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Chicken Soup

By Barbara Beltrami

Everybody knows that chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food, the ultimate panacea for those times when the body and soul need pure nourishment. I wish I could tell you that chicken soup will  prevent you from contracting the coronavirus. It won’t. I wish I could tell you that if you do get it, it will cure you. It won’t. All I can tell you is that cooking it, storing it in the fridge or freezer to have on hand and warm up, sipping and savoring it, sending some to a sick family member, friend or neighbor will make you feel better. 

And when your soup is done and you’ve picked all the meat from the bones, even after you’ve saved big chunks of it for the soup, there are so many things you can use the remaining chicken for. My favorite is a chicken chowder, just another kind of chicken soup, really, with a creamy base. So wash your hands for 20 seconds, make a vat of chicken soup, practice social distancing and stay safe and well.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

YIELD: Makes 3 quarts

INGREDIENTS: 

One 3 1/2 to 4 pound chicken

1 large onion, halved but not peeled

2 carrots, peeled  and chopped

2 to 3 celery ribs with leaves

1 sprig fresh dill

1 parsnip, peeled and coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 quarts water

6 to 8 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds

DIRECTIONS:

In a large stockpot, combine first 8 ingredients. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer so liquid is barely bubbling. Cook until meat falls from bone and bones separate, about two hours. With slotted spoon remove meat and bones, place in large bowl and set aside. Into another large pot or bowl strain liquid, pressing all solids to extract as much juice as possible. 

Adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer liquid to container(s), cover tightly and refrigerate or freeze. Pull meat away from bones; discard skin, bones and gristle. Place meat in separate container(s), cover and refrigerate or freeze; once it is chilled, skim any hardened fat from top of liquid, strain again. 

One hour before serving, reheat broth, add the fresh carrots and cook, covered, over low heat. Serve with noodles or rice and some of the chicken meat, if desired. Reserve remaining broth and meat for other use or freeze in containers. Serve with noodles or rice.

Chicken Chowder

Chicken Chowder

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 to 4 cups diced cooked chicken meat

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

2 celery ribs with leaves, finely chopped

1 large sprig fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

4 cups chicken stock

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

One-10-ounce package frozen corn

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1 cup half and half

DIRECTIONS:

Place a large pot over medium – high heat; add two tablespoons of the butter and the oil. When butter is melted add chicken and stir frequently until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes; remove and set aside. Lower heat to medium; add onion, celery, thyme, bay leaf and salt and pepper; stir to coat with seasoning.  Sauté, stirring once or twice, until veggies soften, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to pot; add stock, potatoes and corn, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove thyme and bay leaf and discard. 

In a small saucepan; make a roux with remaining butter and flour. With the large pot still on simmer, stirring constantly with wire whisk, add milk, half and half and roux gradually to achieve thick smooth consistency. Serve immediately with oyster crackers or saltines and a tossed green salad.

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Ryan Augusta and two of his children. Photo from East Wind

The culinary industry will come together to support an executive chef who is currently battling an aggressive and rare cancer. On July 31 from 7 to 11 p.m., East Wind Long Island in Wading River will host a Super Ryan Fundraiser in honor of Ryan Augusta, who in 2018 was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. 

Ryan Augusta’s kids dress up as Superman to support their father. Photo from East Wind

After undergoing surgery and medical treatments, it seemed that the cancer was in remission. However, recently he found out that the cancer had returned and is now more aggressive. Augusta has endured another major surgery and will undergo 34 rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments, causing a financial strain to his family. 

Augusta has been working at East Wind for over three years and manages a staff of about 50 people. The executive chef lives in East Northport with his wife, Christa, and their three children.  

Christa Augusta said she is blown away and thankful for what East Wind is doing. 

“They put this all together on their own, as soon as they found out about his [Ryan’s] surgery in May,” she said. 

The mother of three said she is grateful to all the people, staff and chefs putting in time and energy into the fundraiser. 

“We are looking forward to a great night with people we love,” she said. “This will give my husband strength.”

Charlotte Cote, director of marketing at East Wind, said Augusta’s work ethic is second to none. 

“It is a pleasure to work with Ryan on a daily basis — he is the type of person that makes your job easier because he’s always ahead of the game and his staff is ready to go,” she said. 

The fundraiser will feature well-known professional chefs and restaurateurs from Long Island to Las Vegas who dedicating their talents to the event. Each chef is expected to have an active workstation.  

Sixteen professional guest chefs will lend their talents to the fundraiser, including local chefs such as Steve Gallagher of The Trattoria in St. James, John Bauer of Danfords in Port Jefferson, Justin Scarfo of Ruggero’s in Wading River and John Louis, of Maui Chop House in Rocky Point. 

Food purveyors will be Prime Foods & Braun Seafood, all brought together by Ralph Perrazzo from BBD’s Las Vegas-Beers Burgers Desserts 

Ryan Augusta, top, Christa Augusta, bottom, and their children. Photo from East Wind

“Chef Ryan is a valued member of our close-knit family here at East Wind and we are committed to give him our unconditional support for his hard work and dedication in this time of need,” Lou Ambrosio, general manager at East Wind said.

Five breweries will also be on hand serving their signature brews, including Sand City Brewing Company of Northport, Barrier Brewing of Oceanside, Root & Branch in Copiague, Evil Twin in Ridgewood and Grimm in Brooklyn.

“I’m truly fortunate to have amazing friends in this industry who will always show support in time of need,” said Ralph Perazzo of BBD’s Las Vegas-Beers Burgers Desserts.

The fundraiser will include a buffet, live DJ, beer, wine, soda, a Chinese auction and a 50/50 raffle. Raffle prizes include a two-night stay at Foxwood Casino Resort with dining and spa credit plus other prizes. 

Tickets are $75 per person or $700 for a table of 10. Tickets can be purchased here. All proceeds go directly go to the Augusta family.  

If you are unable to attend, Augusta’s family have set up a GoFundMe page, which will help with medical costs that has already raised over $4,500 of a $50,000 goal. People wishing to donate can visit here.

This post has been corrected to reflect Augusta still has to undergo treatment.

Local students took Whole Foods in Lake Grove by storm as they chopped, sauteed and cooked their morning away for a chance at the top spot at last Saturday’s fourth annual Junior Iron Chef competition.

Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension hosted the one-day event where middle and high school students showed off their cooking skills in groups of three to five. Twenty-four teams from schools and other organizations had one hour to cook a vegetarian or vegan-based dish that they could incorporate in their school cafeteria menu.

The teams had a few weeks to plan and prepare a dish using five main ingredients, two of which had to be United States Department of Agriculture commodity foods. (Various beans, grains, fruits and vegetables are USDA commodity foods, which make up part of school cafeteria menus.) The recipes could not be desserts or include meat, fish or nuts.

The middle school team’s challenge this year was to create a breakfast dish while the high school teams were required to include a mystery ingredient in their dishes that was revealed on the day of the competition. DJ Anthony from WEHM emceed the event.

Twelve judges, including 12-year-old Kayla Mitchell of Center Moriches who was a former contestant on MasterChef Junior Season 3, walked from one station to the next, speaking with the teams before deciding their fate in the competition.

While the event gives kids the opportunity to enhance their cooking skills, it also helps educate the students and those around them about healthy eating.

“We want to help them make connections to healthy eating and how to help with their schools better so there’s a  little community service in there,” said Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Director Victoria Fleming.

Fleming discovered the idea six years ago. The competition started in Vermont and has been an annual event for around 10 years. According to Gary Graybosch, who runs the kitchen at Whole Foods, the competition extends beyond Long Island as a variety of schools and organizations are invited. Whole Foods got on board to hold the competition at its Lake Grove location after Graybosch and several of his employees toured the Suffolk County farm in Yaphank.

The judges didn’t simply critique the dishes based on taste, creativity and presentation. They also examined the groups’ use of local foods and USDA food, the dish’s health value and readiness for a school cafeteria.

The Spice Girls middle school team prepared their dish, Sunrise Breakfast Napoleon for the fourth annual Junior Iron Chef Competition. Photo by Giselle Barkley
The Spice Girls middle school team prepared their dish, Sunrise Breakfast Napoleon for the fourth annual Junior Iron Chef Competition. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Seneca Middle School’s team Super Fresh from Holbrook won the title for the middle schools with its Super Fresh Healthy Egg and Potato. Students John Durkin, Andrew Battelli and Hunter Ziems and team coach Mary Faller made up the team.

The Chef Masters from Oakdale Bohemia Middle School in Oakdale took second place. Students Charles Ryder, Vanessa Villatoro and Abby Frances, guided by coach Judy Jones, won the judges over as runners up with their South West Breakfast Quesadilla.

Seneca Middle School also grabbed third place with the  Kings of the Kitchen’s Kings Breakfast Burrito. Coached by Mary Faller, Dom Strebel, Nick Strebel, Tobi Green, Steven Salica and Nick Zariello received praise for their sauteed potatoes, which were mixed with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggs and cheese.

“We had a few other ideas [but] we looked more into it and saw … that [the breakfast burrito] was the best one to do,” Nick Zariello said about his team’s dish of choice. “It was just a lot of fun.” Nick added that the team practiced daily during lunch periods and after school to prepare for the competition.

The Tiger Lilies of Little Flower in Wading River took first place of the high school teams. Coached by Jennifer Quinlan, teammates Alex Moa, Russel Denner, Charleen Thompson and Briana Ivory stole the competition with their Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Bowl. The dish featured whole wheat spaghetti, various vegetables and a coconut curry sauce with a kick.

High school team La Banda from Greenport Schools was thrown a curve ball during the competition with the secret ingredient, but still secured second place. Richard Torres Galicia, Walfred Gatica, Antonio Coria, Antonio Anderson and Leo Torres made Wrapped Italian Black Bean Burgers with Garlic Parmesan Sauce. The group, coached by Marianne Ladalia, worked their secret ingredient, mango, into their dish as a side.

“It was an intense atmosphere at first. We didn’t know what to do at the beginning but after time we got used to it,” Torres Galicia said. “We communicated as one team and then we came out with a good dish.”

A member of The Four Toasters from Sagamore Middle School cooks canned peaches at the fourth annual Junior Iron Chef Competition. Photo by Giselle Barkley
A member of The Four Toasters from Sagamore Middle School cooks canned peaches at the fourth annual Junior Iron Chef Competition. Photo by Giselle Barkley

While some young cooks look up to prominent chefs, the middle school team The Savory Blazers — Sophia Chinea, Lexington Carerra and Adrianna Cantu, coached by Michell Chinea  — who are members of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Trailblazers 4-H program, draw their inspiration from role models who are closer to home. Group member Sophia said she admires her aunt’s cooking and baking and added that she “always wanted to be like her when [she grew] up.”

Fellow teammate Adrianna said it can be difficult to decide on a role model. “There’s so  many people that are good at making food . . . You might find a new person every single day.”

Although Fleming organizes the competition with Whole Foods every year, these young chefs never fail to surprise her. “I’m so amazed to be working with all these amazing kids that … have learned these skills and are able to demonstrate them in front of a large group like this,” Fleming said. “So it’s very inspiring to me to do this every year.

A fireball erupts during a demonstration on the dangers of deep-frying a turkey in hot oil. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Brookhaven Town officials held a fiery presentation on Nov. 20 to demonstrate the dangers of deep-frying a turkey in hot oil.

According to a press release from the town, the trend is a growing one that is responsible for several deaths and dozens of injuries every year.

The hot oil can splash or spill, causing severe burns.

“The fireball that we saw during the demonstration clearly showed how the improper use of turkey fryers can lead to personal injury and the destruction of property,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said in a statement. “I hope that people who use deep fryers follow all the manufacturer’s safety instructions and keep a fire extinguisher handy.”

Romaine and the town’s chief fire marshal, Chris Mehrman, held the demonstration on the Friday ahead of Thanksgiving.

The supervisor also announced that this holiday season the town would accept waste oil, which is used to create biodiesel fuel, at the town landfill on Horseblock Road in Brookhaven hamlet.

Last year, the town accepted more than 350 gallons of used cooking oil after Thanksgiving, according to the press release.

The landfill is open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday, from 7 a.m. to noon.

For Thanksgiving fire safety tips, visit the National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org.

Chef Paolo Fontana demonstrates how to make pasta. Photo by Sue Wahlert

By Sue Wahlert

Chef Paolo Fontana emulates the true mantra of the Italians and cooking, “Pleasure equals eating.” The executive chef of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics Café (SCGP), located on the campus of the State University of Stony Brook, he has created an epicurean delight in the midst of an institution that welcomes brilliant minds from across the world. This isn’t your typical university cafeteria, however. Here you will find the freshest ingredients combined with care to create lunches such as seared lamb loin with Indian spiced chickpea stew or roasted Scottish salmon with ratatouille. Sasha Abanov, deputy director of SCGP said, “This is the best café on campus. It is a great place to take our visitors.”

Aside from the wonderful bounty Fontana and his staff offer during the week, he also hosts the Culinary Master Series, a monthly live cooking demonstration open to the public held in the SCGP Café after hours. This evening event allows individuals who appreciate good food and love to cook to visit with Fontana as he tells stories about his passion and demonstrates techniques he’s learned through years of training and working with other chefs.

On Tuesday, April 7, Fontana held Is It Spring Yet?, the fifth in a series of seasonal cooking demonstrations. Held in the Café, guests are seated facing a large butcher-block table from which they view the Chef creating delicious dishes while being served a glass of sauvignon blanc or merlot wine. With the aid of a large flat-screen monitor and camera documenting the Chef’s work, visitors won’t miss anything he is preparing.

For $35 per person you can attend the SCGP Café’s Culinary Series and be rewarded with Fontana’s themed recipes, a food tasting and the opportunity to interact with the talented Chef. For Is It Spring Yet?, Fontana prepared fresh pasta, hollandaise sauce and panna cotta. Each guest receives a booklet with all the recipes for the evening, and the Chef welcomes questions while he is working.

As the lesson began, Fontana spoke about the “romance of making pasta on the tabletop.” Forming a carefully shaped mound of flour and organic eggs, he gently folded in freshly ground spinach to create beautifully colored pasta. He then demonstrated the kneading process and, after the dough rested, he cut a piece and fed it through a pasta machine attachment to create delicately thin sheets of pasta. He cut the sheets into ribbons of pasta ending the lesson. But there was more! The audience was treated to a dish of paglia e fieno — freshly made pasta with prosciutto, onions and peas coated in a cream sauce.

Like many impassioned chefs, Fontana likes to share stories about how he began his love affair with food. He fondly shared his “first culinary memory,” which was at the age of five when his parents took him to Italy. He recalled being in a wheat field from which stalks of wheat were pulled, soaked in water, rolled in flour and dried to create an original way of making pasta. He praises the use of only the freshest ingredients and the use of locally grown products when available. During the growing season, Fontana and his staff maintain an elaborate garden on the outside patio. It is not uncommon for the Café’s dishes to include homegrown tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lavender and more from their garden.

Two other dishes were demonstrated that evening ­— hollandaise sauce and, for dessert, panna cotta. “The hollandaise sauce is an emulsion sauce,” Fontana explained as he injected some of his scientific cooking knowledge into the lesson. “It is a great way to show your culinary skills,” he smiled. Made of egg yolks, butter and lemon juice, it is a hand-whisked sauce that takes time and concentration. While whisking he joked, “you’ll know if your hollandaise sauce is going wrong if it gets that ‘driveway after it rains’ look!” After a lot of muscle and perseverance by the Chef. the sauce was served to guests over fresh asparagus. Sounds of delight emanated from audience members as they sampled the dish.

The sweetness arrived last in the form of panna cotta, which means “cooked cream.” Using sheets of gelatin, heavy cream and half and half, this is not a dieter’s delight but instead a gift from the heavens. Served with a cherry sauce, this mound of silky smoothness topped off the wonderfully fun and informative evening.

It is evident that Fontana feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to share his gift with others. He credits Abanov as the person who encouraged the idea for these classes. “I am so lucky to be working around such smart people. I feel lucky to teach them something from my world,” said Fontana.

Recently chosen as the 2015 Edible Long Island’s Local Hero, Fontana shares this honor with manager Maria Reuge, dining room manager Julie Pasquier and his kitchen staff.

The last of the Culinary Master’s Series for this season is May 5 at 6 p.m. and is entitled What Else? It’s Cinco de Mayo, a fiesta of Mexican food. For reservations, call 631-632-2281 or purchase tickets online at https://bpt.me/1451646. The Café is located on the second floor of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at SUNY Stony Brook and is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch. Check out its website at https://scgp.stonybrook.edu/cafe or like it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scgpcafe.