Nantucket Daffodil Festival
Island Cooking

A Moveable Feast for the Senses

• by Leah Mojer •

I was quoted last year in the Inky with an answer to a question so cliché it hurts. When asked about the best part of daffodil weekend, as I hurried up Main street in far too little clothing for an April day, I grimaced in pain to come up with something witty, or memorable. “The Cars!” I blurted out, instantly flushed with embarrassment that I didn’t pull some Shakespearean prose out of thin air about spring or rebirth or renewal of the seasons. I hurriedly gave my name and walked on, unable to shake the dumb smile from my face, nursing the horrifying thought that hundreds would read my response in a mere few days.

After some thought, (and a few weeks) I realized that the answer I gave was absolutely genuine. THE CARS. It is about the cars! As a reckless collector and lover of all things Vintage, this should have been clear. These machines of my parent’s and grandparent’s youth are nothing but pure joy, innovation, and decadence. Nothing it seems, is built so well out of heavy, shiny chrome and steel, or, as far as the Daffy enthusiasts are concerned, as well-cared for in the decades I have been around. It’s mesmerizing, to see such old hulking engines that still run! I wonder endlessly about the technology, the vision, and confidence they had to build such interesting and beautiful machines.

Now, I think if I actually participated in the parade, you know, with the picnic and everything, I might be endanger of simply leaving my earthly beings behind & floating into the sky, having suffered tremendously of the ailment, “died and gone to heaven.”

Picnics are to me something I hold higher in my imagination than most things. They are a culinary spectacle, being part fashion, part food, part long lost love story. It’s a way of life and leisure that has seemed to have been lost with the introduction of the 9 to 5, the “tv” dinner, & the iPhone.

Daffodil is that one special chance each year when we Nantucketers and visitors can pay homage to the absolute decadence of The Picnic. We pay tribute to the fabulous machines of days gone by where things weren’t to be thrown away after a few years of service, and when a little arrogance in design was welcomed in a larger-than-life attitude that all was pleasure and leisure.

Although I am younger in years than most of the Cars that hum down the cobblestone streets in the Parade, I am more than grateful and appreciative to cheer them on, and anticipate with great excitement the one day pass of unapologetic leisurely picnicing to follow.

 Spring Pea & Ricotta Spread

Because of the simplicity of this spread, be sure to use the best ingredients you can procure or afford.

  • 4 C. Frozen Peas,thawed – If using fresh, Blanch 5 Minutes in salty boiling water and shock in an ice bath, drain.
  • 2 C Maplebrook Ricotta, or any full fat Ricotta
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 C grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh Chopped Herbs like Tarragon, Chives, or Thyme
  1. Saute garlic and shallots in olive over medium heat until fragrant and translucent. Let cool in the oil in the pan.
  2. Put peas, ricotta, and garlic shallot oil mixture into a food processor and pulse until peas are mostly pureed but the spread is still a bit chunky. Add salt, fresh cracked pepper, parmigiano and fresh herbs and pulse until just incorporated.
  3. Serve with herbed crostini, Cape Cod Potato Chips or mix into blanched pasta for a very easy pasta salad.

Herbed Crostini

  • 1 Baguette, preferably day old, but no older—sliced on the bias into oval slices, the longer the better.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil. A lot of it.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Thyme Sprigs
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Place sliced baguette rounds into a large bowl. Generously coat rounds with olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Place in a single layer on sheet pans or cookie sheets. Lay thyme sprigs liberally over the rounds.
  2. Bake 8 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
  3. Allow to cool. Discard thyme sprigs, letting the thyme leaves fall onto the crostini. Seal tightly in bags or containers.
  4. Serve with Spring Pea & Ricotta Spread, a cheese platter & wine.

Quiche is an instant crowd pleaser, wine soaker-upper, hunger stomper. It also doesn’t need to be hot, which is of the utmost importance while picnicing.

Potato, Bacon & Leek Quiche with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

  • 1 9 inch pie shell, pre-baked
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 6 slices cooked & crumbled bacon. Buy the good stuff. Or make your own. Boar’s head will do in a pinch.
  • 2 Leeks, white & light green part only
  • 5 cage free (organic) eggs
  • 1 1/4 C Heavy Cream
  • 1 Garlic Clove microplaned
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper, to Taste
  • 1/2 C Cabot Clothbound, or any great aged cheddar, grated.
  1. Do these steps ahead of time so assembling the quiche will be a snap: Boil the potatoes in salty water, cool them, then slice them into 1/4-inch rounds. Slice the leeks lengthwise then into halfmoons. Soak in water to shake the dirt loose. Dry well. Season them with salt and saute in oil until fragrant and translucent, about 10 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Layer cooked potato rounds, crumbled bacon, wilted leeks and Cabot cheddar in the prebaked pie shell until fairly full to the top.
  3. Whisk eggs, cream, microplaned garlic, salt and pepper until well incorporated. Pour the mixture into pie shell all the way to the top, until almost overflowing.
  4. Carefully place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the quiche is puffed way up in the middle and is semi firm when shaken.
  5. Let cool completely. Cut and wrap in waxed paper for the perfect handheld joy-ride snack!

April is always fooling us into thinking summer is around the corner. Us seasoned daffy dayers know better. Soup is a must on most years, even on the sunniest of Parade days.

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup with Pecorino Cheese

  • 2 Big yellow onions, Julienned
  • 2 T Butter
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 1/2 lb. Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. Wild Mushrooms, torn.
  • 1 Big Russet potato, peeled and coarsley chopped
  • 1 T chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 t salt
  • 4 C Vegetable or Chicken Stock
  • 2 t worcestershire
  • 1/2 C. light cream
  • 1/2 C grated Pecorino Cheese
  1. Saute onions in butter and oil in a large pot, seasoning with salt, over medium high heat. Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms, seasoning with a bit of salt and saute for another 15 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add potato, parsley, salt & pepper, & saute uncovered 5 minutes. If you are drinking a glass of wine, red or white (or beer for that matter), this is a great moment to throw some in, letting the pan deglaze and the alcohol to cook off, leaving you with another wonderful layer of flavor for your soup.
  3. Add stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and partially cover with a lid until potatoes are tender, 20 minutes.
  4. Let soup cool slightly. Then, puree in a blender in batches until smooth, making double sure the lid is on tight! I like to put a kitchen towel over the lid and hold down firmly.
  5. Strain back into the pot and whisk in cream, worcestershire & pecorino.

Pack into thermoses, and off you go. No spoon needed, just sip, shmooze, & take in the sights!

Articles by Date from 2012