Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Butler, Butlers Brand, and how to peek into one of Those Houses

Just saw that I last blogged in mid June. Whoa. Summer sure has a way of getting away from me (which is probably the opposite of how our guests feel, i.e., getting away for the summer).

But here's a taste of what the summer sky looked like last week:


So under the heading of What's New and Exciting: In addition to welcoming awesome guests from near and far, Chris has been active in a new venture called Butlers Brand Concentrated Cleaning Solutions.
The butler on the set
The company was founded by former butler colleagues who saw the need for a completely scent-free, non-chemical, yet highly effective green cleaning product to be used in the estates of the rich and famous...and in the homes of the hoi polloi (that's the rest of us). Chris is a spokesperson for the product, helping to launch it at a "soft opening" about a year ago at the DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association) conference in Florida, and contributing blog material, tips, and expertise.

At the Farmer's Market last Sunday
We've been using Butlers Brand Universal Cleaner at A Butler's Manor for over a year now. Admittedly, our housekeepers were wary of a product that didn't have any odor ("how can you tell it's clean if it doesn't smell like [bleach, PineSol, Murphy's Wood Soap, Lysol--name your poison]?") and so we eased into the change by adding a couple drops on doTerra "On Guard" essential oil. The universal cleaner, which comes with a wonderful, heavy duty aluminum spray cannister, is great on hard surfaces such as granite, marble, tile, wood, and stainless steel.

Due to a recent media request for information and video content, Chris spent much of this past Thursday in front of a video camera, shooting short segments about cleaning and maintaining a well-run, healthy home. While some of the shoot took place here in our gardens, much of it took place at the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, shown above. (Yeah, I WISH I had that kitchen too.)  I'm looking forward to seeing the completed videos, and will post them when they're up. Exciting! 

Butlers Brand has launched its website with online ordering capabilities and has so far debuted the product locally. If you're visiting, it's available at Fork & Rosethe Southampton Chamber of Commerce Farmer's Market, and here at A Butler's Manor.

Coastal Living Showhouse, Junior Master Bath
Speaking of showhouses! With all the usual activities that people visit the Hamptons for in the summer, this is one that might get overlooked since it's an indoor activity. (Perfect for that odd overcast day!) For those of us who would love to take a peek into some of the estates here and see how the other half live, a few hours spent wandering through the rooms of a showhouse is about as close as you can come without an invitation to cocktails behind the hedges. And this year there are two showhouses to drool over, both located around Sag Harbor. 

The annual Hamptons Designer Showhouse, which benefits Southampton Hospital, features a cadre of talented designers and decorators who each take a room or a space and transform it. (It is now all the cleaner for having the Butlers Brand crew visit it.) 

The second, which we had an opportunity to sneak off and see the other (rainy) day, is sponsored by Coastal Living Magazine. Unlike the Designer Showhouse, Coastal Living Showhouse's team has coordinated their decorating efforts under one designer to produce a more harmonious finished product that looks all of a piece. (Theme, of course, is beach house.) One of the takeaways? Wallpaper is back in vogue...
Coastal Living Showhouse, Master Bedroom

Coastal Living Showhouse, Kitchen
 Meanwhile back at the ranch... Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, Italian peppers and rhubarb are in full swing in the vegetable garden, so I'm making much use of all of them when planning menus. Our neighbor across the street has taken to putting up a small table of his excess produce with a little sign inviting people to take some...free...but take only what you need. Sweet!






Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ready for my close up, part 3: The result!

We had a pretty crazy week here at A Butler's Manor, and thus it slipped my mind that this was the week when the segment "East End Bed & Bites" on the Fios1 show Restaurant Hunters: Long Island would go live. Then this afternoon I was checking in some repeat guests, a sweet couple from upIsland, who said "Hey! I turned on the TV yesterday and saw Chris!" -- and I had to run off and find the finished product of the filming that took place a few weeks ago.



I truly didn't expect that we would have much more than a mention, so am thrilled with the episode!

Here it is!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ready for my close up: part 2

Update on the shoot for "Bed and Bites," the episode of "Restaurant Hunters" on Fios 1 New York that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, April 14: Day Of.

The garden has had its full Spring clean up and the pool is even open. The sky is a bright cloudless blue, so the flowers in bloom look all the more wonderful. It should make great establishing shots, as they say in the biz.  


In the kitchen, we've decided to feature our Zucchini/Cheddar Blintzes with Cherry Sauce, because a) they're different, b) the dish is colorful and should look good on the plate, and c) it is really freakin' yummy, so much so that I am glad there are almost never any leftovers when I make them. 

I agonized over how much to prepare in advance. While the segment is all about food, it isn't a cooking show, per se. So I didn't figure I needed to have all the pre-measured ingredients in little ramekins like on the Food Network that you hold up and say "Add two tablespoons of chopped garlic..." 

On the other hand, grating a zucchini by hand doesn't make for very scintillating TV. 

(Okay, you ask, why not use a food processor? After all, the Barefoot Contessa does. Answer in general: The recipe calls for a cup each of the cheese and zucchini, not a quantity that generally requires my hauling out the Cuisinart. Answer specific to today: Because unlike Ina's kitchen, we don't have electrical outlets on our kitchen island, so using a machine would mean I turn into a wall to work. I'm telling you, this is the sort of stuff that I worry about.)

Just in case, though, I did have my blintz filling and my grated ingredients prepared and pre-measured. And it's a good thing I did, because the Fios team was really pressed for time. In only 2-1/2 hours, they had to set up, shoot bits of the whole house and garden, interview Chris about the origins of our name, do the cooking segment, eat, and tear down. Had I chosen to feature an entree that required baking (which is most of my reperoire), I'd have had to do the Martha Stewart voilĂ - instant-food move of assembling the dish, putting it in the oven, then turning and taking an already-finished perfectly cooked version out of another oven. 

Because the blintzes are filled, rolled and sauced just before serving, it's a good choice for show and tell.  For the same reason, it's something I tend to make off season or midweek if we don't have a full house.

I think it went well. Host Amanda Price and camera wizard Danielle raved over the cherry-sauced blintzes (when they finally got to eat them). But I admit to being nervous about being observed under the microscope, so to speak, while preparing the food. Especially under the tight time constraints. I've decided I'm NOT auditioning for a food show in my next life.

I'm not sure when the episode will air; watch this space for updates. But in the meantime, here's the (simple!) recipe I prepared on camera, which can also be found in A Butler's Manor: The Cookbook.. It is very yum, if I do say so myself.

ZUCCHINI-CHEDDAR BLINTZES 


4-5 servings; 2 blintzes each

1 cup baking mix or pancake mix
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup grated zucchini (about half a medium squash)
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp. vanilla

Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 oz.  vanilla Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Sauce 
1 cup cherry preserves (I like Bonne Maman), warmed up

Combine filling ingredients until smooth; set aside.

In large bowl, combine zucchini, cheese, pancake mix, milk, vanilla & egg with a wire whisk; mix thoroughly. 

Drop batter by quarter-cupfuls (blintzes will be about 4” diameter) onto a lightly-oiled preheated griddle. Turn over when blintzes began to dry along edges. Cook approx 2 minutes longer, then transfer to a warm plate. (Mix will make approx. 10 pancakes.)

Spread a thick coat of cream cheese on each blintz and roll up. Top with warmed preserves.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Getting ready for my close up

So the other day Chris answered the phone to someone from FiOS1 News Long Island, who are planning a segment called "East End Bed & Bites" for their show "Restaurant Hunter". And they want to feature A Butler's Manor's breakfasts. 

So of course we say "Sure!" like it's no big deal that they want to come film me making something yummy.

And then panic sets in.

WTH did I just agree to?!?

A long-ago photo by a guest of breakfast preparations in progress
It's not the filming, I don't think...I'm not particularly camera-shy. I'm the extroverted oldest child who is used to mugging for the camera. Though I freely admit I truly don't like cooking for an audience. (My confreres in the bed and breakfast biz who have an open kitchen plan whereby guests can watch them cook? Aaiiiiieeeee.) In all of my creative endeavors, I'm the one who likes presenting my art fait accompli, rather than sharing the stumbling process. 

Mostly, I am cowed by who else they plan to feature in the segment: the 1770 House in East Hampton, and the Bridgehampton Inn.

As far as accommodations go, both are roughly the same size as we are--i.e., less than ten rooms. But the big difference? Both of them have full-scale RESTAURANTS that serve not only breakfast, but dinner as well. 

Which means they have professional chefs. In fact, the Bridgehampton Inn's late owner Anna Pump was a chef, and cookbook author who also owned the popular Loaves and Fishes, a wildly-successful gourmet takeout shop. These guys are pros. With kitchen staff to back them up.

Then there's me. The littlest of little guys.
Making Eggnog French Toast (with staff of one)!
So to say I'm a little intimidated is an understatement. 

The shoot is April 14th. I'm still working on what I should make. What's your vote?

I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck!