Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lou’s Manhattan Clam Chowder
Serves 8
Coming from New York and living on Long Island in a time when fresh clams were very inexpensive, dad grew up eating various versions of Manhattan Clam Chowder made from the fresh clams that were abundant in his youth.  This version was developed over the years to compensate in flavour for the years of living in places were fresh clams were either unavailable or very pricey (since you buy them by the pound and pay, primarily, for shell) and he had to use canned clams.  The cayenne pepper successfully compensates for that  loss  of fresh clam flavour and adds a spicy sub-tone to this chowder.


4 ounces of salt pork or bacon, cut into small pieces or about 2 healthy tablespoons of bacon grease
1 cup minced yellow onion
2 tablespoons of finely chopped flat-leafed parsley
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups minced celery
1 cup minced green pepper
3 (16 ounce ) cans chopped clams (juice reserved)
16 ounces of clam juice (juice reserved from the chopped clams supplemented by bottled clam juice to make 16 ounces) 
1(1-pound, 12-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, chopped (liquid reserved)
2 6 ounce can of tomato paste
4 cups diced red potatoes (cleaned, skin on)
8 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste

1.  In a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat cook salt pork/bacon until it begins to render fat (or melt the bacon grease).  Add onions,  parsley, and black pepper.  Cook, stirring,  for about 5 minutes until onions soften (do not allow to brown).
2.  Add Bay leaf, minced celery and green pepper.  Cook, stirring, for 15 minutes.
3.  Add 8 ounces of the clam juice, reserved liquid from the tomatoes, the diced potatoes, and the water.  Simmer for 25 minutes after the mixture begins to simmer.
4.  Add the chopped clams, tomatoes, remaining 8 ounces of clam juice; stir in the tomato paste and the cayenne pepper.  Simmer for 15 minutes.
5.  Add the butter, stir to combine butter into the chowder.  At this point taste and correct seasoning (salt, pepper, cayenne) to taste.
6.   Continue to simmer for about 2 hours, uncovered, to allow the liquid to reduce and change what would be a soup to chowder.  Serve with crust bread and/or oyster crackers.
Next Week's Posting: Zuppa Pomodoro  di Toscano(Tuscan Tomato Soup)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Conchiglie con Piselli, Panna, e Menta

Conchiglie con Piselli, Panna, e Menta
(Shells with Peas, Cream, and Mint)
serves 8 
The fresh mint and fresh Italian parsley are what makes this dish work, don't even attempt it with the dried versions they just don't provide the same flavour.  Other pastas will also work here but the shells are traditional.
1 pound  large shell pasta
1 ¼  cups whipping  cream
1 pound of  frozen petite peas
2 1/2  cups freshly grated Romano cheese
¼ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Additional Romano cheese for accompaniment
1.  Bring a large pasta pot of heavily salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  When the pasta reaches the al dente state, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Turn the heat off under the pot and return pasta to pot.
2.  In a large,  high-sided sautĂ© pan over medium heat bring the cream to simmer (don’t not allow to boil). Add the still frozen peas and continue simmering until the peas are thawed and just warmed through, about 2 minutes or so.
3.  Add the Romano cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and forms a thickened sauce, about 1 minute. Stir in the mint and half the parsley.
4.  Pour the Romano cheese sauce over the pasta and toss it to evenly distribute the sauce over the shells.  If the pasta is too "tight" (dry), turn the heat on under the pot and  add the hot pasta cooking liquid, by tablespoonfuls, until the sauce reaches a consistency of your liking.  Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and either transfer to individual serving dishes sprinkling each serving with some of the remaining parsley OR transfer the pasta to a large pasta bow (to serve family style) and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
6.   Serve accompanied by additional Romano cheese.

Next Week's Posting: Lou's Manhattan Clam Chowder

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