A freshly shucked Peconic Bay scallop. (Credit: Krysten Massa)
As a chef on the North Fork I have cooked Peconic Bay scallops in many ways, going all the way back to 1973, when I opened Ross’ North Fork Restaurant. (Back then we had a sandwich sign in front of the restaurant that advertised a Peconic Bay scallop dinner for $4.95). The season for scallops went from September to March, but has been shortened in recent years to November to March. This allows the scallops to spawn and grow to maturity. I only cook fresh scallops when they are in season. When you freeze and thaw them, they are still pretty good but their structure breaks down, they lose moisture and they don’t caramelize when sautéed.
A Tamworth pig and Icelandic sheep at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue, one of the stops on the tour. (Credit: Randee Daddona, file photo)
In decades gone by, the North Fork was a quiet, rural area, where farmers grew potatoes and other crops for the market. The farmer’s wife would often set up a small stand in front of the house to sell vegetables. It is pretty amazing how the little farm stand has evolved since that time.
A white Boer pumpkin stuffed with pumpkin polenta. (Credit: John Ross)
Across the United States 90,000 acres of farmland are devoted to pumpkins, producing about 1.5 billion pounds annually. About 15 percent of the crop is processed into canned pumpkin purée and the area around Peoria, Ill., is the largest producing area. Libby’s (a Nestlé company) and Seneca Foods are the major processors.
Prince Edward Island mussels with gnocchi and tomato sauce. (Credit: John Ross)
Mussels have been a nutritious source of protein for thousands of years, coming from both fresh- and saltwater sources. They are bivalve mollusks like clams and oysters and, like them, are filter feeders — feeding on plankton and other microscopic sea creatures. (more…)
Long Island duck, spatchcocked and fresh off the grill. (Credit: John Ross)
I have cooked many ducks in my long career. They were a signature item at Ross’ Restaurant in Southold for many years, helping to define the cuisine of the North Fork. Duck is not only a great part of our Long Island heritage, it is also delicious when cooked properly. Finally, duck is a great complement to good red wine, especially the merlots and cabernet francs of the North Fork.
Season bounty preserved at home (from left): adult applesauce, tomatoes with basil and peaches with cinnamon. (Credit: John Ross)
My parents grew up on farms in Ontario, where their mothers spent much of the summer canning fruits and vegetables for use in the long, cold winter. The produce came from their garden, which was tended all summer long. My wife grew up on a farm in Michigan, where her mother spent much of the summer canning. She would drive all the way to Traverse City to buy buckets of cherries, one of the few things that she didn’t grow herself, to be preserved and end up in cherry pie. Preserving, a necessity for farm families then, is pretty much a lost art now that we purchase most everything ready to eat. But if you want to experience the fresh, preservative-free taste and aromas from our local tomatoes, peaches and apples, here are some small-quantity, easy-to-make beginner recipes. (more…)
The younger set at poolside during the author’s recent family gathering. (Credit: John Ross)
This was the summer when the relatives came. Nine grandchildren, three sets of parents, a couple of in-laws and three dogs. A wonderful long-awaited gathering months in the making. Feeding this group is a labor of love, but for a chef who cooks from scratch using fresh ingredients it presents a challenge in 2017.