For my dad’s birthday this year, J and I decided to cook him up a birthday seafood feast. The first thing he requested was New England clam chowder. He threw out a few more ideas but I already had a pretty good idea that we’d make scallops as a main. He almost always orders scallops when we go out, I was pretty sure they would go over well. Okay then! To the cookbook shelf!
I ended up making a slightly modified version of Martha Stewart’s New England clam chowder. I went with beautiful pre-cooked clams from St. Lawrence Market and some clam juice instead of fresh clams. There was a fair bit of work to be done for dinner in a small kitchen and, quite frankly, I was able to add a ton of flavour- and clams – to the soup while being able to spend more time with my guests. I’ll try ‘em one day, but not that day. The recipe below, however, uses fresh clams and has a few of my own adjustments.
Makes 8 servings
25 fresh clams
3 c water
2 oz pancetta, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/2 c heavy cream
1. Combine clams and water in a medium stockpot.Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until clams have opened, 5 to 6 minutes. Discard any that don’t open.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the clams. Strain the broth through a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter, which should result in about 4 cups of liquid. You can always add a little more if you need it. When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from their shells and coarsely chop.
3. Clean the stockpot you used and put it back on the heat at medium. Add the pancetta and cook 3-4 minutes. Some fat should render out and coat the bottom of the pot. (If there isn’t enough, add a little bit of butter.) Toss in the onions and sweat them til translucent, another 3-4 minutes.
Potatoes & onions & pancetta! Oh my!
4. Add the liquid, potatoes, thyme and bay leaves into the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook til the potatoes are tender, roughly 8-10 minutes. (If you like a thicker chowder, you can mash some of the potatoes in the pot.)
5. Add in the clams and the cream: DO NOT BOIL. The cream will separate. Cook for just another minute and season to taste.
6. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves and serve immediately.
I took a friend on her inaugural visit to the St. Lawrence Market the other day and, while there, figured I ought to pick up something for dinner. I didn’t want to do anything too complicated as J and I had plans later that night so I stopped by De Liso’s and grabbed a whole chicken. I had already picked up some herbs and cippolini onions so, after picking up the bird, I was good to go.
I so love roasting chickens and am always on the look out for tricks to make this simple dish even better. I saw someone make one up, carve it in the pan in which it was cooked with carrots, potatoes, onions and celery and then he mixed it all together in the same roasting pan. I thought that was kind of genius as the elements in the pan soak up all the delicious juices released by the bird. Though I didn’t use most of those aromatics, I did have the onions and I also tossed in some garlic. It came out fabulously and I’ll likely be making my chickens this way from now on.
1 4lb chicken
2 tb extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt & fresh black pepper
3-4 sprigs each of thyme and rosemary
8-12 cippolini onions
6 garlic cloves
1. Preheat your oven to 500F. Rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat the chicken dry, placing it on top of the onions and four of the garlic cloves in a roasting pan.
2. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and rub over the skin, coating it completely but not heavily. Liberally salt and pepper, including inside the cavity.
3. Place the herbs and the remaining garlic cloves into the cavity.
4. Wrap a little bit of tinfoil around the wing tips so they don’t burn.
5. Place the chicken in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350F. Cook for roughly 70 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. You can also tell if it’s done if the juices run clear.
6. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes once it’s cooked. Carefully carve the chicken in the roasting pan and mix the pieces in with the onions, garlic and juices that have accumulated. (You can also cut the bird on a cutting board and then return the meat to the pan if you’re not comfortable doing it in the pan itself.)
*Note – the skin should be nice and crispy and you don’t want to lose that by soaking it in the pan juices. Reserve the skin off the breast and leg meat, adding it back when you’ve plated.
The St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto is one of those places that everyone should check out as often as possible. It houses every food product under the sun from bread to meat to fruit to fish to dessert to vegetables…and so on. My husband and I popped in a couple of weeks ago and found some beautiful purple peppers, which I’d never seen before. The lady selling it recommended that we eat them raw, as once they’re cooked they lose their colour.
OK: salad it is!We ended up throwing some figs in there and made a dressing with 3 parts olive oil, 1.5 parts fig-balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and lemon juice. The purple peppers were crisp and less sweet than the red, orange & yellow ones in the salad. Will definitely pick them up again next time we go!