Category Archives: CLAMS

SHRIMP AND CLAM CHOWDER…SEAFOOD HEAVEN

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A big bowl of warm chowder…works on a dock overlooking the sea in the Summer and it works next to a roaring fireplace in the Winter.  It’s an all seasons food so enjoy this one all through the year.  New England Clam Chowder is just about one of the best things…EVER but this is a little different..it’s a creamy soup with potatoes, vegetables, fresh dill, Hungarian Paprika, Onions, Sherry, Butter, and SHRIMP AND CLAMS.  It’s an elegant dish.  Make it for a fancy dinner or it’s wonderfully casual to..jeans and T-shirt time infront of the TV.  A little bit about some of the ingredients.  If you’re not using dill in some of your cooking, let this start you off.  It’s not just for flavoring pickles.  The Paprika should be SWEET HUNGARIAN.  SZGED is a good brand to look for, most Supermarkets do sell it so I’m not promoting a ridiculously tough ingredient to find.  Why Hungarian?  It’s way more aromatic than the cheaper PAPRIKA that just says PAPRIKA on the label.  There’s also a hot Hungarian paprika, don’t use that one in this.  For the Shrimp, if you can, use Wild Caught U.S.Shrimp and the clams, fresh that are shucked and chopped, liquor reserved.  When these items are not available, find the freshest shrimp you can and use a good prechopped fresh clam or a good canned variety.  Doxsee is generally a safe canned variety.  So, into the kitchen we go to whip up a pot of SHRIMP AND CLAM CHOWDER….you are going to love this.

BTW, don’t think that this is an all day affair….you’re going to be shocked…in an hour you will be enjoying this.

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SERVES: 4                TIME: 1 HOUR, about
3 tablespoons Unsalted butter
1 medium onion, fine dice

1 peeled and diced carrot

2 medium stalks of celery, fine dice
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Sherry (Harvey’s Bristol Cream is really nice in this!)
2 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth or an organic/fat free low sodium boxed broth
2 tbs. tomato paste

1 1/2 tbs. SWEET HUNGARIAN PAPRIKA

Kosher Salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 tbs Tabasco Sauce or 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne or chiles
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, coarsely chopped
18  clams,steams,  shells discarded, clams chopped, liquor reserved or 1 cup chopped clams
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, organic is richest
2 tbs freshly chopped dill

In heavy sauce pan heat the butter.  Add the onions, carrots and celery, pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook this on medium till the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes, careful not to let them brown. Simply lower the heat if you see any of that happening.clamshrimpchowder 001 Add the 1/2 the dill. Heat for 2 minutes.  Now sprinkle the flour over the softened vegetables.  Add the paprika.  Whisk gently and let this cook until a roux is formed around the vegetables.  Cook an additional 1 minute or so..then add the sherry.  Whisk till blended and bring to a boil.  The whole thing will begin to thicken up. Whisk in the tomato paste.  Then whisk in the tabasco and the chicken stock.  Make sure it’s ALL well blended.  NOW bring this to a boil for 2 minutes..then reduce to a simmer.Let this cook for 10 minutes.  Keep Stirring. Now add the potatoes and cook until they are fork tender, takes at least 10 minutes. Only when you’ve tested the potato and it’s done. then you will whisk in the cream and the paprika.  Add the shrimp and clams with their liquor and simmer this for 6 minutes.  Taste for seasonings.  Adjust.  clamshrimpchowder 003 When the soup is of “chowder” consistency you can shut it off.  Stir in the remaining dill.  Now let it sit for at least 1/2 hour..TIP..make the soup..put it to the back of the stove..serve it an hour after you are done.  Let those flavor marry each other, but certainly, you can eat it before you wait another hour…I like letting it “meld” first.  Another option is to serve each bowl with a small spoonful of sour cream in the middle…ahh very rich, but very delicious.

Serve this with nice soft dinner rolls or biscuits..with sweet butter.

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VONGOLE ARRABBIATA, CHILE SPICED CLAMS

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This is a great idea for hanging around on the weekends watching games, or casual get togethers, even works for a weeknight  meal.  America LOVES Chiles, after all it’s one of our indigenous plants.  We go crazy for hot sauce, for whole chiles, for all foods made with them in their fresh, cooked, or dried states.  America is a CHILE CRAZED nation.  From the Americas the rest of the world learned how delicious they are…with a seemingly addictive nature they have regardless of where in the world they are being consumed.   Let’s explore Italy (shocker) for a moment, in particular Southern Italy.  Chiles are a mainstay in all hot climates and the southern regions of Italy are hotbeds (pun intended) for growing these peppers.  Depending on the region they are referred to as PEPERONCINO or DIAVOLiCCHIO .DIAVULLILU, and many others.  Just an aside, don’t confuse PEPERONCINO with the Italian-American pickled Vinegar pepper known as PEPPERONCINI as they are 2 very different foods including their spelling.

Basilicata where my paternal Grandpa comes from LOVES the chile pepper in it’s cuisine.  Shows up in so many of the regional dishes.  We grew up with that tradition which was further cemented by my Dad who grew tons of redhot chiles and dried them every year strung up all over the basement rafters. Dad’s been gone since 2003 but I have the last jar he gave me. It’s my most prized “food” possesion. A pinch of peperoncino is a usual cooking method in COUNTLESS Southern ITalian dishes but sometimes it becomes the dominant flavor as in ARRABBIATA style, or FRA DIAVOLO(more ITalian-American) meaning ANGRY.  A colorful way to describe a dish..it’s a popular tomato sauce for pasta.  Here I take that southern Italian seafood and chile tradition and elaborate on it.  I rarely say this, but certainly adjust the amount of peperoncino that you are using to your taste but if anything spicy is not in your wheelhouse this isn’t the recipe for you.  My suggestion for how to serve this is as you would serve a pot of steamers…just the clams…and some good bread.

TIME: 1/2 HOUR                               SERVES:  4

4 TBS OLIVE OIL

4 CLOVES OF GARLIC, SLICED

1 1/2 TSP. PEPERONCINO

4 DOZ LITTLE NECK CLAMS, or COCKLES, or MANILA CLAMS, well scrubbed and rinsed

1/4 CUP WHITE WINE

JUICE OF ONE LEMON

SEA SALT

In a heavy bottomed pot heat the olive oil, then add the garlic and the 1 tsp. of the Peperoncino. Let this cook on medium for 2 minutes being careful not to let the garlic brown, then add the wine.  Bring to a boil then to a simmer. Add the clams.  With a heavy spoon get all the clams coated with the wine and garlic liquid.  THEN, cover tightly and keep on simmer and STEAM the clams until they have opened, takes about  8  minutes.   Shake the pot midway thru GENTLY.  Carefully remove the cover  and give the clams a good but gentle stir.  Remove any that did not open.  Add the lemon juice and the balance of the peperoncino and gently stir again. SERVE! with some good bread.  That’s it!! Now,are you wondering why I have salt in the ingredient list?  Taste that liquid.  I will venture a guess that it’s totatlly seasoned.  Why?  The liquor from the clams is salt water.  That will season the juices. Adding salt will put it over the top, unless you feel you need to, SO,before you serve, taste..then season if you need to, and drizzle with good Olive oil, then serve.  COOKING RULE…you can always add, you can NEVER subtract salt from a dish. There’s also a lack of greenery here..it’s no needed. Those clams look beautful without the green addition.  If you feel you need it…a little chopped flatleaf Italian parsley I guess (can you see my displeasure?? lol)..but one should always eat to one’s taste and pleasure.

 

BAKED CLAMS AND PASTA…AN ELEGANT DISH WITH HUMBLE INGREDIENTS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  I’m very excited to share my recipe for BAKED CLAMS OREGANATO with you as it’s really one of my favorite dishes to cook AND eat.  Fresh Clams, their essence giving a base to some pasta, the crunch and aromatic flavor of the breadcrumb mixture, the salty brine of the clam meat..a little lemon and parsley, some spice from Peperoncino..this is a dish you will want to make AND eat over and over again.  First though you must sit through my usual lecture, please sit down, CLASS is in session.  Overkill.  Death to any dish, especially a delicate flavored seafood that often gets loaded down with too many breadcrumbs with too much of everything in that mix.  Sometimes the clams are chopped for Oreganato, not for me.  I want to see that clam, it’s a little jewel of seafood sitting in it’s own serving piece.  Fresh clams are key to this dish.  I am so fortunate to live in a CLAM region as the Little Neck is harvested right here at the Jersey shore among other wonderful clam beds along the coast.  Use nothing bigger than a LITTLE NECK for this dish, it’s the perfect bite size and they are so sweet.

SERVES: 4-5                                   TIME: 1 HOUR

36 SCRUBBED AND RINSED FRESH LITTLE NECK CLAMS

1 CUP TOASTED PLAIN BREAD CRUMBS (HEAT THE CRUMBS IN A DRY NON STICK PAN ON MEDIUM AND GENTLY SHAKE THEM BACK AND FORTH UNTIL YOU SEE THEM START TO TURN COLOR. AS SOON AS THIS HAS HAPPENED TO MOST OF THE PAN AS YOU KEEP SHAKING REMOVE IMMEDIATELY FROM THE HEAT)

1/8 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

3 TABLESPOONS FINELY CHOPPED ITALIAN FLAT LEAVE PARSLEY

1 TSP. DRIED OREGANO THAT YOU RUBBED BETWEEN YOUR HANDS (RELEASES THE OILS IN THE LEAVES)

3 FINELY MINCED CLOVES OF GARLIC

1 1/2 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

JUICE OF ONE LEMON

3 TBS. WHITE WINE

PINCH OF PEPERONCINO

FOR THE PASTA

1 LB. SPAGHETTI, OR BUCATINI OR PERCIATELLI, COOKED TILL AL DENTE ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE DIRECTIONS

4 TBS. OLIVE OIL

EXTRA PEPERONCINO AND PARSLEY

PINCH OF SALT (PREFERABLY SEA SALT)

Let’s start cooking!  No Baked Clam dish starts without clamsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA. In a dutch oven add the wine and the cleaned clams. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, cover tightly and let them steam for 5 minutes or less, just until they are open.  Remove the clam with a slotted spoon to a platter and pry off the top shells.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Reserve all the liquid that the clams gave up to that steaming pot.  Strain that liquid through a sieve and reserve.  Add a little olive oil to the pan and 1/3 of the garlic, pinch of peperoncino and saute’ the garlic for no more that 2 minutes, Then add the reserved liquid and let this reduce on simmer for about 10 minutes.  While this is happening in a bowl add 2tbs. of olive oil, the breadcrumbs, the cheese, parsley, garlic, oregano, 1/2 the lemon juice and mix well until all are loosely combined.  Place a bit , maybe a tsp. full of the mixture on top of each clam which you have line up on a baking sheet.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  When they are all filled reserve some of those crumbs, you should have a small amount left.  Drizzle a little White wine and olive oil over the clams.  Pre heat your broiler and when it’s reached proper temperature, then place the sheet into the broiler at least 4 inches from the heating element or flame. DON’T MOVE!! Your clams will go from not ready to ready REALLY quickly, like in 2 minutes or less.  The clam is partially cooked so don’t fret, and you’ve already toasted the breadcrumbs so 2 minutes should brown them nicely.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

While this was all happening you should have been cooking the pasta, just till al dente.  Then drain and add to the pot with the reduced clam liquid.  Drizzle with olive oil then toss well.  Then toss the pasta with the remaining breadcrumb mixture.  YEAH!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Does that not look amazing?  Simple.  Serve the pasta along with the clams in another platter.  Or the pasta on a platter surrounded by the clams, whatever, it’s all going to be spectacular but WAIT…garnish the clams and pasta with more Italian flat leaf parsley, peperoncino and sprinkle that lemon juice all over the top of everything.  So important not to only use lemon in the mix, but to finish the dish with the lemon, and ok, a little more extra virgin olive oil. Those fresh tastes will hit your mouth and open it up, enhancing all the subsequent flavors you are eating.  Amazing.

Please pass the San Pellegrino, Sparkling please..or the White Wine or even a beer!

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