2015 Kingsbrae [F]Arms Crops

2-16AThis last blizzard day kitchen sink pizza got us thinking about our garden and greenhouse crops for the coming season. Maybe it was the thick armor of onions and their golden caramelized finish we craved—or sinking our teeth into the crunch of charred kale, arugula and mustard greens underneath. Doesn’t matter. The pizza sustained us and put us to work. Final seed catalog decisions were made after reviewing the results of last season and performing a kind of Mendelian Darwinism of those that performed and those that did not. 2-16

As you can imagine from the winters we’ve been experiencing, this is a tough garden spot prone to everything from gale force winds to freak frosts & hail to blight blowing in from the sea. Notwithstanding, all is idealized at this time of year when failures are merely a figment of the future and indoor micro green crops stand in stark contrast to the piles of snow outside. Here then are the crops we’ll be growing in garden and greenhouse and serving on our table this year. 2-16B

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Beat the snow

Cauliflower ParmIf you’re looking for something to get you through the next blizzard [or the one after that for that matter] check out this Parmigiana recipe from the New York Times:


It is infinitely adaptable and can be made with any number of ingredients. In our first effort, we made the cauliflower shapes look like meatballs. In the next, we layered Norland red potatoes, kale & broccoli to the cauliflower.

2-12Our tip to good health is roasting the vegetables rather than frying them. Now don’t get us wrong. We still dredge, but in chickpea flour rather than all-purpose, coat the bits with egg and cover them with panko. But instead of dropping them into a half inch of scalding oil, we spread them on an oven tray and pop them into the oven @ 425 for 30 minutes. Out they come, golden and crunchy. [We were tempted to stop there and chow down, but we had already made the sauce.] And of course, sauce is a very personal thing. We use bacon and two kinds of paste for the base: anchovy and tomato. Then sauteed onions, shredded carrots, two cans of San Marzano tomatoes and plenty of seasoning, spice and a dash of 2-3Fvinegar & sugar. Your call. Shred mozzarella. Grate Parmesan and do the layering in a big glass Pyrex pan starting with sauce, cheese, bits, sauce, cheese, kale, sauce, cheese bits and top with more Parmesan, maybe some nutmeg. You get the idea. This will get you through the snow if there’s no Caribbean in your near future and your four foot picket fence is a thing of the past.

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Skillet Corn Bread

corn bread[NEW YEAR’S UPDATE. Serve this golden cornbread with a heaping helping of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day for a healthy and prosperous year filled with luck. Unfamiliar with this Southern dish? Just mix up a batch of savory black-eyed peas, serve over rice and your good fortune chances increase exponentially. Check out a detailed David Tanis recipe on the New York Times site. nyti.ms/1AX9iQa ]

We’ve been eyeing that well seasoned cast iron skillet on the shelf lately and decided it was time to pull out the corn bread ingredients. There are so many variations. This is our favorite, but as with all our recipes, we encourage a variety of optional added savory ingredients that will have you coming back to the base recipe over and over again.

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil [more or less depending on how moist you want your result]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick cooled melted butter
  • [Optionals: your favorite spice profile, whole corn kernels, chopped jalapenos for heat, crispy bacon, diced ham, grated cheddar…keep going]

Stick your skillet with some butter into the oven while pre-heating to 425F. Keep an eye on it. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. Then pour wet into dry and mix till just combined. Spread batter evenly in hot skillet and bake about 25:00 minutes. Cool on rack if you have that kind of restraint. Otherwise slather pieces with butter and eat while piping hot. If you’re having a dinner party, try to save some for your guests.


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Preserved Lemons

001Our Mediterannean tagines have been spot on with spicing, but truth is, our lemon ingredient was roasted, not preserved. The result…the random hit of concentrated lemon without the acidic throat attack was judged agreeable. And yet, we’ve been impressed with the versatility of preserved lemons stirring the rinds [not the juice or pulp] like canary yellow candy bits or ribbon strips into mashed potatoes, cauliflower puree, hummus, rice, couscous, quinoa, a dizzying array of applications especially welcome in the winter months and quite authentic in your next tagine.

When we looked, recipes for preserved lemons were varied, but you get the idea if you think lemons, lemon juice, flaky salt [kosher will do nicely] and time. Simply rinse your lemons, cut into attached quarters, salt liberally and squeeze into a mason jar. Fill to the brim with more lemon juice. Now wait. Store in the pantry for several days, then in the fridge for up to six months. When ready to use, simply rinse off the salt of what you need, chop or julienne the rind and add like seasoning a la minute. Fragrance and flavor will develop in the heat of your dish. Worth the wait.

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Chowder Reconsidered

ChowderWith all the early winter horrors or news of it upon us, we yearn for comforting nourishment. Chowder comes to mind. We’ve got an arsenal of tried and true recipes, but have been really impressed with substituting chickpea or “gram” flour for all purpose wheat flour. Here are four simple reasons to give it a try. Roux made with chickpea flour is luscious and velvety; it doesn’t separate; there is no gluten; and chickpea flour contains a higher proportion of protein than any other flour.

So let’s get started. This is not a specific recipe. It’s more of a departure point to encourage your own explorations.

Begin with a saute of seasoned savories in some EVOO. Onions, mushrooms, fennel, celery. For smoke add some chopped bacon or pepperoni…whatever you fancy. When the savories are limp/translucent/done, add a few tablespoons of butter with a few tablespoons of chickpea flour and toast the roux for a few minutes. The beauty of chickpea flour is that you can add more later to thicken the chowder. You don’t have to be as precise about amounts at this point as you have to be with wheat flour. Add hot milk [or substitute almond, soy or rice milk to avoid lactose if you like] stirring with a whisk. You will be impressed that there are no lumps. Then add an equal amount of stock bringing all to a gentle boil. Here’s where you decide if your chowder is thick enough or if you need to add more chickpea flour. If you need more, just toss it in and stir. No need to make a slurry, but you can if you like. 

Now it’s time for the chowder ingredients. Add your choice of vegetables. Note: Rather than boiling our vegetable ingredients, we prefer to oven roast them. Bite size cuts of potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers [we add items like peas or corn with the seafood at the end]. Our go-to temp/time is 450F/20:00. You get a deeper, richer flavor. Bring this mixture to a gentle boil, toss in your raw seafood [for this recipe, we used squid, clams, mussels & shrimp], shut off the heat and let the pot rest covered for ten minute. The seafood will be perfectly cooked. When you remove the lid, you’re in for a treat. But remember, just one of an infinite number of seafood & vegetable combinations. 

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Risotto No-Stir Redux

Risotto ScallopsSomewhere in the early dawn of everything digital we downloaded a 2000 New York Times article titled “Minute Risotto [Almost]” by Melissa Clark @goodappetite on behalf of master chef Christian Delouvrier @DelouvrierChef. Our pack-rat tendencies are to organize recipe downloads, scribbles, scratches, notes & shreds in loose-leaf binders [we have several] and when we’re not so organised tossing them into plastic task baskets for random retrieval. Seems like risotto is getting a bump in popularity lately and we think it’s time to revisit the no-stir method from the archives. Chef Delouvrier’s was an elegant iteration with black truffle foam and as decadent as you can imagine. But for us…and for you, the real reveal was the time saving shortcuts we haven’t seen in print lately. Let us unpack these secrets for you.

  • Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1-1/4 cups stock/broth [your choice of meat, poultry, vegetarian…depending on your ultimate flavor profile. Remember, risotto is essentially a delivery system.]
  • Method
    • Saute [or not] rice in a bit of butter/oil to toast
    • Combine rice and wine and simmer until wine is absorbed. Let cool. [This is important. Suggest doing this step in the morning to ensure a cool mixture by lunch or dinner time.]
    • To finish: heat stock/broth, blend into the rice with a wooden spoon breaking up the chunks of inebriated rice and simmer till liquid is absorbed [about 6 minutes.]
    • No need to stir except to perform the biblical parting of the rice mixture at the bottom of the pan to test for proper consistency.

That’s it. Honest. You now have a creamy risotto, which you and your imagination can tease, coax, supplement, flavor & enrich with infinite combinations of butter, cheese, cream, creme fraiche, sour cream, sauteed vegetables, purees, seafood, caramelized savories…[preferably not all at once]. This is where you shine with unique possibilities. 

001Who needs to stand over a stove for 20 minutes stirring? This no-stir result is as traditional as chestnuts [how about roasted chestnut risotto?] and just perfect as we enter the season of holiday excess & pleasure with so little time for any of it. Besides, if you’ve ever eaten restaurant risotto, you’ve probably eaten this version many times.


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Marrakesh Meandering

TagineCruciferous vegetables, chicken suprême, lemons, tomatoes, olives…unlikely combinations, but legit ingredients all in Daniel Bouloud’s tagine recipe. We were wondering about a mid-autumn Sunday dinner when thanks to Sam Sifton’s recent New York Times article, everything fell into place. By early afternoon the kitchen filled with toasty aromas of spices, a heady mix of cardamom, garam masala, 5-spice, allspice [not the same] turmeric, ginger,coriander seed. Lots of paprika, of course. Along the way we got bold with the ingredients and added some of our own. Pickled red peppers, pepperoni & apricot studded Israeli couscous. We love these collaborations. One idea begets another. We’re always testing and taking new avenues that can be explored with flavor. Our “tagine” was considered a success. Sort of a color wheel hedge against the certain monochromatic monotony to come in the snowy months ahead. The recipe will be re-used and revised and the palate will dance on our tongues as our eyes look forward to the hews of spring. This is a worthy effort.

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So what’s in the bowl?

001We chose our salad greens [and reds and magenta’s and ruby’s and copper’s]  for taste, color & texture. Starting at the greenhouse, there’s lots of cruciferous fireworks with arugula, tat soi & mizuna. Magenta spreen is a favorite and just around the there’s a burst of ruby orach. Dappled lettuce leaves are a favorite. Speckled trout, perfectly named. And deer tongue, very anatomically correct if you’re a deer, but not invited to this banquet. Stay out please. [Truth is we leave little goodies in pots outside the greenhouse for these night time foragers. Call us softies.] And then beet greens & kales give the crisp textures. Tickly Russian red and reptilian skinned Italian lacinato. 7-21A little of this. A little of that, and each evening at Topside Tavern comes an ever changing palate to temp eye as well as tongue. Dressing secret ingredient? 7-16AMaple syrup that over the winter was mere sap in a local stand of trees. It’s all finished with a pickled egg, edible day lily, sprinkle of pumpkin seeds [the pumpkins come later], candied pecans, cranberries & a buttery crostini.  Tutti a tavola…[Did we say we love Lydia?]

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The Most Normal Extraordinary Things

7-187-18 Z17-18 Z2Something extraordinary happens at this time of the year when comments are made about summer being already half over. And yet in the garden we feel like we’ve only just begun. Dalton, our stalwart master gardener [he studies plant biology but refuses to wear gloves leaving us to surmise that his books must be really dirty] is trimming and tipping and picking and digging everyday and we just can’t seem to keep up. 7-17We bring the garden right into the kitchen and with the inspiration of colors and shapes, flavors and textures come up with some pretty interesting things. 7-4One of our favorite bits are the covered mini-terrines that we fill with a pea or carrot inspired cold soups topped with a bit of tobiko caviar, a sprig of magenta spreen or a sassy nasturtium. Open the lid and inside’s the surprise. Guests seem to appreciate the compositions even if they look somewhat 003skeptically at their server who assures them that the blossoms are all edible. And it works. Very few flowers return to the kitchen headed for the compost bin. What’s best is the kick we get out of being able to serve tiny growing things that simply can’t be gotten at grocery stores or restaurants that don’t grow their own. We do and we love it. 7-18ASometimes it’s a simple platter of taste choices like blanched sugar snap peas, Chantenay carrots, white hakurei turnips and a sprinkle of peas on top of cold curried carrot soup. 7-18BAnd sometimes it’s more complex like our cold poached salmon dijonnaise served on a bed of sweet, sour, bitter & tangy garden greens dressed with an almond butter vinaigrette spiked with maple syrup from nearby woodlands. We get our syrup from Jim Lord every year and he always saves us a few extra 4-liter jugs because he knows that inevitably we’ll run out before the end of the season. The hemerocallis  is more than just a garish garnish. It is a delectable edible with a sweet core and a crunchy petal. 7-15And who doesn’t love a pickled poached egg on top. We’d put one on top of our desserts, but feel we should exercise some restraint. But we’re thinking about it. After all we put cheddar and blue cheese shortbreads on our plates along with prosciutto wrapped house smoked salmon and chive flowers. And then the most normal extraordinary things happen. The plates come back empty. 7-13We’re having fun with our food and we’re glad our guests are in on it. It’s mid-summer…and we’re just getting started.


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How would you like to be an innkeeper?

Dome3We are looking for a mature individual who would like to join the dynamic world of inn keeping. Duties consist of working with the public in a friendly and hospitable way. Live on this lovely property rent free year round. Work only on weekends and evenings Monday through Friday as demand requires. Pursue another career at the same time be it artist, marine scientist, teacher, therapist…the list is endless. Financial allowance will be based on occupancy. If this is for you, please inquire at reservations@kingsbrae.com with full details of your interest and situation. We’d love to hear from you and will be happy to begin a conversation.

The hospitality team at Kingsbrae Arms


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