Simple Art of Cooking: Hearty, Local Fare

Hurricane Sandy surely created havoc with many a coastal area, including the East End of Long Island. We were given warnings where necessary by local authorities, Governor Cuomo and President Obama, imploring us to listen to instructions, take heed and use common sense—that is until the power went out for many, including us. However, our battery operated radio kept us informed through the two days and nights of darkness. We obviously are some of the lucky ones.

We had candles and batteries galore, moved any valuables (mostly books and treasured framed photos) to a higher level and made the necessary phone calls. I had cooked short ribs a couple of days before and they were in the refrigerator along with fresh shiitake mushrooms from David Falkowski’s farm and other goodies. I sautéed the mushrooms briefly and added a little broth to keep them moist, then pulled the meat from the short ribs which were braised with carrots and fennel for a savory sauce. With lit candles everywhere in my country kitchen and a Garland gas stove I cooked fettuccine pasta (I always have lots of pasta in my pantry) and tossed it with the mushrooms, the pulled braised short ribs and its delectable sauce. As we enjoyed this scrumptious dinner by candlelight we were simply grateful to be safe from the perils of the storm.

A salad of perky greens would be lovely to serve before or after the hearty and comforting pasta. Arugula, watercress and curly endive with fresh garden herbs might just do the trick.

Fettucini Pasta With Short Ribs and Shiitake Mushrooms

Cooked short ribs pulled from the bone and braised shiitake mushrooms over fettuccine make for one of the most comforting dishes as we embrace the fall season.
Serves 4

4 prepared short ribs with vegetable sauce*
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, rinsed, dried and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fettuccine
Coarsely chopped Italian parsley for garnish

1. Cut the short rib meat away from the bones, discarding the bone and any fatty deposits. Slice the meat into thin strips and add to the vegetable broth the meat cooked in. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil and butter in a 10-inch skillet and when butter foam subsides put in the mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes and add the broth and seasonings; stir to mix. Cook with cover ajar for 2 to 3 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and add the short ribs with their sauce and toss to distribute the mushrooms and meat. Keep warm over low heat.

3. Meanwhile, fill a 5 to 6 quart saucepot with cold water and bring to a rolling boil. Put in the pasta all at once and stir with a large pasta fork to separate strands: return to the boil. Cook pasta, uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente, or firm to the bite. When done add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the beef and mushrooms then drain pasta in a colander. Place several spoonfuls of the warm sauce on a heated serving platter and transfer pasta to the serving platter.

4. Pour short rib/mushroom sauce over the pasta and toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with parsley and serve on warm plates.
*The recipe for the braised short ribs with carrots and fennel is from Silvia Lehrer’s Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End, Running Press, 2011.

Country Farmstand Salad

Take advantage of farm stand availability to enjoy local freshness in the salad bowl!
Serves 4

6 to 7 cups selected salad greens such as arugula, curly endive and watercress
1/3 cup coarsely chopped mixed fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon and mint
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon tarragon herb vinegar
3 scallions, white and light green part, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

1. Wash lettuces separately and spin dry in a salad spinner. Wash and dry the herbs, taking care not to damage them. Arrange the leaves and herbs in a loose pile in a large, wide salad bowl.

2. Carefully toss the greens with the oil to coat the leaves evenly. This can be done up to 10 minutes before adding the vinegar. Dip about one-third of a teaspoon of salt into a tablespoon measure and fill the measure with the herb vinegar. Stir the salt into the vinegar and pour over the salad. Carefully toss again while arranging the leaves to their best advantage to balance color and texture. Sprinkle over the scallions and sesame seeds and serve at once.

Visit Silvia’s website at to read her blogs and more recipes.

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