Smokey Clam Dip with Giants Chips

Chips and dip… you have to have chips and dip on the table. Around here I’ve been making a creamy clam dip that puts just the right amount of smokey goodness into the traditional tangy clam dip.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • two 6 1/2-ounce cans minced clams, drained, reserving 3 tablespoons liquid
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

In a bowl whisk together cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients and salt to taste.  Nice, simple, straight forward… and you could top this with snipped scallion greens and bacon-bits… As you all may know, I like to make my own bacon bits with a rasher or two of thick cut bacon from Western Beef.

Everything’s better with bacon.

Serve this with toasted pita wedges, what we call Giant’s chips around game-day.

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Kick-off Crab Cakes

Well, the big game is a week away, and I’ll be focusing my attention on things from Long Island’s sunny shore that go well with watching a football game. So, I have been in the lab, that tiny slab of a kitchen, and with a sale on crab meat and jalepeno’s… well I can find a good way to work these two together… a newly minted classic – crab cakes with kick.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb lump crab meat
  • 1 jalepeno pepper (seeded and diced)
  • 1/2 small red pepper (finely diced)
  • 1 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon crab seasoning ( I use old bay)
  • dash of hot sauce
  • bread crumbs

Empty the crab into a large bowl, sort through, looking for pieces of shell to remove. Add jalapeno, red pepper, mustard, mayonnaise, crab seasoning and hot sauce.

Don’t be too rough when mixing these together. You don’t want to break up the crab lumps too much. Its not like making tuna salad. Now, add enough bread crumbs to keep it together, don’t use too much you don’t want these too dry, they’ll fall apart when cooking.

For an appetizer size portion, this should make about eight to ten little cakes, or four main course (man size) cakes. If you are going to fry these, roll the finished cake in bread crumbs. If you are going to broil them skip the extra bread crumbs and spray lightly with olive oil. Either fry in vegetable oil or broil until brown.

 

Three Cans and a Plan

Three cans, a carrot, and a celery stalk walk into a bar… what to do… make salmon chowder. Salmon chowder is one of those winter comfort soups that really don’t take too long to whip up. I find that one of the best tips for making thick satisfying cream-based chowders is to cut the potatoes smaller than you normally would. I cut most of the potatoes into smaller than bite-size, but then I take one of the potatoes and dice it into small cubes. This releases much more starch into the chowder that helps to thicken it without adding fat laden cream or butter.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 12 ounce can salmon
  • 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 4 Long Island potatoes chopped
  • 1 Long Island potato diced
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 garlic cloved, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 2 cup of water
  • Sea salt

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, and garlic until onions are tender. Stir in water, potatoes, carrots, pepper, salt, and tarragon. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Cover, and simmer about half an hour..

Once this base comes together, stir in salmon, evaporated milk, and corn. Go through that can of salmon, don’t just open the can and toss it in. Nope! Go through the salmon and remover and bone or skin that often works its way into these cans. Cook until heated through.

I like to serve this long with pumpernickel bread and an oatmeal stout beer right out of the jug from Blue Point brewery.

Anchovy Pasta Sauce with Olives

Well, getting back on track here with the recipes! Today we’ll be whipping up a little pasta and sauce. The sauce features on of best, healthiest, most under-appreciated, sustainable seafood choices…. Anchovies! With a healthy dose of olives, this sauce is perfect for meatless Friday meals.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  •  4 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tin of anchovies packed in oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 1 can black olives chopped
  • Two dozen green olives sliced
  • 2 tsps capers drained
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 2 tsps oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 16 ozs can of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ozs tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup marsala
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

In a medium saucepan combine olive oil and anchovies. Cook them over medium heat, stirring to mash them, about three to five minutes. Add garlic and onion and cook until tender, five minutes or so. Then stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, half an hour or so. It will take a while for the flavors to coalesce into a unified sauce.

As the sauce is cooking, start your pasta. I like to use the mezze penne, and take a moment or two to call up some friends and invite them to lunch.

Pop the top of a bottle of local Long Island red wine and serve up some home entertaining.

Comfort Food – Pub Style

Whenever you go to a good pub, the menu always features one of my favorite comfort foods. That’s right; we’re talking about a Sheppard’s pie… cooked long and slow. Now, there are quick and easy recipes that will tell you how to make one of these in thirty minutes, or even quicker. But the whole point it seems to these winter comfort foods is to take the long, slow, warm, approach that not only heats the hearth, but warms our memories as well.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb lean lamb, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • enough beef stock to cover
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tsp corn starch
  • 2 lbs Long Island potatoes
  • 4 oz butter
  • Salt and pepper

Add minced lamb into a casserole dish, add onion, carrot, celery, beef stock, corn starch, salt and pepper, to taste, and stir. Cook in a slow oven, 275°F for about 2 hours. Its important that the flavors meld together. You can do all this on stove top for about 20 minutes BUT the flavor is never the same. When complete, drain off gravy and put that on the side.

Boil and mash potatoes with milk, butter, salt and pepper, however don’t make it into a wet paste. It should be firm and almost chunky, think ‘rustic’, and for gosh sakes don’t use the mash potatoes in a box!

Add back enough gravy to the meat to make it moist. Gently add the mashed potato to the top and build up. Spread with a fork, finally making fork marks both up and down and across to form a basket like pattern.

Put oven temperature at 400°F, then bake until potato is crispy and golden on the peaks (about) 30 minutes. Serve with remaining gravy, and a pint of Guinness or two.

Comfort Soup – Tomato Basil w Anchovy

A hot bowl of creamy tomato basil soup wards off the winter chill. What’s nice about this soup is that it in contains no fresh tomatoes. Nope, the canned ones work better than the fresh ones in this soup. So, you can make this comfort food from stockpiles in the pantry. For the more adventurous amongst my reads, it’s true, you can add a small can of anchovies to this soup after you blend the tomatoes and it will add a whole lot of salty, fishy, goodness…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small can anchovy fillets
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Start by sautéing the onion, garlic, and basil in olive oil, then add the tomatoes, broth, and a dash of sea salt. Let this cook together in the pot for about an hour.

Grab your immersion blender and blend this till is nice and smooth. Add in the anchovies and half and half and let that simmer another fifteen minutes or so.

When you’re ready to ladle this out, get some nice heavy stoneware bowls and top the soup with some freshly grated parmesan I like to serve this with garlic bread, also topped with parmesan (or a small anchovy pizza).

Comfort Soup – Crab Corn Chowder with … Bacon!

I know, I hear you; I’m bringing back the bacon. As winter sets in, although it’s been pretty darn mild around here lately, and that’s not helping the ‘comfort food’ theme we have going on here, thick hearty soups are often on the stove. Here on the Island, with sales on crab meat going on, its time for some crab – corn chowder with a bit of… you asked for it… bacon!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 rashers bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups diced red potato
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
  • Chopped fresh chives

Cook the bacon over medium heat, remember I only use the Western Beef  (add shameless sponsorship plug here lol) thick cut rashers. Add onions; sauté for a minute or so, until tender. Add corn, potatoes, milk, Worcestershire, and thyme; bring this to a boil.

Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender.

Combine cornstarch and evaporated milk in a small bowl; stir with a whisk to create slurry.

Add cornstarch slurry to soup to thicken it up; simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and crab; remove thyme sprig. Ladle into soup bowls; sprinkle with chives.

I enjoy serving this with toasted rye bread and butter.

Comfort Soup – Split Pea

As the cold weather begins to creep in, and a new exorcism movie is making the rounds, I can hear the comforting call of a nice hot pot of pea soup. Yes, there is no greater friend to a ham hock than a piping pot of split peas.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 lb (2 1/4 cups) green split peas
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, halved
  • Salt and Pepper

Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain peas. Place in a 4 quart pan with the vegetables ham hocks and 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer. Skim the top of the soup for several minutes clearing the froth that floats along. Cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the ham hocks from the soup. Purée the soup with a blender;  I use my immersion blender right in the pot, its great for this; if you are using a regular blender, take care to work in batches and only fill the blender halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending. If you want an exceptionally smooth soup, pass the purée through a sieve, but I prefer mine a bit on the lumpy side.

Remove the skin from the hocks and dice up the meat. At this point you can scour the fridge for any left over ham bits and pieces. This is one really good soup for using up those porcine scraps.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls. I like to serve this with fresh warm pumpernickel bread.

Long Island Comfort Potatoes

What’s better to keep you company during an original Star Trek marathon. When I think of these marathons, I think of hammy acting, cheesy scenes, and scalloped potatoes from right here on Long Island. I like to use a good amount of ham and cheese so as to make this side dish more of a one pot winter comfort food. So ‘beam me up Scotty’ ahead warp factor yum!

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound fully cooked ham slice, 1/2-inch thick
  • Half a dozen thinly sliced Long Island potatoes
  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • dash pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cut ham in bite-size cubes and mix with the veggies in a large bowl. Place a layer of the potatoes in a greased 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with some shredded cheddar, then a layer of ham and veggies, then a layer of potatoes and cheese, then a layer of ham and veggies, then a layer of… you get the picture.

Combine the soup with milk and pour over potatoes.

Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 1 hour. Remove covering; bake 30 to 45 minutes longer, or until potatoes are done. If desired, sprinkle even more shredded Cheddar cheese over the top of scalloped potatoes the last 15 minutes of baking time.

Sit back and enjoy the warm cheesy goodness of Long Island’s comfort food.

Warm Winter Pot Roast

Pot Roast, cooking for a couple of hours in the oven, making the whole place smell like comfort food is what a lazy Sunday is all about. There’s something about a simple pot roast of beef, local vegetables, and potatoes that takes the edge off chilly winter’s day. I remember last year with all that snow we were having. After putting the pot roast in the oven, I would go out and shovel, then have a wonderful warm filling meal ready after the labor.

Although it’s not snowing now, its going to reach about fifty today, but that’s no reason not to pick up a chuck roast and have one on hand. I’m sure the snow is out there just waiting until we’re not looking.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 pounds boneless chuck roast
  • 4 medium long island potatoes
  • 2 fresh local carrots
  • 2 fresh local parsnips
  • 2 cups pearl onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Duckwalk Windmill red wine

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Heat a heavy Dutch oven on top of the stove over medium high heat. Add oil, and sear meat in the center of the pan for 4 minutes. Turn meat over with tongs; sear all sides for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove meat from pan. Arrange chopped carrots, chopped parsnips, pearl onions, and 1 bay leaf in the bottom of the pan.

Open a bottle of Duckwalk red and pour about a quarter cup over the veggies, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return meat to pan, place remaining bay leaf on top of meat, add the chopped potatoes, and cover.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove roast to a platter to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice, and top with veggies and gravy. What to do with the remaining red wine? That’s what those round glasses are for… or you could mull it and enjoy it warm.