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meet the maker: Heather Hobler

Karen Covey

words by Karen J. Covey | photos by Heather Hobler

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As a personal chef, I often get to work with some really amazing people doing what I love most—entertaining. While I most often cook in private homes, I recently had the pleasure of working with artist Heather Hobler on a dinner series for her gallery exhibit, where lines meet. Every Saturday evening during her exhibit, an intimate group gathered together for a locally-inspired meal at the DeDee Shattuck Gallery in Westport, MA, surrounded by Heather’s new series of work.

where lines meet is an installation of medium-format film photographs taken from the same spot overlooking Buzzards Bay, the view from Heather’s home. Keeping her tripod in the same location, she shoots images during various times of the day, capturing the ever-changing view in front of her. 

The project began simply as snapshots meant to record time, but quickly built into a reflective rhythmic ritual of getting back to life and art after the artists’ battle with cancer. Beyond the beauty of each photograph, the most captivating thing about each one is in the details—from the pattern of the water and skies to the rising and falling tides. Each landscape reveals itself in its own dramatic way, based on the time of day, the tides, and the weather. Each photograph tells a different story, and beckons you to study the simple details within each.

There is a meditative quality to Heather’s work, one that mimics her own mediation and yoga teaching practice. It’s the simplicity of the work that actually makes it so complex and interesting. It’s a study of details and the ever-changing environment around us. After spending some time with Heather’s exhibit, I now find myself studying my own water view with more open eyes, and taking a bit longer than usual to study and appreciate the details in front of me.

To see more of Heather’s work, visit heatherhobler.com.

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cookbook spotlight: Feeding a Family

Karen Covey

recipe by Sarah Waldman | photos by Elizabeth Cecil

The minute Sarah Waldman’s new cookbook, Feeding a Family: A Real-Life Plan for Making Dinner Work arrived at our office, we knew this was going to be a book we’d want to keep close by all year long. 

Broken out by season, the cookbook offers a fresh take on easy, approachable recipes for every member of the family. We’ve already got our eyes on the slurpy noodle bowls, oven-baked falafel, rhubarb sundaes and of course the New England-style cod cakes (recipe follows), just to name a few. Feeding a Family also offers tips and suggestions for getting the whole family involved in mealtime, as well as reminds us that it’s not just about the meal, but the time spent around the table that’s important.

With stunning photographs captured by Elizabeth Cecil of life on Martha's Vineyard, Sarah’s adorable boys, and the recipes themselves, this is a book to curl up with for awhile and get inspired. Learn more at sarahwaldman.com.

cod cakes with poached eggs  

Our kids love New England clam chowder, but it’s a challenge to hook them on other seafood dinners (you ironic island kids, you). These cakes are my best attempt at getting some fish into our boys—sometimes it succeeds, and other times one of them ends up eating a couple of eggs for dinner. Such is life. I like my cod cake with a runny poached egg, but sunny side–up or scrambled eggs are just as good. A quick arugula salad pairs well with this rich dish (I just toss baby arugula with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper). 

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves  
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives  
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard  
1 tablespoon mayonnaise  
1 teaspoon kosher salt  
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest  
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)  
1 pound filleted codfish  
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs  
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil  
Splash of white vinegar  
4 large eggs  
Lemon wedges, for serving 

  1. In a medium bowl, combine thyme, chives, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, and orange zest. Stir everything to combine.
  2. Place cubed potato in a large, high-sided skillet and cover with water. Bring water to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer the potatoes until tender, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked potatoes from skillet and place them in a small bowl. Do not drain skillet. Mash potatoes with a fork and set them aside.
  3. Return skillet to stove over high heat, bring potato cooking water to a boil, and then carefully slide in cod fillets. Turn heat down to lowest setting, cover, and poach fish until just flaky and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Gently flake fish apart, then fold it into mashed potatoes. Add potato-cod mixture to mustard mixture and add in bread crumbs. Carefully fold everything to combine (you want to keep big flakes of fish).
  4. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet set over medium heat. While it heats, use your hands to divide cod cake mixture into four large patties. Cook cakes in hot oil for 5-7 minutes per side or until crisp and golden.
  5. While cakes fry up, poach your eggs. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and add vinegar. Put the pot over medium-high heat and warm it until the water is just starting to bubble or simmer. This is temperature you want to stick with. Crack first egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Gently slide egg into hot water and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove egg with a slotted spoon and place it directly onto a kitchen towel to absorb any excess water. Repeat this process with rest of eggs. You can cook more than one egg at a time if your pot is large enough.
  6. Place a poached egg on top of each cod cake and serve immediately with lemon wedges and a quick arugula salad (see note in the recipe’s introduction).

Serves 4.


Feeding a Family by Sarah Waldman, © 2016 by Sarah Waldman. Photographs by Elizabeth Cecil. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.roostbooks.com


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tips for setting an effortless table

Karen Covey

styling by Abby Capalbo | photo by Erin McGinn

As Easter approaches, we’re prepping our menu and getting our table ready to celebrate. Hosting family and friends for a holiday can be intimidating but it really doesn’t have to be. Here are a few keys to making it (really) easy on yourself:

  • set a simple table. Simple doesn’t have to be boring, especially when you start with really great basics. Our favorites include these gorgeous white linen napkins and table runner from Rough Linen and classic white plates from Crate & Barrel. White goes with everything and it’s the perfect choice to layer on color as you like.
  • for a little pop of spring color, try these sweet little glasses.
  • and for the perfect drink to serve in them, try the lavender lemonade from our new spring issue.
  • use your silver. Anytime you feel like turning an ordinary meal into something a little more special (not just a holiday), use your silver. It’s an easy way to add a simple, elegant element to a table.
  • add a touch of whimsy. These adorable shakers are perfect for your Easter table.
  • plan an easy menu. Choose a menu that all works well together—one that carries the same flavors and ingredients throughout the meal in a subtle way. One of our favorite make-ahead recipes is the 7-hour leg of lamb, submitted as part of our #readerrecipe contest. The recipe from Les Touilleurs in Montreal, is a perfect choice for Easter dinner. You can get the recipe here.
  • serve a great dessert. Cake is always a good choice for entertaining—it’s make-ahead and easily serves a crowd. For one of our favorites, try our pistachio olive oil cake.
  • and of course, a great playlist. Music helps set the mood and we love to start ours while we cook.
  • And don’t forget the Easter baskets! For our favorite brand of organic candy to fill them, click here.

To enter a recipe for our summer issue READER RECIPE contest, email us by May 1, 2017 at info@thecoastaltable.com. We can’t wait to learn more about your favorite recipes!


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behind the blog: A Brown Table

Karen Covey

recipes + photos by Nik Sharma

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In the next installment of our new series, we introduce you to Nik Sharma, whose award-winning blog A Brown Table has captivated people all over the world. We love his style of photography as well as his interesting flavor profiles. You can also find his weekly column in the Sunday home and food section of the San Francisco Chronicle.

1. What inspired you to start A Brown Table
I’ve always loved to cook but I didn’t want to just share recipes on my blog—I wanted to talk about food from an immigrant’s perspective. 

2. How have you seen the food world change since you started your blog? 
My blog is a little over five years old so much has changed since then. There are a lot more food blogs than they were then and there is a lot more emphasis on the visual aspect of food.  

3. Did you grow up around food, did your parents cook? 
My dad likes to cook more than my mom even though she works in the hospitality industry. Growing up in an Indian household, we were constantly surrounded by spices and ingredients as well as a variety of different fruits and vegetables. 

4. Do you have a favorite childhood memory around food? 
My favorite memories are those when we traveled and I got to taste and sample street food whenever possible. Every city has some kind of unique food that people love to eat and street food usually best captures and represents the people from a region.

5. We love how you capture a specific moment in your recipe photos. Is that the most interesting part of the photography process for you? 
When I worked in the back of the kitchen as a cook, it was an eye opening experience. Not only do you get to see all the activity but you also get to meet people from all walks of life. My style is a way for me to share and draw attention to that colorful palette that represents the people cooking food. Often that gets lost in translation since we usually experience the front-end of most restaurants. I love motion and when I started to photograph for the blog, photographing hands was deemed unacceptable by most food photography curating sites, but for me it was a way for me to tell a story. My story and my love for not only about the food but the process of creating it.

6. What’s one tip you would offer people when photographing? 
Rules were meant to be broken, practice and make mistakes, and learn from them. At the end of the day, photography is a tool to provide people a glimpse of the world and tell a story and only the ones with a unique perspective tend to stand out. 

7. What inspires you when creating a recipe? 
I look for technique and flavors when it comes to creating a recipe. Most of my recipes usually stem from some sort of experience that I’ve encountered and so I attempt to create something that reflects just that.

8. Savory or sweet? 
Sweet. I have a terrible sweet tooth especially when it comes to ice cream. 

9. Favorite beach or coastal destination? 
Before I moved to the West Coast, we’d travel often to the beaches up on the East Coast, like Martha’s Vineyard and Fire Island, but as I’ve explored more of the West Coast, Pacifica and the many little strips and hidden spots along the Lost Coast are some of the most beautiful spots in the country. Outside the United States, I would have to go with Goa in India, where my mom’s family is originally from. 

10. If you were planning a beach picnic, what would you pack? 
Lots of champagne for sure, bread with some good butter, honey, and cheese. 

For more, visit: abrowntable.com

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tea and ginger-infused lemon tart

You can use this recipe for a nut-based crust, or your own favorite recipe.

Lemon curd
1/4 cup boiling water
4 darjeeling tea bags
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used meyer lemons)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

Crust
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
14 ounces whole walnuts
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup oat flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Pour boiling water over tea bags in a cup and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Squeeze bags and discard. Place extracted tea liquid in a small saucepan and reduce to 2 tablespoons. It will be very dark and concentrated. Allow to cool completely. Once cooled, whisk in cornstarch to form a slurry. Set aside.
2. Prepare a pot of boiling water. Place a large glass bowl over pot, making sure level of water is an inch below base of bowl (this allows steam to heat eggs evenly). Place eggs and sugar in bowl and using a hand whisk or handheld electric whisk, whisk at high speed for about 5 minutes until eggs become pale yellow and light and fluffy. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, butter, and tea-cornstarch slurry. Whisk continuously, until mixture transforms into a thick custard. Remove from heat and transfer to container. Set aside until ready to use. Lemon curd can be prepared a day ahead in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
3. Make crust. Preheat to 325°F. Place a wire rack in middle of oven. Lightly grease a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a little butter. Cut a piece of parchment paper same size as base of pan and place on top of buttered bottom of pan. Place pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.
4. In a food processor, add walnuts and sugar and pulse for a few seconds to grind together to form a coarse powder. Remove mixture and transfer to a medium bowl. Add oat flour and butter and using your hands, mix to form a dough. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread out to cover pan and edges in an even layer, using your fingers. Bake tart for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and pour lemon curd into tart shell. Level filling using a small offset spatula. Return tart to oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until edges of filling start to get firm while center jiggles slightly when gently shaken. Remove tart pan and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Once cooled, release tart carefully from pan. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours before serving. Dust with confectioner's sugar if desired. 

Makes 1 9-inch tart.


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