Reaping the Benefits of a Farmers' Great Mistake

What's in season is directed by mother nature and nurtured by the farmer whose soiled hands tell a story of what's being tilled, sown and harvested. A farmer's watchful eye and deliberate planning starts well before the sun rises and into the dark of evening. And through it all there are trials and tribulations, sweet successes, and sometimes great mistakes. Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms and Ken Ettlinger of the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium, are reaping the benefits of a great mistake.

Imagine this. A kale, that Stephanie Gaylor affectionately named, Tough Mother, that overwintered in 2014 and prevailed polar vortex temperatures, had crossed with an heirloom rutabaga that gave birth to a tender like rapini foliage that stems from a crunchy and sweet root that tastes just like a rutabaga.

Stephanie and Ken named this serendipitous happenstance — The Great Mistake Rapini. And what's greater than that? They are selecting out the best varieties to save the seeds to grow in years to come for chefs like Ignacio Mattos of Estela, Marc Meyer of Cookshop, and Stephan Borgadus of North Fork Table and Inn, who are serving this at their restaurants for its tremendous flavor.

I tasted The Great Mistake at Stephianie's Farm. My brain was expecting a bitter like broccoli rabe bite, but what I experienced was surprisingly different. It is sweet, mild, tender and easy to eat raw — from root to foliage. I made this two ways: A raw salad with manchego cheese and endive, and a quick sauté with garlic that is topped with the root shaved raw.

Stephanie hosted her first Seeds & Suds (video here) talk (a video series focused on seeds — what is growing on the farm— and drinking good beer) at her farm where we discussed the interspecies rutabaga/kale cross that overwintered and created The Great Mistake Rapini, while we drank a St. Feuillien triple style abbey ale.

Perhaps great mistakes like these can create a new local variety on the East End of Long Island that we will reap the benefits from for years to come.



the great mistake raw salad


Chop the foliage of The Great Mistake and the endive; place in a bowl. Mix the olive oil, lemon, Dijon mustard, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper for the vinaigrette. Then pour on top of the greens and toss. If needed, add more salt and pepper to taste. Then add the shaved Manchego cheese.


  • The Great Mistake, 1 bunch chopped
  • Manchego cheese, shaved
  • 1 endive, chopped
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • Olive Oil, 3 tablespoons
  • Dijon Mustard, 1 tablespoon
  • Local Honey, 1 teaspoon
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Lunga Di Napoli Coffee Cake

The best coffee cake I've ever tasted is made by the talented pastry chef Rachel Flatley (Cronemeyer) of Nick & Toni's restaurant in East Hampton. I met with chef Flatley and chef de cuisine Bryan Futerman at the restaurant to discuss how they make their compound butters. Chef Flatley made a compound butter with honey harvested from Nick & Toni's beehives and verbena from the restaurants garden. She then paired it with her breakfast coffee cake that was made with blackberries and raspberries from Oysterponds Farm and flour from Amber Waves Farm. The result was a crunchy, cinnamon-y, moist and buttery sweet cake with bursts of berry flavor. If you want to Compound Butters Without Fear, you can read my article in Edible East End's, Fall 2015 issue


The filling for the coffee cake can be made with What's in Season. For autumn, my harvest of choice was
apples and an heirloom Lunga di Napoli (Long Pumpkin of Naples), an Italian winter squash that is grown by Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms, who is a voracious seed saver of heirloom and rare varieties of vegetables. She grew the squash after speaking with two European farmers who raved about this orange-red fleshy 20-50lb squash that is musky and sweet, (similar in taste to the familiar butternut squash) and is shaped like a giant bowling pin that at times can have a slight arc and skin color that is grey/green with dabs of yellow. It was also noted that the Lunga di Napoli is at risk of being endangered, just like our Long Island Cheese Pumpkin that is in the Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods which is maintained by the global Slow Food movement. The Ark is designed to preserve at-risk foods that are sustainably produced, unique in taste, and part of a distinct ecoregion.

Just like the common zucchini that is sliced and diced in cakes and breads, yellow/orange fleshed squash can be used too. I flash bake the apples and squash for 10 minutes in the oven to wilt before baking in the cake. This helps to break down the sugars. I also substituted the sour cream for whole milk yogurt, the pecans for walnuts and added a pinch of nutmeg and ginger for the filling.

I made a compound butter of cinnamon basil and maple syrup to accompany the coffee cake. This paired well with the squash and apple filling.

Don't be afraid to experiment. If you see a not-so-common vegetable or fruit at a farmstand, or your farmer is growing a new variety, support them in their efforts to help expand our palates. In doing so, we will support biodiversity. 

RECIPE: LunGa Di Napoli Coffee Cake (adapted from Pastry Chef Rachel flatley (Cronemeyer) of Nick & Toni's)


For the batter

  • 4 eggs
  • 8 ounces whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Dry ingredients

  • 11.25 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 8.75 ounces sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt


  • 6 ounces butter, softened
  • 4 ounces whole milk yogurt

For the filling and streusel

  • 3.75 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 5.25 ounces sugar
  • 1.75 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg


  • 1.75 ounces dark brown sugar


  • 1 ounce butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 5 cups of yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of canola oil


  1. Whisk together eggs, 8 ounces whole milk yogurt and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients.
  2. Add the butter and 4 ounces whole milk yogurt to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until it comes together.
  3. Add the egg mixture in 3 parts, scraping down the bowl often. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 1 minute).
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Chop squash and apples and dress with 1 teaspoon of canola oil. Bake for 10 minutes so the squash and fruit is slightly wilted.
  5. Place the flour, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  6. Take 1 cup of the mixture and put it in a bowl with the other remaining 1.75 ounces brown sugar—set this aside for the filling.
  7. With the rest of the mixture still in the food processor, add the butter and walnuts and pulse to combine—set aside for the streusel topping.

    To Assemble
  8. Spray a cookie tray and place parchment on the bottom and then spread ½ of the batter in the pan. Spread the filling, the squash and apple on top of the batter.
  9. Spread the remaining batter over the filling. Top with streusel topping.
  10. Bake at 350° until springy to the touch, golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.



  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cinnamon basil (if this herb is not in season substitute with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup


  1. In a stand mixer place the heavy cream and a pinch of salt. With a whisk attachment blend until the butterfat separates from the milk, approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Take the butter and squeeze out the buttermilk through a fine sieve or cheese clothe. Then take the butter and wash it in a cup of ice cold water. Repeat until water is clear.
  3. Place butter in a bowl or back in a clean stand mixer with a paddle and blend the basil and maple syrup. Once incorporated, Using plastic wrap, roll the butter into a log. Freeze for when you are ready to use them. You will be able to slice into round disks to use on anything.

Gazpacho made with Invincible Summer Farms Heirloom Tomatoes

I’m infatuated with Heirloom tomatoes. At the end of summer is when they begin to make their debut at farmers markets in all their miraculous glory; move over Beefsteak, you are a bore. The variety of colors, shapes, flavors and sizes is overwhelming and at times magical; blue tomatoes anyone?

Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms is the Tomato Whisperer, a walking encyclopedia when it comes to heirloom tomatoes and seed saving. I met Stephanie at a seed saving seminar she gave at the Hallockville Museum Farm and shortly thereafter a tasting of her pride and joy: 30 or so diverse tomatoes on stage for everyone to savor. As we tasted the heirlooms, Stephanie proudly and nervously watch us nibble on every tomato. The variety was staggering and the taste was sensational — BRAVA! 

My encore was a private tour of her farm that has 350 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and other nightshades like peppers, eggplants and potatoes. Scattered about was kale, sweet potatoes, okra and a variety of winter squash. All of which are grown for consumers and seed saving.

In recent years, I have noticed heirloom signage peppered along Sound Avenue. I have never fully understood what it meant for a plant to be classified as an heirloom. Stephanie broke it down into four parts:

  1. Commercial Heirlooms: Open-pollinated varieties that are more than 50 years in circulation.
  2. Created Heirlooms: Crossing two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid and dehybridizing the resulting seeds for approximately 5-8 years to stabilize the desired characteristics.
  3. Family Heirlooms: Seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation.
  4. Mystery Heirlooms: Varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination of other heirloom varieties. 

“To be truly terrior on Long Island farmers should be saving their seeds”, says Stephanie.  If farmers started to save and produce their own seeds it will allow them to develop varieties suited for their individual farms and their own issues with insects and diseases.

Stephanie points to a native tomato called the Shinnecock Indian Currant. This is the smallest tomato I have ever seen, as sweet as a grape and a zillion times more flavorful than your mainstream Big Boy.

Wafting through the air was fennel pollen; the taste of one bud had enough licorice flavor to be categorized as breath freshener. 36 varieties of winter squash and melons were dispersed like land mines. 

Moreover, kale that Stephanie named Tough Mother Kale was scattered by birds that picked off an overwintered heap of kale seeds that sustained itself through the polar vortex. Now that is a seed I want to get my hands on. The who, what, when, where and why it is growing on the farm is cataloged by Stephanie and her team. “Everything has a story in the field”, says Stephanie.

Just this year, Stephanie started Salt of the Earth Seed Company with help from the Long Island Plant Initiative, the Long Island Seed Consortium, and business partners Cheryl Frey Richards and Kate Moriarty. They specialize in growing and selling rare heirloom and open-pollinated vegetables, herbs and flowers to local restaurants and the public. They hear feedback from chefs and customers, and then save the seeds from outstanding rare varieties that do well on the East End. “We want people to share our seeds and give it to other people and continue to improve it”, says Stephanie. 

As I walked between the rows of heirloom tomatoes, I thought an end of summer Gazpacho would be delightful. Stephanie sent me home with bags of tomatoes on one condition! That I make her a batch of gazpacho. If you are interested in getting a bushel of Invincible Summer Farms Heirloom tomatoes now is the time! They are offering Wholesale Saturdays—25lb boxes for $50— for the first three Saturdays in September, 10am – 2pm. Be sure to save your seeds

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho


  • 3 pounds of ripe yellow heirloom tomatoes; blanched, peeled, seeded and cored.
  • 2 hothouse cucumber; chopped, peeled and seeded
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped and seeded
  • ½ jalapeño; seeded, chopped and cut in half
  • 4 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Sea Salt or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of tabasco
  • Pepper to taste

Note: For Red Gazpacho: Substitute tomatoes and peppers for a red variety.


  1. In boiling water blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds; cut a cross hatch at the bottom of the tomato before inserting. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water and then peel the skin off. Remove the cores and strain the seeds over a large bowl to save the juice. Place the tomato flesh in the bowl.
  2. Place half of the tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, shallot, vinegar, olive oil, salt, tabasco and a pinch of pepper in a blender or food processor.
  3. Puree until the soup is completely smooth. Taste for seasoning and place in a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. You can chill the soup in the refrigerator or have it at room temperature.

    Note: If you desire, garnish with chopped cucumber, avocado, and a drizzle of olive oil.