They are not really a bean, but a small succulent plant that grows near salt water. This particular species, Salicornia virginica used raw, made a tasty briny garnish for pan roasted cod. Funny enough because of it’s crunch and pickly flavor, we also found it a nice complement to a creamy funky cheese like Taleggio.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
Having launched our new Spring menu yesterday, I was left with a bunch of lingering winter produce. And since I never ended up making clam chowder, I also had quarts upon quarts of clam broth stored away. (more…)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
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We’ve finally had some Spring weather here in Brooklyn, which has me craving seaside eats. So I ordered a bag of chowder clams (aka quahogs if you’ve spent any amount of time in Rhode Island, or watching Family Guy) thinking I was going to make clam chowder. That’s 100 large clams. I washed them and dumped them into a large stockpot, covered them with water and boiled them. As they opened and released their brine into the water, the air filled with the smell of the ocean. I grew nostalgic for summer afternoons in Rhode Island, sitting at Quitos, a seaside clamshack, sipping ice cold beer with my chowder and clamcakes. (more…)
Wednesday is my Sunday. It’s the only day of the week that I’m sure to be off from work ,and usually all I want to do is relax at home with my cat asleep on my lap, or run around the park with Sadie. So lately, we’ve just been ordering in or eating at someplace local on my night off. Thing is, the eatery options in Eastern Queens are pretty, well, blah. (Any foodie neighbors with suggestions please let me know!) There are a couple of good pizzerias, a decent Indian restaurant, and several late night diners, but this girl can’t live on pizza, curry, and burgers alone. Oh what I’d give for an authentic Mexican joint that’s not run by the Chinese take out folks next door! There’s nothing like having a craving for something good and ending up with a bland and disappointing meal. It’s enough to drive a lazy cook back into her kitchen!
So this week, when I had a craving for seafood, I decided to take matters into my own hands. At least if the meal was a flop, I would have no one else to blame but myself. I have to say, I wasn’t planning on getting clams. Pretty much every clam we’ve eaten in New York has had an unpleasant and bitter metallic finish that is unlike any clam we had in New England. But today I was visiting a new fishmonger who had both farmed Long Island clams, and wild caught Connecticut clams. He seemed to think the bitterness could be from the farmed clams. I was skeptical, but decided to gamble on the wild Connecticut clams and took a dozen of them home. Although they weren’t as sweet as Rhode Island clams, they certainly didn’t have a strong bitter finish, and I think the preparation helped to mask it.
At first I was going to go with a simple linguine and white clam sauce, but when I got home, I realized that I didn’t have any white wine. I did have an open bottle of pinot noir, plenty of beer, red pepper and chorizo, so I ended up going in a more Spanish inspired direction. Improvising can be tricky, and believe me I’ve had my fair share of flops, but sometimes things do work out. Here’s the recipe, approximately:
INGREDIENTS (serves 2 very generously):
4-5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large spanish (yellow) onion, diced small
1 large red bell pepper, diced small
3-4 cloves garlic
pinch of saffron
4 oz. dry chorizo sausage, diced small
1/2 lb. dry linguine or other pasta
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 c. medium bodied red wine
1/4 c. lager beer
crushed red pepper
1 dozen small clams, such as cherrystones or liittlenecks, scrubbed clean
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
salt and pepper
1. First make a sofrito: In a medium sauce pan over low-medium heat, slowly cook the onions and red pepper in plenty of olive oil and a little salt until they are very soft. The onions should be transparent, and there should be no browning of the vegetables. Then add the garlic and saffron, and cook for another 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the chorizo and cook for another 5 minutes to develop the flavors.
2. While the sofrito is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander, and drain the pasta into it, reserving 1/2 cup or so of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta and tomatoes in a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking.
3. Add the wine, beer and crushed red pepper to the sofrito and turn the heat to high. As soon as the liquids come to a boil, add the clams, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Periodically give the pan a little shake until the clams steam open. Remove the clams and set aside, discarding any that do not open.
4. Add the fresh herbs to the pan and reduce the cooking liquid slightly. Season to taste, and toss with the pasta and clams, adding some of the pasta cooking liquid if necessary.
NOTES: Use good quality olive oil. It is a big flavor component in the sofrito, and if it doesn’t have good flavor, the finished product definitely won’t. The same goes for the beer and wine. Use stuff that tastes good enough to drink. The clams will absorb their flavors, and when the liquids reduce during cooking, the flavors will intensify as well.
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It’s been said that when you live somewhere long enough, it becomes a part of you. Sure, maybe it’s been four years since I returned to New York. Sure, maybe I live only five minutes from the suburb where I grew up. But after leaving New York at eighteen, I spent the better part of my adult life living in the little New England city of Providence, Rhode Island. After more than ten years there, it became a part of me, and it became more my home than New York was. So I was really excited to get some time off from work to spend Christmas there and have some real Rhode Island comfort food. Here are three of my favorites.
My boyfriend is a native of Rhode Island, and while we lived there, I spent many holidays with his family. This year, I received an email from his sister in Atlanta, requesting my recipe for Reveillon Tourtiere. It was going to be her first Christmas away from home, and Christmas Eve just wasn’t going to be the same without it. The traditional meat pie originated with 17th century French Acadian settlers of eastern Canada, some of whom migrated to various parts of New England, including Rhode Island. On Christmas eve, or Reveillon, the family would attend midnight mass together, then return home to open their presents and feast on the fragrant and savory meat pie. When the neighborhood market that sold the family’s favorite tourtiere closed a few years ago, my boyfriend and I embarked on a quest to re-create the pie of his childhood. There are a lot of recipes on the internet, and surely every French Canadian family has a meme with a closely guarded recipe of her own. Using the internet recipes as a starting point, we made variation after variation until we finally got the flavor and texture just right. We ate a lot of meat pie that winter.
A Rhode Island obsession. Unlike hot dogs, these are natural casing sausages that come in a continuous link that have to be cut, resulting in the signature stubby ends. A true connoisseur orders them “all the way,” or fully topped with greek-style meat chili, mustard, onions, and celery salt. I usually have two. My boyfriend usually downs four. Add a glass of coffee milk and a plate of french fries with salt and white vinegar for the complete Little Rhody experience. When we lived in Providence, my boyfriend and I were late night regulars at the original New York System on Smith Street, and when we visit Rhode Island we usually stop there before we leave. Still he would rave about the weiners he grew up with at Rod’s Grille in Warren. Finally this trip, we happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped into Rod’s Grille. Truth be told, though the New York System is more famous (thanks in part to “Providence” the T.V. show), the weiners at Rod’s Grille tasted fresher and were really delicious.
Littlenecks and other fresh New England seafood
Much of the seafood we consume here in New York, particularly the shellfish, comes from New England waters. If you’ve ever had fresh off the dock seafood straight from it’s source, it’s difficult to stomach anything less. It’s probably the seafood I miss most, and every time we visit Rhode Island, I take the opportunity to have some. In the summer it’s beer and littlenecks on the halfshell at Topside’s outdoor deck facing the bay, or chowder and clamcakes at Quitos. But in the winter, we go indoors to Jack’s Family Restaurant. We usually start with littlenecks on the halfshell then share the seafood pasta with Jack’s “special” sauce. Although the littleneck clam is named after Little Neck, NY where these clams were once abundant, the majority of these clams now come from Rhode Island shores. They don’t get any fresher than this – pink, plump, and sweet, and never rubbery.
Recipe Link: Tourtiere de ReveillonRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )