Bridgehampton Weekends: Easy Menus for Casual Entertaining

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Beautiful entertaining is made easy in this wonderfully photographed full-color book, where anyone can spend the four seasons cooking and entertaining with Ellen Wright. The essence of Bridgehampton—the ocean, old wooden barns, blossoming fields of flowers, and local fruit stands—is captured on each and every page. Having spent many weekends and summers on the South Fork of Long Island, Wright shares a wealth of recipes and insights to make entertaining as simple, elegant, and delightful as possible. Complete ...
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Beautiful entertaining is made easy in this wonderfully photographed full-color book, where anyone can spend the four seasons cooking and entertaining with Ellen Wright. The essence of Bridgehampton—the ocean, old wooden barns, blossoming fields of flowers, and local fruit stands—is captured on each and every page. Having spent many weekends and summers on the South Fork of Long Island, Wright shares a wealth of recipes and insights to make entertaining as simple, elegant, and delightful as possible. Complete meals for every occasion are carefully planned for ease of preparation. Here are inimate winter dinners by the fireplace, outdoor spring lunches under the crabapple tree, festive meals after long days at the beach, and warm gatherings with family and friends.

About the Authors:

Ellen Wright is a well-known cook, artist, interior deisgner, and hostess. She worked extensively as an assistant to James Beard. She currently lives in New York City and Bridgehampton, NY. Tom Eckerle has been a professional photographer for 15 years. He has worked on more than 40 books, including Bobby Flay's Boy Meets Grill and Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook. He lives in New York City.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Entertaining Made Easy

Entertaining at home can occasionally be nerve-racking. Or at least the anticipation can be. How do I time it so that every course is ready at the right moment? Do I dazzle my guests with the pan-seared bass or the scallop seviche? Will everyone enjoy themselves? Ellen Wright puts some of those pre-dinner fears to rest in her book, Bridgehampton Weekends. Not only does she champion casual home-cooked meals (bye-bye bicycle pump for the Peking Duck), she also suggests avoiding last-minute panic by making some courses in advance and freezing them until they are needed. Wright's recipes are arranged in menu form to make your planning easier. You can never tell in advance if your guests will have a good time, but if you're at ease, your guests will be, too.

Hamptons Magazine
Bridgehampton Weekends brings a taste of the East End to the table year-round and entertaining tips to ensure hostess-with-the mostest status. From succulent summer salmons to hearty soups and stews, Wright has taken the guesswork out of organizing fabulous summer get-togethers.
Vernon Jordan
Ellen has made cooking an art. She makes wonderful food that is simple and exquisite.
Library Journal
Lavishly illustrated with color photographs of gardens, bucolic country scenes, and serene winter landscapes, and featuring menus for such occasions as "First Spring Dinner on the Screened-In Porch" and "Outdoor Lunch under the Crabapple Tree," this book portrays the charmed life in one of Long Island's Hamptons. Wright, an interior decorator, loves to entertain, and she offers some good basic tips along with her menu suggestions. Some of the recipes are on the old-fashioned side (Tomato Aspic and Iceberg Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing), and Wright's style will not appeal to everyone, but for those looking for a "casual elegant" approach to entertaining should fine it useful. For larger collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688170912
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 8.65 (w) x 11.05 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Tomato Aspic With Pineapple Sauce

This recipe is absolutely unique. It comes from Ann Wright, who was a good cook. She never told me if she invented this recipe or where she got it. What sets it apart is the pineapple sauce. You wouldn't think that tomatoes and pineapple would go together, but they do. I like to have a plate of this with crisp lettuce, topped with sauce, and some of my Cheese Straws (see recipe below) or Puff Pastry Sticks for lunch.


For the Aspic
one 3-ounce package lemon Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup stewed tomatoes or canned plum tomatoes, broken up
1/2 small onion, grated or finely minced to yield
1 tablespoon pulp (see Ellen's Tips)
1/4 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup tomato juice
oil for greasing the mold

For the Sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon pineapple juice
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (canned is best), drained


1. In a large bowl, dissolve the Jell-O in the boiling water, stirring for a minute. Add the tomatoes, onion, tomato puree, and tomato juice and mix until the aspic is well combined. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 1-quart mold or 8-inch square glass dish. Refrigerate, lightly covered, overnight. To remove from the mold, briefly* dip it into a bowl of hot water and unmold onto a chilled plate.

2. To make the sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mayonnaise, and pineapple juice. Add the crushed pineapple and stir lightly with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and serve at room temperature with theaspic.

"Briefly" means about 10 seconds. If the aspic doesn't come out of the mold the first time, dip it again for 5 seconds. Have patience.

Ellen's Tips

One method for making onion pulp is to scrape the cut end of the halved onion with the sharp side of a knife. This will harvest some watery onion pulp, which acts as a taste flavoring. Another method is to grate the onion on the fine side of a grater.

Or you can chop the onion very finely and add it you mix the aspic. This adds a bit of crunch.

Cheese Straws

Makes 24 Straws

This is a very rich dough of Cheddar cheese, butter, flour, and egg that bakes up into absolutely incredible sticks or cookie shapes. You can bake them in advance and then when they are completely cool, freeze them. You should reheat them before serving. They are really good served with drinks, as in this menu, or with soup, a salad, or as a snack. They also make a lovely gift at Thanksgiving or Christmas.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
pinch of Colman's dry mustard
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup grated sharp yellow Cheddar cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sweet paprika


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and dry mustard together. Place the dry ingredients with the butter and cheese into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to make a coarse meal. Add the beaten egg, pulsing until a thick paste forms.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface 1/4 inch thick and cut into 5-inch-long strips. Sprinkle lightly with the paprika and place them 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet. You can twist the strips and press down the ends to make them more interesting. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Ellen's Tips

Make these cheese straws when you have time and cool them completely before you freeze them. Cover well with plastic wrap and store them in a tin with a tightly fitting lid, up to 6 weeks.

Instead of strips, you can use a cookie cutter and make hearts, moons, or any other shape for fun.

Bridgehampton Weekends. Copyright © by Ellen Wright. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Fourth of July Menu from Bridgehampton Weekends

Savory Toasts

Jacques Pépin demonstrated this recipe on television one time in 1991 and I wrote down what I could make of it. I thought it sounded so good and indeed it was. I have changed it around to suit my own taste, but there are still two options here: one is sweet (on account of the figs); the other is herby. One is cooked and one is not, so try both ways. They are each wonderful on their own served with a drink.

Version I

1 cup finely chopped Greek olives, rinsed and pitted
1 ounce flat anchovies, drained, patted dry, and finely chopped
5 dried figs, soaked in hot water to cover till softened, drained, and finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
12 thin slices French bread, lightly toasted
6 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

In a food processor, place the olives, anchovies, figs, and olive oil and pulse to a medium-fine paste. Spread each slice of bread with 2 teaspoons of the mixture and arrange on a pretty plate, garnished with the cilantro.

Version II

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup finely chopped Greek olives, rinsed and pitted
1/4 cup finely chopped mushroom caps
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves
A squeeze of lemon
12 thin slices French bread, lightly toasted

In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, then cook the shallots and garlic, stirring until soft and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the olives and mushrooms, and cook another 3 minutes, stirring until well mixed. Remove the mixture from the heat and place in a small bowl. Add the parsley, mint, and a tiny bit of lemon juice, and mix to combine. Spread each slice of bread with 2 teaspoons of the mixture and arrange on a pretty plate.

Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

This salmon is definitely poached, but not in the way you might think. You will not need a fancy French fish poacher here. There is no court bouillon for those who are classically trained cooks and know what that is. You can use salmon steaks or a whole salmon. This salmon poaches with peeled cucumbers in heavy cream in a regular baking dish. I've never seen another recipe like it, and I can't remember where I found it, but I've had it since I was twenty-four years old and I always am amazed at how really good it is. It is ideal for summer entertaining because it can be served cold or, better yet, at room temperature.

Eight 1½-inch-thick salmon steaks or one 3-pound whole salmon
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of dried thyme
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 small onion, thinly sliced
8 black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium-size cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 cups light cream
Dill sauce (below)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Rub the salmon steaks with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Butter a glass baking dish large enough to hold the salmon in a single layer and coat both sides of the fish with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Put the onion slices on top of the fish, then add the peppercorns, parsley, bay leaves, garlic, cucumbers, and cream. Cover the dish tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake until the fish pulls away from the bone and is pale pink and fork-tender, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. When it is done, discard the cucumbers, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, and cream. Serve with Dill Sauce.

Dill Sauce

Salmon and dill are a match made in heaven. I pick my dill from the garden at the last minute, then snip it finely with kitchen scissors, which is really the easiest way to do it. The amount of lemon juice here can be adjusted. I like this sauce a little tangy and saucy, meaning easy to pour. If you want a thicker sauce, use a little less lemon juice. Don't eliminate it entirely, though; it adds necessary flavor.

Makes 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the mayonnaise with the dill and lemon juice and mix with a fork until smooth. Chill well.

Corn on the Cob, The Wright Way

Oh, the number of ways I have cooked fresh corn! There had to be a perfect way to do it. I can safely say, from years of experience, that this one comes the closest. It helps, of course, that I am able to buy just-picked ears from the local farm stand two seconds from home. I enlist the help of Joe and my grandchildren to shuck the corn in the garden. It is a good project for kids. The way to butter corn is a family tradition, which I love almost as much as the corn itself. You need slices of sturdy white, French, or Italian bread—and a stick of cold butter. Cut the slices in quarters and put in a basket. Take a generous pat of butter, put it on a piece of bread, and use the bread like a sponge to butter the corn. What happens, of course, is that the butter melts into the bread at the same time, making it quite edible. I've never known anyone—and that's a lot of corn eaters since we've been going to Bridgehampton—to be able to resist eating several ears of Long Island corn so smartly served.

14 to 16 ears fresh corn, shucked
3 teaspoons dried thyme

Fill a big pot with cold water. Put in the ears of corn and the thyme. Over high heat, bring the corn to a boil and turn the heat off. Remove the ears and place them in a basket with a large pretty napkin or a country dish towel.

Steamed Spinach

Don't be alarmed by the amount of spinach you have to buy here. Spinach wilts down to nothing once it's cooked. We don't plant spinach in our garden, so I buy the packaged, prewashed variety of fresh bunches of spinach. If you grow your own or buy it from a farm stand, wash it—not just rinse it—carefully. Wash the prewashed variety for that matter, because it still needs it. Sand is not part of the recipe.

4 pounds fresh spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

1. Wash the spinach. Trim the large tough stems off and set in a colander to dry.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the spinach in the skillet and cook, covered, until wilted, about 5 minutes, tossing so that all the spinach gets cooked. Transfer the spinach to a platter and place the butter, sliced in pats, on top while it is still hot.

Rose's Blueberry Pie

I first tasted this pie when my daughter Alexis was a baby in 1967. Rose Delaney made it. She was an Irish woman and had that type of wisdom that only the Irish have. She was always giving me advice, whether it was about the baby or anything else that occurred to her. I didn't always take her advice but it turned out I should have. I took her advice on this pie, however. She informed me that it was the best blueberry pie ever, and Rose was right.

Makes one 9-inch pie

For the crust:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup vegetable shortening
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 pints blueberries, washed and picked over
2 tablespoons butter

1. To make the crust, place the flour, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add the ice water and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough 4 or 5 times or until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into two balls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, if possible, at least 1 hour or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out one ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 12-inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Fit the dough onto the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
3. Place the brown sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a medium-size bowl and toss with the blueberries. Pour the blueberry mixture into the pie plate. Dot with the butter. Roll out the second round of dough and place over the filling. Crimp the edges together, sealing the bottom and top crusts. Trim around the edges of the pie to neaten up the crust. Make three to four slits on top with a sharp knife for the steam to escape while baking.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until the crust is brown and the blueberries are bubbling, another 40 to 45 minutes. Serve the pie warm.

Recipes from Bridgehampton Weekends, copyright © 2000 by Ellen Wright. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2003

    Confidence Builder

    I was not aware of Ellen until I saw her on TV the other day saying that I should not be afraid of entertaining and not fret for days before my guests arive. Thats exactly what I do! So I bought two of her books, followed her menus and kind of see whats shes talking about. Shes makes both fancy and simple food prep easy and seems to encourage the simple most of the time, even for special occasions.I tried that idea and my guests actually thanked me! Surprise! Ellen's got a good kitchen philosophy going here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2001

    This is a beautiful gift book for good friends

    Bridgehampton Weekends was given to me by a dear friend who knows I love to entertain in a casual but special way. Because of the need to make my meals special, I usually have a caterer. The author changed my mind. Her menus, and her 'trouble tips', encourage one to serve delightful meals in the kitchen and make your guests part of the preparation. What a great idea,and I really wasn't concerned about mistakes. My guests love this. Finally, I like the menus for all four seasons and the pictures of the Hamptons are to die over. I would love to meet Ellen some day but highly recommend the book for now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2000

    perfect homey food with style

    I love this book. It is so down to earth and easy to follow. Mrs. Wright really knows her stuf

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