CLAM CHOWDER

I have made Clam Chowder hundreds of times with varying degrees of success, ie, tasting they way I want it to…or, resembling some of the best chowders I’ve had over the years.

This is a great new recipe of mine that kind of gets back to the basics. Please note that I would have liked to do this new recipe using fresh clams, but good chowder clams are not readily available around here (Central California)…so, canned clams.

This version is also cut way down in volume. I did this to minimize the waste if I didn’t turn out…I have “sh*t-canned” many chowder recipes right after cooking. However…this one is a keeper! At least I think so.

The clams I used are whole Bumble Bee Baby Clams, they are much better than the little cans of minced clams. And, a bottle of Bumble Bee clam juice. I might try two bottles next time, but this does have a nice mild clams chowder, and the baby clams chopped, not minced. Keep in mind that canned clams are already cooked, so they need to be heated through. Cook them too long and they become rubbery. One new ingredient this time: Old Bay seasoning.

Here’s how I made it…

Ingredients:

  • 3 thick slices of bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) bottle of clam juice
  • 1 (10 ounce) can of whole baby clams
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp chicken or clam base
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp MSG (optional)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups of Russet potatoes (about 1 medium), peeled, 1/2 inch diced and cook al dente

Directions:

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the chopped bacon. Cook the bacon until it is rendered and slightly crispy. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • To the saucepan with the bacon fat, add the onions and the celery and saute for 5-6 minutes until just softened, do not brown. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper.
  • Turn up the heat to medium and add the sherry. Let it come to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the clam juice and the juice from the baby clams. Do not add the clams yet. Add the chicken base, garlic powder, Old Bay, bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp lemon pepper. Cover and allow to simmer for about 8 minutes.
  • Cook the diced potatoes in salted water for about 8 minutes until just barely tender. Drain and place in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool so they don’t get mushy.
  • Add the half and half to the chowder and bring to a low simmer.
  • Place 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour in a small saucepan and cook for about 1 minute to make a roux.
  • When the chowder is simmering, stir in the roux and allow to simmer, stirring, for about 3-4 minutes to thicken slightly. Add the cream and the baby clams. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • To make it thicker, make the roux with more butter and flour, or, make a slurry with the cornstarch and cold water. Add to the simmering chowder.
  • When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig, add the cooked potatoes and 2/3 of the reserved cooked bacon to the chowder and heat through.
  • Serve with oyster cracker, more chopped bacon and chopped chives if desired.

SHRIMP SCAMPI AND LEMONY PARMESAN RISOTTO

Is there a better pairing of two foods in this universe? Scampi and risotto were just meant for each other!

This recipe combines a couple elements borrowed from Marion’s Kitchen, ie, some Asian influence. Simply, I infused the risotto stock with a little star anise, green onion, fish sauce, and Shaoxing wine. Then, I finish the scampi cook with a splash of soy sauce. This just adds a level of flavor that can’t be beat without overwhelming the basics of this classIc dish.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 green onion, cut into 4-5 pieces
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter + more
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Chopped parsley
  • Zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 8-10 (u15, extra large) shrimp, peeled, cleaned, tails left on
  • 1/4 tsp red Chile flakes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

  • Place the chicken stock, star anise, green onion, Shaoxing wine, and fish sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the star anise, turn off the heat, and keep warm until ready to use. Leaving the star anise too long will infuse too much of it’s essence for my taste.
  • Place a large saucepan over medium low heat and add the butter and olive oil. When the oil and butter is hot, add the onions and saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Do not let them brown. Add the risotto and saute another 5 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the wine and let it cook until almost gone. Then begin ladling in about 4 ounces of stock at a time, stirring and letting it cook until mostly gone before adding more. Do this until almost all of the stock is gone. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit about 5-10 minutes. Stir in 1 tbsp butter and the parmesan cheese. Taste and make sure the risotto is cooked al dente or to your liking, It shouldn’t need salt as the parmesan is salty. Stir in some chopped parsley and the lemon zest.
  • Heat a medium non stick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  • Make sure your shrimp is completely dry using paper towels.
  • When the oil is hot add the shrimp and let it cook about 1 minute. Turn the shrimp over and add the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring it all together. After another 1 minute, add the soy sauce and toss together. Do not overcook the shrimp or it will become rubbery and tough. Turn off the heat.
  • To serve, ladle some risotto in your bowl or plate and add a few shrimp. Spoon some of the garlic chile oil from the skillet over the shrimp. Serve immediately.

PAN SEARED SCALLOPS WITH A SHALLOT CREAM SAUCE

Simple put, shallots are pretty darn easy to pan sear…and pretty darn easy to screw up! How do you screw them up? By over cooking. Overcooked scallops become the consistency of a rubber flip flop when cooked too much. They must be cooked tender to be successful. Also, try to find dry pack fresh sea scallops, not the ones that come in a pan.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 large dry pack sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter + 2 tbsp cold cubed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

  • Remove the little abductor muscle from the scallops if present. Throughly dry them with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a medium non stock skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Then add 1 tbsp of butter and allow to melt get hot. Lay the scallops down in the pan and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, until you get a nice golden brown crust on the first side. Turn over and cook another minute or so. Do not let the scallops get firm or they will be overcooked. Remove them to a plate and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
  • Pour the oil out of the skillet. Place over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil then add the shallots. Saute them, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Eason with salt and pepper. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, let it reduce for 2 minutes. Add the tarragon then the cream and simmer for 1 minute. Add 2 tbsp of cold cubed butter and allow it to melt, stirring to emulsify. When all the butter is melted. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • If desired, strain the sauce through a fine wire sieve into a small skillet.
  • Spoon some pan sauce on a plate then add the scallops. Drizzle more sauce over the scallops and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with Rice Pilaf.

TUNA AND NOODLE CASSEROLE

Despite my wife’s exclamation, “I don’t like hot tuna!” (wasn’t that a rock group in the 70’s?)…I still make Tuna and Noodle Casserole from time to time. She politely eats a little and I have a lot of leftovers.

This version is from scratch, not using my Mom’s recipe that uses cream of mushroom soup. Although my Mom’s was always good, I strived over the years to come up with a scratch recipe. This one works nicely.

I only have 1 (5 ounce) can of solid white albacore tuna in water in the recipe, but adding another can would ramp up the tuna flavor. Please only use albacore, not that oily, dark meat cat food stuff.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces of white or cremini mushrooms, stems cut, halved, thin sliced
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 (5 ounce) can of solid white albacore tuna in water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup crush potato chips
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (opt.)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan

Directions:

  • Cook the egg noodles in salted water according to package directions.
  • Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat then add the celery and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and cook for another minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer let it start to thicken. Add the cream, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for about 7 minutes. Add the shredded cheddar and allow to melt.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Drain the tuna well and crumble in the sauce. Place the sauce in a mixing bowl then fold in the cooked egg noodles. Place the mixture in a butter 9×9 baking dish. Sprinkle with the potato chips and grated parmesan. Bake for 35 minutes until starting to get golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  • You can make it ahead of time without cooking, just cover and place in the refrigerator. Then bake for 45 minutes until the internal temperature is 155 degrees and the top is golden brown.

PANKO CRUSTED SALMON

It seems people either love salmon or they totally hate it. We are in the company of the former…we do love salmon made any number of ways. Grilled…pan-seared…baked…poached…or in a pasta dish…it’s all good.

Whether it’s a salmon steak (cut crosswise through the whole fish) or a bone-less skin-less filet like this one, it does take a little finesse to cook it properly. Aim for 125 degrees for a medium rare to about 135 for medium. I prefer somewhere in the middle.

Here’s a recipe loosely based on one I saw on Binging with Babish, with a couple minor changes.

Ingredients:

  • Two 6-8 ounce boneless salmon filets (skin on or skinless)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pat dry salmon filets with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and add the panko crumbs, tossing for about 1 minute to lightly brown. Add the chopped herbs and toss for another 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from skillet to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Mix together the mayonnaise and Dijon in a small bowl.
  • Wrap a small wire rack in foil. Spray generously with cooking spray. Place in a small sheet pan.
  • Coat the tops of the salmon filets with the mayo/Dijon mixture. Thoroughly cake the tops of the salmon with the panko mixture.
  • Place salmon on the foil wrapped wire rack and sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake for about 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon. Cook until the internal temperature is 125-135 degrees according to how done you like it.
  • Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a dab of tartar sauce. I served mine with Creamy Cheesy Polenta.

SOLE MUNIERE

Sole Muniere is a classic French cooking dish. Dover Sole or Petrale Sole will work…I used Petrale Sole here.

Simply, the thin sole filets are seasoned with salt and pepper, dusted with flour, then fried in a hot pan in butter and served with the resulting brown butter sauce. I also like to include a small dollop of home made tartar sauce (try to avoid that nasty jarred tartar sauce)…I’ll include my tartar sauce recipe below.

A couple of chef’s notes: Be sure to completely pat dry your filets before dusting with flour and cooking. And, since they are so thin…do not overcook. They will take only a minute or so on each side in a hot pan.

I served them with an Orzo/Rice Pilaf, the recipe is below also.

Ingredients:

For the sole:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 sole filets, each about 3 ounces
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Chopped parsley

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (1/4 stick), cold, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges

For the tartar sauce:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp shallots or red onion, minced
  • 2 tsp capers, drained, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

For the Lemon Orzo/Rice Pilaf:

  • 1/2 cup Orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup jasine rice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Directions:

For the tart sauce:

  • Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Taste and reseason if necessary. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

For the Lemon Orzo Rice Pilaf:

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add the orzo and rice an stir to coat. Add the minced shallots and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to stir and let the orzo and rice begin to brown, don’t let it burn. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the stock and lemon juice and let it come to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the lemon zest and chopped parsley and fluff with a fork. Leave the lid askew while you cook the fish.

For the sole:

  • Place the flour in a flat bowl.
  • Completely dry the sole filets with a paper towel. Season with Kosher salt and white pepper. Dredge in the flour, then pat off all the excess.
  • Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter stops foaming, place the filets in the skillet and cook for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes per side depending on how thick they are. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm.
  • With the skillet over medium heat add 2 tbsp of the cold butter and the lemon juice. Let the butter get brown. Spoon the sauce over the filets, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve. immediately.

SEARED SCALLOPS WITH CREME D’ECHALOTE

Literally, Seared Scallops with Shallot Cream, a French cooking dish I have been meaning to try for a long time. The sauce takes 90% of the time, but is well worth the effort. It’s a wine, shallot, tarragon reduction finished with cream and butter.

Try to make sure they are dry-packed Sea Scallops. Although they are not actually “dry”, they’re just not stored in any kind of brine or chemicals. For the searing, make sure they are totally dried with paper towels and are at room temperature at cooking time. This will ensure a good sear.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dry tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Fresh lemon wedges

For the scallops:

  • 5-6 scallops
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Chopped chives

Directions:

  • Place the wine, shallots, tarragon, and crushed black peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce until most of the liquid is gone.
  • Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer, reducing by half. Add the butter cubes a few at a time and whisk into the cream. Continue adding and whisking until all the butter is emulsified into the wine. Strain through a fine metal sieve into another small saucepan.
  • Add the butter cubes a few a time and, over low heat, whisk into the cream. Continue until all the butter is gone and the sauce is emulsified. Squeeze in about 1/2 tsp of red lemon juice. Taste and season with salt. Keep warm while you sear the scallops.
  • Season the scallops with Kosher salt and a little black pepper. Place a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the scallops, large side down, and let cook for about 1 1/2 minutes. Do not turn while they are cooking. When they are nice and seared, turn and cook another 1 minute or so on the other side. Do not overcook or they will become tough.
  • To serve, spoon some of the sauce on a plate and place the scallops seared side up on the sauce. Sprinkle a little paprika and chopped chives and serve immediately.

SALMON FETTUCINE ALFREDO

It’s not traditional alfredo sauce, but a tasty make-ahead version that goes well with any pasta, especially pasta and seafood. I’ve made this many times with shrimp as well as salmon. It’s just good, easy, and quick. This is a cut down recipe for 2 to 3 people.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ( 8 ounce) boneless salmon filet
  • 5 ounces fettucine
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • Fresh grated nutmeg
  • Fresh lemon wedges
  • Chopped parsley

Directions:

For the salmon:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place 1 tbsp of butter in a small baking dish and place the dish in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Season the salmon filet with salt and pepper then place in the baking dish, turn over to coat both sides with butter, and bake for about 12 minutes until the salmon is done to your desired consistency. Remove from the oven, and flake into 1 inch chunks. If there was skin, remove it an discard. Set salmon aside.

For the alfredo sauce:

  • Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a whisk, for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half and half and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and fresh grated nutmeg. Add the grated parmesan cheese and stir in to combine. Turn off heat, cover, and keep warm.
  • Cook the fettuccine for about 12 minutes until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and do not rinse. Return to the saucepan and drizzle with some olive oil and toss.
  • To serve, plate some fettuccine in a nest in a pasta bowl or plate. Spoon on some alfredo sauce. Add a few chunks of the cooked salmon then spoon on more alfredo sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with a lemon wedge.

SHRIMP CAPPELINI POMODORO

Cappelini Pomodoro is one of the simplest, quickest, and freshest pasta dishes you can make. Cappelini (Angel Hair), fresh tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese. Thrown in some sautéed shrimp scampi-style and this is what you have.

A couple of chef’s notes: Do not add the diced tomatoes to the skillet for more than 1 minutes or they will get mushy, you just want toe heat them up. Also, don’t overcook the Cappelini as it only takes 2-3 minutes to cook compared to other pastas that take 8-10 minutes. And, don’t overcook the shrimp as it can become tough very easily.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 ounces of Cappelini (Angel Hair)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8-10 large shrimp. peeled, deveined
  • 1 cup diced ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions:

  • Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a simmer.
  • Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and the butter. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and saute for about 1 minute then turn over and saute the other side for 1 minute. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and diced tomatoes and toss with the shrimp for about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.
  • Add the Cappelini to the simmering water and cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Drain but don’t rinse. Add the Cappelini to the shrimp and and toss thoroughly. Place everything is a large servings bowl, add the grated Parmesan and fresh basil and toss thoroughly. Season again.
  • Plate and garnish with more parmesan, chopped parsley, and fresh basil. Serve with soldiers of buttered garlic bread.

GRILLED SALMON WITH PESTO CREAM SAUCE

This is one of the dishes that I think about eating long after I’ve made it. Of course it’s grilled salmon, which, by itself, is so good. By adding the creamy pesto sauce you elevate to a completely higher level. So simple, so clean, and so flavorful.

You certainly can start with a store-bought pesto sauce (Costco makes a good one), however, I will include my simple recipe for making your own Basil Garlic Pesto at home.

Buy skin-on or skinless salmon filets. I have used both, it doesn’t matter. When I cook the skin-on salmon, I serve it skin side down because we are not fans of salmon skin But the skin does add a great flavor element to the cooking process.

Serve it with a Orzo Rice Pilaf (shown) and some steamed vegetables and you have a great, healthy, low fat meal.

Ingredients:

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Regianno Parmigiano

For the salmon:

  • Two 6-8 ounce salmon filets
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Fresh lemon wedges

Directions:

  • To the bowl of a small food processor, place the basil leaves and the garlic. Run on low for about 20 seconds, Push down the sides and run again for 10 seconds.
  • Add the toasted pine nut and run for 30 seconds.
  • Through the little hole in the processor lid, start adding the oil a little a time with the processor running on low.
  • When the oil is gone, add the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and run for about 10 seconds. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Now just mix in cream with a fork for basil pesto cream. Heat and serve over salmon or chicken. Spoon a little fresh pesto on top of the pesto cream.
  • You can store the pesto in a small, highly covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To freeze the pesto, pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze for two days. Then remove each cube and store in the freeze in a freezer bag.