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America's Grill Master, Steven Raichlen, explores smoking in his new show “Project Smoke.” – Photo by Rob Baas, “Project Smoke”

Sitting down with Steven Raichlen, Chappy summer resident and a five-time James Beard Award-winner who also holds a degree in French literature, always lends itself to an interesting interview. The excitement of a new PBS show, “Project Smoke,” has fed Mr. Raichlen’s endless energy for the past months; 12-hour days are the usual, so on a leisurely afternoon we sat down at a local coffee shop to chat all things smoking, just in time for the barbecue-happy holiday we know as Independence Day.

“All barbecue is smoked, but not all smoking is barbecue” says Mr. Raichlen, known first and foremost as America’s Grill Master. His “Barbecue Bible Cookbook” series has been translated into 17 languages, and his TV shows include “Primal Grill” and “Barbecue University,” as well as the French shows he hosts, “Le Maitre du Grill” and “La Tag BBQ.” His first love was the primal technique of grilling, which took him on the adventure of writing 30 cookbooks (he also published a novel called “Island Apart,” a great summer beach read based on Chappaquiddick and the Vineyard).

But grilling was the gateway to smoking, no pun intended. “In the incredibly hurried, fast-paced world we live in, smoking is all about patience, and gives you a chance to slow down,” says Mr. Raichlen, as he dives into the science and chemistry of this newfound love. He explains what happens with the variety of temperatures, the elements released during the “heat of the moment.” He continues to describe what each part adds to the overall item you are smoking, whether it’s creating that smoke ring or introducing essential flavors.

Ten years ago, it was all about the kind of smoker you used, the wood you were burning, the technique you were demonstrating. Nowadays, what your food eats and how it’s raised matters just as much as how you are smoking it. Mr. Raichlen puts a strong emphasis on grass-fed beef, heritage pork, organic poultry and produce, and wild seafood, and examines ingredient sourcing in “Project Smoke.” Some local favorites of Mr. Raichlen are Jefferson Monroe’s Good Farm chickens and Katama Bay oysters.

“Project Smoke” premieres on PBS July 4th weekend (check local listings) and runs weekly for 13 weeks, each show running for 30 minutes. The show will be the first ever television program dedicated to smoking, and was filmed in the gorgeous Arizona Sonoran Desert. “Project Smoke” showcases a variety of smoking techniques in all kinds of smokers, and promises to be a favorite this summer. Start honing your smoking skills by tackling his recipe for Barbecued Pork Belly this weekend.

 

“Project Smoke” Barbecued Pork Belly

Adapted from “Project Smoke”

 

Smoking time: 3 to 3½ hours

Serves 6 people

 

a 3-pound section of pork belly

 

For the rub:

2 Tbsps kosher salt

2 Tbsps sugar

2 Tbsps sweet paprika

1 Tbsp granulated garlic

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp ground cumin

½ Tbsp ground black pepper

½ Tbsp mustard powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

 

Remove the skin from the pork belly (if still on). Score both sides, cutting a 1-inch crosshatch pattern with cuts ¼ inch deep.

Make the rub: Place spices in a bowl and mix with your fingers. Sprinkle the rub over the top, bottom, and sides of the pork belly, rubbing it into the meat with your fingers.

Set up your smoker, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and preheat to 225℉. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

Smoke the pork belly fat side up until bronzed with smoke and the internal temperature is 165°. This will take about 3 to 3½ hours. Cut crosswise (against the grain) into ½-inch-thick slices and serve.

 

Fresh herbs can easily be grown at home, and make for delicious additives to your favorite recipes. – Photo courtesy Middletown Nursery

One of the easiest things we can grow in the garden, or simply in pots on a sunny windowsill, is herbs. This month we celebrate the flavorful plants as Island Grown School’s Harvest of the Month. Many of the perennial herbs, such as chives, thyme, sage, and tarragon, are experiencing lots of new growth, and are ready to be harvested. Tender annual herbs such as basil, parsley, dill, and summer savory can be planted out in the garden now. Several local nurseries and farms are full of different varieties for sale; take advantage of this great time to plant a patch of your favorite herbs at home.

HoM_Poster_Herbs_June_2015_WEB copy.jpgFresh herbs can lend amazing flavor to salads, sauces, dressings, pizzas, pastas, and so much more. Think outside the box with herbs, and try things such as chive pesto, chopped arugula with your tuna fish, or cilantro leaves in your salad. Extra herbs can be chopped, put in ice cube trays with a little water, and used a few at a time when cooking. You can also dry extra herbs such as mint, lemon balm, or lavender to save in jars to use for tea.

Try making this Herbed Ranch Dressing to go with your next salad. It has been a huge hit in taste tests with the students at school.

Herbed Ranch Dressing

¾ c. plain yogurt
½ c. mayonnaise
3 Tbs. buttermilk powder
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. parsley, chopped
2 Tbs. chives, chopped
2 Tbs. dill, chopped
2 Tbs. tarragon, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
Salt to taste

In a medium-size bowl, whisk the first five ingredients. Add the chopped fresh herbs, scallions, and salt to taste.

Recipe provided by Robin Forte.

Emily Armstrong is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school nonprofit. For more information, visit islandgrownschools.org.

Courtesy of Island Grown Schools

Green is the color of late April, as the grass begins to grow and sprouts timidly poke through in the garden. Salad greens are one of the first things you can harvest from the wild or your garden, and are a celebration of the beginning of the growing season. Make sure to check local farm stands and markets for local salad greens, as some have already made their debut.

Packed full of vitamins, there are many ways to enjoy salad greens. Try a mix with varieties such as kale, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, romaine, butterhead, or Swiss chard. Add any type of greens into a sandwich or wrap for some extra flavor or crunch. Discover which varieties your family likes the best.

If you are interested in foraging for greens to put into your salad bowl, find a copy of Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants and ask a knowledgeable friend to help you. Right now, delicious edibles such as dandelions, watercress, and chickweed are growing like weeds everywhere.

Be adventurous with your salad making, and include toppings such as shredded purple cabbage, carrots, peppers, beets, sunflower seeds, or dried cranberries. Top it all off with a homemade salad dressing, which is easy and fun to make!

 

Herbed Yogurt Dressing by Robin Forte

 

½ cup watercress

½ cup parsley

¾ cup plain yogurt

⅓ cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsps. dill, chopped

2 Tbsps. basil, chopped

1 Tbsp. mint, chopped

3 scallions, chopped

1 tsp. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Blanch watercress and parsley in a small pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain, rinse in cold water, and squeeze out excess moisture. Cool. Transfer cooled watercress, parsley mixture and all other ingredients to a blender, and purée until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper.

 

Emily Armstrong is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school nonprofit. For more information, visit islandgrownschools.org.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Martini from Henry's at the Harbor View Hotel. — Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murra

The Edgartown Board of Trade’s annual Pink & Green Weekend May 8 through the 10th is quickly approaching. Pink & Green is a celebration of the arrival of spring on-Island, an annual weekend where local businesses open their doors for the season, welcoming visitors and locals after a long, cold winter with a variety of events.

One of the highlights of the weekend this year is the Pink & Green Prom, featuring DJ Rockwell, at the Harbor View Hotel on Saturday, May 9. Sydney Mullen, vice president of the Edgartown Board of Trade, told The Times, “I love to see the town transformed by Pink & Green Weekend, from all the store windows to the mini lighthouse in the mini park, the burgees on the lampposts, and the lanterns on the Harbor View Hotel’s porch. It’s a great way to shake off the gray of winter and get ready for summer. But if you’re looking for a real event, I’m most looking forward to the prom. We’ve got a great DJ, delicious food, and a fun silent auction. I can’t wait to see how everyone dresses for the night!”

The event we’re most looking forward to is the pub crawl on Friday, May 8. Edgartown restaurants are teaming up to showcase their best Pink & Green cocktails, and today we are sharing cocktail recipes that you will be able to sip at these local favorites: The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn, Among the Flowers, and Henry’s at the Harbor View Hotel. Enjoy the deals all over town at shops and restaurants.

 

Charlotte Club

By Justin Melnick of The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn

Sometimes you need a strong libation to relax you after a long day, and this one is just what you need — the gin adds herbaceous flavor notes that balance well with the St. George.

 

3 oz. Oxley gin

1 oz. simple syrup

1.5 oz. lemon juice

2 dashes St. George raspberry liqueur

1 egg white

Shake all ingredients vigorously to emulsify egg. Strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a fresh lemon slice.

 

Melon Magnolia from Among the Flowers features Midori and prosecco. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
Melon Magnolia from Among the Flowers features Midori and prosecco. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

Melon Magnolia

By Among the Flowers

Perfectly light and refreshing, with a hint of fresh melon balanced with tart sparkling wine, this is just what we want to be drinking on a warm spring day!

 

1 oz. Midori

5 oz. prosecco or sparkling wine

 

Pour Midori in champagne glass. Add sparkling wine and garnish with melon and fresh mint.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Martini

By Greg Fournier of Henry’s at the Harbor View Hotel

If you love berry pies, this drink is just the one for you — sweet and tart from the berries and rhubarb; we’re loving it!

 

1.5 oz. Bacardi Silver Rum

2.5 oz. house-made strawberry rhubarb purée

crushed graham crackers (optional)

 

Shake the rum and purée together. Pour into chilled martini glass that has been rimmed with crushed graham crackers.

Garnish with a fresh strawberry and a rhubarb ribbon.

 

For more information and to get involved in Pink & Green Weekend, check out edgartownboardoftrade.com or email them at info@edgartownboardoftrade.com.

 

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Three-year-old Tiernan, and five-year-old Sienna stay busy in the Crowell's kitchen. – Photo courtesy Kevin Crowell

Even in the slow season, many of us have frantic days where eating is almost an afterthought. If we have more than ourselves to feed, it can become a source of stress in itself. So how do we provide healthy meals for ourselves and our families in limited time, without sacrificing health benefits, eye appeal, and flavor? In this ongoing series, Islanders share their quick, go-to recipes. If you have one you’d like to share, please send it to us at calendar@mvtimes.com.

For most Island chefs, family time is a precious and rare commodity. Many, like Kevin Crowell, co-owner and executive chef of Détente in Edgartown and Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs, find that mealtime is the best opportunity to interact with the kids. “We have quite a lot of family time in January and February,” he explains. “Then our life slowly ramps up. So we go from almost vacation time, then it builds and builds up through June and July. It’s crazy. This is a meal we would be cooking now, when we still have time with the kids.” (Détente reopens on Tuesday, May 5, and will host various events for the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival during Mother’s Day weekend; Sweet Life Café reopens in mid-May.)

Kevin takes it a step further and includes his 3-year-old son, Tiernan, and 5-year-old daughter, Sienna, in the food prep. “As soon as I start cooking, they jump up on their stools,” he says. “They’re the carrot peelers, the garlic peelers, the onion peelers. They love all that. [They’re the] whiskers, the stirrers of anything.”

Have the two tykes developed a sophisticated palette, being in on the preparation? “It comes and goes,” Kevin explains. “Sometimes they try stuff, and sometimes they’re ‘No asparagus today.’ I try to sneak stuff in and tell them after what they ate. They are, after all, kids.”

Kevin’s been full-time on-Island for about 17 years. “I had a roommate who was a horticulturist here, and she always talked about how great the Island was,” he recalls. “She loved it. She just couldn’t talk enough about it.” He visited her here, and never left. His wife, Suzanna, moved here about the same time, but they didn’t meet until a year later when they both worked at the same restaurant. He’s still grateful to his former roommate for introducing him to the Island. “I loved that she was right,” he says.

Kevin Crowell prepares Yellowtail Flounder with Farro, Local Kale, and Carrot Sauce with the help of his family. – Photo courtesy Kevin Crowell
Kevin Crowell prepares Yellowtail Flounder with Farro, Local Kale, and Carrot Sauce with the help of his family. – Photo courtesy Kevin Crowell

Now, with the help of his junior prep cooks, the judicious use of a pressure cooker, and some gourmet-worthy techniques, Kevin is able to prepare Yellowtail Flounder with Farro, Local Kale, and Carrot Sauce from start to finish in about 30 minutes. “It sounds more intricate than it actually is,” Kevin explains. “It’s a high-quality meal that people can have at home.”

He chooses yellowtail flounder because it’s local, relatively inexpensive, and cooks quickly. “A lot of home cooks have a hard time searing fish and getting that crunch,” he cautions. The secret, according to Kevin, is patting the fish dry, flouring the skinless side of the fish, and searing in vegetable oil. “The trick is [that] once the oil starts to smoke — just a whiff of smoke — you know the oil is hot enough. Gently lay your fish down in the oil, and turn the heat down to medium.”

For the farro, the secret is to cook the onion and garlic enough to bring out its inherent sweetness. The garlic should have a nutty aroma. “It becomes more of a background note,” Kevin instructs, “than a punch in the face.”

“The carrot sauce is super-easy,” he continues. “You definitely want to use a blender [rather than a food processor]. You can add butter or olive oil, depending on how rich you want it. You can add knobs of butter, just like you were blending a milkshake. And that’s it. You’re done.”

Of course, it helps having a team of peelers and whiskers.

 

Yellowtail Flounder with Farro, Local Kale, and Carrot Sauce

Serves 4

Yellowtail Flounder:

1 to 1½ lbs. flounder filets (approximately 5 oz. to 6 oz. per person)

Flour for dusting

Vegetable oil (to barely cover the bottom of the pan)

Salt and pepper

Check flounder filets for any bones, and trim clean. Place large sauté pan on stove over medium-high heat. Pat fish dry with paper towel, sprinkle salt, and dust the top side (not the skin side) with flour right before cooking. Add oil to coat pan and swirl to cover; at first sign of smoke, gently lay floured side of flounder in pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes; reduce heat if there is any sign of burned flour.

Carefully turn over fish with fish spatula. Cook for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from pan and pepper (thicker filets may need more time).

Farro and Kale:

1 medium onion

5 cloves garlic

3 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

⅔ cup farro

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 tsp garam masala (a curry-like spice blend)

4 ounces North Tabor baby kale

Bragg Liquid Aminos, or soy sauce (to taste)

Dice onion and garlic. Add to pressure cooker with olive oil. Sauté until translucent, add farro, stock, and garam masala. Seal and allow to pressurize and cook for 12 minutes. Allow air to vent per manufacturer’s instructions. When safe to open, add kale, stir in, and leaving pressure cooker off heat, re-cover (residual heat will cook kale). Add Bragg’s to suit your tastes.

Carrot Sauce

1 cup water

6 medium carrots, cut to 1-inch chunks

1 tsp curry powder

Grated ginger to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt

Put all ingredients in covered saucepan. Cook until carrots are tender over medium heat. Purée contents of pan in blender; if it’s too thick, add water to desired consistency. Salt to taste.

To finish, place farro and kale mixture in middle of large bowl. Pour carrot sauce around farro. Lay fish over top. Serve.

 

It’s six o’clock. Do you know where your dinner is?

Dick Binder of Metes and Bounds Real Estate prepares Sherry Mushroom Skillet Chicken at home. - Photo by Barbara Binder

Even in the slow season, many of us have frantic days where eating is almost an afterthought. If we have more than ourselves to feed, it can become a source of stress in itself. So how do we provide healthy meals for ourselves and our families in limited time, without sacrificing health benefits, eye appeal, and flavor? In this ongoing series, Islanders share their quick, go-to recipes. If you have one you’d like to share, please send it to us at calendar@mvtimes.com.

Dick Binder, longtime Islander (28 years) and owner of Metes and Bounds Real Estate, is all about fast. He speaks fast and he cooks fast. Husband of busy teaching assistant Barbara Dworkin Binder, and father of 13-year-old Benny, he likes to get a meal on the table in 30 minutes or less. But he won’t allow time constraints to affect the quality of his food. “Cooking to me is sort of a creative deal,” he says. “I can’t paint. I can’t draw. I like to cook.”

Dick learned his culinary skills watching his mother. “She was like a magician in the kitchen,” he recalls. “She gave me tips. There are little tricks in cooking that make a difference — that really make the recipe.”

One of the tricks he learned in his mother’s kitchen is the use of the pot cover. “That cover is magic,” he says. “Most of the stuff, if you want to do it fast, you do it on top of the stove. You throw that cover on, and it really infuses the flavor into whatever you’re cooking in a very short time. If you want to reduce, if you have too much liquid, you leave the cover off for five or 10 minutes and the sauce becomes more intense, more flavorful.”

Another of his tricks for a quick meal is to use the grill — no matter what the season. “I use the grill right through the winter,” he says. “I’ll buy Bell & Evans chicken breasts at Shiretown [Meats in Edgartown]. I’ll buy it on the bone. That’s another thing my mother taught me — things always taste better on the bone. I use the grill, and in 20 minutes I can cook a meal.” Dick also saves time by grilling the vegetables in packets next to the meat.

Pasta dishes are another solution to a busy-night dinner. He makes a quick pasta sauce by sautéing a dozen unpeeled plum tomatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, then covers it and lets it cook. “In 15 or 20 minutes you have a sauce,” he says. “You can add red or white wine. Put some cheese on it, some parsley, some pepper. And whatever kind of pasta you like. It’s delicious. No cans. It’s all fresh.”

He developed his go-to Fast Supper recipe for Sherry Mushroom Skillet Chicken through experimentation. “When you cook on top of the stove, no matter what you make, you taste as you go. It’s a no-miss situation.” He credits the tastiness of the dish to the quality of its contents. “How can you go wrong with those ingredients?” His voice rises with enthusiasm. “My mother used to say, ‘Eighty percent of cooking is how and what you buy.’ I’m one of those people who feel the tomatoes. I can pick out a good strip sirloin by the marbleization.”

But Dick Binder is not all about fast cooking. Frequently on Sundays, he makes brisket. He seasons it with a rub and slow-cooks it in the oven at around 200°. “You go out,” he says, “spend the day, do what you do, come back five, six hours later. It’s out of this world.

“But,” he adds, “that doesn’t work during the week when you have to do things quick.”

This Sherry Mushroom Skillet Chicken is served over egg noodles and garnished with parsley and lemons. – Photo by Barbara Binder
This Sherry Mushroom Skillet Chicken is served over egg noodles and garnished with parsley and lemons. – Photo by Barbara Binder

Sherry Mushroom Skillet Chicken

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

 

kosher salt

2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs

1 package of egg noodles (or rice, couscous, etc.)

3 to 4 Tbsps. olive oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

pepper

3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped

1 large package of mushrooms of your choice

¾ cup cream sherry

lemon

parsley for garnish

Add kosher salt to large bowl of cold water. Add chicken thighs. Start cooking egg noodles. While chicken brines, heat olive oil at med-low heat in a large skillet, add chopped onion, sauté until opaque, then add 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic, cook another 2-3 minutes. Take chicken out of brine, pat dry with paper towels, season both sides with salt and pepper, move onion and garlic to one side of skillet and gently brown chicken, over medium heat, on both sides. Move onion and garlic back. Add chopped rosemary and mushrooms, placing ingredients evenly throughout the pan; add cream sherry. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over to enhance flavor while cooking. Lower heat slightly, and cover for 20 minutes, checking if there is too much liquid. Cook 5-10 minutes without the cover.

Serve over egg noodles, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve with a nice crusty warmed bread and salad. Enjoy!

 

The Portuguese staple inspires many different recipes.

Kale and Linguica Portuguese Soup. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

One of Portugal’s most recognized recipes is caldo verde, a kale-based soup that’s served all over Portugal. Whether you find yourself in a five-star hotel’s restaurant or at a neighbor’s home on the Island, this delicious soup is served with pride. Each family has its own version, each chef creating his or her own twist on the traditional dish. It’s also the best soup to ease you into spring. With a light broth and some hearty greens, it’s a great meal to welcome the new season — while we patiently wait for the winter chill to leave the Island.

Today, I’m sharing my version of this classic soup, which is not by any means traditional. This version includes tomatoes, which is not in the original recipe, but I love the sweetness it adds to the soup. Some people add white beans, as well as other variations like sausages or bacon. What’s your version? You’ll have the opportunity to share it at the upcoming Kale Throwdown event, to be hosted at the Portuguese-American Club on Sunday, April 19, from 5 to 7 pm. There, Islanders from all over will bring their four gallons (that’s the required amount for participation) of kale soup to be judged and awarded in the following categories: Best Kale Soup, Best Alternate Kale Soup, Is It Kale Soup?, and Best Professional Entry. With $10 admission for adults and $5 for children, the event will benefit the Islanders Talk Benevolent Fund, a fund created by Islanders for Islanders in need, and a popular group on Facebook where locals and wash-ashores alike come together for the latest Island news, updates, and more.

“I belong to the nearly 4,000-strong Islanders Talk Facebook page run by Lori Robinson Fisher,” says Jessica Burnham, the ringleader of this Kale Throwdown. “Just before Christmas, I came up with the idea to start a charitable fund built by the members of Islanders Talk. There were about 3,000 members at the time. I figured if every member gave $5, we’d have $15,000 to use to help other Islanders in need going into next holiday season. It seemed there was a new post every day about someone else in our community who was having a really hard time. This was my response to it. I went out and got a tax ID and a bank account, and started the fund. I asked someone from each town to be on the board, and the Islanders Talk Benevolent Fund was up and rolling. The other members include Lori Robinson Fisher, Margaret Oliveira, Debby Lobb Athearn, Laura Bryant German, Corrine Dorsey, and June Manning.”

The next Kale Throwdown planning meeting for the event is Sunday, March 29, at 1 pm at the P.A. Club, and the group is still looking for silent auction donations. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the group and the work they do, join the Islanders Talk group on Facebook.

 

Kale Linguica Soup

 

1 pound linguica (Portuguese sausage), finely chopped

3 large carrots, diced small

2 stalks celery, diced small

2 medium white or yellow onions, diced small

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bunch fresh kale, chopped

28-oz. can of peeled and diced tomatoes

2 quarts stock (vegetable, chicken, beef — your choice)

 

In a large stockpot, over medium-high heat, sauté the sausage until seared. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Sauté until it is all transparent. Add the kale and can of tomatoes, and stir until combined. Pour in the stock, and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

 

Courtesy of Island Grown Schools

There are small changes happening in the natural world around us that herald the return of spring. The buds are beginning to swell on the trees, shadows are getting longer as the light returns, and the birds are singing in the woods. In response to all of these changes, the chickens are starting to lay more eggs. With many families and farmers raising chickens on Martha’s Vineyard, we celebrate the spring and eggs as our Harvest of the Month this March.

Though $7 a dozen might seem like a lot to spend on local eggs, that equals a little over 50 cents a portion, which makes eggs the most affordable source of local protein available. Pasture-raised eggs are a great source of many nutrients and minerals, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and the proof is in the yolk. Birds who are free to forage for bugs and graze on grass will have rich, orange yolks. A fresh egg will have a yolk that stands up, and a firm white that does not spread much.

Whip up this egg-drop soup to warm you on a chilly March day.

Spring Egg-Drop Soup

¼ cup olive oil

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 small scallions, chopped

4 cups vegetable stock

2½ cups mixed spring vegetables: asparagus cut into ½-inch pieces, sugar snap peas cut into ½-inch pieces, shelled peas, and chopped spinach leaves

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. mint leaves, chopped

1 Tbsp. chives, chopped

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, add carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and scallions, cook 1 minute. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add chopped spring vegetables and simmer until crisp and tender, about 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat eggs in a small bowl. Add mint and chives. Reduce heat to low and drizzle in egg mixture. Let stand 1 minute, then gently add lemon juice. Add salt to taste.

Emily Armstrong is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school nonprofit. For more information, visit islandgrownschools.org.

What’s the difference?

Warm up with some hot chocolate, or hot cocoa, while the weather still warrants it. – Photo courtesy of chocablog.com

During these cold winter months, I’m going to bet, your hot beverage consumption has gone up. Whether it’s tea, hot chocolate, coffee, or hot cocoa — we’re drinking gallons more of it. Did you notice how I mentioned both hot chocolate and hot cocoa? It’s not a typo; they are two distinct things. These two recipes are not the same, and we’re going to dive into the world of their differences.

Legally, there is no difference, and brands can label their products interchangeably, but historically and methodically, there are definite distinctions.

Hot cocoa is a thin, chocolate-flavored drink that’s made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. Some hot cocoa mixes have dried milk powder integrated, so they can also be made with hot water: Think Swiss Miss (even though the box says “hot chocolate,” hence my earlier point about labeling).

Unlike hot cocoa, however, hot chocolate (also referred to as sipping or drinking chocolate), is traditionally made from actual chocolate. Whether using a chopped chocolate bar, ground-up chocolate, or chocolate shavings, it results in a thicker beverage. Much richer than hot cocoa, due to the high fat content of chocolate, hot chocolate is a creamy, almost decadent beverage. Both hot cocoa and hot chocolate can be flavored in a variety of ways, such as with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or vanilla extract.

Hot Cocoa

Serves 2

2 cups milk

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

Simmer milk until hot and then quickly whisk in the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and cinnamon stick. Turn down heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until everything is dissolved and incorporated. Serve immediately.

Rich Hot Chocolate

Serves 2

2 cups milk

1 8 oz. chocolate bar, or ¾ cup chocolate chips

2 Tbsps. granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. cornstarch whisked into 2 Tbsps. hot water*

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Simmer the milk until warm, and add the chocolate and sugar. Whisk until chocolate is melted, then quickly whisk in cornstarch mixture, vanilla, and cinnamon. Turn heat to high, and quickly bring to a boil. Serve immediately.

* Note: Adding cornstarch thickens the hot chocolate even more, making for a decadent winter treat!

On-Island, Mocha Motts makes a delicious hot cocoa with whipped cream; Black Dog Bakery creates its own housemade cocoa mix; and Espresso Love has a hot chocolate all its own, with Monin USA dark chocolate sauce and steamed milk. Go forth and conquer those hot chocolates and hot cocoas of the Island and beyond, before the snow melts and we’re back to craving the cold, refreshing goodness of a chocolate shock from Slice of Life.

It’s six o’clock. Do you know where your dinner is?

John Robert Hill shows off his favorite beef stroganoff recipe. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Even in the slow season, many of us have frantic days where eating is almost an afterthought. If we have more than ourselves to feed, it can become a source of stress in itself. So how do we provide healthy meals for ourselves and our families in limited time, without sacrificing health benefits, eye appeal, and flavor? In this ongoing series, Islanders share their quick, go-to recipes. If you have one you’d like to share, please send it to us at calendar@mvtimes.com.

There’s one in every family — a gluten-free, a vegan, a vegetarian, a salt-free, a carb-free. So what do you do for dinner guests with special dietary restrictions? You could make sure that there is at least one dish that suits them. You could invite them to bring their own food. Or you could leave them out altogether.

John Robert Hill, general manager of The Newes From America in Edgartown, accommodates. He has a vegetarian niece who is a valued part of the weekly dinners that have become almost ritual in John’s extended family.

His go-to recipe, Simple Beef Stroganoff, can be doctored. He explains, “I make a vegan version with fake meat and fake sour cream. I use rice instead of egg noodles.” And because they are quick and easy, both versions are ideal for him to pull together in the small window between work and the gathering.

The more traditional recipe is adapted from one passed down from John’s father. “My parents had a catering company,” John says. “Essentially, I’ve been around food service all my life.” He admits, however, that he’s always been much more interested in the front-of-the-house service part than the prep. But the recipe is also very different from his father’s. “I cheat a little bit,” he admits.

“I don’t go all-out. I marinate very quickly,” he continues. “I put it all in one pan. My dad was all gung-ho crazy. He’d marinate the beef.”

John also likes this recipe because ground beef or leftovers can be substituted. “I always have something hanging around,” he says. “It’s kind of a one-pan wonder.”

Although he has inherited many of his dad’s recipes, John has little time to slog through them. “He was very labor-intensive. His sauerbraten took seven days to make. I have the recipe for it,” he says. “I wish I could make it — the gingersnaps, marinating, et cetera — but I don’t have seven days to dedicate to it.”

Besides, it probably wouldn’t translate well to vegan.

Beef stroganoff served over egg noodles is a simple and delicious meal. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Beef stroganoff served over egg noodles is a simple and delicious meal. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Simple Beef Stroganoff

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. butter

1 onion, diced

1 cup white wine

1.5 lbs. round steak cut in thin strips (or a vegan alternative)

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced thin

1½ cups sour cream (vegan alternatives available)

1 package of egg noodles

In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the diced onions until transparent.

Add the wine, sliced beef, and mushrooms. Simmer for approx. 20 minutes.

Drain and reserve the liquid.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Add the sour cream and a portion of the saved liquid to desired consistency while stirring on low heat.

Prepare the egg noodles per package directions.

Drain the noodles and serve the Stroganoff mixture over the noodles.