Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stuffies



A staple of New England summer cuisine, these stuffed clams are known regionally as Stuffies.  This stuffed clam recipe is a first for me.  It is my first stolen non-recipe.  What?  It was inspired by a chef who touts a "No Recipe Lifestyle".  Fresh ingredients and sound culinary techniques provide the foundation for his dishes.  I soon found out that I was on my own and was forced to improvise.  The results were fantastic.

Local fresh clams, right from the sea
I bumped into Chef Todd Mohr online when doing a search for "What to do with 200 fresh clams".  We had an exceptional morning of clamming and I wanted some inspiration, I wanted to do something besides the same old steamers and chowder.  I also love classic stuffed clams and always wanted to make this dish.

Plan on shucking about 3 raw clams for every 1 stuffed clam
Given the fact I had no recipe to follow, I was forced to carefully review the techniques.  I will say there are a few things key to the success of this dish.  First, start with the freshest clams you can get.  Second, plan on shucking about 3 raw clams for every 1 stuffed clam.  Third, lightly pulse the raw clams in a food processor prior to mixing into the stuffing.  This breaks down the largest chewy parts of the clams and better incorporates the clams into the mix.

Clam broth, lightly minced chowder clams, and raw whole shucked clams.
I used the raw whole shucked clams for the stuffies.
Prep Time:  About 1 hour (Includes shucking clams time)
Total Time:  About 2 hours
Servings:  33 clams

Ingredients:

100 fresh clams
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper, basil, and oregano (to taste)
Thin sliced bacon (optional)


Method:

  • Shuck 100 or so clams.  Clean and reserve a third, or 33 of the largest shells.  Separate the clams from the juice.  Reserve the clam juice for another use.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
  • Lightly pulse the clams in a food processor - do not  over process.
  • In a large sautee pan over medium heat, melt the butter - do not brown the butter.
  • Add the clams to the pan.  After a few moments the clams will release much of their own moisture and will begin to poach in their own liquid. Watch the temperature to ensure the clams do not boil or simmer, but continue to poach.
  • Stir in the panko bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese.  This is the thickener and will soak up most of the liquid.
  • Taste the mixture in the pan, and add fresh ground black pepper and other seasonings to taste.  Once the seasoning is just right, add the fresh chopped aromatic parsley.
  • Place the empty shells on a baking sheet and evenly divide the stuffing mixture into the shells.  You can place a small piece of raw bacon onto each clam if you wish. 
  • Place clams in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until clams are bubbling around the edges and the bacon, if used, is cooked through.

You can also freeze these stuffed clams for cooking at a later date.  Just extend the time the clams are in the oven to 30-35 minutes or so.

Recipe Links:

You will need to learn how to shuck clams, here's how.

Here is the original recipe video which inspired this post.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creme Filled Cupcakes



Inspired by one of my son's schoolmates, these creme filled cupcakes are fun and easy to make.  

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Total Time:  about 2 hours
Servings:  24


Ingredients:

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) cake mix, any variety
Prepared frosting, any variety
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounce jar) marshmallow creme

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prepare cake mix batter according to the package directions for cupcakes
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean
  • Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely


While cupcakes are baking in the oven prepare the filling

  • In a medium bowl, whisk marshmallow creme and butter until smooth
  • Chill until slightly firm, 15 to 30 minutes
  • Once cupcakes have cooled you can inject the filling
A plastic straw taped to a piping tip makes filling the cakes a breeze
  • Transfer filling mixture into a piping bag fitted with a special piping tip (see above).
  • Insert tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze to fill.  You will see the top of the cupcake bulge a little.  Some practice will help you determine how much to put in - Too much will crack the top and you could explode your cupcake.
  • You can use the remaining filling to decorate the tops of the cupcakes or just use a prepared frosting as I did here.


Recipe Links:


Here's the original post which gave me the inspiration for the filling.





Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shrimp-and-Crab Gumbo




The other day I found myself thumbing through an old issue of Coastal Living magazine.  In that Fall 2010 issue I found this recipe.  Enjoy!

Prep Time:  40 Minutes
Cooking Time:  1 hour, 15 minutes
Servings:  12

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 (16 ounce) package andouille sausage, sliced
(next time I will use fresh sausage with casings removed)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 large celery ribs, chopped
1 medium head of garlic, about 8 cloves, crushed
3 cups fish stock or chicken broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pound fresh okra, sliced and baked
6 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon old bay seasoning
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined if desired
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon file powder, optional 

Okra is a key ingredient in any Gumbo.
The dish derives its name from the Bantu word for Okra (kingombo).

Method:
  • Pre-bake fresh okra for 20 minutes or so in a 325 degree oven. Transfer to a plate.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy soup pot.  Add sausage, and cook 3-4 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer sausage to a plate.
  • Add remaining oil to drippings in pot to equal 1/4 cup. Whisk in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, 20 minutes or so until mixture is a dark reddish-brown. This oil and flour mixture is called a "Roux" and adds a richness of flavor to the dish.  If you burn the roux by mistake, through it away and start the dish again.
  • The vegetable "Holy Trinity" of celery, bell peppers, and onions (w/garlic).
  • Stir in onion and next 4 ingredients, and saute over medium heat 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in stock and next 9 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 45 minutes.
  • Stir in sausage and shrimp, and cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done.  Add crab, and simmer until heated. Remove bay leaves, and stir in parsley and file powder.
  • Serve gumbo over rice or grits. Season with hot sauce, if desired.

File powder, also called gumbo file, is a spicy herb made from the dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree. Native to eastern North America, it adds a distinctive, earthy flavor and texture.  It can also act as a thickening agent.

Recipe Links:

Here is a link to the original recipe as published in Coastal Living, October 2010.

Here is a video of Scott Hargrove making gumbo.








Thursday, July 21, 2011

Frijoles Negros - Cuban Black Beans


I've had this bag of dried black beans in my cupboard for a while now.   This weekend I decided to give those beans some life, Cuban style.  Very simple, flavorful, mild, and delicious. 


Prep Time:  20 Minutes
Soaking Time:  6-8 hours or overnight
Cooking Time:  1-1/2 to 2 hours
Servings:  12


Ingredients:


1 pound of dry black beans, picked over and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 white onion - diced
4 cloves of garlic - mashed
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 splash balsamic vinegar


Mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle - add a pinch of salt while mashing.
The salt keeps the garlic from jumping out of the mortar.
Method:

Soak dried beans in water overnight
After soaking, the water should be a dark, inky black

  • Soak the beans overnight in 8 cups of water in a large soup pot.
  • Add bay leaves to the beans and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1-1/4 hours, or until the beans are very tender.
    The onions, garlic, and cumin create the seasoning or "sazon"
  • After the beans have cooked for an hour, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low heat; add the onions, garlic, cumin, and salt. Sweat the onion and then simmer gently covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are tender.
  • Add the cooked onion mixture (sazon), sugar, and vinegar to the beans; cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.  
  • While simmering, take a potato masher and crush some of the beans in the pot. This thickens the juice.
  • Serve over cooked rice.


Recipe Links:

Here is the original video recipe which inspired the theme and seasoning for the dish.

Here is a link to the written piece which provided the structure of the dish.

Here's a link to the coolest building around.






Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp over Fettucini



This recipe was pilfered from the net via Blackberry while on vacation this Spring in the Florida Keys.  It was my son's birthday, and we asked him what he wanted for dinner.  We fully expected him to request a visit to one of the fine dining establishments along that particular stretch of Route 1.  
His response  "Dad, make us some shrimp, homemade, one of your recipes..."  Well, as you probably know, I don't "have" any recipes - I steal them.  
So, with the help of my Blackberry, and some really good luck I found this recipe. The results ended up being one of the best meals we had on vacation as well as a great addition to this Kid's repertoire - Enjoy!

Prep Time:  15 Minutes
Cooking Time:  15 Minutes
Servings:  4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chilled buter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Fettucini Pasta


Method:

  • Fill a large pot with salted water and prepare the ingredients so they are ready to go.
  • Turn on heat under large pot and slowly bring to a boil.
  • Boil wine, vinegar and garlic in a large non-stick saute pan until mixture is reduced to a 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. (This step can also be done in a separate smaller sauce pan, but I like to use the same pan for the shrimp as the sauce. There also ends up being one less pan to wash!)
  • Reduce heat to low.  Whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time, allowing butter to melt before adding more.
  • Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  
  • Transfer lemon garlic butter to a heat proof bowl, cover, and set aside.
  • Add pasta to boiling water in large pot and cook until al dente.  Drain once done.
  • Return saute pan to stove and heat oil over high heat.
  • Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add to skillet and saute until shrimp are opaque in center, about 3 minutes.
  • Add reserved lemon garlic butter back to pan and briefly cook so that all shrimp are nicely coated and the sauce has a nice consistency.
  • Serve by placing about a cup of pasta on a plate and cover with one quarter of the shrimp mixture.
  • Sprinkle with lemon peel and garnish with fresh parsley.

Recipe Links:

Here is the original recipe from epicurious.




Monday, May 30, 2011

Roasted Rainbow Trout



Rainbow Trout (also known as Steelhead Trout) is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America.  

This recipe uses fresh dill and lemon but can be modified using another fresh herb instead.

Prep Time:  10 Minutes
Cooking Time:  15 Minutes
Servings:  4



Ingredients:

2 sides rainbow trout
1 lemon, sliced thin
1/2 bunch fresh dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
butcher's twine


Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Liberally salt and pepper both sides of trout.
  • Place one side of trout in baking dish, skin side down.
  • Place half the dill over trout, followed by slices of lemon, remaining half of dill, and then the remaining half of trout.
  • Tie sides together with butcher's twine.
  • Brush with olive oil.
  • Roast for 15 minutes or to your liking.


Recipe Links:

Here is the original recipe by Dine Well.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bacon and Egg Pizza



This Bacon and Egg breakfast pizza was a morning after idea that turned out great.  

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  8 - 10 minutes
Servings:  4


Ingredients:

one 12" ready-made thin pizza crust. (like Boboli Thin Pizza Crust)
olive oil
1/2 cup pizza sauce or marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs scrambled
5 slices of bacon, pre-cooked until almost done
salt and white pepper, to taste
fresh parsley for garnish


Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Lightly brush the rim of the pizza crust with olive oil.  
  • Spread a thin layer of sauce over the entire crust - hold back about 3/4" from the rim.
  • Spread 3/4 of the cheese over the sauce, followed by the eggs and bacon.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  • Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley.
  • Put in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until bacon is sizzling and the crust is light brown. 



Recipe Links:

Here is a great breakfast pizza recipe idea from smitten kitchen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sliced Baked Sweet Potatoes



These Sliced Baked Sweet Potatoes were a fun and delicious accompaniment to the Ham dinner we had for Easter.  Each potato is an individual serving and offers the pre-cut perfection of scalloped potatoes without the added fat and calories.

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time:  about 45 minutes
Servings:  4



Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs or 2 teaspoons of dried herbs
      I used a fresh blend of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
3 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese


Method:
  • Peel potatoes and rinse them.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cut potatoes into thin slices but not all the way through.
  • Put potatoes in a baking dish.  Fan them slightly.
  • Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with butter.  
  • Sprinkle with herbs.
  • Bake potatoes for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with cheeses.
  • Bake potatoes for another 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned, cheeses are melted and potatoes are soft inside.  Check with a fork.


Recipe Links:

I found the original recipe in a box of cookbooks handed down to me from my Mother-In-Law. It was printed on a a recipe card and was being used as a book mark. 




Friday, April 22, 2011

Chicken Cacciatorre



Served over spaghetti squash and featuring boneless and skinless chicken thighs, this is a delicious and low calorie version of the classic dish.

The original version of this dish calls for using a whole, cut-up chicken, and serves it atop egg noodles, rice, or polenta.  I made it a couple of times that way, and it was delicious.  Nonetheless, my wife did not like the "picking out the bones" and "working around the skin", etc.  She suggested that we try it with boneless and skinless thighs.   

All of the flavor, much less of the fat, and none of the work...  That's my wife for you...my better half...!

Prep Time:  about 15 minutes
Total Time:  about 1-3/4 hours
Servings:  8 to 10

 Simple mise en place:  Sliced peppers, sliced onion, crushed whole garlic cloves, herbs and spices


Ingredients:

3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion sliced "with the grain"
6 to 8 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 green or yellow peppers, sliced
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste



Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brown chicken in batches over medium high heat in a large dutch oven - set browned chicken aside.
  • Add onion, garlic, and salt and pepper and saute for about 5 to 6 minutes.  There should be enough moisture from the onions to lightly deglaze the pan.
  • Add rosemary, oregano, and pepper flakes.
  • Add tomato sauce and water.
  • Add chicken and more salt and pepper.
  • Place the peppers atop the chicken and cover with a tight fitting oven proof lid.
  • Place in 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Recipe Links:

Here is the Original Video Recipe... a Tribute to Italian Chicken Hunters...

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