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Husk & Vine Eatery Opens Heart Before Doors

Local Business Opens Heart Before Doors

By Nancy Vallarella, What’s Cookin’? -Smithtown

Husk & Vine is the newest eatery to sprout up in St. James.  The former home to Espana Tapas & Wine, Husk & Vine’s concept is led by the passion of Chef Nicholas Trovato.  A weekly updated menu of craft cocktails, wines, and small sharable plates made with the “freshest quality ingredients available” is planned to be served.

Before opening, Husk & Vine made the decision to participate in Smithtown’s Children Foundation’s 2018 Community Table Grand Tasting fundraiser held at Flowerfield Celebration on Tuesday, November 13th.   Chef Trovato reveals, “We may very well be opening the day of the SCF Community Table event!”

Husk & Vine is committed to giving back to the community. One of the restaurant’s weekly traditions is a Good Karma Brunch on Sundays. The bistro will be donating 10% of the day’s food sales monthly to rotating local charities.

Husk & Vine’s “weekly traditions” are outlined on their website and range from various food and drinkspecials to live music. Comedy nights, cigar dinners, ladies’ night, couple dinners, and Chef’s tastings are also in the works.

Visit Husk & Vine along with 30 other culinary business participating in the Smithtown Children’s Foundation COMMUNITY TABLE GRAND TASTING event Tuesday, November 13th at Flowerfield 6:00PM. Tickets can be purchased at Maureen’s Kitchen or online at

Find Husk & Vine at 655 Middle Country Road, St. James.


What's Cookin'? Smithtown - Saving Summer In A Jar

Saving Summer in a Jar 

By Nancy Vallarella

Tomato Day at the Minto’s (Colleen second from left)Canning tomatoes at the Minto home with Colleen Minto has been a tradition for the past 25 years. Tomatoes are bought from local farmers at summer’s end.  Friends and neighbors gather to process the tomatoes and save a little bit of summer in a jar. 

Throughout the fall, winter and spring, the tomatoes are used for sauce, soups, Bloody Mary cocktails and salsa. Colleen’s friend and Nissequogue neighbor, Sue Myer, makes three variations of salsa using the tomatoes: Cry Baby, Wanna Cry, and Hot Baby!

Roma/Plum tomatoes purchased from BB & GG and Fink’s Country Farms at St. James MarketHere’s how Colleen processes the tomatoes (25lbs. of plum tomatoes per case of wide-mouth quart jars):

Sterilize jars and lids in dishwasher. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 2 Tbs. lemon juice to each jar. Thoroughly wash tomatoes. Core or slice stem end of tomato. Carefully drop tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes for the skin to split and remove with slotted spoon. Let tomato cool enough to comfortably handle and peel off skin. DO NOT OVERCOOK TOMATOES during this process. They will turn to mush! Add the tomatoes to the jars. 12 to 14 tomatoes fit in the jar on average. Lightly press tomatoes down with hand or the stem of a wooden spoon. This helps to get the air out. Colleen likes to add 1 garlic clove and fresh basil to each jar.  Leave a ½ inch of headspace in each jar, wipe off rim and place lid on jar. Secure the lid but not extremely tight.

Sealing ProcessHave a water bath canner filled half way with cold water and bring water to a rolling boil. Place tomato filled jars on canning rack and slowly immerse jars into boiling water.  Jars should be covered with a half inch of water. Place cover on the canning pot and watch until the water returns to a rolling boil. Remove cover and set a timer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, lift the rack with jars out of canning pot and place on a towel-Summer in a Jarlined counter top. You will hear jars make a popping sounds – this means they are sealed! 

Colleen’s tips:

Use plum tomatoes. They are less meaty and fit nicely in the jars.

Have super heat resistant gloves handy.

Water bath canner can be bought at Ace Hardware or Walmart for about $25.

Enjoy the processes and Bloody Marys after - with friends and neighbors!


What's Cookin'? Smithtown - Smithtown's Farm Fresh Bounty - How To Prepare

Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - How to Prepare

By Nancy Vallarella, What’s Cookin’? – Smithtown 


Corn Soup CondimentsVisit a local farm stand or farmers’ market and get inspired! Nature’s rainbow of color and the sweet smell of just picked veggies shining in the daylight will tempt even the unhealthiest eater to try clean eating. Buying what looks good is easy. Preparing dishes with these ingredients can be challenging for some. 

The good news is many items can be consumed raw. They will taste great and are packed with nutrition! If that gets boring, websites with recipes and reviews are plentiful. Following recipes will help form a foundation of knowledge and skill. Once acquired, you will be building menus in your head as you browse the farm fresh produce offered at local farm stands and farmers’ markets.

Corn has been available since July and may continue to be available through October. It’s sweetness and texture of juicy yet crisp, making it a popular choice of the masses. It can be eaten raw, boiled, and grilled. Succotash, salsa, creamed are just a few preparation possibilities. Corn chowder is another option, but it can be a heavy meal in the warm weather.

Satisfying soup lovers this time of the year was my inspiration for the following recipe…

Spicy Summer Corn Soup (4 – 6 servings, 30 minutes or less, vegan and gluten-free)

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced (1 ½ cups)

¼ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. ground turmeric or ½ tsp. fresh turmeric minced or grated

3 cups fresh corn kernels*

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth**

1 cup nut milk of choice (almond, macadamia or coconut***)

Salt & pepper


2 large radishes sliced thin

½ avocado, peeled and diced (1/2 cup)

2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Lime wedges

Optional: fresh cilantro leaves & smoked sea salt

Heat olive oil in a 5qt. pot over medium heat. Add onion, season with a pinch of salt and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, coriander, turmeric and cook 1 minute. Set aside ½ cup of corn for garnish; add remaining 2 ½ cups corn and broth to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, and simmer 7 minutes. Stir in nut milk.

Puree nut milk mixture (allow opening at the top of the blender to vent steam). Return the mixture to the pot and season to taste with salt/ (smoked salt if using) and pepper. Keep warm.

Combine radishes and avocado in a bowl and stir in lime juice. Season with salt. Serve soup garnished with 2 Tbs. avocado mixture, a sprinkle of corn kernels, lime wedge, and cilantro leaves if using.

Nancy’s Notes:

*Select corn that is sweet and tender. If the outer layer of the corn kernel (pericarp) is tough, it will make an off-putting texture in the soup even after blending.

**It is easy to make your own vegetable broth from clean and /or organic vegetables scraps that have been collected and frozen over time. If you make your own or buy boxed broth, taste the finished product to better gauge additional salt.

***If using coconut milk which is a sweet nut milk, be aware that the spices and lime juice may have to be adjusted to counterbalance the milk’s sweetness.  


What's Cookin'? Smithtown - Farm Fresh Bounty - Where to Find

Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - Where to Find

By Nancy Vallarella What’s Cookin’? Smithtown

Part II

“When you buy locally grown, you’re getting the produce at its peak form,” says Darlene Price, senior nutrition resource educator at Orange County Cornell Cooperative Extension. “It’s ready to eat right now.  When you buy your fresh produce in a supermarket, you’re never really sure how long it’s been sitting.”

Although many supermarkets carry local produce, much of what you find in these stores has been transported 1,200 miles on average. Produce at local farm stands and farmers’ markets is picked ripe and sold within a day. That translates into fresher, more nutritious food because the vitamins and other nutrients haven’t had time to break down.

Farm Stands

Borella’s Farm StandBorella’s Farm Stand on Edgewood Avenue in St. James - With the help of only one day-worker, this 55-acre farm, farm stand, nursery, and vineyard are tended to by Barbara Borella-Perrotta, her sister Laura Borella-Gallagher, and Laura’s husband, Steve Gallagher.  A constant struggle exists here maintaining crops to harvest. Wildlife devastation has limited Borella’s late arrival of produce.  Corn and tomatoes are now available. There is hope for harvesting additional products, but Borella’s Farm has been struggling with deer feeding on the crops, even grape production for Whisper Vineyards has been impacted.

BB&GG FarmsBB & GG Farms on North Country Road in St. James - Owned and operated by another branch of the Borella family tree.  Ever wondered what the BB & GG stood for? - Bill, Bob, Gary, and Glen. Bill Borella oversees the large nursery business and admits that the products offered at the farm stand are from an east end farm. The reason he maintains the farm stand is purely tradition. His mother opened the stand in 1959 and locals expect to find farm fresh produce there ever since. 

Farmers’ Markets

Fink’s Family FarmSt. James Market, Saturdays until October.  2nd Ave, & Woodlawn Ave.  -  St. James Market is the Community Association of Greater Saint James’ effort to increase awareness for the greater good for all of St. James.  Local brick and mortar businesses participate in the market alongside out-of-town producers.  Saint James Pasta and Pork realized a 30% uptick in sales participating in the St. James Market and Summer Nights Festival in 2017 over the same period during 2016. “Many people who we have met at the market never knew where we were located despite being in the same location since 1989.  We sell 15 – 20 times more, fresh mozzarella on Saturday at the market compared to what is sold in the store during that time,” states Clara Giunta, Co-Owner of St. James Pasta and Pork.

Fink’s Family Farm from Wading River is the anchor producer at the St. James Market and the Nesconset Farmer’s Market.

Joe & Nick Bambino Ravioli at Nesconset Farmers MarketNesconset Farmer’s Market, Saturdays until November. 127 Smithtown Blvd. – This market has been through several transitions over the past decade. It is currently a vendor-operated market. Fresh produce, pasta, and pickles are found here with olive oil products in attendance every other weekend. 

Katrina Sujecki Farm & Nursery King’s Park Farmer’s Market, Sundays until November. Municipal Lot, 25A (across from King’s Park Fire House) – Longest operating Farmer’s Market in the Town of Smithtown.  SujeckiNancy Kouris owner Bule Duck Bakery at Kings Park Farmer’s MarketFarm & Nursery (Calverton) and Fink’s Family Farm (Wading River) are the anchor producers at this market.  Joining them are Blue Duck Bakery (Riverhead), Bambino Ravioli (Bay Shore), pickles, artisan baked goods, pretzels and a handful of other value-added producers. This market is an after-church tradition in the King’s Park community for over a decade.

Purchasing local products direct from the farmer allows for conversation about how that product is grown.  It’s all about providing residents with direct access to fresh local food, preserving open spaces on Long Island and aiding economic stimulation within communities.  For more information on seasonal, local products visit

Next Thursday part 3 in this series Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty – How to Prepare



What's Cookin'? - Smithtown's Farm Fresh Bounty - Supporting Local and Independent

Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - Supporting Local and Independent

By Nancy Vallarella What’s Cookin’? -Smithtown

Part 1 of 3 part series

2018 is a banner year for local, plant-based food availability in the Town of Smithtown. Kings Park, Nesconset, and Saint James all host markets on the weekend.  Borella’s Farm Stand (St. James) and BB & GG Farms and Nursery (Head of the Harbor), are open 7 days a week. Locally grown vegetables are available until Mother Nature dictates closing. This is usually in late October to mid-November. 

The farm-to-table way of eating is not new or revolutionary. It wasn’t until post World War II, Americans began embracing convenience food. Convenience won out over nutrition, and the diet-related health issues started their epidemic journey. 

During the 60’s and 70’s, the back-to-earth movement of organic, natural food, and “support the local farmer” became groovy.  Convenience once again prevailed over that movement.  America’s waistline continued to grow, and health issues reached epidemic proportions.

Today, many people are paying more attention to what they eat and how it makes them feel.  The good news is there has been a return to a more traditional way of feeding ourselves. The trend of eating locally sourced products opens the door to improved individual health and presents an opportunity to improve the local community, economy, and ecology.  

Earlier this summer, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning has initiated a program designed to support consumers and producers of locally produced products. The initiative is “Choose LI - Choose Local & Independent”. This concept conveys awareness of Suffolk County’s agricultural producers, their products, and artisan value-added products via the website.  Consumers are asked to “Take the Pledge”. - The pledge is symbolic. No one is bound to the pledge with terms or conditions.

The theory behind the pledge is if 10% of Suffolk County households pledge 10% of their weekly food budget - $17.60 (New Yorker’s spend $176/week on groceries according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics), that spending over the typical Long Island harvest season would add 19 million dollars into the local economy. The 19 million dollars of direct spending would create 33 million dollars in total economic activity and create nearly 1,000 jobs.

Although the website is still under development, there are reasons to take the pledge now.  They are building an inventory of existing farm stands and farmers’ markets, fish markets, vineyards, breweries, cideries, and distilleries in Suffolk County. Taking the pledge will communicate via email upcoming local events, special events, Partner Deals, and informational updates.  See what has been completed:

The Community Association of Greater Saint James, volunteer their time and resources to host a market on Saturday mornings featuring local produce to bring the community together attracting commerce and increasing awareness of businesses on Lake Avenue. 

Fink’s at St. James MarketThroughout Long Island, a new breed of restaurant owners are dedicated to buying locally produced food. From the west end of Long Beach to Greenport, farm fresh product is on the menu and Smithtown is no exception. More on that later in part two of this series Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - Where to Find.

Purchasing vegetables and value-added produced goods (pickles, pies, jams, etc.) from a local farm help preserve the limited open space left on Long Island. The finite amount of land left on this fish-tailed island is valuable and expensive commodity to maintain. Ever wonder why the remaining farmers don’t cash out and leave behind the back-breaking, unforgiving, unpredictable forces of mother nature that dictate their ability to make a living?

Sujecki Farm & Nurseries at King’s Park Farmer’s MarketKing Park Farmer’s Market producer, Jonathan Sujecki of Sujecki Farms and Nursery (Calverton) offered this response, “My family has been farming on the same piece of ground since 1900. When you are on that ground, you can feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it survive until today. Not many people are able to say that they know what their great-great-grandfather did.  I can relate to the struggles and the great times that everyone before me went through. The pride of being able to say I’m doing what generations before me did outweigh everything.  Knowing how hard it is, and how hard it was for them. Knowing they were able to make a life doing what they love. That drives me each and every day.” 

It’s National Farmer’s Market weekend. Celebrate by visiting a local market or farm stand. Socialize, talk to the grower. Buy and consume their products and discover how “the timeless values of patience, frugality, loyalty, and community are inimical to the fast food values that pervade the modern world.”- Alice Waters, forward from Unforgettable, The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. 

Part 2 will be posted next Thursday.