Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 38 Issue 8, June 19 - 25, 2008
now in our 38th season

Shopping for the Mini-Masses

by Maryjane Mojer
Executive Chef, Bartlett's Ocean View Farm

Most everyone that I know who owns a house on the island (or rents a house on the island) has fallen prey to the summer guest influx. It generally starts in March or April with the inquisitive phone call. “We were thinking of stopping by this summer. What do you think?” Stopping by? Yes, they know it’s an island. It seems to be the easiest intro to the “May we stay with you for a week in August” conversation that will occur within a week or two of the initial phone call.

Generally our guests don’t start filing in until mid-August. This gives us plenty of time in the summer to get the gardens in order, replace bits and pieces of the grill and stock up on paper goods. There is a gradual build up, and by the time the first wave arrives, we’re ready. This year, however is different. My daughter’s wedding countdown has begun, and with a wedding are wedding events, the first of which is next weekend. (Not a surprise, so don’t worry that I’ve spilled the beans!)   The challenge this year is the diversity of our guests. We are a family of carnivores and, as such, our menus reflect this. We always have salads and side dishes, but the main course is heavily meat-laden. In our new, extended family we have carnivores as well as vegetarians, flexitarians, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, and vegans. To the best of my knowledge,  we have no raw vegans, but we will do our best to feed them, too.

As I assessed our guest list for this coming weekend, I was a bit intimidated..not something that happens to me often when it comes to feeding people. I have the incredibly good and rare fortune to have a job that supports not only my need to feed many people, but my need to produce great quantities of good food. We feed about a thousand people a day at the farm in the summer, so the numbers aren’t what concerned me. Feeding the multitudes is not an issue for me. My concern is having something for everyone in my own home, and making sure that no one goes hungry. We will have six guests for three days and for six meals. Planning ahead and shopping is key.

My  plan is to have breakfast options available, lunch is up to them, and I’ll cook dinner on two nights. I use to buy a case of bottled water. I no longer do, but have bought several refillable water bottles that can be run through the dishwasher. I have a filter on my tap, and a second refrigerator. I’ll fill and chill the bottles before the guests arrive, and they can refill as needed. So far, my shopping list is as follows:

  • 1 bunch Bananas
  • 2 pints Blueberries
  • 2 pints Strawberries
  • 2 Melons
  • Eight to ten Apples
  • 2 bags Farm Mesclun Mix
  • 3 pints Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Celery
  • 4 large Onions
  • 1 pound Carrots
  • 2 pounds Baby Spinach
  • Two lemons
  • Two limes
  • Ten pounds small potatoes (red, white or both)
  • Eight to ten tomatoes
  • Two bottles Tonic Water
  • One head Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 loaves Portuguese Bread
  • 1 loaf Struen Bread from Daily Breads
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • One half pound honey ham
  • One half pound swiss cheese, sliced
  • One half pound roasted turkey, sliced
  • One half pound cheddar cheese, sliced
  • One half gallon 2% milk
  • One half gallon soy milk
  • One pint half and half
  • Two pints heavy cream
  • One pound unsalted butter
  • One liter good olive oil
  • Two pounds turkey bacon
  • Two packs of chicken legs
  • Three bags good quality chocolate chips
  • One pound Mocha Java coffee beans
  • One authentic, store made, store bought angel food cake

Angel food cake is one of those recipes that everyone should know how to make, and make only on very rare occasions, in my humble opinion. Store bought is quick, easy and pretty darn good, especially when dipped in warm chocolate.

The nights that I’ll cook dinner, I’ll pick up fish from one of the fish markets. In my own family we have one non-fish eater, so I’ll also serve chicken legs.

A big green salad will make everyone happy. Our guests will arrive on the 5:00 boat and will have traveled most of the day. The first night will be dinner at home. We will have oven roasted potatoes, wilted baby spinach and grilled salmon or tuna. For dessert, we will have chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and angel food cake.

The first morning, I will be at work. My daughter is a very good cook, and will be in charge of breakfast that day. To make it easy, I will leave a French toast casserole in the refrigerator. This is a wonderful dish for guests. You put it all together the night before, let it sit overnight and bake it off first thing in the morning. Your guests wake up to the smell of home baked French toast. Topped with maple syrup and fresh fruit, it’s a great way to start the day. For the vegans, fresh fruit and Struen toast, and a fresh pot of Nantucket Coffee Roasters Mocha Java and orange juice for all.

French Toast Casserole

We always have bits of baguettes and ends of bread around. If you buy a whole baguette, let it sit for a day or two, cut it up, and use it. 

Fill a 9 x 13 inch  buttered casserole with stale bread, either torn or cut. Pack it in very well. Make a custard mixture of

  • 8 eggs and two yolks
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • One quarter cup maple syrup
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the custard mixture over the bread in stages, waiting until the custard is absorbed by the stale bread. Press lightly with your hands to submerge the bread. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make a mixture of one half cup of sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon, and one quarter teaspoon each of nutmeg and ginger. Remove the plastic wrap, and sprinkle the sugar mixture over the casserole. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set. Serve with warm maple syrup, although it’s pretty rich and tasty without.

Chocolate Fondue

So crazy easy and delicious. I set out a platter of fresh fruit along with torn up hunks of angel food cake. Leftover fruit is great for breakfast, the leftover chocolate (if there is any) freezes well.

Into a large bowl, pour three bags of chocolate chips. Bring 2 pints of heavy cream just to a boil, and whisk in two tablespoons of honey. Pour this mixture, once at the boil, over the chocolate chips. Let sit for two or three minutes and whisk till smooth. This is stuff that dreams are made of.

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