Food Musings with Singer/Songwriter Jeff LeBlanc From Simon’s Beach Bakery to Joe’s Pub

jeff le blanc new

Photo Courtesy of Jeff LeBlanc

Food Musings with Singer/songwriter Jeff LeBlanc From Simon’s Beach Bakery to Joe’s Pub

By Maryann Kraker

Jeff LeBlanc’s first single Until We Get It Right quickly entered into the rotation of Sirius/XM’s The Coffee House and lead to his nomination as Sirius/XM “Singer/Songwriter Discovery of the Year”. His latest record, Worth Holding On To, released in August 2011 brought him to national attention, when it hit #3 on the iTunes top 200 Singer/Songwriter Chart. Jeff recently played to a sold out audience at the legendary Joe’s Pub in New York City and has toured with artists such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Shelby Lynne, Matt Nathanson, Chris Isaak and David Archuleta. Jeff recently released his new album My Own Way There  which was recorded in Nashville and debuted in the Top 10 of the ITunes singer/songwriter chart.

MK: I understand you would sing near Simon’s Beach Bakery out in Westhampton. Do you have some favorite treats from the bake shop?

JLB: That place is legendary. It’s actually where I got my start. The crowds were so big in the summertime and they’re open all night. I could literally order anything there… I usually go with the mini-desserts; mini-cheesecakes, cream puffs and mousse pies. However the cream croissant is my new favorite.

MK: I also read that you waited on tables during the day while performing at night when you were starting out.  Any lessons learned from waiting tables that helps you today with the music industry?

JLB: I did. Waiting tables teaches you patience. You also have to have to build a good rapport with your customers. When you’re on stage, the audiences are your customers as well. It also made me crave being on stage that much more.

MK: Do you have any food rituals on the day of a performance?

JLB: I really stay away from heavy and spicy food before a show, you have to feel your best on stage. Drinking water all day is major for me.

MK: What kind of places do you like to eat while on tour?

JLB: Depending on where I am, I try to go with something that’s popular in the local community. For example, every time I’m in the Boston area, you’ll probably find me at the Friendly Toast. but you have to try and find them.

MK: I understand you recorded two albums in Nashville?  They have a great food scene there. Where did you find yourself eating? Any favorites from your time spent there?

JLB: The food scene in Nashville is incredible. Since I’m usually there for a few weeks at a time, I try to experience as many places as I can. Of course the classic “meat and threes” and BBQ joints are what Nashville is known for and they never disappoint. However, I really like the Calypso Café, which is Caribbean themed.

MK: Any thoughts on why so many musicians are expressing themselves not only through the music but with food?

JLB: I’m not really sure. So many people always say that music and food are so closely connected. I think people are really hungry (pun intended) for creativity with their food these days. The expansion of social media has also brought fans closer to their favorite artists interests than ever before. A lot of venues are also bridging the connection with music and food as well. For example, some of my favorite places to play are Joe’s Pub in NYC and World Café Live in Philadelphia. They also have amazing menus.

Rose Sangarita with Mixed Fruit ( Rose Sangria with Tequila)

As we appropriate Labor Day weekend, I decided for my official Labor Day cocktail to combine two of my favorite drinks, rose and a margarita – and the combination of these two drinks is a Rose Sangarita, adding some of the fresh seasonal fruit so abundant right now to enhance the flavor. i like to use berries combined with some stone fruit so bring in the blackberries, raspberries and blueberries along with the peaches, apricots and plums to make your favorite sangarita!

From by the bay, wishing you sangarita food memories!! Maryann

blog sangrarita

Rose Sangarita with Mixed Fruits ( Rose Sangria with Tequila)

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle Rose ( 750 ml)
  • 2 ounces gold tequila
  • 2 ounces triple sec
  • 2 ounces fresh berries ( raspberries, blackberries or blueberries)
  • 2 ounces fresh pitted and chopped stone fruit ( peaches, plums or apricots)

Directions

Put all the ingredients into a carafe. Mix well and refrigerate for minimum 3 hours and up to 1 day. Serve cold.

Mixed String Bean Salad

 

Here is a perfect summer side dish using all the wonderful colored string beans you can find in markets this time of year. The special ingredient that makes this salad so delicious is the peppery taste and earthy aroma of cumin. It lends an exotic note to a simple dish.

From by the bay, wishing you exotic food memories!

Maryann

 

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Mixed String Bean Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound mixed string beans
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. When cool drain string beans and place in a large bowl. Prepare dressing by whisking the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour dressing over string beans and mix well.  Serve at room temperature.

 

 

 

 

Citrus Pistachio Pound Cake from The Tasting Room

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Citrus Pistachio Pound Cake
Recipe published in Bon Appetit 2012 from The Tasting Room in Houston Texas

Ingredients
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped, divided

Directions
Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325°. Coat a 9x5x3″ loaf pan with nonstick spray. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.Whisk 2 cups flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add sugar; beat until well incorporated, 1–2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Add juices and zests; beat until well combined (mixture will look curdled), 2–3 minutes. Add dry ingredients; reduce speed to low and beat just until blended. Fold in 3/4 cup pistachios. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pistachios over.Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in pan. Run a sharp knife around sides to loosen; unmold cake. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Salad

A classic Greek salad combination is watermelon with feta., it’s one of those perfect food pairings- sweet and juicy watermelon paired with creamy and salty feta cheese. This recipe gives this classic a new twist by grilling the watermelon. The natural sugars in the watermelon caramelizes when grilled, heightening the sweetness of the fruit. It’s and easy salad to make and perfect summer food fare. Enjoy!

From by the bay wishing you sweet and salty food memories!

Maryann

 

blog grilled watermelon salad

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 limes
  • 4 watermelon slices cut inch thick (sweet and ripe)
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Peel and halve the red onion and cut into very fine half-moons and put in a small bowl adding the juice of two limes. This will soften the onion and making it more transparent and pink.
Slice the the watermelon into 1 inch slices including the rind. Cut into triangle shapes. Heat grill and brush both sides of each watermelon slice using 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place on grill for about 3 minutes per side, until  charred.  To assemble the salad place watermelon on platter. Crumble feta cheese over the watermelon. Toss over the salad the parsley and mint. Sprinkle the red onion over the salad along with lime juice. Drizzle remain olive oil and add pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

blog grilled watermelon

Sweet Corn and Blueberry Ice Cream

 Trying to make the most of this season’s fresh corn, lead me down the path of making corn into a dessert. Summer’s sweet corn makes a wonderful ice cream especially paired with another summer favorite blueberries.  I use both the cut kernels and the cobs with milk, sugar and cream to create this delicious creamy ice cream, mixed and topped with blueberry compote. When you taste the ice cream, it taste familiar and sweet. The taste of corn is subtle and rich. It’s a perfect summer treat!

 From by the bay,wishing you summer sweet corn memories!

Maryann

blog sweet corn ice cream

Sweet Corn and Blueberry Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 4 ears fresh young corn, shucked
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 cup whole fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

Cut kernels off each ear of corn and place into a large saucepan. Break cobs into pieces and also add to pan. Add to the pan the milk, cream , 3/4 cup sugar and xanthan gum. Place on medium heat , bring mixture to a low boil for 5 to 10 minutes until mixture is thicken slightly and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, remove cobs. Using an immersion blender, puree kernels. ( You can also use a blender to liquidfy but the immersion blender is quickest and easier clean up). Let corn mixture infuse for about an hour and then pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. When straining make sure you are using the back of a spoon to push the liquid through. Also scrap the liquid from the bottom of the strainer in the bowl. Place bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 2 to 3 hours. In the meantime, to a small sauce pan add blueberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan . Place on medium heat until the blueberries start to pop and mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. Make the sweet corn mixer in an ice cream maker according to directions. Right when the ice cream is ready slowly pour the blueberry sauce into the ice cream to swirl one or two times. Pour into a freezer safe container and store in freezer until ready to serve.

 

Blackberry Corn and Jalapeno Salad

This simple and delicious corn salad combines great flavors of the season : corn, blackberries, jalapeno peppers and basil. Fresh lime juice brightens the flavors. It’a a refreshing and colorful side dish , that works with most grilled entrees.

From by the bay, wishing you corn and blackberry food memories!

Maryann

blog corn blackberry

Blackberry Corn and Jalapeno Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 5 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice ( 2-3 limes)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced in half rings
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 3 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

Directions

In a large pot of salted water boiling water add corn for 3 minutes. Drain and immerse in ice water to stop cooking. cool corn down with water. While corn is cooling, place red onion in lime juice and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to soften. When corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob. Place kernels in a large bowl, along with the olive oil, red onions with lime juice and jalapeno. Toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Just before serving add the blackerries and mint and gently toss.

 

 

 

Fried Chicken Cutlet over Dandelion Greens

This is a mash up of  chicken milanese on a bed of arugula  with some favorite flavors of southern cooking, with a great end result. The chicken is marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce and then dipped in breadcrumbs,  with a nice crunchy result with a little kick too!  This chicken is actually much easier to make than the traditional milanese version that requires dipping in flour then egg then breadcrumbs. The dandelion salad is perfect complement with a slightly peppery taste , enhanced with the taste of lemons! It’s perfect summer dining!

From by the bay wishing you dandelion food memories!

Maryann

blog chic dandelion salad

Fried Chicken Cutlet over Dandelion Greens

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound extra thin skinless chicken cutlet
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 cups panko crumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • canola oil
  • bunch of dandelions greens bottoms removed and cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • lemon slices, to garnish
  • grated parmesan cheese

Directions

In a shallow bowl add buttermilk and hot sauce. Whisk together. Add chicken cutlet , cover with plastic wrap and  place in refrigerator for two hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking.  In food processor add panko crumbs and process into fine crumbs.  In a shallow bowl add panko, flour, paprika and pepper. Mix well.  Remove chicken from buttermilk and dredge in the panko mixture on both sides.  Let sit on a baking sheet as you coat the rest of the chicken. In the meantime, In a large saucepan add 1/2 inch canola oil . Place oil on medium to high heat. Test the oil by flicking flour or bread crumbs into the oil. If it doesn’t sizzle, wait or the chicken will be soggy. When the oil is hot, test it again by dipping the edge of a piece of chicken into the oil, the oil should gently sizzle. Cook the chicken in the oil in batches on both sides until it is a lovely golden brown color and is crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Do not crowd the pan or the chicken will become very greasy and soggy. When the chicken comes out of the oil lay it on paper towels to drain off the excess oil and sprinkle with salt. You can keep the chicken in a low oven to keep it warm while the rest of the chicken is cooking. Prepare greens by tossing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Place greens on a platter and add the chicken cutlets. Garnish with lemon slices and cheese. Serve immediately.

Hint: When shopping for dandelion greens make sure that you are getting young greens, that are GREEN, if they are older they will be yellow, the stalks harder……organic is the way to go with this green, otherwise use arugula as you salad.

 

 

Shrimp BLT Roll

I was craving a lobster roll, but that takes money, time and some real commitment.  This is the lazy girl’s lobster roll, but without compromising taste!  The shrimp are easy to make and if you are even more lazy and sometimes I am , I buy the shrimp already cooked, in which case you are whipping up this shrimp roll in minutes……..held back by how fast you can crisp up those slices of bacon!! The roll has a slight kick from the hot sauce the a fresh tangy taste from the lemon juice. This is a perfect quick summer dinner especially on those hot evenings when you don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen or at the grill!

From by the bay , wishing you some BLT food memories!

Maryann

blog shrimp roll

Shrimp BLT Roll

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 bay leave
  • 1 pound headless large shrimp ( 24 -26 per pound), cleaned and deveined
  • 3 thick slices slab bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
  • 1/2 cup high quality store bought mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 red tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 4 leaves soft green lettuce, such as boston or butter
  • 4 top loading hot dog buns
  • 2 scallions, ( use white and green parts), finely chopped

Directions

In a stockpot add about 2 quarts water salt and bay leave. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink. Strain removing bay leave and cool shrimp under cold running water to stop from cooking.  When shrimp are completely cool chop and place in bowl along with 1/2 of the chopped scallions.  In a small bowl add mayonnaise, lemon juice, hot sauce, mustard and pepper. Whisk together and pour over the shrimp. Fold sauce and shrimp together. To assemble sandwich open the bun and add 1 slice lettuce, 1/4 chopped tomato, 1/4 shrimp salad. Repeat for remaining shrimp rolls. Garnish each roll with remaining scallions and chopped crispy bacon. Serve immediately.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Ricotta

There is no finer time on the calendar than tomato season.  I  especially enjoy the many heirloom varieties  available to us once more. I can be completely happy with a tomato sea salt and a little olive oil, but sometimes, I’m looking to make a tomato salad that is a little more robust. It seems that using mozzarella cheese along with tomatoes is so predictable, so I went with adding my homemade ricotta cheese, with wonderful results. It’s the right balance of creaminess against the slightly acidic tomatoes.  It’s a match made in heaven !

From by the bay wishing you heirloom food memories!

Maryann

blog tomato ricotta salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Ricotta

Serves 4 

  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 8 to 10 basil leaves
  • 1 recipe fresh ricotta cheese or good quality store bought
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • Fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Assemble on a platter tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Add teaspoons of ricotta cheese on top of tomatoes. Scatter basil leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 

 

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

Line a sieve with a dampened cheesecloth and place over a bowl to strain the cheese. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. The mixture will start to separate in curds ( the thick part that is the cheese) and whey ( the thin liquid you drain off). Once that happens, pour into the sieve, catching the ricotta into the cheesecloth lined sieve. Let stand for 20 to 25 minutes letting the liquid drain off. Let drain depending how thick and moist you want. the longer it drains the thicker and drier the ricotta. Once drained, take the cheese out of the cheesecloth and store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use. This will stay 3 to 4 days.