I'm officially declaring this summer the Summer of the Caprese Salad.  I am a woman obsessed!  My obsession is a combination of a few things - my recent discovery of this Maplebrook mozzarella, the basil plant in my garden that is growing out of control, and most importantly, the fact that I recently started making my own balsamic glaze at home.  

Really, this post is a public service announcement about balsamic glaze more than a post about a recipe. Balsamic glaze brings Caprese salad to another level of deliciousness. And it's so easy to make. SO easy.  In fact, rather than mess with a perfectly good two-ingredient recipe, I'd like to direct you over here to check it out.  If you have balsamic vinegar and honey (or brown sugar), you can make this in 15 minutes.  

PS. If you're looking for a more substantial meal, I also highly recommend drizzling this pasta with balsamic glaze. 


YOU SAY POTATO // the local food report

You say potato, Stephanie Rein says Magic Molly. Then she says Red Norland. She says lavender mashed potatoes and homefries and roasted potatoes. And finally, she tells you it's been a tough year for beetles—pests like the Striped Cucumber Beetle and the regular old potato beetle

Stephanie and her family run Out There Organics, and they sell at the farmers' market in Truro. She's been spraying with an organic-approved compound called pyrethrin to try to keep the plants alive. Its a neurotoxin that affects insects and breaks down when exposed to sunlight and air, and the U.S. government considers it the safest food spray around. Beetles won't hurt the tubers, but they will poke holes in the leaves until finally the plants just die. You want to avoid this, because the longer the plants stay alive and the more photosynthesizing they're doing, the bigger the potatoes get underground. 

Usually, you don't want to dig your potatoes until a few weeks after the plants up top have died back—if you want to keep them, they need a few weeks to let the skin cure and toughen for storage. But given all the pests, Stephanie's been digging early. Her varieties won't overwinter, and she wants to get them before some other bug does. Which means it's good potato eating right now. 

We dug ours the other day—the purples and the golds—and I've been making a new potato salad with pesto and eggs. It's from Plenty, and it's spot-on. You take peas and potatoes and eggs and coat them with a parsley-basil-pine nut-garlic-Parmesan-olive oil pesto. You add a little vinegar, and you toss while the potatoes are hot. If you're hungry, you serve it right away. But it's also pretty good at room temp, and on a really hot day, even cold. 


This recipe is adapted from the "Royal potato salad" on page 20 of Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. A few tips: the flavor of the oil will really come through in the salad, so make sure to use a high quality olive oil. Also, if you don't want the potatoes too heavily dressed, you'll probably have more than enough pesto. Add it slowly and save any extra for pasta or dipping bread.

1 and 3/4 pounds new potatoes, rinsed
1 cup basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup parsley leaves, packed
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar
a handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
1 cup shelled peas, cooked
sea salt and pepper to taste
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

Boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, until tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, combine the basil, parsley, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse until you get a soupy pesto. 

As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite size pieces and put them in a large bowl with the vinegar, mint, and peas. Add pesto to taste and toss well. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and top with the eggs. Serve immediately (it's also good cold the next day).



I hope summer's treating you right. A friend told me a few weeks ago that back in early June, she started to get a bit of August-itis. She could have let it get the better of her—wishing away all the traffic and the visitors and the heat—but she said she decided right then to banish that feeling. She made a pointed decision instead to take in all the good summer has to offer—all the pond swims and popsicles and picnics at Race Point and hours at Lecount's and pizzas from The Juice and bags of cherries and trips to the farmers' market—and to do as many summery things as she can think of as often as managing a restaurant allows. 

So in that spirit, I'd like to introduce you to these popsicles. I wrote a long essay about them in last week's Provincetown Banner, so I'm not going to go on and on, but suffice it to say that you should try them. They are heavenly, and so summer. Just ask Sally. 


These are hands down the best popsicles I’ve ever had. They are rich, creamy, and delicious. We made them with a mix of red, golden, and black raspberries, but I think they’d be good with any fruit—blueberries, blackberries, peaches, or even huckleberries would probably work as the season marches on. This recipe makes 5-6 popsicles in most molds.

 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes, finely chopped
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
2 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 cup whole fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet and toast for 3-5 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Meanwhile, mix the raspberries with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the berries and stir well. In a separate bowl, mix the toasted coconut with the coconut milk, remaining maple syrup and lime juice, and vanilla. Stir well.

Get out a set of popsicle molds and put a spoonful of the coconut mixture in the bottom of each one. Next add a spoonful of the raspberry mixture. Keep alternating until the molds are full. Add the sticks and freeze for at least six hours.



I have a confession to make. You know this heat wave everyone's been fussing about? I've actually been enjoying it. Don't get me wrong: the past week has been blistering hot even in Maine, and yes, I'd dial it back a bit in the evenings if I could. But overall, I've liked it. For one thing, the ocean swimming has been sublime—the only reason we're getting out of the water after 30 or 40 minutes is because we have other stuff to do, not because we're cold. When you live in Maine, you don't get to say that very often.  

It's also been fun to pull out all the stops on hot-weather foods. I'm talking dishes like gazpacho, tabouli, vichyssoise, coleslaw, potato salad, and lobster salad—dishes that are not only fresh and seasonal but are served chilled. We've been doing our cooking early, right after breakfast, then forgetting about the stove for the rest of the day. It's been a nice rhythm.

One of my favorites in our heat-wave repertoire is a chilled beet-and-cucumber soup that I adapted from a recipe in The Victory Garden Cookbook. I don't make it nearly as often as I should—the thought of peeling beets sometimes slows me down—but every time I do, I'm reminded how good it is. And the color! Isn't it exquisite? We ate this a few nights ago with a big green salad and zucchini-cornmeal muffins, sitting in the Adirondack chairs on the patio as the day grew quiet and ever so slightly cooler. We served the soup in my mother's favorite Spode teacups, ate it with my grandmother's silver teaspoons, and declared it a fine, fine way to beat the heat.

This recipe makes about 6 cups and will keep in the fridge for at least a week. Be sure to simmer, not boil, your beets. A hard boil will dull the lovely color of the beets.

5 cups peeled and diced raw beets*
1 cup diced onion
4 cups beef stock (chicken would probably work fine too)
2 cups peeled and diced cucumber
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh chives or dill (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Put the beets and onions in a soup pot with the beef stock. Bring just to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer. Simmer until the beets are nicely soft; this may take 30 minutes or longer. Cool and put in a blender. Add the cucumber, vinegar, and salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Taste and add more vinegar (and salt and pepper) if needed. Chill thoroughly. If you want to get fancy, serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh chives or dill.

*The last time I made this soup, I was well on my way when I discovered I was 1 1/2 cups short on beets. Argh! I quickly grabbed the beet stems I'd just thrown in the compost bucket, washed them and cut them into 1-inch pieces, and voila—the substitution worked just fine.


SKATE // the local food report

Remember how last week we talked about dogfish? Skate's in the same genre. It's got a bad rap—people call it a trash fish, and if it's not treated properly it can smell like ammonia. But that's not the whole story.

Skate is super abundant locally. It's what a lot of boats are catching now that there aren't groundfish around, and it's considered a delicacy in Asia and many parts of Europe. There are over two hundred species worldwide, and seven species on the North Atlantic coast, but the skate people catch around here are mostly Winter Skate—also known as big skate or Cape Cod Rays. They're flat rays, bottom feeders, and treated properly, they yield four sweet, white meat fillets.

I had skate for the first time a few years ago, when Alex braised it with butter and white wine. It was delicious—sweet, melt-in-your-mouth meat. He's revised his recipe a bit over the years, and this is what he makes these days. He recommends cooking the skate "on the bone," which means the cartilage stays in. (Skates don't have actual bones, just cartilage skeletons.) NOAA also has a delicious recipe for Old Bay Crusted Skate Wing, which you can find over here

A quick note about contaminants. Some people will warn you that skate has mercury in it. This is true, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll learn that skate has a lot less mercury than species we eat all the time—things like lobster, tuna, bluefish, striped bass, and even oysters. The general recommendation is one serving a week, which is a lot less skate than we're eating at the moment. 

Finally, the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman's Alliance is hosting an event next Tuesday, July 30th to introduce the public to local skate fishermen and to offer a taste of skate prepared by a local chef. It's a good way to meet a species that's both local and abundant. You can find out more over here.

Anyone else have a skate recipe they want to share?

Thank you to Nancy Civetta of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance for the photo!



I love these muffins. Elspeth sent me the recipe two summers ago. She had just adapted it from a cornbread recipe she'd found in the July 2011 issue of Bon Appetít and she had a feeling I'd like it. She was right: these whole-grain, super-moist muffins with just a hint of sweetness are now a summer staple in our house. They're great for breakfast—as they were this morning—and they can turn a simple soup or salad into a full-fledged meal. I try not to do too much between-meal snacking, but it's hard to resist when these are sitting on the counter!

I like to make these with coarsely ground yellow cornmeal. Bob's Red Mill has a nice one, or I use corn I've ground myself from the grain CSA we split with Elspeth and Alex. For me, these muffins are all about the texture; the coarser the cornmeal, the "pizzazz-ier" the muffins. If you look closely here, you'll see the grains of cornmeal in amongst the flecks of zucchini. Also, just FYI, I almost always use dried cultured buttermilk (in any recipe that calls for buttermilk). If you're not familiar with it, dried buttermilk keeps for months in the back of the fridge, which means it's always there when you need it. Just follow the directions on the back of the package.

Yesterday I tried an experiment: I made one batch of muffins with fresh zucchini, and another with zucchini from our garden that I'd grated and frozen last September:

I know that in theory the frozen zucchini should work fine. (If you try it, use the entire boatload of water that your thawed zucchini will be sitting in—yes, really.) The muffins were fine, "actually, pretty good," said my husband, but I'm not taking that road again. This recipe is delicious when made with fresh zucchini, so why settle for anything less? Farm-fresh zucchini isn't exactly hard to come by at this time of year—our own isn't ready yet, but we've been getting it at the farmers' market for a few weeks now. And besides, the muffins themselves freeze beautifully! 

Other people might get tired of zucchini, but I never do. It's just so darn versatile. If you have zucchini in your house, you have a potential meal—or in this case, at least a fine start on one. Enjoy!


This makes 12–16 regular-sized muffins, depending on the size of your muffin tin. If the weather is unusually humid, I recommend storing these (covered) in the fridge; they're very moist, and if they sit out for more than a few days, might spoil.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)
1 large (~10-ounce) zucchini, grated
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup yellow (preferably coarse ground) cornmeal 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease your muffin tin or use muffin liners (I prefer the latter). In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk, then stir in the zucchini. In a larger bowl, whisk together all your dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Dollop the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins are just done—or better yet, slightly underdone. As a rule of thumb, I'd always rather slightly undercook than overcook any type of cornbread. 



Dogfish gets a bad rap. It's a predator in the shark family, and fishermen complain about it because it eats groundfish and bait. But it's also incredibly abundant. 

Unlike groundfish populations, dogfish stocks are actually in great shape. There was a time in the late eighties and early nineties when dogfish was in trouble—fishermen were going after older, often female fish, and the species was crashing. But these days, local fishermen will tell you there are more than enough dogfish in the sea. 

So let's eat them! Sure, they're not your usual flakey whitefish. But the English and French love them in fish & chips, and there's no reason we should be shipping them over there (especially at 12 cents a pound!) when we're low on local cod and could be eating them here. Several groups came together to do a taste test at UMass Amherst, and dogfish (labeled as shark) tasted "the same, better, or much better" than the students' favorite fish 94 percent of the time. Ready to try it?

Here are your options. You could buy a fillet (try calling your local fish market to special order it, as most can get it easily but have a hard time selling enough to carry it regularly) and try the recipe Alex and I came up with for a Spicy Spiny Dogfish Sandwich. Think blackened fish, a whole wheat bun, homemade coleslaw, cilantro, sriracha mayo, and good pickles. Or if that sounds daunting, the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association is hosting a dogfish meet & greet on Tuesday, August 27th at 5:30. You can learn more here. Support our fleet!



Life is out of control these days. The restaurant is busy, town is busy, the farmers' market is busy. Sally is busy. I have all my regular writing and radio work to do, and I am just finishing up my two pieces for this series on our local fisheriesIn the meantime, the garden marches on. The black raspberries are rolling in, and the peas, and the shallots and garlic are ready. We are trying to keep up! 

I want to braid my garlic and onions this year. The other day when I pulled them I realized I had no idea how to get started, so I looked around and I found this video on "plaiting onions" and another on how to braid hard neck garlic. First everything has to cure, though, so right now the shallots and garlic bundles are hanging under the eaves of the shed. They should be ready for braiding in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted! Until then, enjoy the week, and the break from the heat.



Summer is here—finally! It took its sweet time getting to us in Maine; as recently as last weekend, when our girls were home with us, we were wearing flannel shirts and jeans. Now we’re roasting in the low 90s. It’s too hot to cook—unless we're talking about cooking greens. That requires turning on the stove for all of about 5 minutes. Even on the hottest days—like yesterday—we can manage that.

Thank goodness, because we are awash in greens right now. We have arugula and red orach in our own garden and a bounty of chard, kale, cabbage, and mixed lettuces from our farm share. We’re eating two salads a day and still not keeping up. It’s a heavenly dilemma, but it still needs to be solved.

I found this quick and easy answer over at Heidi Swanson's 101cookbooks.com. We made it last night for Anna and Andy, and they gave it rave reviews. “Mom, no wonder you love this,” Anna said. “This is just the warmed-up version of that Tuscan kale salad you’re addicted to.” Of course!

I'll definitely be making this again—and not just in the summer. Next time I’m going to try topping the greens with homemade croutons and a drizzle of lemon juice. Then I really will have the warmed-up version of my favorite salad. In the meantime, kudos and a big thank-you to Heidi Swanson!


The greens take only about 3 minutes to cook, so don’t fire up the burner until just before you’re ready to eat. The amount below serves two hearty eaters.

About 6 packed cups kale, chard, spinach, tatsoi, etc.—really, any hardy green

2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes 

If necessary, rinse your greens and pat them dry. Then chop them coarsely. I like to use the stems as well.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until it’s hot enough to hiss when you add a drop of water. Add a few pinches of sea salt and the greens and stir about 1 minute, maybe 2—I like my greens just barely heated through, so they still retain some vibrancy. Just before you’re ready to take the skillet off the heat, add the garlic. Stir again, remove the skillet from the heat, and then stir in the Parmesan and the red pepper flakes. Add more salt if needed and serve at once.


ROCKET FUEL // the local food report

I can't stay for long today. It's the Fourth of July! I have a parade to attend, and then I need to go to work. That's what we do on holidays here in Restaurant World.

Before I go, though, there's a recipe I want to share. It's featured on this week's Local Food Report (you can listen here), and it's a winner. It's actually not something I want to put in my mouth, but I'm told by hot sauce aficionados that it's something many people want to put in their mouths. It's hot. Sort of like mace, except with flavor.

It comes from Rooster Fricke who lives in Woods Hole. He's a gardener, and his specialty is chili peppers. (You can read more on that here.) He grows literally the hottest varieties in the world (Trinidad Maruga Scorpion and Bhut Jolokian aka the Ghost to name two) and he minces them and flash freezes them to make hot sauce. This year, he's planning on growing over two-hundred pounds of peppers and making seventy-five percent of them into his hot sauce, which he calls Rocket Fuel. That's about two-hundred five-ounce jars. 

Personally, I was felled by a single drop. But I know many of you are much braver. So here's a link to the recipe. Soldier on!



Special thanks to Greta Rybus, who took the lovely photos for this post (and taught me a few things about photography along the way).  Visit her website here, and check out her wonderful and fascinating blog, Who I Met.  
Have you ever made a recipe that you cannot get enough of?

I'm not sure if Elspeth or I have ever elaborated on our crispy kale obsession in this space, but people, it's a very real and very serious thing.  It all started with a instant message from my friend Liz who sent me a link to this recipe from Joy the Baker.  I made it once…and then again…and again.  I sent the recipe to Elspeth, who did the same.  Soon we were completely kale crazed and were making crispy kale at least once a week, if not more.  Finally, a few months into this obsession, we were each told by our significant others that we had to take a hiatus.  No more crispy kale.  

Well, I've taken a little hiatus - but not really.  When the weather warmed up and it started to get too hot to turn the oven on, I revived this recipe and tweaked it slightly.  Now, once again, I have it at least once a week.

It starts with a bed of greens – simple, ready for some spice.

Then make the dressing, whisk it up, and pour it over your greens.  

Fry an egg until the whites are cooked but the yolk is still slightly runny.  A runny egg always makes for a good salad.

Top your dressed greens with eggs and beans.

Eat, enjoy, repeat.  

Crunchy Greens with White Beans and Crispy Kale Dressing

I usually make this with napa cabbage, but it is delicious with any crunchy greens.  Be generous with the dressing, and be creative with the toppings!

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sriracha
2-3 cups ribboned greens (kale, romaine, or cabbage)
1/2 cup white beans
1 egg

In a measuring cup, whisk the olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sriracha together until the oil no longer separates out.  Place the greens in a bowl and pour the dressing over them, and toss them until they are well coated.

Fry the egg, leaving the yolk slightly runny.  Place the egg over the greens, along with the beans.  Dig in!



We picked twenty quarts. It was hot but not too hot—muggy. We drove to Maine on Thursday, and it rained on Friday and Saturday. The fields were closed. Sunday, they reopened, but the berries were soggy, and many were rotten. It wasn't our usual  big haul. The picking was slow, even with helpers—we brought Sally's cousins along. The little one with the high ponytail. Miss Sal herself, just ran down the rows, snatching up the flags that marked where to begin picking and where the last person had left off. 

After the eating and the sharing, we brought home sixteen quarts. I left them overnight in the cooler, and this morning I washed and hulled, sliced and froze. Let's hope the wild blueberries give a better haul.  In the meantime, I've got peas to shell. Happy July, everyone—I hope it's treating you well.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.