Growing up on Long Island, I have had the great pleasure of attending a few authentic lobster bakes.  Big pits are dug in the sand and your meal is layered among damp seaweed fresh from the ocean and hot coals or rocks that have been heating in a fire.  If you ever have an opportunity to attend an event/meal like this, I highly encourage you to do it.  But, for those of you who don’t live near the sea or are uncomfortable loosing some of your clams as you dig out your dinner, here is a really easy way to recreate a clambake in your home with 5 ingredients*.

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Potatoes, small red or new potatoes are best

Lobster (I like one per a person and at least one or two extra)

 Shucked Corn (the fresher the better)

Clams

Shrimp

Place the potatoes at the bottom of a large soup or stock pot (or a lobster pot if you have it).  Fill with enough water to just cover the potatoes, throw in a few bay leaves if you have them.   Lay the lobsters over the potatoes then top with the corn, the clams and the shrimp in that order.  Turn the flame on high and cover.  The whole thing is done when the clams open.  I don’t know why this works (perhaps this guy could explain it) but it does.  Serve with drawn butter if you would like and lots and lots of napkins.

*Yes, this all part of my evil ploy to get people to start buying more lobster.  Yesterday I picked some up for dinner for $4.95 a lb, and culls are 5 for $30!

** There are many different types of clams out there and some are better for some things than others.  I always ask my local fish guy what is best that day because I would take really fresh over the ‘correct’ clam for the recipe any day.  That being said, you should shoot for smaller clams; little necks, steamers or cherrystones.  Quahog’s are just big littlenecks but they can get really chewy when you steam them.   

Note: This is my mothers ‘recipe’.  She cooks by sight and by feel and when she bakes she measure liquid in eggshells.  So if you are  the type that needs exact measurements, this might not be for you.

I know it has been a few weeks since I have posted a five ingredient recipe but I have not forgotten about them.    I made these a few weeks ago for a dinner party at a friends house and they were a big hit.  They seem to go with all the snow we have been having this winter. 

dessert

1 package chocolate covered cherries

1 pt vanilla ice cream

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted as pkg directs and cooled

1 cup semisweet chocolate

3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream

Place chocolate-covered cherries about 5 in apart on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil or wax paper; freeze 10 minutes.  Remove ice cream from freezer to soften slightly.

Press a scoop of ice cream over each cherry.  Return to freezer for 20 minutes.

Put coconut in a medium bowl. Remove ice cream from baking sheet and roll in coconut, pressing coconut against balls.  Freeze balls on lined sheet 30 minutes.

Place semisweet chocolate in a saucepan over low heat until melted, stirring continuously.   Add cream and stir to combine.

Remove balls from freezer and drizzle with chocolate sauce or serve on the side.

The first time I had these, it was at an overly chic NY Bar Mitzvah in the mid 90’s.  They were delicious and it only took me about a decade to realize that the ingredients were fairly obvious and they could be re-created in my home with out a full catering staff or the religious right of passage.  Since then, I have made them for a bunch of gatherings and took them to a wonderful get together Wednesday night.  They look way fancier than they are and taste great.

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new potatoes (smaller is better)

sour cream

scallions or chives (either works, go with your preference)

caviar (again, go with your preference)

cracked black pepper

Roast potatoes in a 350 degree oven until cooked through*.  Remove and cool completely.  Slice potatoes in half.  Cut the bottom of the potato so it will lay flat.  With a small spoon or a mellon baller, scoop a small section from the cut side of the potato.  Place cold sour cream in a pastery bag or a plastic baggie with one corner cut.  Pipe sour cream into the small hallow in the potato.  Top with caviar, cracked black pepper and scallion.  Serve cold.

* I like to do this the night before to before to be sure the potatoes are nice and cold.  It also always takes longer to cook the potatoes than I think it will, so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Food Friday: Ginger Truffles

December 19, 2008

I don’t bake, at all.  So when I feel compelled to create and distribute sweets this time of year I usually turn to candy.  These truffles look fancy but are fairly simple and a little goes a long way. 

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2 bars (4 oz each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup plus 2 tsp heavy (whipping) cream

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 Tbsp cognac or other very good brandy

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Line an 8 inch square baking pan with nonstick foil, letting foil extend above pan on 2 sides

Stir chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat.

Stir in ginger, Cognac and vanilla until blended.  Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours until set. 

Lift foil from pan. Remove from foil to a cutting board.  Cut with a sharp knife into 6 rows lengthwise and 6 rows crosswise*.  Sift coco or confectioners sugar over top, dip in chocolate coating or serve as is.**

* I know they looks small, trust me…they are rich

** If you choose to leave them plain you can twist them in small strips of wax paper for gifts.  Decorated, they look very beautiful in a  tin.

Food Friday: Chestnuts

December 12, 2008

Growing up in NY, many of my favorite winter childhood memories include walking through the city with my parents death grip in one hand and bag of hot chestnuts in the other.  I know that the song says you are supposed to roast them on an open fire, but I will take them from an open street cart any day.  This weekend D and I are heading to NY to see some family, and I can not wait to get my hands on a bag.  If you have never made them at home; it is suprisingly simple.  There is one one ingreadient and five steps.  Enjoy. 

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1) Take a cutting board and a knife and make a cut in the round side of every chestnut.  If you are afraid og cutting yourself, use a serrated knife witha  short blade.

2) Scatter the chestnuts on a baking dish with the flat side down.  Drizzle drops of water over the chestnuts with your fingers. 

3) Put the baking dish with the chestnuts in the oven at about 425 degrees.  Place the baking dish as close to the heat source as possible. 

4) After roasting the chestnuts for 10 min on one side turn them over. 

5) After 20 minutes in the oven they are ready to be eaten.  Serve them hot.  When you get them right, peeling them is very easy.

This week work has been INSANE and when I am really short on time I like to have a few quick recipes with minimal ingredientsI can throw together at the end of a long day.  I make this one often; sometimes I swap out the fish fillets for crab or scallops.  Whatever you like or is on sale will work.  Or, you can skip the seafood all together and add chickpeas for a vegetarian meal. 

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1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth

2/3 cup instant rice (brown or white)

1 package (10 oz) frozen corn

1 1/2 cups salsa (any kind you like, chunky is good)

1 lb skinned, mild flavored fish fillets* cut into 2 inch pieces

In a large saucepan, combine broth with enough water to equal 5 cups.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in rice, reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add the corn and salsa.  Return to boiling. 

Add fish to the pot.  Cook, covered, for five minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes with when touched lightly with a  fork.  Serve with lime wedges and crusty bread if desired. 

*haddok, cod or halibut will work well

PS:  WordPress users: How do you feel about the new dashboard layout?  I am not loving it…at all.  Does anyone know how to get to your own blog from your dashboard now?  There used to be fairly obvious button that said “visit site” but now it is gone.  Why does technology hate me?

I made this for dinner last night  and it was delicious.  If you don’t like broccolini you can probably swap it out for regular broccoli or another green veggie, although I think it is really delicious as is.  Enjoy and if you make it, please let me know how it goes!

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12 oz bow tie (farfalle) pasta

1 package (20 oz) hot Italian sausage*

1 lb broccolini or broccoli rabe, cut crosswise in half

1 pt grape tomatoes

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

Cook pasta as box directs in salted water, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water before draining.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook sausage, breaking up unto chunks with spoon, 4 minutes or until no loner pink.

Add reserved pasta water and broccolini to skillet.  Cover; cook 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes, cover and cook 2 minutes until tomatoes just begin to burst.  Toss with cooked pasta and Parmesan.  Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.

* you can use turkey sausage if you prefer

This time of year D and I get into a ‘big breakfast on Sunday’ routine. It is nice to sit down together and eat something fun or fattening or both. Recently a friend of mine gave me wheat (which I am allergic too) free baking mix so I will most definitely be making these soon. You can serve them for breakfast if you wish or for dessert with some whipped cream an berries. Actually, I am not sure there is ever a time you would not want to serve chocolate pancakes.

pancakes

2 cups baking mix

1 cup non fat milk

2 eggs

4 tablespoons coco mix*

1/2 cup mini chocolate pieces

mix baking mix, milk, eggs and coco in a large bowl. Fold in chocolate pieces. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot nonstick skillet; cook until bubbles form on top; flip pancakes; cook through. Serve with syrup, jam or fresh whipped cream.

*you can combine 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coco and 2 tablespoons of sugar if you don’t have coco mix

The last day my local farmers market was open, I asked my favorite vegetable and flower provider what I could buy up that would last the longest.  He suggested some squash and a few other hearty vegetables (including the most delicious turnips I have ever eaten).  For almost 2 weeks now I have had a beautiful butternut squash sitting in my fridge and have yet to be inspired on what to do with it.  Then I found this recipe.  It is amazingly simple and the butter and spices bring out all natural sweetness and richness naturally found in butternut squash. 

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2 Tbsp butter

2 lbs fresh butternut squash chunks*

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  You will need a rimmed baking pan lined with nonstick foil.

Put butter in pan.  Place in oven until melted.  Remove pan from oven and add remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat and spread into an even layer.

Roast 25 to 30 minuted, tossing once or twice, until squash is tender.  Transfer to serving bowl.

* you can either start with a whole squash or buy the pre-cut chunks in the produce section of your local market.  If you start with the whole squash, be careful cutting it.  I have nearly taken off four fingers attempting to cut one in half.

I thought in honor of Halloween, I would share a really easy recipe for making caramel apples. This could not be simpler and it promises to be a big hit with your trick-or-treaters or your friends.

6 apples

1 (14 oz bag) of individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped*

2 tablespoons milk

crushed nuts, any variety will do

6 wooden craft sticks

Remove the stem from each washed apple and insert a craft stick into the top.

Place caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl, microwave 2 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool briefly.

Roll each apple in the caramel and then in the nuts. Allow to cool on a well buttered cookie sheet (wax paper will do as well). Enjoy!

* Since the caramel can get a little hot so if you have little ones that want to help, unwrapping the caramels is a great job.