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“Wow, do I have some good news for you” said my husband, glancing up from the morning paper. “Fairway is coming to Westchester next week.” Good news indeed!

We moved to Scarsdale from the Upper West Side almost 15 years ago and, like a homing pigeon, I return to shop for groceries at Fairway as much as possible. I love roaming the aisles, smelling the coffee and discovering new items. My favorites: olive oil, bread, all the fruits and vegetables (including a good organic selection), flowers, and delicious Murray’s Rotisserie chicken.

Fairway
847 Pelham Parkway
Post Road Plaza
Pelham Manor, NY 10803

914-712-0011
OPENING APRIL 14

Like most of the families I know in Westchester, pizza is a staple in our house. We have our favorites for frozen pizza (Fresh Direct), local delivery (Italian Village), pick-up (Sal's, no surprise) and homemade (individual pies assembled inside and then charcoal grilled on the Big Green Egg in our yard). They are all delicious options and, depending on the level of activity in our house, one of these choices works for any occasion. When I heard Frank Pepe's had opened in Yonkers, I was eager to try it. Frank’s was rumored to be the home of the greatest Neapolitan (think thin, crunchy crust) pizzas on the planet. More importantly, I found myself on Central Avenue on a cold, rainy day with two hungry kids, ages 4 and 7 in the car.

When I asked, "Who wants to try a new pizza place?" The chorus of "ME" from the backseat was music to my ears. We pulled into the parking lot at about 11:45, were quickly greeted, and told to sit wherever we liked. My kids chose a booth that easily could have seated ten and we began to peruse the menu. It only took 15 seconds. They have pizza and that's pretty much it. No pasta. No hero sandwiches. No milk, which, I must admit, I worried would be a deal breaker for my little guy. No dessert. Just pizza.

Of course, there are also toppings, including their fresh clams and tomatoes. I have a theory that if a store or restaurant basically sells only one thing, it is likely that they do it very well, and Frank Pepe's proved me right.

The pizza was extraordinary. It was cooked in a coal-fired brick oven that is an exact replica of the oven in the original New Haven, CT shop and it is unlike any pizza I have tasted in Westchester. It has a thin, slightly charred crust, an irregular shape, and is served on a hotel sheet pan, cut into pieces of all sizes. We ordered a medium with pepperoni and when I first saw it I was worried that we should have gone with the small (full disclosure: my little guy has been known to eat one grape and state, "I'm full" and really mean it). I should not have worried. He totally held his own drinking water no less, as we devoured that pizza, talking only enough to say things like, "wow" and "please pass another piece" and then finally, "do you think there will be any left to take home so dad can try it?" There was just enough left over, thankfully, and the friendly waitress brought us a box for the leftovers for dad, who, later that afternoon, sampled the reheated pieces with a huge smile on his face.

I recommend going early or at an off-peak time if you have hungry kids since as we left I noticed that the parking lot was completely full and there was a wait for a table. Frank Pepe’s was a welcome surprise on that dreary day and I certainly wouldn’t wait for another cold, rainy day to return.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
1955 Central Avenue Yonkers, New York
914-961-8284
http://www.pepespizzeria.com

Sarah White is a mother of two living in Quaker Ridge. Prior to that, she completed a doctoral degree in psychology and worked as an academic advisor.

We were invited to Sweet Grass Grill in Tarrytown on a chilly night and were not sure what to expect….was it a new Thai place? Chicken and ribs? We decided to suspend judgment and prepare to be surprised. And as it turned out we were in for a very pleasant surprise.

The restaurant is on Main Street in Tarrytown and even the décor did not betray what kind of cuisine was in store. It looked like a homey log cabin, with blond wood and an informal air. We were warmly greeted by Managing Partner Theresa McCarthy who knew our companions from her stint at Millennio on Scarsdale Avenue. She is now part owner of Sweet Grass, which she manages with partner David Starkey, who is known for his Mexican eatery, Tomatillo in Dobbs Ferry. Sweet Grass Grill shares a similar local food sensibility with Tomatillo, both using seasonal, home grown ingredients.Chef Tommy Lasley trained under Dan Barber at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and fetures organic, locally-sourced foods. In fact, Sweet Grass changes the menu four times to incorporate seasonal ingredients… on the night we visited squash, local pork, beets and cauliflower were featured on the winter menu.

The bar stocks an extensive variety of beer on tap and the wine list is impressive. With our drinks we were served homemade caraway and cumin bread that was warm, soft and difficult to resist.

The menu includes fresh, creative combinations without pretense or lofty prices. For starters we tried the Pigs in a Blanket which were local pork in pastry with tarragon mustard, the Cauliflower Veloute soup with smoked chicken and parmesan crackers and the Marinated Hudson Valley Baby Beet Salad, that came with shaved green apple, braised leeks, greens and walnut butter. Between the caraway bread, my beer and the salad I was full but the main course was yet to come.

The entrees include two lists – one of burgers priced at just $10-$12, and another of reasonably priced main courses. Along with a traditional hamburger, the burger list included an American Bison burger and a smoked vegetarian shroom burger with three types of mushrooms. For main courses there was a braised New Zealand lamb shank, grass-fed rib-eye steak, and a handmade pappardelle, with braised beef, poached egg, greens, and pistachios in a caramelized garlic sauce. For non-meat eaters, toasted fregola with smoked vegetables, dried fruits and nuts in a parsnip brown butter looked tempting as well as the crispy skin Scottish salmon.

Though we passed on dessert, we saw a plate of warm cider donuts with apple ice cream and caramel sauce go by and vowed to leave room for dessert on our next visit.

The entire experience was pleasant, relaxed and civilized… as if we had been served a thoughtfully prepared meal at the home of good friends. And like good friends, we’ll be returning to Sweet Grass Grill soon.

Sweet Grass Grill
24 Main Street
Tarrytown, New York
914-631-0000
www.sweetgrassgrill.com
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner
Brunch served on Sundays

Dinner Prices:
Soups and Appetizers: $6 to $10
Main Courses: $16 - $30
 

I’m an avid baker. I always have been, even before I started my own family at which point it becomes a touchstone to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies with your child. How many of us have made that emergency batch of cookies on a raining day, making the kitchen smell divine while at the same time providing a learning moment for your kids. That’s one of the great things about baking - its pure chemistry in action. How does that batter, that starts out wet and sloppy, with mundane ingredients like flour, baking powder or eggs, end up producing such a lovely golden confection? Every time I bake, I get the satisfaction of watching this wonder happen again and again. And I get this opportunity a lot. Last Sunday I made a raspberry tart and a batch of brownies, Tuesday evening I made oatmeal cookies, Thursday afternoon I made an apple galette, and on Saturday I made another apple galette and chocolate crunch cookies. That’s a pretty typical week for me. My family eats it up and I try not too. My son put in a request for madeleine cookies, so that’s what I have on the schedule to bake today.

I can thank my mom for my love of baking. When I was younger and used to walk home from school, I looked forward to arriving at my house to find out what she had baked. I still have vivid memories of opening the front door to be greeted by the scents of vanilla or maybe chocolate. There were many times that I just wanted to stay in that kitchen forever ensconced in the warmth of the stove and my mom. My mom wasn’t trying to be a June Cleaver. We were a large family of six children and at the time it was cheaper to make fresh baked products at home than to buy the mass produced cookies that are so cheaply offered in today’s markets. I’m grateful for the fact that she did take the time to bake and cook from “scratch” as they formed in me a lifetime love for nourishing foods and the art and craft of baking.

And so it is that next week we will be gathering together for a Passover Seder, which always presents unique problems in the dessert category. How do you bake a good dessert without flour? For me it’s the most challenging part of the meal. Baking cakes with matzo meal is a bit of a trial. The large quality of eggs that are usually added, (and I do mean large - usually 8 to 10) are suppose to add lightness to the cakes but I haven’t found a recipe that’s been worth it. They usually lack flavor and are very heavy. That being said I went in search of desserts that could handle very little flour but would taste rich and satisfying, like all good desserts should. Chocolate was the answer.

The first two years I made these brownies for Passover, they were eaten so fast I wasn’t able to try them. The third year I got smart and doubled the batch. The recipe came from a friend and remains a favorite. They couldn’t be easier to make.

  • Preheat your oven to 375F.
  • Melt a stick of butter.
  • Beat 2 eggs and 1 cup of sugar together.
  • Gradually add the melted butter and mix well.
  • To this add:
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3Tbsp matzoh cake meal
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup chocolate chips.
  • Pour into a buttered square baking pan (8x8 or 9x9) and bake about 30 minutes or until toothpick plunged into the middle of the brownies comes out slightly moist.


I came across the next recipe several months ago and they’d be perfect for Passover, no flour required. They have lots of chocolate and coconut and are chewy, soft and moist. The recipe comes from Alice Medrich and they are called Chocolate Coconut Macaroons.

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Combine:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 ½ oz bar of semisweet chocolate finely chopped (all food markets carry chocolate bars in this size in the baking aisle)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt in a heat proof bowl.
  • Set the bowl in a skillet of barely simmering water and stir the mixture continuously until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is sticky and hot to the touch.
  • Drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture onto a cookie sheet that’s lined with foil.
  • Flatten each cookie slightly with your fingers.
  • Bake for 13 minutes.
  • Cool the cookies before removing them from the foil.


Make sure you put these out while the children are looking for the afikomen. That way the adults are sure to get to taste one before they all disappear.

A CSA (community supported agriculture) is basically a group of people who get together ahead of the growing season and agree to support a local farmer (in our case it is two farms, Adamah and Chubby Bunny). The Hazon CSA committee of the five synagogues of White Plains is accepting applications to join our group for the upcoming season. You do not have to live in White Plains or be a member of one of the synagogues to join the CSA. Each shareholder (individual or family) commits in advance to purchase organic produce from a local farm for the season, which is delivered once a week to a central location in White Plains. The members’ advance commitment and upfront payment help support the farmer’s season start up costs. Each shareholder also has a small volunteer responsibility to the CSA. The deliveries run from June through November. The shareholder, aside from partaking in such wonderful, healthy food, agrees to share the farmer’s risk that certain crops may be damaged in the rare event of a flood, drought, blight, etc., which may impact the harvest.

There are many advantages to joining our CSA, which include:

• Learning about and trying new vegetables, and receiving a variety of fresh, local, organic vegetables at competitive prices
• Supporting local sustainable agriculture – helping family farms to survive
• Gaining a closer relationship to where your food comes from
• Supporting a healthy environment – lowering your carbon footprint
• Building a strong community
• Receiving weekly newsletters with recipes, tips, news from the farm, and information about food issues
• Enjoying farm trips, educational programs, and community events around food and agriculture
• Linking into a national network of people who care about food and sustainability

Additional information about the CSA and applications for the 2010 season are available on our web site, http://www.tuvwhiteplains.org. The early bird discount price for the 2010 season is $580 for 22 weeks of produce, which includes a $5 administrative fee. This discounted price is only good through March 31st. After that date, the price goes up to $605, including the $5 administrative fee. The opportunity to purchase shares is open to the general public through June 1st, or until all available shares have been sold. Completed applications, accompanied by checks in the full amount of the share made payable to Chubby Bunny Farm, should be delivered to Temple Israel Center’s main office – to the attention of the CSA. For additional information, please contact Daryl Moss at coordinator@tuvwhiteplains.org.
 

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