Peconic Bay Scallop Season 2019

Peconic Bay Scallop Season is Here

The first Monday of November is a day I usually look forward to, but this hasn’t always been the case. The Atlantic bay scallop season in New York state begins on that day and over the years it has been a rollercoaster ride of harvests and availability. The lives of bay scallops in the Peconic estuary have always been linked directly to the presence of eelgrass beds in the area. In the 1930s, a “wasting disease” affected the eelgrass and then again, in 1985, brown tide blooms essentially destroyed the eelgrass and, therefore, the scallops.

The beginning of the 2019 season appears to be one of the years that we would like to forget. The first day of scalloping brought with it many reports suggesting a “die-off” of some sort happened over the summer. The previous two seasons, in 2017 and 2018, saw about 108,000 pounds harvested each year. It appears that 2019 will yield a fraction of those years.

When I first came out to the east end to cook, in 1992 at Della Femina restaurant in East Hampton, we generally had reliable harvests of bay scallops but they were never as big as those from the years before 1985. Through most of the later 1990s, the harvests continued to dwindle and by the early 2000s, there were very few scallops coming to market.

Addressing the Problems

In 2005, Cornell Cooperative Extension and their partners began a project to restore the eelgrass and bay scallop populations in the Peconic estuary and by 2009 we began to once again see notable harvests. During the 2014-15 scallop season, we finally noticed a sustained availability and the 2015-16 season looked pretty good, too. Only time will tell how it plays out, but it is nice to have such a delicious local and seasonal resource available again.

The real beauty of these scallops is their sweet, saline flavor. My favorite preparations include sliced raw and served with ponzu and other pan-Asian flavors or lightly warmed in brown butter with lemon and sage. I have seared them and served them with quickly seared foie gras and porcini mushrooms and I have also served them as ceviche with a variety of citrus components. Versatility is another of their strengths.

Let’s hope that next year the Peconic Bay scallop harvest bounces back to the levels seen in 2017 and 2018. Life is more delicious with local bay scallops.

Copyright 2020 Kevin Penner

Bay Scallop Season 2017

Atlantic Bay Scallop Season is Here

The first Monday of November is a day I always look forward to, but this hasn’t always been the case. The Atlantic bay scallop season in New York state begins on that day and over the years it has been a rollercoaster ride of harvests and availability. The lives of bay scallops in the Peconic estuary are linked directly with Continue reading “Bay Scallop Season 2017”

Malloreddus alla Campidanese

Malloreddus mis-en-place

Malloreddus alla Campidanese

Malloreddus alla Campidanese is a pasta dish that comes from Sardegna. It’s basically a sausage and tomato ragu with saffron and onions that is finished with pecorino cheese. Malloreddus is a short pasta that looks a little like cavatelli and is usually made with semolina flour, water, and saffron. Some alternative pasta shapes that would work well in this dish include gnocchi, cavatelli, fusilli, penne rigate, rigatoni, and pappardelle.

This pasta is delicious and it all comes together in about 30 minutes.

4 servings

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
15 g. garlic, thinly sliced
200 g. red onions, diced
285 g. sweet Italian sausage (roughly two links, removed from the casing)
1–28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes (passed through a food mill, pureed, or crushed by hand)
.5 g. saffron threads bloomed in 3 T. hot water
228 g. dried malloreddus or other pasta cooked per instructions on the package–drained and cooled
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
12 leaves of fresh basil
1 c. grated pecorino cheese (more or less to your liking)

1. Film a saucepan with the olive oil and add the garlic and onions. Sweat until they are tender–a little color is fine.

2. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often to keep breaking the sausage up until most of the pink color is gone.

3. Add the saffron and the soaking water along with the canned tomatoes.

4. Add the salt and pepper and bring the contents of the pan to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until it has reduced by 25% and has thickened.

5. Add the pasta to the sauce and allow the pasta to heat through and absorb a little of the sauce.

6. Add the basil leaves and stir to combine.

7. Spoon equal amounts of the pasta and sauce into 4 bowls, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and top with pecorino cheese.

Malloreddus pasta

Malloreddus Ragu before tomatoes



Two weeks ago I had the great good fortune to shoot some television with my friends Steve Haweeli, from Wordhampton PR, and Chef Michael Rozzi from the 1770 House in East Hampton, NY. I’ve known both of these guys for over 20 years and they’re both NY Yankees fans. As a Chicago Cubs fan, this was a good year for all of us to catch up. Steve currently hosts a show called “foodTalk” on LTV in East Hampton and this is where we shot the show.

Most of our conversation focused on cooking and farming on the east end of Long Island. It is one of the few places in the United States where farming, fishing, winemaking, and more, happens in one place. There are also a lot of food entrepreneurs, coffee roasters, makers of spirits, and textiles in the area. It’s a great place to cook because of these close relationships. 

We also covered olive oil, gardening, golf, eggs, ramen, and life in general on the east end. It is a fun 27 or so minutes that goes by in a flash, with no edits just to keep it edgy.

Here is a link to the video of the discussion. Check it out and feel free to share it all over the place. 

Private Chef Services 2017

It’s been a while since I last posted here and as 2016 winds down I have already begun to refine my plans for my Private Chef Services 2017. This refinement is a continuous process that strives to keep up with changes in the ways that people want to eat and entertain. Continue reading “Private Chef Services 2017”

My First Chilled Tomato Soup of 2016

My First Chilled Tomato Soup of 2016

Ripe beefsteak tomatoes have finally arrived on the east end of Long Island. They are about a week or two behind local cherry tomatoes and it’s great to have the whole tomato family around to cook (and not cook) with for the remainder of the summer. Continue reading “My First Chilled Tomato Soup of 2016”

A Midsummer Night’s Cooking in the Hamptons

A Midsummer Night’s Cooking in the Hamptons

This is my 25th season of cooking in the Hamptons during the summer. The first 23 seasons were spent in restaurant kitchens (The 1770 House, Della Femina, and cittanuova for the most part) and the last two have been in a private setting.  I could write many posts about how the worlds of private and public cooking differ, but I will save those for a book.

Here are some photos of dishes that I have been working on this summer. At some point, I will post some recipes as well. I will also note that I love cooking from the Continue reading “A Midsummer Night’s Cooking in the Hamptons”

Cooking: Summer in the Hamptons 2016

Today is the first day of summer and it is also the start of my 25th summer season of cooking in the Hamptons. My first summer of cooking on the east end of Long Island was in 1992 with the opening of Della Femina restaurant in East Hampton. A lot has happened since then, like opening the 1770 House in 2002 and cittanuova in 2004. But no matter where I have been, cooking has always been a part of it.

This season finds me, once again, cooking privately in Bridgehampton on Sagaponack Pond. Over the years, I have always supported local farmers and people who fish and hunt on the east end of Long Island. This year is no different. Food artisans and other food-related businesses all find places on my menus and now I am involved with growing a lot of the vegetables that I use in the kitchen.

I have been cooking from the garden for several weeks and I thought I would share a few photos of what I have been doing in the kitchen. Take a look, grow some stuff and cook it. Summer is here!

2016, Kevin Penner, All Rights Reserved

The Chef Cooks at Home

The Chef Cooks at Home

I still cook in restaurants at times, as a part of my consulting work. But these days, even more than cooking in restaurants, the chef cooks at home and in the homes of other people. The techniques and methods involved are not radically different. In both settings, I spend my time creating new recipes or adapting older ones.

Cooking at Home

This past weekend I cooked a couple of things that seemed suitable for the weather and the people I was feeding. It seems like the right thing to share them here. Continue reading “The Chef Cooks at Home”

“Cooked” by Michael Pollan

Some thoughts on “Cooked” by Michael Pollan on Netflix

This past Friday, February 19, Netflix added a four-part documentary to its programming line-up. It is called “Cooked” and it is based on a book of the same name by noted food journalist and accomplished home cook Michael Pollan. Continue reading ““Cooked” by Michael Pollan”

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