and combine it with the herb mixture, salt and melted butter. Serve immediately with soda, beer or wine.

Herb Salad I

Chop up some of these flavorful leaves for your next salad. Dress with a simple vinaigrette to enhance but not mask their flavors.

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.


3 cups mixture of dill, mint, parsley, lovage, and basil

3 cups mixed baby salad greens

1 carrot, shredded

4 radishes, washed, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1 scallion, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1 cup thinly sliced grape tomatoes


In large bowl toss ingredients with your favorite vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature with seafood, pasta, fish, poultry or meat.

Herb Salad II

Herb Salad II

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.


3 cups torn butter or Bibb lettuce

3 cups fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

3 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup fresh snipped chives

1/2 cup fresh snipped garlic chives

1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves

1 cup fresh chervil, chopped

1 cup fresh nasturtium leaves

2 cups diced fennel bulb with leaves

Nasturtium and chive flowers for garnish


In large bowl toss ingredients with vinaigrette. Just before serving, garnish with flowers. Serve immediately with seafood, fish, pasta, poultry or meat.

Mixed Herb Pesto

Herbed Pesto

If you like the traditional basil pesto, you’ll also like pestos made from other herbs. 

YIELD: Makes 3/4 to 1 cup.


3 cups mixed tender herbs such as basil, cilantro, parsley, tarragon or mint

1 cup fresh baby spinach

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/4 cup shelled almonds or pistachios

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


In bowl of electric food processor, puree all ingredients together to form a smooth paste. Serve at room temperature with pasta, meat, poultry, fish or seafood. 

Herbed Salt

Herbed Salt

Make this up in large batches so you’ll have some to give as gifts.

YIELD: Makes about 2 cups


10 sprigs of a mixture of sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme

2 cups kosher salt


Remove thick stems, then coarsely chop remaining leaves and small stems. Place in bowl of food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to medium bowl and thoroughly combine with salt. Transfer to airtight container. Store in a cool dry place. Serve with anything that requires salt.

By Rita J. Egan

As the warm weather arrives, many people look forward to picking up fresh vegetables, fruit spreads, honey and more at local farmers markets. This year though the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way many business owners and customers go about selling and buying.

Jennifer Ross, founder of HeartBeet Farms, knew this year she would need to do things differently. Known for selling vegetables out of a food truck at the Stony Brook Village Center and the Smith Haven Mall, Ross decided to organize a new type of outdoor market. 

On May 21, lovers of fresh, local goods found a drive-through farmers market in the southwest corner of the mall parking lot by Bahama Breeze Island Grille. Ross said she thought it would give customers the chance to shop from the convenience of their cars and also provide a safe environment for both them and vendors.

The first night was a big success with scores of cars lining up throughout the evening to purchase items such as vegetables, local honey, pizza-making kits, popcorn, organic coffee and more.

Ross said Ann Schultz, the director of marketing and business development at Smith Haven Mall for the Simon Property Group, told her about a drive-through farmers market that was set up at a Florida Simon mall. She reached out to a few product owners to get their feedback, and she said it was positive so “I said, you know what, let’s give it a try.” 

All vendor fees from the outside market will be donated to local charities, she said, and the nonprofit they donate to will change each month. For the first month, the money will go to Long Island Harvest, which at the end of the May 21 market, in addition to checks, received leftover food from many vendors. Ross said the farmers market will look at all nonprofits that may need help, not only food-related ones.

“That was key to me because nonprofits are struggling in all categories,” she explained.

Ross said as Long Island businesses begin to reopen, HeartBeet Farms will be able to set up a traditional walk-through farmers market at the mall. The parking lot is one that usually only fills up during Christmastime, she added, so there shouldn’t be an issue with parking.

Until then, the drive-through market offers prepaid options for those who may not have the time to wait. Items that need to be chilled are kept in coolers until customers pick them up, she said.

Upon entry last Thursday customers received a flyer detailing what the more than a dozen vendors who were participating had to offer. Ross said in the future the participants will be adding more information to the handouts, and there will also be more vendors setting up booths. Ross said for the first night she wanted to make sure there was enough room for everyone before saying yes to all who were interested. Participants are only asked to commit to a month and not the whole season, she added, as Ross is aware of the difficult economic times many are facing during the pandemic and the possibility of getting ill.

“I don’t want to take their money and then something happens and they can’t be there, and they need their money,” she said.

Ross said she feels the drive though farmers market will help even the mall as the weekly drive-through will bring renewed attention to it. “It will bring business to a mall that is suffering right now,” she said.

Helping out at the farmers market were Ross’ daughters Anna and Abby Morrongiello who founded the nonprofit Don8tions with twin brothers Joshua and Zach Young and friend Meena Tommasino-Storz. The group sells products, such as at the Chocolate & Honey, a holiday concession stand in the Smith Haven Malland, then use their earnings to buy soup for those who attend The Children’s Community Head Start Birth-to-Five Program in Port Jefferson Station. To supplement the soup, the students also provide bread donated by Premier Pastry to the head start families.

Ross and the twins’ mother Michelle Young said the teenagers purchased PopInsanity popcorn wholesale to sell at the farmers market and will donate all profits to their soup drive. While Anna, Abby and Meena worked at other booths for vendors who were unable to work with the public May 21, the Youngs sold the popcorn. Michelle said she even got in a car to drive around to experience everything firsthand, adding that the farmers market came at a good time because since COVID-19 hit, the teens were worried they wouldn’t be able to raise money for the families they have grown to care about. “They’re hard workers,” said Michelle. “I’m always really proud of them because there are a lot of teenagers who would be like I’m not doing that.”

Zachary and Josh, who are completing eighth grade at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School in Setauket, both enjoyed the drive-through farmers market. “It was actually pretty good to get out of the house,” Zachary said. “There were a lot of people helping out, and it was a little bit of returning to normalcy while being safe at the same time.” 

Josh agreed. “I thought it was interesting because I never have done anything like that before, with all the cars,” he said. “It was nice to finally meet new people and somewhat interact.”

For years, HeartBeet Farms operated out of Bethel Hobbs Community Farm in Centereach where Ross leased land, but she said now she is currently growing produce at the Smithtown Historical Society. Starting a garden is something Ross encourages everyone to do, and she said it’s an ideal time to do so not only for health reasons but also to lessen trips to the grocery store.

“In general, you just have to do your best to keep your body healthy, and one of the ingredients in that is vegetables,” she said, adding that local, organic and sustainable foods are better. 

Ross also said gardening has other health benefits. “It’s a great stress reliever. The main reason is putting your hands in the soil and being connected. It’s the greatest thing.”

The drive-through farmers market will be held every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m., rain or shine, in the Smith Haven Mall southwest parking lot (off Middle Country Road) near Bahama Breeze restaurant through the fall. Pre-ordering is available but not required. For more information, call 516-343-6247 or visit

Vendors scheduled for May 28

Pecks of Maine — locally made fruit spreads including strawberry rhubarb, dark sweet cherry and many more

Jason’s Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals — dinners to go including chicken franchese with basmati rice and broccoli plus dressings and glazes

Rustic Roots — sustainable vegetables, milk, eggs, cheese, meat, seafood

My Favorite Hummus — 8 oz. classic hummus and Salsa Salta tortilla chips

Sansone Market — pizza kit: sauce, dough ball, shredded mozzarella and pizza cutter

Long Island Microgreens — broccoli, superfood salad mix, speckled pea, leek, mustard microgreens and North Fork Potato Chips

Nina’s Fresh Batch — sweet & salty, chocolate chip and five spice oatmeal cookies; pistachio golden raisin, pecan dried cherry and three nut ginger granola

BeeWitched Bee — local honey, infused honey, elderberry syrup, maple syrup, honey sticks

Pixie Soaps & Suds — cold-processed soaps, body scrubs and more

Popinsanity — classic caramel, sweet & salty, chocolate drizzle, and cookies & cream popcorn

Horman’s Best — classic bread & butter sweet, half sour whole, kosher dill, honey mustard pickles and more

Tend Coffee — organic blends, single origin coffee, Kind Leaf tea and more

Jericho Cider Mill — half gallon apple cider, donute bites and small apple crumb pies 

HeartBeet Farms Farm to Table Soups, Salsa and Sauce  — farm to table potato leek soup, Margherita sauce, tomato tomatillo salsa and Carroll’s Kitchen tortilla chips

New! Le Fusion — homemade spring rolls, vegan and vegetarian

New! The Ferm — fermented farm goods including Kombucha and sauerkraut

New! The Simple Cookie — cookie ingredients in a jar

All photos by Rita J. Egan

Photo from WMHO

Stony Brook Village restaurants, shops, community residents and others throughout Long Island are continuing in their efforts to support the hometown heroes at Stony Brook University Hospital during this ongoing pandemic.  

Three Village Inn/Lessing’s, Fratelli’s, Crazy Beans and Sweet Mama’s have delivered over 11,000 meals to these dedicated medical professionals, and some of the restaurants are donating extra meals with deliveries. 

Other participating shops in the village include The Crushed Olive, Village Coffee Market, Chocolate Works, Premiere Pastry, Brew Cheese and Penny’s Car Care who have delivered a variety of snacks, cheeses, pastries, cookies, drinks and much more. 

Donations have also been received from private citizens throughout towns in Nassau and Suffolk County as well as out of state.

If you would like to help show your support for healthcare professionals, you can donate to Stony Brook eateries or call the Ward Melville Heritage Organization at 631-751-2244. Your donation is fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law and every dollar will go to this cause.