It started, probably as many cookbooks have, over a meal.
Stacy Dermont, who wrote the Hamptons Epicure column for Dan’s Papers, among many other roles, and Hillary Davis, a well-known food writer whose focus is on French cuisine, met when Dermont wrote about Davis’s last book, “French Desserts,” in 2016.
“We were instant friends,” said Dermont, who not only wrote about food, but also worked at the Sag Harbor Farmers Market for eight years. “I felt like I knew what people need in a cookbook in this region.” Over dinner one night, Davis said, “Let’s do it!”
“In our cookbook, we planned it out by season,” Davis said. “So, you can go to the farmers market, come back with produce, open our cookbook, and find recipes to make for that time of year.”
The resulting gastronomic work from Countryman Press, “The Hamptons Kitchen,” is subtitled “Seasonal Recipes Pairing Land and Sea,” featuring a forward by legendary food writer and critic Gael Greene, and photos of food and local scenes captured by Barbara Lassen. References to local events and places pepper the text — mentions of the drum circle on Sagg Main Beach (Steak Picnic Sandwiches with Whole Cherry Tomato Jam), Bay Street Theater (Potato Cheesecake with Caramel Crust), and Wölffer Estate Vineyard (Wild about Striped Bass) — and it’s salted with familiar names of local folks.
“Hamptons cuisine reflects not only its agricultural heritage, but all those other cuisines from people moving here and adapting their style of cooking to our local produce,” Davis, a Bridgehampton resident, said. “Above all, Hamptons cuisine is casual and easy. People come here, or move here, for the relaxed lifestyle. Backyard dining and having friends and their children over is the Hamptons lifestyle. It celebrates coming together over a simple meal made with great produce.”
Local producers like Amagansett Sea Salt, Duck Walk Vineyard, and The Milk Pail get a shout-out, and there’s a section at the end that pays homage to other books about the food culture of the East End, like Anna Pump and Sybille Van Kampen’s “The Loaves and Fishes Party Book.”
For most dishes, Dermont offers “Stacy’s Pairing” of an appropriate wine. And one recipe, the Lobster Roll, is — probably surprising to most people — in the winter section of the book. “It’s when lobster meat is sweetest,” Dermont offered.
And this may be one of the only local cookbooks that offers a section on how to compost. “It’s important and it’s easy,” Dermont said, who includes a recipe for Compost Tea.
No, you don’t drink it.
Most meaningful to Dermont is the Farmhouse Apple Pie, passed down to the self-described “Appalachian farm girl” by her Grandma Weinke. “When I first opened the book, I saw her name in the index, which we didn’t write, and it touched me,” said the Sag Harbor resident.
The book reads more like, well, a book than a collection of recipes. But, stand warned, it will make you hungry.
It can be ordered from local book stores.
“Especially during this very unusual time where we are all facing a summer or more of dining in and cooking for our families every day, we hope our cookbook will make it easier and fun and provide some comfort,” Davis added. “From our table to yours.”