Sides

Manhattan Clam Chowder

One of my favorite seafood soups is Manhattan Clam Chowder. I remember, as a younger girl, watching my grandmother, who would come over on Wednesdays, make this in our kitchen.  Hers was always perfect. So, I rumaged through my memory bank, what’s left of it, and came up with this recipe. It’s quite good, I have to say. I added a couple of ingredients that she never used, and it worked out pretty well.

Now, if you want this meatless, omit the bacon. But if you want that smokey undertone, by all means, add it. I also used a couple of these extremely hot peppers my mother-in-law got on our trip to Italy in the fall. And these things are HOT. So I only added two. You can replace them with hot pepper flakes, if desired.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

serves 4 to 6

  • 3 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes, optional
  • 28-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes, chopped well
  • 3 8-ounce jars of clam juice
  • 2 cans minced clams
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper

Heat a stock pot over medium heat. Dice the bacon and add to pot. Cook, until browned, about five minutes. If you’re omitting the bacon, use olive oil, about a tablespoon, instead.

To the pot, add the onion, celery, garlic and red pepper. Saute until softened, about three to five minutes. Season with salt and pepper while cooking.

Add the tomato paste, stir well, and cook for one minute more.

Carefully add the clam juice, canned, chopped tomatoes (I chopped mine in my food processor) and chopped potatoes. Season again with salt and pepper and add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and celery salt.

Cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Add the minced clams with their juice and taste for seasoning. Cook for another five minutes.

Once it is done, remove the bay leaf and serve.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Arancini

Let me see. Take some risotto, stuff a chunk of mozzarella cheese in it, bread it and then fry it. Does that sound like a little bit of heaven to you? Well, it is.

This is not something I can say I enjoyed making. I am not one for getting my hands all gooed up.  And all gooed up, they will get. I’m the type of person who goes through a pack of napkins when eating wings or ribs or something messy like that. So, plan on rinsing, a lot. Unless, of course, that doesn’t bother you. 

In either case, this is what you will need:

  • One batch cooked risotto, cooled
  • Flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Panko or Italian bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying

First, you’ll need to make Basic Risotto. You can use my recipe or your own. Either is just fine.

Next, you’ll need to set up a breading station consisting of:

Flour. Beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper and bread crumbs. I used Panko.

Once you have that set up, next thing you’ll need to do is cut some fresh mozzarella into small chunks. 

Take about a soup spoon-sized portion of risotto in damp hands and form it into a ball, tossing it back and forth between both hands. 

Next, get a piece of the cheese and stuff it into the middle. Reform into a ball. You may need to add an extra bit of risotto, so it’s completely covered.

Now get ready to get down and dirty with the balls.  

Start by rolling them, one at a time, in the flour first, then the egg and, finally, the bread crumbs. You may have to reform them into ball-form at this point.


After you have them rolled, prepare your pan for frying. Heat about a half-inch of oil, I used canola, in a skillet.

Begin frying each ball, until golden brown on all sides. 

Transfer to a wire rack, with paper towels underneath to drain oil. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on while hot.

Let cool for a few minutes and eat when ready.

Enjoy!


Basic Risotto

Risotto is fabulous. This is a basic recipe for a base risotto. What you add to it is up to you. Or even what you do with it. I made this today and plan on using it tomorrow for Arancini. Stay tuned. But first, the basic risotto recipe.

  • One medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 16 oz. box of risotto or arborio rice
  • about 4 cups of chicken stock or 3 cups plus one cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • freshly-ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the chopped onion until soft.

Heat chicken broth to boiling in another pan. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer.

Add rice to the pan with the onion and stir well to cover in oil.

Add enough broth to cover rice, and stir continuously until absorbed. If using wine, start with all of the wine and cook until all the wine is absorbed and then add the broth in batches. Continue this process until all, or most, of the broth is gone, and rice is al dente, stirring the whole time. This should take about 20 minutes. I use a ladle and add about two ladlefuls each time.

When all the broth is absorbed, add the cheese and pepper and stir well. Serve immediately.


Pico de Gallo

There’s nothing as delicious as freshly-made pico de gallo. Plump, juicy tomatoes mixed with fragrant cilantro, spicy jalapenos, garlic and red onions. Finished off with a fresh burst of lime juice. Can you almost taste it?  This is another one of those things, that, through trial and error, I finally came up with something that’s a keeper. Enjoy.

  • 1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 quarter red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt, or more to taste
  • few grindings of black pepper

Prepare all of the ingredients as mentioned above, place in a serving bowl, chill and serve. Goes lovely with fajitas, over fish or just munching with chips and a nice cold beer or margarita.


Green Bean, Feta Cheese and Walnut Salad

Crisp-cooked green beans, creamy feta, crunchy toasted walnuts and spicy red onions come together in a delightful and healthy salad.  Dressed in a delicate dill vinaigrette. It’s quite pretty, too.

  • 1  cup  coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4  cup  olive oil
  • 1/4  cup  white wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper
  • 1 1/2  pounds  fresh green beans
  • 1  small purple onion, thinly sliced
  • 1  (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

Bake walnuts in a shallow pan at 350°, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until toasted; set aside.

Combine oil and next 5 ingredients; cover and chill.

Cut green beans into thirds, and arrange in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 15 minutes or until green beans are crisp-tender. Immediately plunge green beans into cold water to stop cooking process; drain and pat dry.

Combine walnuts, beans, onion, and cheese in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and chill.

Pour oil mixture over bean mixture 1 hour before serving; toss just before serving.


Old Bay Roasted Sweet Potatoes

One word to describe these. Awesome.

I really do love sweet potatoes.  Simply roasting these with Old Bay seasoning, salt and olive oil, give this side dish the perfect spiciness that pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the potato.

To be honest, I didn’t measure how much I put on the potato.  I sprinkled liberally, I can say that.

I used one quite large sweet potato, scrubbed it clean and cut it into one-inch chunks.  I place them on a cookie sheet and pour some olive oil over top.  Then I added a good amount of kosher salt.  Everything needs salt.  Then I sprinkled the Old Bay over that and mixed it all up with my hands. If I had to guess, I’d say I put about a teaspoon of salt and maybe two teaspoons of Old Bay.  But like I said, I’m not really sure. But you could visibly see the Old Bay on them

Roast in the oven, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes at 350°, or until tender.


Grilled Salsa

This salsa has a wonderful, deep smokey flavor.  Serve with Mojo Marinated Pork Tacos or anywhere you’d use salsa.

Makes 2 cups

  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes or 4 large regular tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, wrapped in foil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/4 chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Grill tomatoes, onion, garlic packet and jalapeno until soft, about 5 minutes, turning frequently.   Remove from grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Peel tomatoes, garlic and pepper. Place in a food processor with remaining ingredients and pulse until blended, but still chunky.  Set aside until ready to serve.