Hillary Davis and Stacey Dermont’s The Hamptons Kitchen is an ode to cooking seasonally that also commemorates regionality. The local cookbook co-authors cover not only recipes, but also how to shop and think seasonally, as well as locally.
The Hamptons Kitchen, which was released earlier this year, highlights healthy dishes pairing land and sea, such as Asparagus Soup with Whipped Parmesan Cream, Green Garlic Pesto Bites, Radish Greens Pesto, Strawberry Layer Cake with Rhubarb Jam Filling and a Potato Cheesecake with Caramel Crust.
We spoke with Davis and Dermont about The Hamptons Kitchen, the cookbook’s inspiration, sourcing in the Hamptons, and more.
How long have you two been collaborating together?
SD: Since 2016. Since Hillary was working on her previous cookbook, French Desserts, is when we met.
What would you say sets cooking in the Hamptons apart?
HD: We’re tucked in between the sea and the bay – and we have this beautiful, fertile land in between. So, for me, it’s just a bounty of food from the sea, food from the bay, and the beautiful, rich soil giving us its produce. Luckily it’s not densely enough populated here that big farms can exist and thrive – because we all want that fresh local produce.
SD: I think that cooking in the Hamptons will hopefully be informed by our book, The Hamptons Kitchen. Right now, it’s largely informed by such a wide array of experiences – because we have the local people but we also have the people from New York and all over the world coming here every year to visit and to cook and to barbecue and to enjoy all the local produce and seafood and wines. I think it’s a party is what it is, generally.
Could you speak a bit about the inspiration of the cookbook?
HD: Both of us, once we became friends, we cooked together, we went out together a lot, we went to food events. She talked about cookbooks. And then we said, well, you know, somebody should do a cookbook on the Hamptons. There have been cookbooks, and they’re very nice, but we just thought we could do more. We thought because Stacy is really the expert out here, I think, on food. She has years of experience. And then I actively am a foodie. I’m normally out eating and running around and cooking. So, we just thought we were ideal as girlfriends who love the same things, same passions, to share our knowledge and our passion with people who live here or come to vacation. We thought we needed sort of an ultimate cookbook for the Hamptons. Because some of them are entertaining cookbooks, they are very nice. Loaves & Fishes did a really good cookbook and I own that. There’s some good basic cookbooks, but I think because there’s two of us adding in our own personalities and styles of cooking and knowledge, I think we thought we’d develop a more thorough kind of cookbook. That’s what we were aiming for.
What are some of your go-to local ingredients?
SD: Bamboo shoots. I love bamboo shoots and we have a recipe in the cookbook for our bamboo shoot bowl. It’s kind of like a hearty salad over wheat berries. I think a lot of people don’t know that they’re edible and we do [in the book] encourage people to take your bamboo shoots to a local food expert and make sure that yours are edible. But over 90 percent of all bamboo is edible to humans. I just walk down the street and pick it in my neighbor’s backyard, when in season.
HD: I love everything. I mean, I eat everything. I love everything. It’s more what don’t I like. I don’t like processed foods. Obviously I like fresh and eat fresh as much as I can. I love a local cheeser. For instance, Mecox Bay Dairy cheeses. I love the local cheeses here. They stand up to anything in Europe. They’re so good.
Where do you typically source your ingredients from?
HD: Farmers markets, farmstands, and then in the winter I personally shop at Provisions, the health food store. I run down to Mecox Bay Dairy for meat, cheese, milk, they have raw milk.
SD: I love The Milk Pail in Water Mill for my apples and cider, of course. And I do go and pick apples every year and drive my husband crazy. Our local wineries are the best. We have Wölffer and we have Channing Daughters, particularly here in the South Fork – and I don’t need to go anywhere else for my wine.
How many times did you have to make the recipes before they were cookbook ready?
HD: For me, normally from all my other cookbooks, I only do maybe eight times. After that I would send them out when I was confident, I would send out those recipes to a whole bunch of recipe testers I have collected over the years – because I have written four other cookbooks. They all love to participate. They’re amazing. They test the recipes for me and were pretty honest. After my eight times, then maybe I’ll have another three or four people testing. Even after you print the cookbook, you’ll get people emailing you saying, “You know, I think maybe if you put in a little more butter…” So, you keep testing, and you send in a revised recipe. It keeps getting better every time the cookbook is printed. The people that like your cookbook tend to want to get personally involved with you and talk about recipes.
SD: I’m a little more by the seat of my pants. I probably do it like four times as I send it out to people to test – and I really want them to play with it. In the book, we invite people absolutely to just master the recipe, do it your way. If you don’t quite have the ingredients on hand, use what you have. We really want to leave all of our recipes open to interpretation and adaptation. But we worked really hard to make them work really easily.
For more information, visit thehamptonskitchen.com.