The April/May Issue of Nantucket Today featured picnic menus from four local chefs. EJ was honored to be interviewed by Susan Simon for the article, excerpted below.
It’s a wonder that E.J. Harvey found time to create a picnic, let alone go on one. Harvey owns the island’s SeaGrille restaurant, is a managing partner in The Brotherhood of Thieves, and co-owns Island Events Catering, which provides food for 1,000 people on Memorial Day weekend for the Figawi sailboat race and another 600 for the annual Boys & Girls Club Summer Concert.
But he created a perfectly delicious menu. He loves his twist on a classic potato salad recipe that he calls Nantucket-German-Style Potato Salad.
“I serve it at my home (and on various outings) in the warmer weather and I am basically substituting linguica (Nantucket) for bacon (German). I slice the potatoes very thin on a mandoline and cook them in chicken stock until they have just a little bite,” he says.
He went on to explain his recipe for his Sirloin Rolls with Boursin Cheese, Pan Roasted Asparagus, Pea Shoots and Red Peppers. “Spring makes me think of asparagus – which I love pan-roasted – and pea shoots suggest a picture of all the young spring flowers getting ready to bloom. Roasted sirloin chilled and sliced seems very elegant for a festive picnic and a good wrapper for the other ingredients. Boursin cheese goes very well with the beef and the asparagus and will serve as glue to hold the bundle of vegetables together.”
Harvey completed his explanation of the savory part of his picnic with a much-requested salad straight from the SeaGrille’s menu: Oven-Charred Grape Tomatoes, Rocket Greens and Shaved Parmesan Salad.
“I roast grape tomatoes with garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Grape tomatoes are always flavorful year-round, and roasting them with the herbs really makes them stand out,” he says. He uses the oil and juice from the tomatoes to dress the rocket greens. The salad is finished with shards of Parmesan cheese. Each item used in the composition of the salad should be packed separately to transport to your chosen picnic spot and then assembled when ready to serve.
“The Old-Fashioned Sugar-Cookie Tart with Orange Marmalade and Toasted Walnuts is my daughter’s creation. It’s a spur-of-the-moment dessert which she brought to a dinner we had at my house. I have refined it a little – it is very easy and light,” he says.
Harvey has a very specific directive to serve all this food. And one that is certainly worth copying.
“Serving is easy.” he says. “I like to use old Nantucket floorboards as serving platters. They have to be sanded down, but they are cheap, easy to cut on and do not break. I get them at the island antique shop, Nantucket Stock Exchange.”
To read the other three chef’s recommendations, please visit Nantucket Today’s web page.