Last week was the first night of 2008 I had trouble sleeping because of the heat. I’m not a fan of the winter so the summer heat is welcome. But 90 degrees at midnight sweating in bed is not, so I gratefully accepted my girl Nia’s invitation to visit her in the Hamptons. She and her partner Rory own the HYT ME estate where they produce gorgeous events for brands you’ve heard of but who do not (yet) advertise here.
In addition to the grand azure pool, they have an expansive white kitchen that I dream of having in the city. Unfortunately the thing is the size of my entire apartment so that would be a tad impractical. I also must mention that this lovely kitchen comes with the services of two lovely young men who also helped me clean up after my kitchen adventures. Now that’s true luxury!
The house is a total crossroads of any and every sort of person imaginable, from artists and their publicists to empty-nester Hamptons retirees. Lindsay Lohan’s father, Michael Lohan, even stopped by for lunch on Saturday. I wouldn’t mention this except for the fact that I got the very distinct impression that he would love it if someone took note of his whereabouts.
But by far, my favorite guest was Eric Kwan from Hip Hop Chow Catering. Nia invited him over so that I could meet him and possibly engage him for my blu Party, an event I’m throwing in August. We immediately hit it off when he began to marinate chicken in thyme, garlic and olive oil, almost identical to the recipe that I use for grilling. After that, I knew that he would probably be making food I’d like so I offered myself as prep cook. This way I could be in the kitchen and take an impromptu cooking lesson.
He was busy prepping brunch and dinner so I dove into peeling garlic, zesting lemons, whipping cream and picking basil. While doing this, I learned how to gut and fillet a fish, he also demystified the preparation of hollandaise sauce.
Although it wasn’t as hot out on the island as it was in the city, it was still quite warm so Eric made a light dinner buffet of striped bass, chicken, tomatoes and asparagus all on the grill. I’m going to try to translate an extremely fluent professional chef’s recipe into a home version. Definitely try this menu on a hot night. You won’t even have to heat up your kitchen.
Grilled Striped Bass with Citrus Zest Pesto
2 lbs striped bass fillets
Brush the fish fillets with olive oil to coat lightly, season with a dusting of salt and pepper. Grill on medium heat 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
Citrus Zest Pesto
1/3 cup of leon and lime zest (the zest of approx 3 limes, 5 lemons) chopped very finely
1 clove of garlic chopped finely
6 large shallots chopped very finely
juice of Â½ lemon
Â¼ cup olive oil
Combine the first 5 ingredients, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Top the grilled fish fillets with the pesto and serve warm.
Herbed Barbecued Chicken
1 whole chicken cut up
8 sprigs thyme
10 garlic cloves
Â¼ cup olive oil
your favorite prepared barbecue sauce
Marinate the cut up chicken in all of the ingredients except the barbecue sauce. Cover the chicken and let sit in refrigerator for 4 hours.
Remove the chicken from marinade and shake off excess marinade. Grill on medium heat 8-10 minutes per side. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, brush barbecue sauce onto both sides of chicken.
Let stand for 5 minutes then serve warm.
Grilled Asparagus and Tomatoes
1 lb asparagus
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Coat vegetables with olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Grill asparagus and tomatoes approximately 5 minutes or until lightly charred.
1/2 cup chopped shallots
6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar*
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Top grilled veggies with vinaigrette and serve warm or room temperature.
If you like Nichelleâ€™s dish, check out all of her recipes here.