Last weekend we visited Shelter Island, at the eastern end of Long Island. One of the things I enjoy about being here are some very obvious place names. Long Island is long, and Shelter Island lies between the North Fork and South Fork of Long Island where it is indeed sheltered. Many of the houses are second homes and the population grows six fold during the summer, to go back to about 2,000 for the rest of the year. The house we were staying in is on the beach and this was the view from the sitting room
To the right of the photo is a sand bar, and we walked to the end at least once a day, usually twice because it was so lovely. Like many areas of the East Coast, Shelter Island had been famous for seafood, in this case scallops, but over fishing has led to a shortage, of course. The waters are still beautiful and conservation efforts are helping to restock. We watched a large seagull as it caught and ate quite a large crab. Stuck me as a very dodgy thing to do, but the seagull seemed pretty confident. He saw us watching him, and held on even tighter. In my head he was squawking ‘Mine’ but believe me none of us were going to challenge him for it!
Shelter Island itself doesn’t have any vineyards but both the North and South Forks do, and on the Sunday afternoon we visited a couple. Being a fan of big, in yer face reds meant that I wasn’t a massive fan of the pinots on offer, but there were a couple of very nice dessert wines. Prices were ridiculous though, even buying direct. When we moved here we were looking forward to learning about US wines, but we decided very early on that they are very overpriced and so tend to buy European wines which are much much better value. We also visited a liquor store, where, Nico, we were surprised to see Commandaria on sale. I suspect that once the summer visitors have gone, there is very little to do and a sign in the liquor store did little to dispel my thought that drinking would help you to get through the long dark nights
He also had a sign which regular readers will recognise as yet another of those ‘funny’ look after your children warnings which I find amusing
And one last sign which seems to sum up many of us
Now I haven’t been drinking much while on this diet and so I have had to find other ways to unwind. Knitting and needlepoint are perennial favourites, but on Shelter Island we had the added bonus of Golly Gee, a rescue dog who I found an absolute delight and was part of the reason why we walked to the end of the sandbar twice a day. She sheds hair everywhere, can’t be let off the lead because she’s not good with other dogs, mooches at the table and sleeps on her owners bed, everything I dislike about dogs. But she was lovely and by Saturday lunch time I was almost convinced that we should get a dog. Luckily Dad kept his head and this won’t be happening!
So what is today’s recipe? Well I’m still feeling the onset of autumn and I’m still thinking quick, easy and cheap so I’ve decided to give you the recipe for another soup, Cream of Celeriac Soup with Crispy Shreds. I was a late convert to celeriac and I’m not really sure why. I very much enjoy it’s nutty flavour and once I tried it there was no looking back. I found this recipe in a magazine and have made the soup several times, but never made the crispy shreds because one of you wasn’t that keen on celeriac.
I usually find celeriac a pain to prepare, so make sure your knife is sharp. Take off any straggly bits (it’ll be obvious if your celeriac has them) and make sure the beards have gone. Scrub well and peel carefully.
Cream of Celeriac Soup with Crispy Shreds
- 25 g / 1 oz butter
- 800 g / 1 lb 8 oz celeriac (you really don’t need to be this precise – if your celeriac is larger it’s not a problem). Cube 600 g and leave the rest to one side uncut.
- 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 litre / 1.8 pints of vegetable or chicken stock
- 200 ml / 7 oz fromage frais
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil for frying
Melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan and cook the celeriac cubes, carrot, potato and garlic over a high heat for 5 mins. Stir and do not let stick. Pour in the stock, cover and simmer gently for 15 mins until all vegetables are tender. Blend either in a liquidiser or very carefully using a hand blender. Add half the fromage frais, stir, taste and season to your taste. Reheat gently.
Shred the remaining celeriac using a knife, a coarse grater or a mandolin. Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot. Sizzle the shreds of celeriac until golden and crisp. Drain.
Put the soup into four heated bowls. Decorate with a swirl of the remaining fromage frais and the crispy shreds. Serve immediately.