Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hudson - N.Y.: Lifestyle – Dinner - At Home with Susan Simon


Hudson, N.Y. – Dinner - At Home with Susan Simon. Whilst the general public can only read about cookbook author Susan Simon’s food through her regular columns, “Susan Simon Says – Food for Thought”, in Columbia County and Greene County daily newspapers and, In The Kitchen in Nantucket’s weekly, The Inquirer and Mirror, we were lucky enough to enjoy her delicious food and her wonderful hospitality to boot in her center-of-town Hudson home.
Above. The welcoming light of candles on the table, on a cold winter’s evening, which is set for dinner with tartan napkins and placemats purchased in Italy decades ago and 1960’s decaled rocks glasses purchased at The Hospital Thrift Shop on Nantucket – 5 for $3.00, and the Spode “Woodway Country Club 1971” plates were given as a prize in a golf tournament, make for an elegant and cozy atmosphere.

Dinner - At Home with Susan Simon

While there’s always work involved when you make dinner – whether for 2 or 6 – the possibility of making a uniquely delicious meal is made simpler by living in the heart of the fertile Hudson Valley here in Hudson, New York.  There’s fresh produce available all year ‘round – even although the cold weather choices are usually storage fruits and vegetables. Some farmers grow greens in their hoop houses – which are like manna from heaven.  There’s always a good choice of dairy products, and a great selection of meat and fowl. I’m very happy to know the provenance of the food that I eat (at the risk of sounding like an episode of “Portlandia”).”

Above. Susan Simon is the author of five cookbooks, the co-author of the James Beard award-winning, Pasta Sfoglia, a guidebook, Shopping in Marrakech and translator of Italy Dish by Dish, a region by region guide to the food of Italy. In addition to writing two different weekly food columns, Susan also is an occasional contributor to the regional online magazine, Rural Intelligence.   She always has a new cook simmering (yes, simmering) somewhere in her mind. She is the co-founder of the Hudson Children’s Book Festival Literacy Fund, and is a reading mentor with the Hudson Reads program in the M.C. Smith Intermediate School.

An Aperitivo before Dinner  - Mixed Olives, Pistachios, and Parmesan Crisps


 “My favorite Rubelli fabric covers the sofa and vintage Scalamandre fabric on the chair.”

Dinner - At Home with Susan Simon - The Guests

Besides photographer, Manfredi Bellati and “paparazzo” Contessanally, Mark Haldeman, Regional Manager for Paul Smith USA, and the dapper James Aguiar, National Fashion Director for Modern Luxury, above.

 “Backstage” in the Kitchen

Preparation for Risotto with Pomegranates to be served topped with Nantucket Bay Scallops alla Veneziana

Dinner - At Home with Susan Simon

Risotto with Pomegranates topped with Nantucket Bay Scallops alla Veneziana served at the table. The tulips are in a Harvest Ware jug by the English company, Wade, the candlesticks have been collected over the years.

Susan Simon’s Beet and Celery Root Salad

Recipe: Grate a freshly pulled-from-the-garden, peeled beet and a peeled celery root (celeriac).  Dress with the finest, fruitiest extra virgin olive oil available, local apple cider vinegar, Maldon salt and pepper. 

“That’s it – that’s all you need when you have
fresh, local products.  Let the natural flavors shine
through.   Notice that I used several different apple
products for this meal – New York State is the 2nd largest
grower of apples in the United States.  Washington State
is first.”

Above.  The Beet and Celery Root Salad is served in an old English transferware bowl, Thai spoon inlaid with mother-of-pearl. 

 “Backstage” in the kitchen

On the lime green Caesarstone table, Colston Bassett Stilton cheese, still in wrapping, is waiting to be served with the Beet and Celery Root Salad, beside it are ingredients to be used for the meal: Vialone Nano rice, crystallized ginger, a bowl of pomegranate seeds, and crackers.

A footed, late 19th century transferware compote bowl holds Satsuma oranges and acorn squash from Susan’s late sister, Laura’s Nantucket vegetable garden.

Dessert - Ginger Cake with Apple Sauce and Coconut Yogurt

Ginger pound cake topped with caramelized applesauce, non-dairy coconut yogurt (made with coconut water and coconut milk), a drizzle of apple cider syrup. 

After Dinner Treats. Homemade caramels, chocolate and Demerara sugar-covered salted almonds, dried figs, crystallized ginger awaiting in the kitchen ready to be served after dinner.

On a bookshelf. A marble peach purchased in Pietrasanta, a small landscape from the NYC flea market, small triptych – marbled frame and photograph, a collaboration of Hudson artists, Tony Thompson and Margaret Saliske.
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