Category: Dinner

New England Clam Chowder Recipe Tricks

new england clam chowderI’ve been making a lot of New England clam chowder, and while noting that most of the recipes are about 95% fat (heavy cream, butter) I have recently been maked a base that is very different, lower in fat, and still thick, rich, and delicious. Using a base vegetable or chicken stock, I chop up partsnip, onion, & celeriac (celery root) and puree this into a very thick soup. To this I add some cream and butter in small amounts, and clam juice and chopped clams. Sometimes I dice up some additional onion and potato for the nice chunks, and the soup ends up still being very thick, with an incredible mouthfeel, and rich with delicious clam flavor. The parsnip add bulk, & the celeriac adds the hint of celery to make an amazing clam chowder that is rich, thick, yet far less fatty than the traditional chowder. If anyone wants, I can post a recipe, but I tend to just toss stuff in a pot, but I’d be happy to develop a recipe for the world if you would like one.

Chili Cook-Off

chiliOn Sunday I attended the 3rd Annual Fireplace Chili Cook-Off at the Squantz Engine Company, the fire department in New Fairfield, CT. The proceeds from the event will not contribute towards the company’s goal of purchasing a new engine to replace an engine they have now, but that’s not why I went specifically. My friend, Matt Lucero, A firefighter in Darien CT who is known all over Fairfield County for his cooking skills was a participant in the event. While it seems unfair to all the other firefighters that he be allowed to participate, he nevertheless agreed to attend as it is for a great cause. I’m thinking she allowed himself some sort of handicap to keep things fair.

If there one thing that firefighters are known for (other than fighting fires and rescuing cats from trees) it is their cooking. In fact, they are a competitive lot, fiercely proud of their cooking (with good reason), and love to show off their culinary skills with events like this one. You could probably find a firefighter cook-off every weekend of the year near you if you wanted. And you should, the food is amazing. Am I biased because Matt is a friend of mine? Of course not. When the laws of the universe say that Matt’s chili is the best in the world, there is no bias, it is just a simple fact, and you can’t argue against universal laws.

Chili master Matt Lucero

Chili master Matt Lucero

There were a fair amount of entrants, and to be honest, all the chili was pretty good, with styles ranging from the smokey and savory, to the sweet and tangy. While my taste leans towards the savory, there wasn’t a chili there that I didn’t enjoy tasting. With meats ranging from venison to beef, tastes from barbecue sweet to robust and savory, even traditional and off the wall, the turn out was very good and the chili better. As much as I tried, I couldn’t pry Matt’s recipe from him, but I have to say that I was quite impressed with his as it had a nice meaty flavor, and, above all, the best texture I have found in a chili… It held together without being too watery, a fault I saw in every other entrant.

While Matt didn’t win, and I didn’t expect the non-local to win anyway, I felt that his chili was the best simply due to it’s meeting all the classic ‘chili’ standards while holding together in a great chili way. I may have to resort to darker measures to find his recipe. But whether I do or don’t, it was a fun day at the Squantz Engine Company, and we left there quite content. We’re on to find one more local now, hopefully one in our own backyard.

How to help your child eat their vegetables

I found this on a forum in which I participate, and wanted to share it with my readers as not only is it brilliantly made, but it is an age old problem resolved in a great way. In order to help their young child eat their veggies, this person made the child actually *want* to eat them, as this presentation is so fun how could they not? I’ve seen a lot of creative ways to plate food, and for meal time with the kids, I think this is a great and creative display that can do wonders to avoid the veggie avoidance syndrome.
kids meal

Keto Burger

Keto burger
This was my dinner tonight. I’m cutting out carbs for a month, so this creation, I call the “keto burger” (I’m sure I didn’t come up with the term) was a nice option for those with limited options. Two hamburger patties acting as buns to a huge pile of blue cheese, topped with thinly sliced, perfectly ripened avocado. Friends…. I was very happy for this as, while I don’t miss the bread, I do like the complexity of mixed flavors. If you are on any low carb or keto oriented diet, I recommend giving this one a try.

Baby Kale with Beets and Onions

Baby kale with beets and red onion and aged balsamic vinegarFlush with baby kale right now, this dish was probably my best improvised dish yet this year. Inspired by many a salad I have eaten I took something raw and turned it into something warm and hearty and so good you can make new friends just by sharing it. The key to this dish is that the beets and the onion are somewhat sweet, and while the aged balsamic vinegar is somewhat sweet as well, the acidity balances the dish so perfectly that I want this dish to be my final one on death row. I’m not there yet, but just in case, you know?

You really want to slice the beets thinly as they will be sauteing in the pan rather than being boiled. You also don’t want to over cook them as a little texture is very nice in this dish. The onions should soften and the kale should be cooked gently, for just a short period of time. You don’t want to turn them into a spinach like mush, they should retain some of their crunch, which the stem will provide.

6 cups of baby kale? yes, it cooks down, even after a minute or two. But it’s so darn nutritious that why not? 618% of the Vitamin A you need for a day! 411% of the Vitamin C you need for a day! Fiber galore! It can make you rich! Kale! Seriously, why the heck not? Plus, you can fill your tummy for 211 calories. Seriously, do I really need to convince you? Fat loss schools and Weight Watchers be damned, this doesn’t need to be a side dish. While it is great on its own, the aged balsamic vinegar gives it that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes me want to serve this at my next dinner party. It’s not inexpensive stuff, but one bottle will last you forever, seriously.

Kale is an extremely overlooked vegetable, and is best in early summer. Stuff your face while you can because kale is one of the most healthful foods you can eat, and it’s very filing as it is full of fiber. The good kind of fiber. Regular kale is a bit more tough, so baby kale is my personal choice, but you could certainly make this with regular kale as well. Just cook the kale a little longer. You won’t regret trying this dish. And you can thank me by sending huge bags of cash.

Baby kale

Baby kale

Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Baby kale and beets cooking

cooking

Baby Kale with Beets and Onions
Author: 
Recipe type: side, entree
Serves: 2
 
A lightly cooked kale salad, a new take on what has been a boring bistro salad.
Ingredients
  • 6 cups baby kale
  • ½ cup beets, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar (w/ must)
Instructions
  1. Slice the beets into tin little discs.
  2. Do the same for the onions.
  3. Saute the beets for a few minutes to soften.
  4. Add the sliced onions and soften as well, just a few minutes.
  5. Add the baby kale and let wilt, but not cook to a mush.
  6. Plate, and drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.
Notes
This could easily be topped with pine nuts (pinoli) or goat cheese to great effect. Don't hesitate to experiment. Nutritional Analysis -No cholesterol -High in calcium -High in dietary fiber -High in iron -Very high in manganese -High in potassium -Very high in vitamin A -High in vitamin B6 -Very high in vitamin C
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 313g Calories: 211g Fat: 8.3g Saturated fat: 1.1g Unsaturated fat: 7.2g Carbohydrates: 31.5g Sugar: 7.2g Fiber: 5.8g Protein: 8.0g Cholesterol: 0g