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…)
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.
Cantaloupe and cherry tomato salad also has cucumber, avocado and mint. (Credit: John Ross)
As June ends and July begins, the farm stands come alive and we are blessed by an abundance of local produce. After June’s asparagus, spinach, sugar snap peas, rhubarb and strawberries comes the arrival of sweet corn in July. Then the tomatoes, the melons and the berries. And in the midst of all this we still enjoy the bounty of the sea. Here is a meal that includes some of July’s many ingredients: (more…)
North Fork Chef John Ross at work in his home office. (Credit: Lois Ross)
As you, my loyal readers, know, I enjoy a little poetry with my food, along with good company. Poems provide inspiration that takes mundane cooking to a higher level. And cooking from scratch, using the freshest ingredients, is therapy for me and almost becomes a spiritual experience.