Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creating... Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder is one of my favourite soups.  The rains have begun in Vancouver. Damp, drizzly weather and chilling winds call for rich, creamy and warming soups.  Creating exactly the great, decadent, flavourful soup you crave is easy. 

This is a Jo creation so the amounts are approximate and you'll need to taste test as you go along. 

(for approximately 2 litres of soup/ 6 portions)

4- 6 slices good quality bacon, diced (I go to the Italian or East European deli for their smoked bacon)
2 cans clam nectar or 2 bottles of clam juice
500 ml cream
1 litre half and half
2 cans clams (can also replace one of these with a can of butter clams, minced in the food processor), rinse the clams if they are canned in brine.
2 red or yellow potatoes (I don't use baking potatoes because they will disintegrate in the soup), cut into medium dice
3 stalks celery, cut into medium dice
3 carrots, cut into medium dice
2 medium onions, cut into medium dice
approx. 2 tbsp flour mixed in 1/2 cup of cream
fresh minced parsley
salt and pepper
butter (optional)

In a heavy bottomed saucepot, fry the bacon until crisp.  Add the onions and cook until soft.  Add the potatoes and 250 ml of half and half.  Cook on medium heat approximately 10 minutes, then add the celery, the carrots and the clam nectar and simmer until the vegetables soften, approximately 20 minutes.  Add the thyme, one tsp at a time. In the meantime, make a slurry by mixing the flour and the cream and slowly adding it to the soup.  Add the clams, salt and pepper.  When the clams are heated through, taste for seasoning.  If the soup is not thick enough, add additional flour/cream mixture.  You can add the butter at this point to finish the soup, if you wish.  Add the parsley just before serving.  Serve immediately.

Make this soup your own by adding salmon (fresh or smoked), sole or other fish to make a fish chowder.  Shelled diced shrimp and/or diced (or halved) scallops can be added to make a seafood chowder. 
You can substitute milk for the cream to reduce calories. 

You can substitute salt pork for the bacon. 

The soup can be frozen in portions.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Absolutely Awesome Triple Chocolate Biscotti

This recipe is an absolute winner.  If I were to "play" with it, I would add nuts, any nuts- almonds, pine nuts- and these would become "fully loaded"!  Feel free to double or even triple the recipe.

(to make 32 biscotti)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate-covered espresso beans
1 large egg, lightly beaten.

** 1/2 cup of nuts, if using**

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2.  In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar (use an electric mixer).  Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.  At low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture. 

3.  Fold in the chocolate chips, the chocolate-covered espresso beans and the nuts (if adding). 

4.  Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 2-inch-wide log.  Transfer the logs to a large parchment paper covered baking sheet and brush with egg white.

5.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

6.  Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Cut each log crosswise into 1/2-inch wide slices and arrange the slices on the baking sheets, cut side down.  Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly dry.  Let cool on the baking sheets.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Playing... Cranberry Biscotti

Playing with my food... I like to take a recipe and make it my own.  For example, I began with a cranberry biscotti recipe and turned it into a white chocolate dipped cranberry biscotti with Grand Marnier.  The changes I made to the basic recipe are highlighted with an asterisk.  The next time, I would add more Grand Marnier or, use melted dark chocolate flavoured with Grand Marnier. 

Cranberry Biscotti
Ingredients:  (to make approximately 3 dozen biscotti)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract (**replaced with Grand Marnier)
3/4 tsp orange or lemon extract (**replace with Grand Marnier)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground mace (**could subsitute nutmeg)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, slightly chopped (**could substitute dried blueberries, dried cherries, currants)

**approx. 250 gr good quality (Lindt or Callebaut white or dark chocolate, melted for dipping**
** 1/2 cup whole almonds or hazelnuts or other nut of your choice**

2 tsp milk and sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with a shelf in the center position.  Grease (or line with parchment paper) a large baking sheet.

2.  Beat the eggs until foamy in the large bowl of an electric mixer; gradually beat in the sugar, then beat at high speed until pale and light.  Beat in the cooled shortening, vanilla and orange or lemon extract.  If you are substituting Grand Marnier, add it now.

3.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, mace and salt.  With the mixer running at low speed, add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix the dough well.  Mix in the cranberries (and the nuts if using).  The dough will be somewhat soft.

4.  Spoon half the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, making a strip about 10 inches long.  Repeat with the second half, leaving 3 inches between the strips.  Using your fingers lightly moistened with water, form each strip into a loaf shape, 2.5 inches wide and slightly higher in the middle than at the sides.  Smooth the surface with a pastry brush dipped into the milk and sprinkle the loaves with sugar.

5.  Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and lower the oven setting to 300 degrees F.

6.  Cool the loaves on the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully place them on a rack to cool an additional 10 minutes.

7.  Move the loaves to a cutting board, and using a serrated knife, cut them crosswise at a slight diagonal into slices between 1/3 and 1/2 inch thick.  Lay the slices flat and close together on the baking sheet.

8.  Bake for 10 minutes, turn the slices and bake an additional 7-8 minutes.  The slices should be light gold in colour.

9.  Cool the biscotti completely on a rack.

10.  In the meantime, slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a simmering pan of water.  When the biscotti is cooled, dip one end in the chocolate, letting the excess drip off.  Place the biscotti on a rack to cool and allow the chocolate to set.  Store the biscotti in an air-tight container for two or three weeks.

These make great Christmas or Hostess gifts.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


My creative outlet and my passion: the kitchen.  Using local, in-season ingredients, whenever possible, to create great tasting, healthy and great looking dishes. 

I want to share my recipes, my culinary experiments and adventures through my blog. Questions and comments are more than welcome.  Let's see where this adventure takes us...