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Posts Tagged ‘Laurie Lufkin Cooking’

Is it just me or when you’re away for a few days you come home to find little bits and odds and ends of stuff in the fridge? Does anyone see these things and think to eat them? Are they still edible? Have they turned into a giant hunk of mold in the container? I hate to waste so I always try find a way to use what I have on hand.

My favorite thing to do with odds and ends in the refrigerator is make a pizza.   The danger with using lots of veggies on your pizza is that it’s easy to have a soggy crust.  Read along and I will tell you my tips and tricks for using up your leftovers on a pizza and keeping the crust crispy.
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I few days ago, I made my way in to the unknown….the back recesses of the fridge to find all of the these ingredients:  sauteed escarole, oil packed sun dried tomatoes, pitted stuffed olives, cooked mushrooms, pepperoncini, roasted yellow pepper strips and grated parmesan cheese.  I was also lucky enough to find a container of my Mom’s nut free pesto in the freezer.  She makes it at the end of the summer and its delicious.  We had been to the store the day before and stocked up on some fresh veggies as the fridge was more than kind of empty since I had been gone.  We got some chopped kale and some more mushrooms, both of which I sauteed in a large batch to have some to put in my eggs the rest of the week.  I also had some shrimp in the freezer (we love shrimp on our pizza) and some four cheese pizza blend.

You might be afraid to put so many veggies on your pizza for fear that it will never crisp up but the secret to using high water content vegetables is as follows:

  1. Roast veggies on the top of the pizza (as I will do with the kale)
  2. Cook out most of the water (which is what I did with the mushrooms, slowly over medium heat and did not salt them until they were mostly cooked, which roasts them and enhances the flavor)
  3. Literally squeeze the liquid out of the greens (which is what I did with the escarole and do with spinach)
  4. Pat dry anything that is in liquid or oil (the pepperoncini, olives, roasted peppers and the sun dried tomatoes)

 

 

 

The next trick to a crispy crust is a pizza stone or an overturned large baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone and a very high oven temperature.  Long before you start building your masterpiece, put the pizza stone in the oven at 450 degrees to heat all the way through.  It’s going to take a good 25-30 minutes to heat to 450.  If you are using a baking sheet overturned, it only takes about five minutes.  The key to a crisp crust is sliding the dough on to a hot surface to set it right away.

If you have a pizza peel, use it.  If you don’t, you can use a second overturned baking sheet in it’s place.  Cornmeal.  Cornmeal is the key to success with all pizza but especially a heavy one laden with deliciousness.  Sprinkle your peel (or second baking sheet) with a generous amount (at least 2 tablespoons) of cornmeal and spread it around to the edges of the peel.  Stretch your dough as thin as possible, leaving a nice edge for the crust and lay it on your pizza peel.  Now shake the peel.  Does the crust move freely back and forth?  If not, lift up the crust gently where it’s stick and through some cornmeal in there.  Shake it again…does it move?  You’re in good shape.

The next step is to layer appropriately.  I start with the pesto (obviously) in a very thin layer and then the dried vegetables that don’t need to be cooked, just heated including the escarole, sun dried tomatoes, olives and roasted peppers.  It’s important NOT to put anything that needs to be cooked (such as raw chicken, shrimp, raw mushrooms etc) under the veggies and cheese on the pizza because by the time the crust is crisp and the cheese is melted the raw food will not be cooked through, it will steam being trapped under the cheese and veggies and will cause the crust to be soggy.  Now is time to shake your crust again to be sure it moves freely.  If not, through some more cornmeal under the crust.  This is going to be a heavy pizza with all of the stuff on it so periodically, make sure it moves.

 

 

 

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The next layer is the remaining veggies, all but the kale, the cheese and the raw protein.  Keep in mind, however, that unless chicken, for example is cut very small it may not cook through, even on the top of the pizza.  Seafood, shrimp and/or scallops are a good bet because they cook so quickly as is any other cooked protein.  Time to add the shrimp and then sprinkle with some grated parmesan.
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And finally the kale.  I love crispy kale so it’s the perfect veggie to top the pizza.  Cooked broccoli is also a good bet as both kale and broccoli get very crisp when exposed to high heat.  Then some dried rosemary/oregano/ thyme or whatever you have on hand and some kosher salt and pepper.

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Shake your pizza on the peel once again and if it moves freely, you are all set.  If not, you know what to do.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until shrimp is cooked through and crust is golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and let pizza sit for 5 minutes for the cheese to set up and so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth because you’re going to want to eat this pizza as soon as possible!

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20160127_195207.jpgI usually work night and have been traveling quite a bit lately for work and cooking adventures so I was very excited about a night at home and time too cook a meal for my family!  Here’s the perfect recipe even for the pickiest of eaters.  Hands on time is quick, cooking time is fairly fast and you don’t have to do much to have a wonderful dinner that the leftovers are as good as the meal, easy to reheat and simple to make for a small crowd.

I adore chicken thighs.  They are inexpensive (12 pc for 7.20 at Market Basket), delicious, meaty, moist and tender and usually I use my good friend Doug Keiles’ line of rubs (http://www.ribswithin.com/products/) on the meat and put them on the grill or in the oven on a sheet pan and all is right with the world.

Tonight however, I decided that I wanted to make something to go with pasta with Meyer Lemon Oil, parsley and spicy roasted broccoli, which are two favorites in my family and I had the pleasure of not only my immediate family for dinner but Famous Chicka (my niece, Sarah) and my daughter’s best friend Ashley who is a culinary student at Lily’s school for expert assistance.  It’s remarkable how fast you can get things done with extra hands chopping, slicing and stirring!

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Meyer Lemons and Olives

2 tablespoon olive oil

10-12 bone in skin on chicken thighs

2 tablespoons dried Italian Seasoning

2 tablespoon dried rosemary, crushed

1 cup dry white wine

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup pitted brined olives (use whatever you have on hand)

2 Meyer Lemons (or regular if you don’t have Meyer), one thinly sliced and seeds removed and one zested and juiced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

With a knife or kitchen shears, remove any excess skin from chicken.  Season chicken liberally with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, Italian seasoning and crushed rosemary.

In a large, heavy Dutch Oven (I use the Le Creuset 9.5 quart French Oven) over medium high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering and nearly smoking.  Place chicken thighs, six at a time, skin side down in hot pan and brown for 5-6 minutes until skin is browned.  Remove from pan to a baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain all but 3 tablespoons fat from pan, reduce heat to medium and add wine to the pan, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan while stirring.  Add shallots and cook until shallots are softened, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.  Add olives and Meyer lemon slices, zest, juice and chicken broth to the pan.  Add chicken back to the pan, skin side up in a single layer.  Cover pan with lid or aluminum foil and place in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and reaches 165 degrees F.

Remove from oven and set aside, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

I served mine with spicy broccoli (toss bite sized broccoli pieces in olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, place on a baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until slightly charred and softened) and pasta (I used the high protein) tossed with Meyer lemon oil, fresh parsley, freshly cracked pepper and topped with parmesan cheese.

Another veggie that I thing is under appreciated is escarole.  If you sautee it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and some garlic, its initial bitterness and then sweetness on the palate is the perfect accompaniment to the meal and I often toss it with the pasta.

 

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Quick Brined Pork with Blueberry Rosemary Pans SauceHello friends!  I was approached by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to create a recipe that challenged me to experiment with different and interesting flavor pairings for blueberries beyond the typical pairing of blueberries with lemon.  I was “berry” excited to take up this challenge because I love blueberries all year round!  Not only are they delicious, but the nutritional content of blueberries is reason enough to eat them by themselves.  Check out the website littlebluedynamos.com for more delicious blueberry ideas!  This is an easy to make but pretty enough for your holiday table recipe and you will be asked for this recipe…trust me!  This sauce would also be amazing on chicken.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

 

Quick Brined Pork Tenderloins With Blueberry Rosemary Pan Sauce

pork blueberry rosemary brine photo

First, make the brine:

2 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large sprig rosemary
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Pour hot mixture in to a non-reactive bowl.   Fill a large measuring cup or bowl with four cups of ice and top ice with cold water to total five cups.  Pour ice and water in to hot brine mixture and stir.  When ice is melted, add pork, cover and refrigerate for two-three hours.

pork rosemary blueberry brine pan seared

2-1 pound pork tenderloins, cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup tawny port
1 cup apple cider
1 large rosemary sprig
2 cups frozen highbush blueberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil in the oven on the middle shelf.

Remove pork tenderloins from brine and pat dry.

Preheat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat with two tablespoons olive oil until oil is nearly smoking. Season pork lightly with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides and place in oven to cook fully, about 15-20 minutes.

When pork is cooked to at least 145 degrees (for medium) allow pork to rest for at least five to ten minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, reduce heat to medium low and deglaze hot pan with port and cider, holding the rosemary sprig with tongs and scraping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan while stirring.

blueberry pork sauce 11
Reduce heat to med low and add blueberries, stirring occasionally, and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

blueberry pork sauce 1

Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 4 tablespoons butter to pan and stir until mixture is thickened and syrupy and butter is melted, stirring again with the rosemary sprig and allowing it to cook in the pan with the blueberries.  Some rosemary leaves will fall off of the sprig and in to the sauce–that’s ok.

blueberry pork sauce 1111Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

blueberry pork sauce dinner

Slice pork on the diagonal for a lovely presentation and drizzle sauce over sliced pork. Serve immediately.  I served roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach with garlic with the pork and it made for a wonderful meal.  This pork and blueberry sauce combo is also excellent over a spinach salad, topped with crumbled goat cheese…YUM!

 

 

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Here is my second entry for this fantastic contest……..I really do love blueberries and I am very very proud of how these tasty treats came out!  Had one more but I am going to have to save it for next year I guess!

Bursting with Blueberries Mini Cream Beauties
For the blueberry filling:

1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
One lemon, zested and juice, zest finely chopped and reserved

Over medium low heat, combine blueberries and lemon juice.   Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper liners (preferably grease proof) and set aside.

For the crust:

2 cups plus two tablespoons flour, divided
2 sticks salted butter, frozen and cut in to small cubes
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup dried blueberries

In the bowl of a food processor (or in a bowl using a pastry blender) combine  2 cups flour, butter, confectioners sugar and salt.  Plus until the mixture resembles a fine meal.  Spoon a heaping teaspoonful of the mixture in to each prepared cup and press to form a crust on the bottom of the cup, reserving remaining mixture for the crumb topping.

Bake 10 minutes.  Add remaining two tablespoons flour and dried blueberries to remaining crust mixture and pulse until combined.  Pour mixture in to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Meanwhile, prepare the cream filling and topping:

2 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Reserved lemon zest
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup Lemoncello Liqueur (or defrosted lemonade concentrate if unavailable)
Pinch salt

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and process until smooth..

When crust is partially baked (after 10 minutes) remove from oven and spoon in 1 teaspoon blueberry lemon filling into the center.

Top with cream cheese mixture evenly, about 3/4 of the way up the cup, sprinkle 3 to 4 fresh blueberries on each

Top with reserved crust/dried blueberry mixture.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes until center is set.  Allow to cool and remove from pan when completely cool.

Makes 24–Enjoy!

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I spent a long time thinking about this one……it’s for the Fresh Supersweet Corn Blogger recipe contest and I was trying to think outside the box…..salsa….no, its been done……salad, I could, but not sure what I would do……soup, I do love corn chowder but they already have one on their website www.freshsupersweetcorn.com.  So I moved on to baked goods in my mind.

Corn muffins?  Yum, but done.  Cornbread?  Also delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary.  And then it hit me.  Fresh Supersweet Corn is sweet, right?  Just like it says in the name!  Well, this is what I came up with–and trust me, it is delicious!

Sweet Caribbean Corn Upside Down Cake by Laurie Lufkin

1 1/4 cup coconut milk

1 cup fine yellow cornmeal

1 stick salted butter

1 cup brown sugar, divided

2 1/2 cups Fresh Supersweet Corn

1/4 cup (one nip) coconut rum

1 fresh mango, peeled and cut in to wedges

1 orange slice from the center of the orange

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs at room temperature

3/4 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons coconut extract

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup toasted sweetened flaked coconut

sweetened whipped cream

On the stove top or in the microwaved bring the coconut milk to a low boil.  Quickly whisk in the cornmeal until smooth and set aside.  Cornmeal will absorb the coconut milk while you are preparing the rest of the cake.

Remove husks from 3 ears Fresh Supersweet Corn and remove kernels from cob with a sharp knife.  It is easiest to use this type of setup:

Invert a small bowl in to a larger bowl and it is easy to cut off the kernels and then the bowl will catch them.  Break up any kernels that are stuck together with your fingers and set corn aside.  If you plan to make corn chowder in the near future, save the cobs as they make a great base for the soup.

In a seasoned 12″ cast iron skillet, combine butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Add Fresh Supersweet Corn and cook for two minutes, stirring gently.  Remove from heat and stir in coconut rum and set aside.

Peel and pit mango and cut in to slices.

Arrange mango slices in a  flower pattern in the Fresh Supersweet Corn mixture.

Cut a 1/4″ horizontal slice from the middle of  large navel orange and cut off the peel

Place peeled orange slice in the center of the mango slices to form a flower and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl, lightly beat together eggs, canola oil, vanilla extract and coconut extract.  Whisk in cornmeal and coconut milk mixture and mix until smooth.

Whisk mixture until smooth.

Gently whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour mixture over mangoes and corn and smooth with a knife if necessary.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until a tester inserted in to the center of the cake comes out clean and edges are lightly browned.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and invert on serving plate.

Because both the mangoes and the corn floated around a bit, I took a small knife and moved the corn to reveal the “petals” of the flower too, the mangoes.

Cake can be served warm or at room temperature, topped with a sprinkle of toasted coconut and a bit of sweetened whipped cream.

Serves 12.  This is a dense, rich cake with the sweetness of the corn, coconut and mango and the little bit of crunch of the toasted coconut.  If you make it, please let me know what you think—enjoy!

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Let me tell you, I am one lucky girl.  I get to do fun things and cook with great people and chefs that not everyone gets to do–and believe me, I appreciate the opportunities!

A little while back, I got the chance to tour the Steve Connolly Seafood facility in Boston–what an impressive operation–and even better than that the chefs cooked three delicious recipes that they shared with me to give to you right now.  The show with these recipes will air again this Friday at 4:30 and then again Sunday at 11:30 am on Cape Ann TV and then next week, another show with a new recipe and more of our tour.

These recipes are easy to make at home using readily available ingredients and fairly simple techniques. Trust me– you want to make these recipes and they will be a HUGE hit with your friends and family!  I took lots of photos on our visit so that you can see how the finished dishes should look.

Please let me know if you make these recipes and how they came out–and as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

And a HUGE thank you to Chef Michael and Chef Carlos for interrupting their busy schedules and sharing their delicious recipes with all of us and to David Coombs and his staff for showing us around–thanks a million to all of you!

ASIAN LOBSTER AND MELON SALAD

Lobster Meat, fresh

Diced ¾ inch……………………….1 cup

Honeydew Melon, ripe

Diced ¾ inch……………………….1/2 cup

Cantaloupe, ripe

Diced ¾ inch…………………..…..1/2 cup

Mango, ripe

Diced ¾ inch…………………..…..1/2 cup

Ginger , minced………………..………1 tsp

Orange zest, fine julienne………..……… 1 TBSP

Cilantro leaves…………………..……..1 TBSP

Mache or Baby  Spinach…………….3 oz.

Dressing:

Orange Juice…………………………1 oz.

Rice wine vinegar…………………..1 TBSP.

Canola or Peanut oil……………….1/2 cup

Sriracha sauce………………………..1/2 tsp.

Sea salt and black pepper…………to taste

For dressing:

Place orange juice, vinegar, Sriracha sauce, salt and pepper in a stainless steel bowl. With a wisk, blend in the oil until emulsified.

For the salad:

Toss the Mache or Spinach leaves with a little dressing and place on a platter. Put Lobster, Fruit, Ginger, Orange zest, and Cilantro in a stainless steel bowl. Add rest of the dressing, and toss  until coated. Put the Lobster Salad over the Greens, and garnish with edible flowers.   Serves 2

And here is another gorgeous and easy recipe–you can use halibut as Chef Carlos did or he said you can use any other firm fleshed white fish–just watch the cooking time if it is on the thinner side.

Nova Scotia Halibut with Roasted Corn and Tomato Salsa

2 Halibut portions skls/bnls…………………….2  each,  9 oz.

Olive oil………………………………………………….2 TBSP

For Chive sauce:

Unsalted Butter…………….….4 TBSP

Shallots, minced……………….2 TBSP

White Wine, dry…..……….….2 TBSP

Chives, chopped……………….2 TBSP

Sea salt and Black Pepper….to taste

Salsa

Corn, shucked …………………………….…….2 ears

Olive Oil……………………………………………2 tsp

Plum Tomatoes, peeled & seeded………..2

Chives, chopped……………………………..…2 TBSP

Sea salt and Black pepper…………………..to taste

For the Salsa:

Slice off the corn from the cobs and break up the kernels.

Dice tomato into  ½ inch pieces and put in stainless steel bowl with chives.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan until hot, and add corn, tossing and pan

roast until lightly caramelized, and add to bowl with tomatoes.

Season with salt and pepper and mix together. Reserve.

Wipe pan clean for next step.

For the Halibut: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Season Halibut with salt and pepper. Add oil to pan until hot and place Halibut in pan flesh side down and pan sear until nicely browned. With a non stick spatula, turn Halibut over gently onto skin side, cover fish with foil, place pan in oven, turning temperature down to 350 degrees and cook 10 minutes until just done. Do not overcook.Remove fish to warm plate and cover with foil. Return pan to stovetop, add 2 TBSP butter and shallots and sauté until transparent. Add wine and reduce by half, add remaining butter, and swirl in the pan. Add chives at end, correct seasoning and set pan aside off the burner.

Plating:

Place large spoonful of Corn Salsa to one side of plate. Place Halibut on plate leaning on the salsa, spoon butter sauce over the fish, and garnish with fresh chives. Serves 2

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Good Morning Friends:

I have a contest entry in the LeCreuset True Memories contest and need your support–here’s the link to the post and for those of you who noticed how cool it is the AM and started thinking that a nice pot of soup might be nice in the near future, here’s the recipe for the soup I referred to in the entry–If you would be so kind as to go and vote for my entry, in return I give you this delicious and healthy soup recipe~:

http://www.brickfish.com/Pages/PhotosAlbums/PhotoView.aspx?qsi=48792157

Hearty Southwestern Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
4 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
2 teaspoon chili powder, divided
8 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons jarred or homemade roasted garlic
3-14.5 oz cans Diced Tomatoes
2-14.5 oz cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
1-14.5 oz box whole wheat or high fiber white pasta
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt & pepper to taste plus additional salt for pasta water
Reduced fat sour cream (optional)
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)

On the stovetop in a large Dutch, combine onions and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Cook slowly over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and beginning to caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Add roasted garlic, red and green peppers and 2 teaspoons cumin and cook until peppers are softened, about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

With an immersion or conventional blender, puree cooked vegetable mixture until smooth.  Return puree to the pan and add chicken broth, Diced Tomatoes, Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes and Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies and stir to combine.  Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

While soup is simmering, sprinkle remaining cumin and chili powder over chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper.  Saute chicken with one tablespoon olive oil until cooked through, about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of breasts.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes and cut into cubes.

Meanwhile, in another large pot filled with salted boiling water, cook entire box of pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

After soup is simmered, add diced chicken, pasta and fresh cilantro.  Reheat if necessary and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top individual servings with one tablespoon sour cream and fresh cilantro springs, if desired.

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Hey!  It’s my big chance to show off my hometown, Essex, Massachusetts!  Here is my contribution to the “Loving Local-Celebrating the Flavors of Massachusetts Blogathon.”

Thank you Tinky from In Our Grandmother’s Kitchen (http://www.ourgrandmotherskitchens.com/) for putting this all together and to the Massachusetts Farmer’s Markets (http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/FMFM_Main.aspx) for helping to keep the local markets that we all enjoy this time of year alive and well.  I hope you enjoy this little slice (no pun intended) of my neck of the woods.

Clam chowder, fried clams, clam cakes–you name it, I love it!   I grew up on steamers–those delightfully delicious little soft shelled bivalves that live in the mudflats on the river in my home town, Essex, Massachusetts–this picture above was taken at high tide but trust me, under all of that water live some delicious little clams!

I come from a family of great cooks and happy eaters.  Some of my best memories are watching my Grandparents cook and once in a while being able help out.  Pies, birthday cakes, soup, coleslaw, baked beans…..you name it, they made it.  My Mom, Sue Lufkin, is no slouch in the kitchen either and she has taught me so much of what I know and love about cooking and keeping it local.  From fresh fish, to lobsters, steamers and whipping up a gorgeous salad from the farm stand with homemade dressing that features herbs from her little pots outside I owe what cooking expertise I have  to my Mom.

Here are three recipes using locally source clams that I am thrilled to share with you today–I hope you enjoy them and will come and visit Cape Ann some day to sample these delicacies in our local restaurants.

Anyway, on my little local cable TV show, Inspired Cooking,  I have been lucky enough to cook with wonderful chefs and amazing home cooks.  One of my favorite chefs is Gail Mathews of The Emerson Inn in Rockport, MA.  Gail makes a lovely clam chowder that, in a word is not thin, not thick but “velvety.”  Here is Gail’s recipe for her Essex Clam Chowder.

Essex Clam Chowder

Ingredients:
I Large package of Salt Pork  (scored)
2 Lg. Vidalia Onions (chopped)
I Gallon fresh shucked Essex Clams (these are chopped sea clams)
1 gallon clam juice
3 pds of red potatoes (diced)
1 ½ quarts heavy cream
1 pound butter
Wondra Flour
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Start by scoring your salt pork, so when you sautéed it with the onions the juice will render out. Place the salt pork & onions in a large pot on med heat, sauté the salt pork for approx 3-4 minutes.

Adding 1 cup of clam juice so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Continue to cook a few minutes till the onions are translucent.
Then add 3 pds of diced potatoes to pan covering with the remaining clam juice, bring to a low boil, cooking them till they are tender but not mushy adding fresh ground pepper.


When they are done add the clams, butter a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Shut off the pot and stir the ingredients together, then cover and let set for about 10 minutes, this will allow the butter to melt and the clams to cook slowly so they do not get to tough.

Then to finish the chowder add the cream and turn the chowder back on, bring it back up to a simmer. Then wisk in the Wondra flour slowly to thicken to your liking. Remember the chowder will continue to thicken as you cook it.

Finish with fresh ground pepper. Serve with cracker or bread croutons.

ENJOY!!!  (and yes, Gail made little bread croutons that she cut out with a fish shaped cookie cutter…..gorgeous…and then garnished with a little fresh chives)

So, there is Gail’s recipe.  Now, here is mine.  I Gail makes hers with chopped clams and I prefer to make mine with steamers–left over cooked steamers from the previous night’s dinner (if you have any left) and I also reserve the clam broth and strain it through cheesecloth to use in the chowder.  This is the way my Grandmother made it and this is the way I make it–I don’t have any fancy pictures to accompany mine–I was snapping away while Gail was cooking–I need someone do to the same next time I make chowder.

Laurie Lufkin’s Essex Clam Chowder

2 pounds Maine Red potatoes, diced to ½”
8 cups clam broth
1 bay leaf
4 oz salt pork, cut into very small cubes
1 teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
¼ cup butter
2 cups diced sweet onions
3-12 oz cans evaporated milk
3 cups whole milk
1 pint half and half
5 cups cooked steamer clams, shucked and rinsed (black “necks” removed if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, bring potatoes and clam broth to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender but not soft.  Set up a large bowl with a colander inside and strain the potatoes, reserving the broth.  Set aside.

In the same pot, sauté finely diced salt pork over medium low heat until fat is rendered out and the bits of meat left in the pot are deep brown and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to lift any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan while cooking.  With a slotted spoon, remove crispy bits and reserve, leaving drippings in the pan.  Reserve crispy pork for garnish.  Add onions, thyme and ½ teaspoon black pepper.  Cook until onions are transparent, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Increase heat to medium high and add the clam broth.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and add evaporated milk and butter.  Stir to combine.  Add whole milk and half and half and clams re-warm chowder to serving temperature.  Re-season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle with crispy salt pork.

Now, how about some Clam Cakes?   Clam cakes you ask?  What the heck are those?   Well, in other parts of the planet you might call them clam hush puppies, or clam fritters but here in Essex, they are Clam Cakes.  Not too much more than fried spheres of seasoned batter with bits of chopped clams, fried to a golden brown, lightly salted and then eaten dipped in delicious tartar sauce…ahhh….heaven……

Here’s my recipe.  If this one sounds at all familiar to you it is because you might have seen me two years ago on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown with Guy Fieri.  I proudly represented my hometown and although I didn’t win the big money I am still, to this day, friends with all of my competition and would not trade the experience for the world.  Here is the recipe for my clam cakes and tartar sauce.  In the picture below my tartar sauce is served in a clam shell that I brought with me, on plates made by my friend Diane (also from Essex) using clams dug by my Dad’s friend Richard O’Leary, of Essex.  Now that’s keeping it local!

Only In Essex Clam Cakes with Traditional New England Tartar Sauce

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
½ evaporated milk
1 ½ cup clam broth
2 cups cooked “steamer” clams, drained and chopped
2 cups canola oil or more, according to manufacturer’s instructions on deep fryer

For the Sauce:
Traditional Tartar Sauce
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1/4 cup dill pickles, diced
3/4 c mayonnaise
1 tablespoon pickle juice
Mix all in a small bowl and serve with clam cakes.

In a deep fryer or on the stove top in a deep skillet, preheat oil to 375 degrees Farenheit.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Fold in eggs, half & half and clam broth until thoroughly mixed.  Stir in clams and mix well.

Dip a spoon into the oil, then take a two tablespoon sized scoop of the fritter mixture and carefully drop into oil.  Turn the cake over to brown on both sides when the first side is browned.  Fritters should be cooked through and browned in three to five minutes. Remove with skimmer and drain on brown paper bag.  Re-season with additional salt if desired.

Serve with the tartar sauce and enjoy!

This recipe makes 18+ small clam cakes and takes about 30-45 start to finish to fry them all, depending on the size of the fryer and how many you can cook at one time.


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Sometimes when I work on creating a new recipe I go back to my favorite flavors.  This Spring I made potato leek soup about four or five times, experimenting with creamy vs. not, thyme vs. marjoram or another herb, etc. etc. because I love a delicious, warming soup that satisfies and is simple to make.  So, when asked to come up with a recipe for a great product, the adorable and delicious Tasteful Selections Purple Passion Potatoes I knew right where to go…..but not to a soup but to pulling the flavors out of my favorite soup and adding one of my favorite seafood, shrimp (I was thinking scallops would be delicious too, or maybe small pieces of another fave–salmon–but that is for another post I guess..).

It would be a toss up most days to try to tell you my favorite food—but potatoes, shrimp and pizza are right at the top of the list.  So here is my creation that combines all three:

Shrimp Topped Creamy Potato Leek Pizza

7 Tasteful Selections Purple Passion potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced leeks

3 cloves garlic minced

4 oz (about 8 cups) baby spinach

4 oz cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons milk

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried

1-one pound ball pizza dough (store bought or home made)

Cornmeal for sprinkling pizza peel

18-20 large (26/30 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

8 oz shredded four cheese blend pizza cheese

1 tablespoon  fresh chives, roughly chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Move oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.  Place pizza stone on rack and preheat oven and stone to 475 degrees F.

In a small pot, cover Tasteful Selections Purple Passion Potatoes with cold water.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to water and bring to a boil.  Boil approximately 7 minutes until potatoes are fork tender and drain.  Set aside and allow to cool to the touch before slicing in to 1/4” rounds.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, combine olive oil, leeks and garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste and saute over medium low heat until translucent, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add spinach to hot pan and saute until wilted.  Remove from pan and set aside until cool enough to handle.  When cool, squeeze out excess liquid until nearly dry and set aside.

In the meantime, in a small bowl combine cream cheese, milk and thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle a pizza peel (or the back side of a rimmed baking sheet if peel is unavailable) with cornmeal to cover and stretch pizza dough to form the crust.

Spread crust with cream cheese mixture and top with sautéed leek and garlic mixture.

Layer on the drained spinach 3/4 of the cheese and then artfully place the sliced Tasteful Selections Purple Passion Potatoes on top of the cheese.  Dot the surface of the pizza with the shrimp and sprinkle on the remaining cheese*.  Season pizza with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake on preheated stone for 16-18 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.  Remove from oven onto peel and sprinkle on chopped chives.  Allow pizza to rest for 5 minutes before cutting in to 8 slices.

*Cook’s note:  after making this pizza as written, then next time I make it–and I will make it again because it is really delicious–I will place the pizza in the oven for about 8 minutes before adding the shrimp and the last bit of cheese  to ensure that the shrimp does not overcook.

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It was one of those rare cool days a few weeks ago (believe me, I am not complaining) that I was lucky enough to go back in to the kitchen of Chef Clark Dexter while he whipped up another one of his specialties “Saco River Boys Seafood Chowder.”  Clark and a large group of his friends make a yearly “man’s trip” to the Saco River for a canoe trip (no girls allowed) and Clark is in charge of all things culinary–clearly, he has smart friends for putting him in charge–and we are all fortunate that he is sharing this wonderful recipe with us.

I have had a lot of seafood chowder in my life and much like Gail “The Chowder Lady” Mathews’ clam chowder, it is one of the best chowders I have ever tasted.  Rich and decadent and full of lobster, shrimp and whole steamers I was in Heaven.  We topped it off my my own recipe of homemade oyster crackers and it was a meal fit for royalty, or a large group of men in canoes, or both.

So, without further delay, here are both recipes–and thank you again Clark for welcoming me back in to your kitchen!

SACO RIVER BOYS SEAFOOD CHOWDER

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb. Small Soft Shell Clams (Steamers) (soak in cold water for ½ hr.)
1 ½ cups water
3/4 lb. 16-20 Shrimp (shelled and cut in half)
3/4 lb Sea Scallops (cut med. To small)
3/4 lb Fresh Lobster Meat (cut med. To small)
½ cup Salt Pork (diced small)
½ Stick of Butter
1 Med. Onion (sliced)
2 Med Potatoes (cubed and cooked until soft then cooled in cold water, drained and set aside)
1 cups of flour
16 Oz. Of Clam Juice
24 Oz.  Milk
12Oz.  Light Cream
White Pepper

(1) Put salt pork in a pan on med. To low heat and render until salt pork is nice and brown. Strain pork scraps from liquid and set aside pork scraps. Add butter and onions to salt pork liquid and cook until onions are  soft. Add flour to this to make your roux (roux is equal parts of fat and flour cooked). Cook this while stirring for about three min. to set the roux.

(2) Put clams in a pan with water and cooked covered until clams open. Remove clams from the liquid and shell and clean. Add 16 oz. Of clam juice to this liquid, add shrimp and scallops and cook until just firm. Remove shrimp and scallops and set aside. Bring this liquid to a boil and add roux, Whip for about two min. this makes your base.

(3) Stir in milk and cream while cooking on low heat. Add potatoes, clams, lobster meat, shrimp and scallops, heat until nice and warm. Chop half of the pork scraps that you had set aside (very small) and add with a little white pepper.

(4) Serve with Laurie Lufkin’s home made oyster crackers. ENJOY

Homemade Oyster Crackers

2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 2/3 cup cake flour
1 ½ cup all purpose flour, plus more for rolling surface
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling if desired
¼ cup cold shortening, cut in to cubes
¼ cup cold butter, cut in to cubes
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar.  Stir to combine and set aside until mixture is frothy and yeast is activated.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine cake flour, all purpose flour and salt.  Process for one minute to mix and aerate.  Add shortening and butter and pulse until small crumbs form.  With processor running, pour yeast mixture through feed tube.  Process until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead in a little addition flour if dough is sticky.  Roll out the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle.  Fold in the long sides of the dough to the center and repeat with the ends to form a smaller rectangle.  Roll out thin again and repeat this procedure two more times.  Roll out one final time to a 9” x 11” rectangle. Brush top of dough very lightly with milk and sprinkle very lightly with additional salt if desired.  With a pastry cutter or knife, cut crackers in to ½” – 1” squares as desired.  Place crackers 1” apart on prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.  Slide parchment off of baking sheet and allow to cool.  Serve with seafood chowder.  These can be made days ahead if necessary as they keep well stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

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