Wednesday, September 30, 2009

RECIPE: Blueberry & Pecan Breakfast Bread Pudding

I commented recently on Facebook how a recipe I'd been working on had been a big hit for breakfast, and since have been asked to share the recipe.  When next I make it, I'll take a photo and add it to this blog post. (Although I'm thinking about trying my next batch of it with the apples, as they're in season!)


BLUEBERRY & PECAN BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING -- Serves 10-12

Spray a 16" x 10-1/2" (4.5 liter) baking dish with non-stick spray. Add:
1 loaf (approx. 24" long) French baguette, cut into 3/4" slices, then into roughly 3/4" cubes

Whisk together:
8 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Pour over the bread and press the bread into the egg mixture.

Stir together the topping:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup (I used instead a blueberry maple syrup)
1 cup coarsely-chopped pecans

Cover both with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove both casserole and topping from refrigerator and uncover. Bake the bread casserole 35-45 minutes, or until set, but not brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle over the top:
1 cup fresh or frozen (no need to defrost) blueberries

Drop rounded spoonfuls of the topping roughly 1-1/2" apart evenly over the casserole. Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Cut and serve. Pass with (optional!) maple or blueberry-maple syrup.

Enjoy!!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Oldest English Settlement in New York State"


The sign that greets visitors to the village of Southampton, located at the top of our road, states proudly that Southampton was established in 1640 and is the oldest English settlement in New York State. (Chris, of course, takes some proprietary satisfaction in this.) For me, I never pass that sign without a little jolt of amazement.


I make jokes to guests that back in California, if a structure is 50 years old, we knock it down (or an earthquake does the job for us) and build new. So when I first came out to the East End in 1992, I couldn't get over the sheer volume of history made visible that existed here. One example: Built in 1648, Halsey House on South Main Street is the oldest house in Southampton, and in season, you can tour it. Careful preservation and conservation by the Southampton Historical Society has meant that when shingles, roof, or windows on the house have to be replaced, they are made and installed to period specifications. To a much lesser degree, A Butler's Manor -- built in the relatively recent year of 1860 -- is designated a historic structure, which prevents us from altering the exterior of the house in any substantial way. (Fortunately we are free to update interior fixtures such as plumbing and electric!) When we had the house repainted a couple of years back, we had to clear it with the architectural review board.


Though the East End has lost some of its farmland...wealthy Wall Streeters have built some sprawling Mc Mansions where once potatoes grew... I am still pleased to note that others make every effort to preserve and rebuild some of our more historic structures. A case in point is the rebuilding of the old Presbyterian Manse on South Main Street. In Spring, they began demolition down to the studs inside, which apparently precipitates the difficult and costly process of lifting the house. Using massive steel beams and pillars made of stacked railroad ties, they raised the house up about six feet above grade in order to excavate a full basement beneath and pour all new foundations. Seeing a house that is probably 6,000 square feet lifted in one piece, and balanced there for a few weeks while brave souls work beneath it, is an amazing sight! The picture here shows the house, recently set back down and attached to its new foundation. Now they can reframe the interior walls, insulate and reshingle. And when the project is complete, the neighborhood will look...exactly as it always has. I love that. That continuity, that preserving a sense of place, is a special thing about the community that I have come to value.


Quote of the Day: Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build forever...For indeed, the greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, nor in its gold. Its glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching which we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity. ---John Ruskin

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Slipping into September


Maybe it was because Labor Day was so late this year, but somehow, summer slipped away and whoa, here we are already in mid-September.


When I first came to the East Coast and the seasons were still so new to me, I noticed that it was literally as though Mother Nature flipped a switch on Labor Day and put that note of Fall in the air. Certain trees, such as the horse chestnuts, have begun to drop a few leaves and nuts (to the delight of the considerable squirrel population in these parts). While the water at the beach, and especially our pool, is still swimmable, and daytime temps are mostly still in the 70's, the evenings cool down to the point of needing a sweater.
Actually, nothing much has slowed down at A Butler's Manor even though Labor Day is behind us, but oddly, it FEELS slower. The pace of life is more relaxed come September. A certain frantic-ness that hangs over the Hamptons in August almost like a miasma disappates like the humidity after Labor Day. After a summer spent trying to stay off the crowded roads, all the locals breathe a collective sigh of relief and rejoin the community. Chris even went off this afternoon to attend a meeting of the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons, where they were giving a talk on what besides the ubiquitous mum you can plant for fall...

Truthfully, September is my favorite month. The warm days and cooler evening temps give the garden a chance to post at least one last hurrah of color before autumn really sets in. It's a big travel month for overseas guests who are often making their first trip to the Hamptons, and because we feel a little less frantic too, we can spend more time helping them maximize their visit. It's also a favorite time for brides, as September is a big month for weddings out here. This weekend, we had guests here from two different wedding celebrations.


Even the wildlife sense the return to a quieter time. On my early morning walk today, a deer stepped out from behind a stand of tiger grass in front of a house about 1/4 mile south of us. She and I were no more than 10 feet apart, and she skipped nimbly into the center of North Main Street (mercifully quiet on a Sunday morning), but seemed disinclined to entirely cross the street until -- of course! -- her tiny fawn emerged to join her. (When you see one deer, you know there is ALWAYS at least one more.) But I admit, while I watched until they had regained the other side of the street in safety, I also told them to please not visit our garden...
With everyone in the house at a wedding last night, Chris and I had a chance to wander out to Bostwick's in East Hampton for a drink. The overcast weather hadn't affected business much -- both the bar and restaurant were doing thier usual roaring trade. Bostwick's has always been a favorite of ours for a relaxed dinner and drinks with a bonus of a sunset view; we've been fans of any restaurant that owners Kevin Boles and Chris Eggert have opened since the inception of their first, Santa Fe Junction, back in 1993. Alas, this will be Bostwick's last season at Harbor Marina, as the owners of the marina have renovations in mind. We'll miss those sunset views, but know that Kevin and Chris's welcoming ambiance and the friendly service of their loyal waitstaff will be present at their other two restaurants, Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett and Cherrystones in East Hampton. I just wish they had a restaurant in Southampton!!
Quote of the Day: If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day weekend. ---Doug Larson