The Princeton Public Library‘s series Taste of the Market presented Jersey Shore-born cookbook author Deborah Smith, who is also the founder and executive editor of the popular food blog Jersey Bites. The 160 page The Jersey Shore Cookbook was written by Smith, sharing recipes from 50 beach town eateries in the Garden State. Additionally, there are stories from each establishment. Accompanying her was editorial and commercial photographer Thomas Robert Clarke, who captured images from each location, and Daniel Palsi, the former chef of Waypoint 622 in Brielle, who shared his recipe from the restaurant.
Smith was approach by independent book publisher Quirk Books to write The Jersey Shore Cookbook, which would feature one specialty from restaurants sprinkled along the New Jersey coastline, from Keyport to Cape May, sharing iconic and coastal cuisine using local ingredients. The recipes cover breakfast, starters & sides, soups & salads, main courses, and desserts, from casual eateries to fine dining restaurants. The common link – they all make you think of summer in Jersey. Even though it’s categorized as a cookbook, it could be read as a travelogue highlighting the culture of our state’s coastal communities.
The chefs had the tedious task of scaling down recipes to prepare family portions, using cups and spoon measurements versus weighing ingredients. For this reason among others, some restaurants didn’t want to participate, which made it a little challenging. Deborah also ensured a balance of offerings. Once a particular dish was submitted, she had to hope others would be willing to provide another recipe. Thomas was responsible for photographing the food, interiors, and exteriors, which surely caused inconveniences during the high season.
After Smith and Clarke gave some background of the cookbook, they introduced Chef Palsi, former chef of Waypoint 622, who gave us a cooking demonstration of his Spinach, Watermelon and Gorgonzola Salad, that was topped with candied pecans and julienne red onions in a strawberry vinaigrette. The recipe is quick and easy to make, and can be found in the cookbook on page 82. It was light, had a wonderful flavor profile (sweet, salty, crispy, creamy, crunchy, tangy, fresh, and juicy), and was absolutely delicious. This could work well as a first or a main course, and would be impressive to serve guests.
On top of that, Smith served Watermelon Gazpacho using the recipe from My Kitchen Witch in Monmouth Beach, found on page 64. A cold vegetable soup is perfect to serve on a hot summer day. This tomato juice-based recipe had bell peppers, garlic and a few other ingredients to round out the savory soup. Some jalapeños gave it a kick, and the finely diced watermelon added a hint of sweetness. It’s so healthy, and very tasty!
The combination of these two dishes made for a delicious light lunch, since they offered generous tasting portions. I bought the cookbook based on these two dishes and the mention of the Knife and Fork Inn’s Lobster Thermidor, which is one of the few places in New Jersey you can find this retro dish. Just to name a few, the cookbook includes these tempting recipes: The Committed Pig’s The Brunchwich: Pork Roll, Brickwall Tavern and Dining Room’s Cajun Shrimp and Grits, Remington’s Spiced Corn Chowder, Shore Fresh Seafood’s Pan-Seared New Jersey Black Sea Bass with White Peach, Tomato, and Basil Salsa, and Talula’s Blueberry Cobbler.
After the demo at the library, they headed out to the adjacent famers’ market to sign books. You might have seen Deborah Smith on television promoting the book. She’s been featured on Good Day New York and QVC among a list of other shows, plus the cookbook has been favorably reviewed by a number of publications. She will return to Princeton on Thursday, August 11 for a book signing at The Farmhouse Store on Hulfish Street (Palmer Square) from 6 PM – 7 PM.
It’s the perfect book to use after shopping at the farmers’ market and returning home with Jersey tomatoes, sweet corn, peaches, and blueberries, or picking up some fish or shellfish from Nassau Seafood. What a fun book to use as a map for a Jersey Shore grub crawl, sampling food from a new restaurant, or if you can find all necessary ingredients off-season, make one of these dishes in the winter to remind you of summer on the shore.
The Jersey Shore Cookbook is also great for friends who have relocated, as a souvenir, and as a hostess gift. You can purchase it online at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Indie Bound and Quirk Books, or in stores at Costco. Check the The Jersey Shore Cookbook site for updates. Many booksellers offer it as a hardcover and as an e-Book. I highly recommend it!