Archive Page 2

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

It has been raining on and off since Friday.  Yesterday, when I went to the farmer’s market, it was more on than off.  As I was driving there and the rain started to let up, I was hopeful that my shopping would end up being dry; I was wrong.  With the raining come down as I stood half covered by the awning of the seafood vendor, I decided that the only appropriate option would be clam chowder.

I’m not from New England.  I’ve only been there a handful of times and I’ve never eaten clam chowder there.  Previously, clam chowder was a bland, generic milky soup that either came out of a can or was served at a generic restaurant.

Despite all the bad versions I’ve had, the Platonic ideal of New England clam chowder has always appealed to me.  Somewhere, there was a creamy but flavorful soup that actually tasted of clams.

This may not be the form of the perfect clam chowder but it’s still quite good.  I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it’s always worked out for me.  The original doesn’t include any cayenne pepper or Tabasco but they both help to cut through the brinyness of the clams while not overpowering the flavor of the clams.

On this rainy, chilly night, clam chowder matched the mood.  With a sliced baguette to sop up the  broth, it was nearly perfect.

New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from The Summer Shack Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Shore Food

1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 or 4 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
12 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and diced, divided
1 bay leaf
salt
1 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 pint of shucked clams, drained, juice reserved
12 fluid oz. clam juice
1.5 cups heavy cream
black pepper
cayenne pepper
Tabasco

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large dutch oven.  Add the bacon and cook until well browned and the fat rendered from the bacon.  Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, half the thyme, and celery to the dutch oven.  Season with a pinch of salt and book until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the reserved clam juice and bottled clam juice. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add the clams and simmer for one minute more.
  6. Add the heavy cream and simmer until the cream thickens slightly.
  7. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Tabasco to taste.
  8. Add the remaining thyme and the bacon, stir well, and serve immediately with bread.

Serves 2-3.

Bavette de Veau Boucherie Duciel (Veal Flank Steak Boucherie Duciel)

Veal Skirt Steak
One of my favorite things about shopping at the farmer’s market is that there’s always a surprise.  At a supermarket, you have a pretty good idea of what’s going to be available every week but the selection changes week-by-week at the farmer’s market.

This past week, EcoFriendly Foods had an impressive selection of veal, including veal skirt steak, which is virtually unheard of in a grocery store (what happens to the rest of the calf normally?). So how could I resist?

The first recipe I found was very simple and that suits me just fine.  For something as mild as veal, simple recipes usually work best.  And, continuing the focus on farmer’s markets, high quality veal is much better than mass-produced veal, particularly for a recipe as simple as this one.

Bavette de Veau Boucherie Duciel (Veal Flank Steak Boucherie Duciel)
Adopted from The Paris Cookbook

1 lbs. veal flank or skirt steak, divided into two pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp heavy cream

  1. Dry the flank steak on both sides well with a paper towel and season it on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat.
  3. When the butter is hot and finished foaming, sear the flank steak on both sides until well browned.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow it to rest.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the heavy cream.
  6. Pour the heavy cream over the steak and serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken

The last several months have been as busy as any in my life.  We’re coming to the end of a large project at work which means that the hours are particularly long and I’ve had to travel for business for several weeks.  Add to that the holidays and a vacation, it means that I’ve barely had time to make dinner, let alone post about it.

But I did have enough time make some fried chicken the other night.  I’ve tried quite a few recipes for fried chicken, including one I posted before. And while some of them have been good, I never quite found one that was perfect. I think I’ve come a lot closer.

Before it was completely sold out nearly everywhere, Angela bought me the Ad Hoc Cookbook for my birthday. And one of the first recipes I had to try was for the fried chicken.

The brine keeps the fried chicken from drying out while adding flavor to the meat.  The crust is nearly perfect.  I kept picking out pieces that had fallen off the frying chicken and eating it.  It was even better eaten with the chicken.

Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Adopted from Ad Hoc at Home

2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken
2 cups buttermilk
peanut oil for deep frying

Brine:
8 cups water
1 lemon, halved
6 bay leaves
1 small bunch thyme
1 small bunch Italian parsley
2 tbsp honey
5 garlic cloves, cut in half width-wise
1/2 cup kosher salt

Coating:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil in a large pot.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Chill in the refrigerator until cold.
  2. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces (2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 4 breast pieces).  Add to the brine and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least several hours.
  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 1/2 hours before cooking.
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot to 320ºF.
  6. Prepare two baking sheets with cooling racks on them.
  7. Whisk together the coating in a shallow bowl.  Place the buttermilk in another shallow bowl.
  8. Dredge the chicken, first through the flour coating, then in the buttermilk, then again in the flour coating.  Place the chicken on one of the baking sheets.
  9. When the oil is hot, add the legs and thighs to the oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it begins to color.
  10. Add the breast and wing pieces to the oil and cook for 10 to 12 minutes more or until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through.
  11. Remove the chicken and place on the second baking sheet.
  12. Allow the chicken to cool slightly then serve.

Serves 2 to 3.

Happy Halloween

Egg Halloween Costume
This is a couple days after Halloween, but it’s taken me at least that long to recover. I just wanted to share Angela and my costume.

Beef with Cumin

Beef with Cumin

My mother-in-law was getting concerned that we weren’t eating because there was a gap in my posting here.  But we’ve mainly been eating either things that were already posted (roast chicken , smoked chicken, pork chops, or corn pasta) or we’ve been eating things that it seems a bit silly to post (steak frites, quick pastas). But every once in-a-while I make something that is both good and
worth posting.

We’ve been enjoying the bounty of the local farmer’s markets too much over the past summer and early fall.  The quality of the ingredients is so high that it seems like sacrilege to do anything more than just prepare the ingredients, whether meat or vegetable, as simply as possible.  However, there are only so many roast chickens and steaks one can eat before they feel they need a little elaboration on the topic.

Which brings me to Beef with Cumin.  I had seen reference to it online and, the pictures combined with the recipe intrigued me. In fact, it made me purchase flank steak especially to make it. However, flank steak is attractive enough to me that the first half of it went towards the aforementioned steak frites.

I was, however, determined to actually make the Beef with Cumin.  And make it I did.  Too many Sin0-American recipes are focused on hiding the flavor of the underlying ingredient, where meat, in particular, is interchangeable based on the dietary preferences of the diner  (Sweet-and-Sour Chicken is a prime example).  This is not one of those recipes.  Beef is the predominant flavor.  The cumin, the ginger, and the garlic all seek to complement the flavor of the beef.  It is beef with cumin, not cumin with beef.

Ingredients for Beef with Cumin

Beef with Cumin
Adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province

12 oz. flank steak
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 fresh red chilies, seeds removed and diced
2-4 tsp dried red chili pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
salt
2 spring onions, green part only, sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup peanut oil

Marinade:
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

  1. Slice the beef across the grain into thin, bite-sized strips.  Add the marinade ingredients and mix well.  Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the peanut oil in a wok to 275°F.
  3. Fry the beef in the peanut oil, stirring regularly, for one minute.  Remove the beef from the oil and drain well.
  4. Pour off all but 3 tbsp of oil from the wok.
  5. Over high heat, stir fry the ginger, garlic, fresh chilies, dried red chili pepper, and cumin for 1 minute.  Return the beef to the wok, reheat the beef, and then remove from the heat.
  6. Drain off any excess oil from the beef.
  7. Stir in the spring onions and sesame oil.
  8. Serve with steamed rice.

Serves 2-3.

Salsiccie di Lucania (Pork Sausage from Lucania)

Pork Sausage from Lucania

I have something of a love-hate relationship with my sausage stuffer.  I adore sausage but, now that I have a sausage stuffer, I insist that whatever sausage we eat at home be homemade.  There’s a certain amount of setup required to make sausages and I feel the need to make a large batch to make it worth the effort.  Therefore, I ended up rolling the dice when trying a new recipe as to how they’ll turn out.

In this case, I knew I hit the jackpot as soon as I offered Angela a piece of the sample I used to check the seasoning.  No words were needed.  I could see the answer in her face.  And while Angela likes sausage, her level of appreciation is not equivalent to my own.  This sausage may have changed her mind.

I had been looking for a new Italian sausage recipe to use. My last attempt, while decent, had too much coriander seed for one. It just wasn’t quite right.

While this sausage can fill in for an “Italian sausage” (it is in fact a recipe of Italian extraction), it is not an Italian sausage in the traditional American sense.  It doesn’t have the fennel seed which is almost the defining characteristics of such sausages. It does, however, have a lot of garlic and ginger to provide flavor. It’s a lot simpler but still tasty. It can also be used as a breakfast sausage in a pinch (actually the first way I cooked it).

When I have 5 lbs. of sausage in the freezer, I remember why I like to have a sausage stuffer.  When viewing the cornucopia of sausages at a megamart (or even the farmer’s market for that matter), it’s hard to remember why I enjoy making my own.  Part of it’s just enjoying making sausages with Angela, part of it’s the quality, and part of it is choosing exactly what I want in a sausage.

Grinding meat for sausage

Salsiccie di Lucania (Pork Sausage from Lucania)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

12 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 oz. ginger, peeled and finely diced
6 oz. pancetta, chopped
5 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces
1 lbs. pork fat, cut into 1″ pieces
tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup red wine

8 ft. pork sausage casings

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the red wine  sausage casings.  Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.
  2. Place the bowl containing the meat in an ice bath.  Grind the meat mixture through the smallest holes into another bowl in an ice bath.
  3. Add the wine to the mixture and beat with a paddle mixer at low speed for 1 minute.
  4. Cook a small portion of the sausage mixture in olive oil to verify seasoning.  While cooking the sample sausage mixture, place the remaining sausage mixture in the refrigerator.
  5. Stuff the sausage mixture into the sausage casings.  Twist into individual sausages.

Makes 6 lbs. sausages

Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken

Last December, as we were getting the keys to our new house from our landlord, we walked in and there was a giant box sitting in the middle of the empty living room.  It turns out that Angela bought me a smoker for Christmas. It just turned out that it arrived before we did.

I’ve used it a number of times since then and have mostly stuck to the “classics.” I’ve done pulled pork several times but I have trouble cooking it long enough to get it truly tender (I haven’t made myself get up earlier enough). The same issue came with brisket. But what truly shows the beauty of smoked meat is poultry. It’s not classic barbecue but chicken and turkey absorb the smoke beautifully. Not to mention the gorgeous exterior. I’m already planning to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving this year.

I decided to change things up slightly on this chicken.  I usually smoke foods with hickory but I decided to give mesquite a try. I’ll gladly admit to be a novice smoker but there is a definitive difference between the hickory and the mesquite. The mesquite is a bit sharper and tangier in taste. While I don’t think it would work as well as hickory on pork, it adds a really nice bite to the chicken.

A smoker is really a bit of an extravagance but the more I use it, the more I know I wouldn’t want to live without it.

Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

Brine:
1 gallon/4 liters water
1 1/2 cups /350 g kosher salt
1/2 cup / 125 g sugar
8 tsp / 42 g pink salt

1 3-to-4 lbs. chicken, trussed

Glaze:
1 cup/250 milliliters whiskey
1/2 cup/125 milliliters maple syrup
1/4 packed cup/50 g dark brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper

  1. Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from the heat.  Cool to room temperature.  Chill in the refrigerator until cold.  Place the chicken in the brine, weight it down, and brine it for 18 hours.  Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse it under running water, dry it with paper towels, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  2. An hour before smoking the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator.
  3. Hot smoke the chicken at 200ºF until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF, 3 to 4 hours.
  4. While the chicken is smoking, place all the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer until the glaze is reduced to 1 cup.
  5. An hour and a half into smoking the chicken, brush the chicken with some of the glaze.
  6. When the chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the smoker.  Brush it with the remaining glaze and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Uova in Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory)

Uova in Purgatorio

It’s time to end my self-imposed exile.  Summer was eventful.  We traveled.  We visited friends and family and friends and family visited us.  We hosted several parties and attended a few.  We ate good food at home and away.  But now summer is over and it’s time to return to the rest of life.

If your summer garden is anything like mine, everything but the tomato plants have died of neglect.  But, somehow, despite the almost vegicidal neglect, my tomato plants have not only grown they’ve thrived.  In fact, they’ve thrived to the extent that it’s starting to become a problem: what to do with all those tomatoes?

This is one of our new favorite meals.  It’s simple.  It’s fast.  It’s good.  And it helps use up some tomatoes.

The first time I made this earlier this summer it instantly entered the rotation of frequently made dishes.  It’s fast enough to be made after a late return home on a weeknight with a stop at a bakery for bread but it’s satisfying enough to make it more than worth the minimal level of effort.  It becomes slightly more work to use fresh tomatoes but the taste makes it worthwhile.

Sometimes, with the plethora of ingredients available at easy reach, it’s hard to realize exactly how good something so simple can be.  While I feel like I’m straining into hyperbole here, this is a truly satisfying meal in all its simplicity.

Homegrown Tomatoes Cooking

Uova in Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced red onion
salt
1 tbsp diced garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes
3 to 4 tomatoes, skinned and pureed or one 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 eggs (depends on the size of the eggs)

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for a minute more.
  3. Add the pureed tomatoes, season with salt to taste, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the tomato sauce thickens slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Break the eggs into the tomato sauce.  Season them with salt.  Cover the skillet and poach the eggs in the tomato sauce 3 to 4 minutes, or until the whites are cooked through and the yolks are still runny.
  5. Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and crusty bread.

Serves 2.

Strawberry Lemon Marmalade

Strawberries

I started making jam somewhat by accident.  I originally bought a canner and associated tools so that I could get chicken stock out of the freezer and into jars.  Last summer I decided to branch out and try my hand at making jam.

Making jam in southern California is more relaxed.  There, strawberries are available virtually year round (I like to tell the story of asking in November when the last strawberries would be available and being told by the farmer that it was just the beginning of the winter crop).  On the east coast, there’s a much tighter time period where fruit is available and it turns out that I almost ran out of strawberry season in which to make jam.

My mom used to make lots of jams and other canned goods when I was much younger but had gotten busy and fallen out of the habit.  Given we were on the same side of the country now and that we were coming up to visit for father’s day anyway, we decided to do some strawberry jam making together.

So, this morning, we drove to a couple of farm stands.  Mason-Dixon Farms was out of berries for the year (but did have some of the first eastern shore corn of the year) and Brown’s Orchards didn’t open for another 45 minutes.  We decided to drive on for a bit because it was a beautiful morning and came across a sign proclaiming strawberries and pointing down a long driveway.  At first we drove past, but a u-turn later, we followed the road long enough that we thought we might have passed it.  But sitting in the back of a truck were several quarts of strawberries and a box to place money in.  After we almost bought them out of strawberries, we headed back to Brown’s to pick up some of the blueberries that their sign promised.

We first made strawberry jam from a very simple recipe.  Then we moved on to the strawberry lemon marmalade.  I first stumbled across this last year as I bought more strawberries than the jam recipe I was using called for.  Knowing Angela’s penchant for lemons, I decided to try my hand at marmalade.  The fact that I made it again is description enough of how it turned out last year.

Credit to my wonderful wife for the photographs.

Hulling Strawberries with my Mom

Strawberry Lemon Marmalade
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

1/4 cup thinly sliced lemon peel
4 cups hulled and crushed strawberries (from about 2 quarts of whole strawberries)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 package regular powdered fruit pectin
6 cups granulated sugar

  1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids.
  2. In a sauce pan, place the lemon peel and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and then boil for 5 minutes.  Drain the lemon peel, discarding the water and reserving the peel.
  3. Place the crushed strawberries, lemon peel, and lemon juice in a large non-reactive pan.  Stir in the pectin until it is well dissolved.
  4. Measure the sugar into a bowl.
  5. Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.   Add the sugar all at once.  While stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil that can’t be stirred down.  Continue stirring and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.
  6. Skim any foam off the top of the marmalade mixture.
  7. Carefully transfer the marmalade into the prepared jars, leaving a 1/4″ head room.  Wipe the rims, add the lids, then screw it in place.  Put the jars into the canner.
  8. Bring the canner to a full boil, then process for 10 minutes.  Remove the canner from the heat, allow to set for 5 minutes, then open the lid and remove the jars.  Allow the jars to cool overnight.

Makes about 8 jars.

Souvlaki kotopoulo (Chicken Souvlaki)

Chicken Souvlaki

Apparently I’m still on the once-a-month schedule.  I hope to get a bit better about that.

When we lived in California, we were on a second floor apartment without a balcony.  So, despite the near constant beautiful weather there, we couldn’t do any grilling.  I’d be walking home and could only jealously smell the cooking meat where I had to go home into the stifling heat of an un-air-conditioned apartment.  When we moved to Virginia, Angela and I each had a different requirement for our new home: she wanted a washer-and-dryer in-unit and I wanted some form of outdoor space.  Luckily, we found a place where we both could be accommodated.

As soon as the weather turned this spring, we took the coupon Lowe’s had helpfully sent us in the mail and purchased a Weber grill.  Alison came over and we grilled both Saturday and Sunday.  Since then, we’ve dodged the frequent thunder storms to mostly grill hamburgers and steak.

I’ve only ventured into making Greek food a few times but Costco had a good deal on a Greek cookbook and I’ve always liked Greek restaurants.  I figured chicken souvlaki would be a good starting point as it was familiar (eventhough I always get tempted by gyro’s when I eat at Greek restaurants).

When I went to turn the chicken for the first time, I knew it would be good when I saw the gorgeous color it had turned.  It tasted just as good.  I suggested making lamb souvlaki sometime in the future and Angela asked why I wouldn’t just make the chicken souvlaki again.  Which is indeed a good question.

I almost wouldn’t recommend making this in a broiler.  I doubt the broiler would do it justice.  But it’s simple enough and good enough that I doubt it would turn out badly.  If you’re willing to get the grill out on a weeknight (and honestly, how hard is it really?), this makes an excellent easy meal.  I made this and even had time to make some homemade Tzaziki and pita bread.

Souvlaki kotopoulo (Chicken Souvlaki)
Adapted from Vefa’s Kitchen

1 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 red onions, quartered and separated
2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Mix together 3 tbsp olive oil, the oregano, and salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate over night.
  2. Prepare a medium-hot grill.
  3. Thread the chicken pieces onto four skewers, alternating chicken with onion slices.
  4. Combine the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil with the lemon juice and mix well.
  5. Grill the chicken, covered, turning once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes per side, basting with the lemon juice-olive oil mixture frequently.
  6. Allow to rest for 5 minutes then serve with Tzatziki and pita bread.

Serves 4