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Cozy, Sparkly, Happily-Appley, Holiday Cocktail

28 Nov

A post on Edible Long Island and a post-trick-or-treating Halloween mini-party inspired me to make Apple Crisps, an invention of Relish restaurant in King’s Park, using local apple cider from Richter’s Orchards. While the boys decorated skull- and coffin-shaped papier mâché boxes, ate hot dogs and watched Casper’s Scare School, the moms noshed on white cheese and grapes (the world’s simplest appetizer) and cocktail meatballs and these light and relaxing cocktails!

flutes work well in small spaces!

flutes work well in small spaces!

I kept it hyper-local with Jericho Cider Mills cider (both orchards are on Long Island — yes, the same place you thought had been cemented over a long time ago actually has farms and orchards– but Jericho is closer to us than Richter’s ) and — me being me — added a bit more prosecco. And then, once the initial, beautifully shaken, garnished, and presented ones were drained daintily, everyone just sort of poured themselves some cider and topped it off with a healthy slug of the fizzy and a sprinkle of cinnamon…there is nothing I like better than self-serve after I’ve made a lovely first impression.

P.S. I also made one of these for Adriana of the Sparkly Cosmo Night…it is so refreshing and so low in alcohol  that it hydrates and maintains your level for the long haul…

I suppose I should tell you about the artless, yet decadent nutella sandwiches that were aso part of the evening...

I suppose I should tell you about the artless, yet decadent nutella sandwiches that were aso part of the evening…

The Apple Crisp
2 oz. local apple cider
6 oz. Prosecco
Sprinkling of ground cinnamon (plus a tiny squeeze of lemon, if desired)
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine ingredients. Shake well. Pour into a flute (or other wine glass) and garnish with a fresh apple slice. Sprinkle with more cinnamon, if desired.

Finally! A Summer Alternative to Roasting: Tender and Crunchy Grilled Beets

29 Jul

We are awash in beets in the summer and while roasted beets are fantastic, the recent heat wave has not made me (or anyone else) eager to run the oven at all!

Vinny buying the beets at the Greenport Farmstand...Vinny might make a better blogger than me...he was very insistent that I photograph everything!

Vinny buying the beets at the Greenport Farmstand…Vinny might make a better blogger than me…he was very insistent that I photograph everything!

So, thanks again to the Macchiroles, I learned a new technique for an old favorite. it was great at theirs and then this week my dad gave it a try and they were sublime.

Capturing Vinny's every move

Capturing Vinny’s every move

So, without further ado, here is the recipe (this is a very busy week of kid stuff — all good, but more in-depth posts will not be happening for a while!)

These are simple and delicious...beet sweetness

These are simple and delicious…beet sweetness

That caramelization balances the saltiness!

That caramelization balances the saltiness!

Grilled Beets

As many beets (the root part) as you’ve got

Olive oil

Pepper and salt (or Adobo seasoning)          

Top, tail and peel your beets (Note: Vinny does not peel, his but scrubs them well. It’s up to you!). Slice into ¼ inch rounds. Rub with olive oil until evenly covered and add salt and pepper or Adobo to taste. Alternately, you can marinate them for a while in the olive oil and seasonings while you do other things.

Lay rounds on a hot grill and cook, turning after about four minutes. Check after eight minutes. They won’t get soft like roasted or boiled beets, but they will be tooth-tender. Serve as a side to any summer dish!

You may also like:

Roasted Beets with Feta and Walnuts

Roasted Beets with Feta and Walnuts

El amor entra por los ojos -- This dish is love at first sight!

Roasted beets with orange and beet greens!

Edible Long Island Launches! Hurrah!

25 Jul
And you thought we in central Long Island were too  Married to the Mob and the Strip Mall to do anything but frequent pasta and pizza joints?

Uh. No.

Edible Long Island — the latest magazine in the Edible Communities family — proves the stereotypes wrong by uncovering the vibrant food cultures between Riverhead and the Queens border. I am so pleased to be a contributor to this very meaningful project and I hope you will have a look (my stories in this first — digital only — issue are on Stony Brook University Hospital’s rooftop farm and AHRC’s garden work with adults who face learning challenges). Congratulations to my editor, Betsy Davidson, for corraling it all together!


Click to Order Edible on Any Screen, Anywhere and click here for the current edition!


I wouldn’t say I am cheating on you, but you might see it differently….

10 Jul

While I haven’t been posting with my usual frequency here on Hot, Cheap & Easy, I have been busy working on stories for Edible Long Island’s blog (and for the upcoming digital launch). it has of course, involved food and agriculture.

So if you’ve missed me lately, I have missed you too!

So let me catch you up a bit on what I’ve been up to. Please click on the images or links and feel free to comment over there as well as over here. We love feedback!!

A Slow Food Huntington potluck at Restoration Farm!!!!

Click on image to go to my short post on Edible Long Island about the Slow food event!

Click on image to go to my short post on Edible Long Island about the Slow food event!

Do NOT call it a garden! The Stony Brook Heights Rooftop FARM at Stony Brook University Hospital.

An unusual location that makes perfect sense...a farm on a hospital roof!

An unusual location that makes perfect sense…a farm on a hospital roof!


Guest Post from a Ghost Writer: Crostini with Fig Spread, Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

5 Jun

Kerriann Flanagan Brosky puts the normal in paranormal. Seriously…when I say she’s a ghost writer, I’m not kidding!

Kerriann is today’s guest blogger sharing a great recipe for crostini, but I simply must give you the back story before we get to that.

Many of us who love food lead double lives. I grow, cook and write about food, but in my other life I am a full-time college professor. Look around the food blogging world and you’ll find fulltime parents, home renovators, artists, poets, and more. But my fellow contributor at Edible Long Island, Kerriann Flanagan Brosky, a cookbook author, writer and photographer, sent my eyebrows to the ceiling and my jaw to the floor with her other profession: she is a serious ghost investigator!

Kerriann and Sal, co-writers of Delectable Italian Dishes

Kerriann and Sal, co-writers of Delectable Italian Dishes

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The True Tasting Room Experience – A Summer of Wine and Work at Paumanok Vineyards

30 May

The other day I posted a remembrance of my experiences behind the bar. I had meant to talk about a day in the tasting room at Paumanok Vineyards, as I came back to lend a hand over Memorial Day weekend. But somehow the post morphed into a mini-memoir about my time pouring drinks in a biker bar and I didn’t really do enough justice to the original intention.

So….for your reading pleasure, a true taste of The Tasting Room Experience. This is an article that was published in 2007, in Spanish, in Puerto Rico’s Le Connoisseur magazine for which I was a contributor for much of the magazine’s ten-year or so life. It recounts my experience s in the tasting room — what I learned and the fun we had. And explains why I am in that picture with Hillary Clinton. This article has never been published in English before! Please remember…it is  an article published in 2007 recounting the summer of 2005. Some of the information may have changed slightly in the ensuing years!

Salim Massoud serving up on a busy day in 2007

Salim Massoud serving up on a busy day in 2007

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Behind the Bar: A Day in the Tasting Room at Paumanok Vineyards

28 May

My friends and acquaintances know that I do love a seat at the bar (skiing Mahogany Ridge, I like to call it). They all know that I don’t do a whole lot of sitting at the bar anymore, but not all of them know about my behind-the-bar history.

My first bartending job was at a bar here on Long Island known as Diamond Lil’s. To say it was a dive would be generous understatement.

Morning meeting: winemaker Kareem Massoud briefs the tasting room staff on all things wine

Morning meeting: winemaker Kareem Massoud briefs the tasting room staff on all things wine

It was the last resort of the biker crowd, which had been banned from every other bar in town (and there were at least a dozen in town back then). When it was packed on a Friday night with a cover band playing — the bands as a rule really rocked –, it was fun alright, so you didn’t notice, but if you also worked on quiet Sunday afternoons, as I did, it smelled bad. Stale beer and stale cigarette and cheap tequila and piss. Bad. It was dirty. It was dark. The ceilings were so low, they squashed expectations. The jukebox played “Plastic Jesus” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” at random — and often alarming –intervals. The pool table was off-kilter. So were the toilets, probably from so many large bikers sitting on them in reverse, in order to use the tank to cut cocaine. If I came in hungover, the hangdog divorced lonely Sunday afternoon guys — who were often hanging about by the door waiting for me to open at noon — took great delight in ordering shots of tequila all afternoon, to see if they could make me puke. I will not tell you whether they were successful.

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Light Yet Hearty Springtime Spanish Tortilla

19 May

The pressure was on! We had an invite to a brunch that would bring together some of the contributors to the new Edible Long Island magazine (launching first edition digitally in July, and then print editions starting in September). And everyone was to bring something.

A brunch full of food writers focused on local, hand-crafted food is a brunch full of people who know their way around a kitchen and know good stuff when they taste it. So this called for a dish that features seasonal ingredients, preferably locally-sourced, and perhaps expressing something about who I am and where I come from.

Portable and tasty, tortillas are a terrific potluck solution

Portable and tasty, tortillas are a terrific potluck solution

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The Best International Potluck Dance Party. Ever!

29 Apr

Regular readers know that in my other life I am a full time college instructor of English as a Second Language. This is a very good profession to be in if you like to adventure with food; immigrant and international students tend to be very proud of their national cuisines and more than happy to bring in samples in order to convert you to their way of eating.

I don’t travel as much as I did when I was a full time food, wine, and travel journalist, but since I started this teaching gig, I have covered thousands of miles of previously uncharted gastronomic territory.

We love when our students bring us special treats. But once a semester, they go all out, all at the same time. The most anticipated event of each semester at Language Immersion at Nassau Community College (LINCC) is the End-of-Semester Party – which might be better called “The Best International Potluck Dance Party on Long Island.”

A table groaning under the weight of fabulous international food!

A table groaning under the weight of fabulous international food!

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New collaboration: Edible Long Island magazine!

25 Apr

I am pleased to announce that Edible Long Island has launched its first salvo into the Riverhead to Queens border Long Island food follies and that I am a part of it! The blog went live today, including my story on The Greek…a lovely little restaurant near me started by a local restaurant tycoon! So visit and enjoy, and I will keep you “posted” as more of my work comes up and when the print edition comes out (summer or later!) Now let’s hope that  The Greek didn’t suddenly close…we just ordered from them about a week ago but their site says they are closed for the summer? Eek!

Peter the Greek (click to link to story)

Peter the Greek (click to link to story)

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