Hi, everyone!  It's been a long time since I've posted.  The last few months for me have been a whirlwind of finishing school, graduating, taking my boards, and now, searching for jobs.  I’m going to try to make a habit of stopping by here more regularly with recipes–promise!

We’re just back from our cousin Molly’s beautiful wedding in the mountains outside Charlottesville, Virginia.  The food was South American-inspired and absolutely delicious.  Elspeth and I became particularly enamored with the chimichurri sauce – it was served with flank steak, but we put it on just about everything.  As it just so happens I had just made a batch of chimichurri a few days earlier, so it was nice to compare the two batches for subtle flavor differences.  Turns out I like my chimichurri a little vinegary and very garlicky with a lot of cilantro, and you’ll see that reflected in the recipe below. Andy has already given this recipe his stamp of approval, so I have a feeling this will be a staple around my house this summer.


Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce typically served on steak or meat, but I’ve been using it as a kind of salad dressing as well and I love the flavor it adds. I've seen recipes call for both white and red wine vinegar, and either will do (although purists may disagree!). I happened to have white on hand so that's what I used. This recipe is loosely adapted from A Cozy Kitchen.

1 medium-sized bunch flat leaf parsley
1 small bunch cilantro
4 large cloves garlic, or 6 smaller ones
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Put parsley, cilantro, garlic and olive oil in a food processor or blender and pulse until ingredients come together in a thick sauce.  Add vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes and pulse again.  That's it!  Easy, peasy.  

I have also made this using an immersion blender and it worked great and made a lot fewer dishes, so you might try it if you have one on hand. 


STRAWBERRY VARIETIES // the local food report

Well. The time has come! Strawberries—the local ones, the red ones, the sweet ones, the ones worth eating—they're finally here. Something I never thought about until this year was varieties. Obviously, there are all kinds of varieties with most fruits and vegetables. But strawberries usually seem so...similar. 

Not so, it turns out. Bartlett's Farm on Nantucket grows fourteen varieties. Tony Andrews Farm in Falmouth likes Honey-Eye and All-Star because they get ripe early, and as a pick-your-own place, they like to be done with the season by the time the weather gets too hot. Checkerberry Farm in Orleans like Evie-2, a big sweet berry that fruits once in June and again in August. Hay Shaker Farm in Truro likes Sparkles, because they're small and sweet and high yielding.

If you're into geeking out over this kind of thing, check out this exhaustive list of strawberry varieties, and click on the MA section to see varieties recommended for Massachusetts. 

Personally, I like them all. Of course, the sweeter the better. And I especially like strawberry shortcake. Here's a no-miss version, from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. Happy eating!


I've adapted this a bit from Kim's original. You can use either half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat here. I prefer all whole wheat. Also, later in the season when strawberries overlap for a brief time with peaches, I think a peach-strawberry rendition would be fantastic.

for the biscuits
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup cold heavy cream

for the filling:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup cold heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients for the biscuits. Use a fork to stir in the cream until the dough is "shaggy"—a perfect word from Kim for the texture you're looking for. As soon as it comes together, form the dough into six mounds and arrange them evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toss the strawberries with the sugar. Let them macerate at room temperature for about half an hour. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and chill. 

To assemble: cut the biscuits in half, top with strawberries and a bit of juice and a dollop of cool cream. 


MARKET DAY // elspeth

If you're in Wellfleet tomorrow, I hope we'll see you for the farmers' market. We're expecting strawberries, peas, greens, Barnstable pork, eggs, sea salt, lots of baked goodies, hot coffee, live music, and so much more. We'll be on the green behind Preservation Hall on Main Street from 8 to noon. Enjoy the day!


BLACK SEA BASS // the local food report

Seasons are something Sally is just starting to understand. The weather changes, she grasps that. And she's starting to see it has a pattern. She keeps asking to go apple picking, and we keep showing her the tiny apples just swelling up on the trees and explaining that apples don't get ripe until the fall. Seasons are fleeting, we tell her. That's why it's important to enjoy the one you're in.

For the time being, it's black sea bass time, at least in the last standing local weir fishery. The weirs were big business on the Cape in the late 1800s, early 1900s, but these days the Eldredge family is the only company still setting up traps in Nantucket Sound. The idea is to use nets to catch migratory fish—small species like squid and scup and butterfish and black sea bass. Black sea bass is one of Shannon's favorites—that's her down there, bent over the net. She and her boyfriend Russell work alongside Shannon's parents to run the family's weirs—seasonal nets set up off the coast of Chatham from April til July. The other day I met them at the docks to talk black sea bass, and they shared a bit about the fishery and how they like to eat the little grouper relative. 

First of all, they say it's one of the most beautiful fish they catch. In the water it shines iridescent purple and blue and green, and then of course there's that line of spikes on the top fin. Russell says he still has one stuck in his finger from a fish that got him two weeks back.

The thing about the weir fishery is that the fish are culled by hand—pulled up from the trap with dip nets and sorted according to size and species—too small or not the right kind and the fish are thrown back. They're still alive and healthy, which is the beautiful thing about this scale of fishing. Only salable fish are coming into the docks.

In the markets, the black sea bass are graded by size—small, large, and jumbo, with bigger fish getting higher prices. Shannon and Russell end up eating a lot of the little ones, and they've come up with all kinds of delicious preparations—broiled with ginger and soy and garlic, stuffed with corn salsa and then finished in the oven, folded into a Thai fish stew with ginger and coconut and curry. The fish are small—between a pound and two pounds, usually—which means they're not worth filleting. They're a fish you want to eat whole, on the bone. The flavor is delicate, sweet—something like a cross between flounder and striped bass. They're popular with chefs and home cooks. And there's a strong recreational fishery too.

And the way they catch them is just as fascinating as the fish. Different sources give different estimates for just how many traps were set up along Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay in their heyday, but an account in the History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, edited by Simeon L. Deyo from 1890 reads as follows:

"The invention of the modern fish weir marked an important period in the whole business of shore fishing [...] Individuals and corporations are engaged on nearly every shore in the weir or trap fishing. The fish weir, or trap, now modified to various plans and purposes, was first used by its inventors on the shores of Long Island sound. At Monomoy Point in Chatham, where, about 1848, the first weir on these shores was set, at Woods Holl where a very large business is still carried on, and off the shores almost around the entire Cape, especially the lower towns, this branch of enterprise has furnished a channel of investment for large amounts of capital and employment to considerable numbers of people."

Another book, Truro: The Story of a Cape Cod Town, cites Deyo's history as well, and says that small town alone had twelve weirs in 1890, each 2,500 feet long. Each weir had an associated building on shore, where the fish were sorted, gutted, cleaned, iced, and packed in barrels to be shipped to Boston. 

It's amazing to think that such a booming industry has all but disappeared. What the Eldredges are doing is keeping a little slice of history going, and fishing in one of the most sustainable ways around. If you're interested in share of the catch, check out their Facebook page. They post what they bring in, and you can call or text if you're going to show up at the docks.


If you can't get your hands on black sea bass, try flounder, haddock, or striped bass for this dish. If you can find black sea bass, try throwing the fish in gutted and scaled but still whole. The bones will add flavor and nutrients.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into three pieces
2 teaspoons red curry paste
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 heads baby bok choy, ends trimmed so that the stalks fall apart
a 1 pound whole black sea bass, scaled and gutted, or 1 pound filleted white fish cut into 1-inch pieces
fresh limes, for squeezing
finely chopped cilantro, as a garnish

Warm up the oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and mushrooms and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the fish and cook an additional4 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of cilantro.



I don't know where to start today. You want to eat this? I want to eat this? I guess that's as good a place as any. I want to eat this, and I just finished eating it for lunch. We also had it for dinner last night. And I made a different version the night before. The sheer volume of consumption alone should tell you something.

So, what is it? It's a simple seafood stew I ripped out of Bon Appétit—have you noticed how many good, simple dinner recipes they've been offering in the Quick Recipes section recently?—and it hits all the right notes. Garlic, wine, crème fraîche, plenty of broth, good fresh fish. The original version calls for just fennel and potatoes, which makes it more of a right now stew, but in the second version I cheated the seasons a bit (ok a lot) and went high summer with an ear of corn, chorizo, littlenecks, and a handful of cherry tomatoes. 

Whichever version you make—or even if you come up with a rendition that's all your own—I think you'll find yourself using this recipe again and again as a base. It's the perfect summer seafood stew—lots of flavor, quick to prep, and easy to get ready ahead of time if you want dinner ten minutes from ready when you get back from the beach. And you can use pretty much any seafood you want—lobster, shrimp, mussels, any light white fish, or even something meatier like halibut. 

In summary: it's delicious, it's flexible, and if you've got company, it's also pretty. Happy summer, friends.


I'm going to publish my "high summer" rendition of the stew here, as you can easily check out the simpler original over here at Bon Appétit. Think of this as a base with endless possibilities, and you've got your summer dinner parties mapped out.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chorizo sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
3 small potatoes (8 ounces), cut into bite size pieces 1/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 large fennel bulb, cut into thin ribbons
black pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups water
kernels from 1 ear corn, cut off the cob
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup crème fraîche
12 littlenecks
3/4 pound flounder, cut into 2-inch pieces

Warm up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 5-6 minutes, until it starts to brown around the edges. Add the potatoes and salt and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and fennel and pepper to taste. Turn the heat up to high and pour in the white wine. Bring to a boil and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 4-5 minutes. Add the water, corn, and tomatoes and bring back to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. (Note: this is your stopping point if you want to prep the base of the stew ahead of time.)

Add the crème fraîche and stir until it dissolves. Add the littlenecks, bring the soup back to a simmer, then cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add the flounder, cover again, and cook another 4-5 minutes. Taste for salt and add more as needed. Serve hot.


GRAFTING TOMATOES // the local food report

From the top, it looks like an ordinary tomato plant. But this is not your average Mountain Magic. The fruiting scion has been grafted onto disease resistant rootstock to make a super plant—a tomato resistant to soil borne diseases and late blight, but with glossy, round sweet fruit.

The plant belongs to our friend Joe Leghorn, lawyer by week, gardener by weekend. He's always trying out new things in his Orleans plot, and this year's project is perfect tomatoes. He read about grafting in the New York Times and The Atlantic—the practice is relatively new in the U.S., but has been taking off around the world since about 2011. The idea is the same as with grapes and apples—graft a plant with tasty fruit onto a hardy rootstock, and you get the best of both worlds. 

Joe ordered his rootstock seed from Johnny's, where depending on which kind you buy, a packet of 50 seeds sells for about $25. It's more expensive than regular seed, but based on the literature, it's worth it. Plants tend to produce 30 to 50 percent more fruit, and they start producing earlier. They also produce later, because they don't succumb to the host of diseases most tomato plants do by early fall. When Joe was getting started he read to expect a 75 percent attrition rate for a first timer, so he planted 96 rootstock plants. Instead, after grafting he had a 75 percent success rate, so he gave away his surplus seedlings to gardening friends around New England. In return, they're reporting to him on their success, and how the grafted varieties compare to the regular varieties in their gardens this season.

The grafting process itself is fairly simple. (There's a great tutorial from Johnny's over here.) You plant the seeds. You wait until the stems are about 2 millimeters in diameter. Then you cut the rootstock plant, cut the fruit plant, and use a plastic clip to hold the stems together. The critical period lasts about seven days, during which time the plants need to be kept very humid so that the vascular system of the upper plant doesn't try to draw too much water through the healing scar. If the plant lives through this time, you're in the clear. 

Joe says he picked up a few tips through trial and error—he learned to plant the rootstock and fruit plants at different times, because they grow at different rates but need to be the same size for grafting. He also says he lost about three weeks in his planting schedule from the project, so next year he'll start that much earlier. Finally, he learned to plant the scar of the plants above ground, because you want only the rootstock plant growing roots. 

He also found out you can graft eggplant seedlings onto disease resistant tomato rootstock, so that may be next year's experiment. In the meantime, he's eagerly awaiting the harvest. We'll check back in come August to see how the fruit turns out! Have you ever planted a grafted veggie plant?



Do you ever clip a recipe and then let months, maybe years, go by before you actually get around to making it? I'm afraid that's a specialty of mine. I clipped this one from a 2001 (yes, that's right) issue of Cooking Light and finally made it three days ago. It was so good we made it again last night, for our good friend Bob, who's visiting from Ohio. He liked it as much as we did—which is saying a lot, given that Bob is mostly a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. The recipe is easy, quick, and delicious—and eminently open to modification, which is yet another plus. It's also vegetarian, although it doesn't have to be. 

I was inspired to make it because of all the spinach we got with our first CSA pick-up last week. I was also looking for another vehicle for our favorite tomatillo salsa, which comes from Buckwheat Blossom Farm in Wiscasset. We're addicted to the stuff and buy it weekly at our Saturday farmers market.

There are so many directions you could go with this recipe. I'd love to try adding peppers, sautéed onions, or black beans; kicking up the spices; and using different varieties of mushrooms, for example. The one thing I absolutely wouldn't change is the corn tortillas—their flavor and texture are key to this dish. 

I think we've hit on a new regular in our repertoire. I hope you enjoy it too!


This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in the October 2001 Cooking Light. The enchiladas get broiled, not baked. If the skillet in which you cook your spinach and mushrooms is ovenproof, you can broil in that. Otherwise put the enchiladas in a medium-sized baking dish; I prefer this option simply because I find it easier to take out of a hot oven. The recipe below serves four.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (~ 6 cups) fresh spinach or comparable greens
2 tablespoons cream cheese, cut into several smaller chunks
2 cups green salsa, divided
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup (or more) grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup diced cilantro
1/4 cup diced chives

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft. Add salt and spinach and stir for about 1 minute, just until the spinach wilts. Add the cream cheese and stir until it melts. Set mixture aside.

Heat 1 cup of the salsa in a saucepan over medium heat. Using tongs, dredge both sides of each tortilla in the salsa and stack them on a plate.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the spinach-mushroom filling into each tortilla, fold in half, and arrange in the skillet or baking dish, overlapping slightly. Top with remaining salsa and the cheese and broil for 3 to 5 minutes—until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.

Cut into wedges (it will be virtually impossible to separate the individual tortillas, but that doesn't matter), top with sour cream and a garnish of cilantro and chives, and dig in.



Hi there. I've never done this kind of thing before, but today we're going to have our very first book giveaway! 

Way back in February, the growers behind this book contacted me about giving it a read. It took me a while, but a couple weeks ago I finally sat down and started paging through. I'm so glad I did. While the book is really geared toward small scale farmers who want to make a living growing for farmers' markets, it's also full of information that's useful for home gardeners. I picked up some good tips about weeding (put a tarp over a weedy area of the garden and let it sit for a few weeks before you plant—this gives the weed seed time to germinate and then kills the plants because they can't get sunlight), row spacing (48 inches from row center to row center is considered standard, which means hand tools are usually manufactured to work 30 inch rows with 18 inch walkways in between), and how much to turn the soil over (as little as possible). I also liked the idea of putting together a calendar that you can use for many years where chores are marked by the season.

But for any of you out there currently operating or thinking of starting a market garden, there is so much more. The premise for the book is that it's possible to operate a financially successful small-scale market garden business with very little mechanical input and careful organic practices. This means lots of hand tools, a strong focus on soil health, plenty of face-to-face interaction with the plants, and low start-up costs. The introduction ("Small is Profitable") lays out the argument and then each chapter delves into a different aspect of making the business work. Text and illustrations cover siting and designing the garden, using appropriate machinery, fertilizing organically, starting seeds, weed management, insect pests and diseases, harvest and storage, season extension, and crop planning. The crop planning section includes detailed charts that I think would be especially helpful for beginning growers unsure of how to organize their farm. I know I've tried planning rotation crops, and just in our small garden it's a daunting task.

If you're interested in a copy, leave a comment on this post with your email. We'll choose a winner at random and send it along! Happy growing, everyone.

Update 6.13.14: The winner has been emailed. Thanks to everyone who participated!


FINDING FARM LAND ON AN ISLAND // the local food report

Nantucket has a reputation. Beautiful, definitely. But also pricey. As of 2011, Nantucket County had the highest median home price in the United States, and the only one in the seven digits. ($200,000 more on average than Manhattan!) 

Of course, that's excellent news if you're a homeowner. But it's terrible news for wanna-be farmers. Part of the reason for the sky-high prices is that Nantucket is an island, which means there's a finite amount of space. In addition, roughly half the land on the island is owned by the community land bank and is preserved as open space, which is excellent for conservation but also drives up demand and prices even further. But when it comes to food production, there's a big silver lining to this equation: the possibility of partnerships.

Land use partnerships are something non-profit Sustainable Nantucket has been looking at for a while. The organization's tagline is "Cultivating a Healthy Nantucket," and the focus of this effort is the building and strengthening of the community's local food system. The most recent news is the development of a community farm on a 2-acre land bank parcel. The idea is that the farm will serve as an incubator, where beginning farmers can start a business with very little overhead cost. In this way it's different than a community garden, where by-laws prevent growers from selling what they produce—the whole idea with the farm is to foster commercial growers. The parcel will be divided into sixteen plots each 1/8th of an acre, and Sustainable Nantucket will raise money to put in an irrigation system, pay any fees associated with the use of the land, and put up fencing. Growers, in turn, will pay a small fee to cover these costs. And the hope is that growers will be able to graduate to other land partnerships if their business gets to a size where they need more space. 

It's pretty exciting—especially for an island that less than 200 years ago had about a hundred farms and is now down to somewhere near a dozen. New growers Carl Keller and Tori McCandless (pictured up there) of Boatyard Farm say they have tons of friends who are interested in growing, but that everyone's always thought of it as something you can only do off island. Hopefully, that will change soon. Sustainable Nantucket is working right now to finalize the site plan, and interested growers will meet regularly over the next year to research soil and amendments, sustainable energy options, greenhouse options, and business plans. If all goes well, the first farmers will get started on the farm in the spring of 2015. 

Does your area have anything like this? One of the most exciting aspects about it seems like all the potential for working together. I'd love to hear about other examples of this sort of community growing! 



Good morning. You will not be seeing a picture of mint chocolate chip ice cream today. I'll leave it up to you whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, because the reason why is that we ate it all so quickly that there was no time to stop and document. It was that tasty. And as soon as my mint grows back, we will be making more. Maybe I could snap you a photo then?

In the meantime, I wouldn't wait around. I would go to your herb garden or the closest farmers' market and get yourself some fresh mint, and I would make this ice cream ASAP. There are very few things I like better than mint-chocolate desserts, and this one—homemade, with homegrown herbs, dark chocolate chunks, cream and milk and maple syrup—tops the list. The recipe comes from two places—I got the mint to cream ratio and infusion steps from this mint chip ice cream recipe by David Lebowitz, and the other proportions come from my standby easy ice cream from Patricia Wells. But what emerged is fairly different from both. It is both simple and decadent, and easy enough to fit in between finishing up a pile of paperwork and putting together dinner and clapping for the upside down tricks that now rule the space between the couch and the coffee table.

Also, it's pretty. After a few hours of steeping, the mint infuses the cream not only with its flavor but also with a stunning pastel green color, a hue that is nothing like those bright green mint chocolate chip ice creams you often see at scoop shops. The flavor's different, too—subtler, more earthy. All in all, it's not something you want to miss.


I have long been addicted to Green & Black's Organic dark chocolate bars infused with peppermint oil. I have a square almost every day after lunch. But this recipe might be it's true calling—chopped into bits, some fine and some large, it complements the smooth, sweet cream perfectly and brings out the flavor of the fresh mint. Note that this recipe takes hardly any hands on time, but it's best to start in the morning or after lunch so that the mint has time to steep and the ice cream has time to chill before dinner rolls around.

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups fresh mint leaves, packed
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (see headnote)

Pour the cream, milk, and maple syrup into a medium saucepan. Add the mint leaves, stir, and warm slowly over low heat until the mixture begins to steam. Cover and steep for at least an hour at room temperature, then put the pot in the fridge. When the cream is cool, strain out the mint leaves, wringing carefully over the pot to get out any extra flavor and cream. Pour the cream mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers instructions. When the ice cream is almost done, add the chocolate. Scoop into a container and chill for another hour or so before serving.


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