January 6, 2013

Winnah, Winnah... Clams for Dinnah

It's a shame that clams are so expensive, because I really enjoy them. So they are definitely a once-in-a-while pleasure.

This recipe for sake-steamed clams with udon noodles, which we made last night, is fantastic.

We used fewer clams since it was only being made for two. I minced the ginger instead of slicing it and removing it before eating. To me, that just seems silly. But I really like ginger. I also minced the jalapeno. Finished it with scallion greens, but think cilantro would be even better.

And be careful if you enjoy some sake with the meal as well. That stuff can, eh, sneak up on you.

January 3, 2013

Bringing Lusty Back... With a Riff on an Oldie

Not sure if this is a new beginning for this poorly read blog, but seemed easier than posting a recipe to Facebook, about which I still have mixed feelings.

This is a riff on the carrot and leek soup I've been making for a few years now. This version, while a bit more complicated, is far more filling and interesting, and can just be enjoyable to look at before you begin eating.

The cardamom is replaced with ground fennel seed and a touch of nutmeg. And to make it eat more like a meal (was that the Hungry Man catch phrase?) it gets some simple turkey meatballs (an idea stolen from this season's Top Chef). And just for a little eye candy and flavor zing, it gets finished with a lemon & thyme flavored creme fraiche.

A good bit of approximations in this recipe. Go easy with things and adjust after it starts to come together.

  • 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel seed and quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 medium leeks, cleaned well and sliced cross-wise in half-inch slices'
  • 4-5 good-sized carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (quarter inch)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and white pepper
The turkey meatballs
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • third-cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • healthy pinch or two of salt and pepper 
Creme fraiche
  • Half cup of creme fraiche
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • salt and white pepper (if you've got the latter, otherwise black fine)
For the soup: In a large sauce pan, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel and nutmeg, stirring on and off for a minute or so. Add leeks, stir, and cover, stirring here and there, for 5 minutes. Add carrots and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, give a good stir and then add stock. You want the vegetables to be a little more than covered. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until the carrots are very tender. When tender, remove from the burner, let pan contents cool for about 10 minutes or so, and then puree very well, in batches, in a blender. You want the soup to be smooth. Return to pan, add a little stock if it's too thick (it's soup, not a puree), and taste for seasoning.

For the meatballs: Lightly combine ingredients (you could add a little garlic, other herbs, etc.) in a large bowl and then roll into small balls (think golf ball). Cook the meatballs in batches in a large oiled pan over medium heat or, probably easier, in a 400 degree oven on an oiled roasting pan for 15-20 minutes. You'll have more meatballs than you can use in the soup. Three meatballs per bowl of soup is sufficient for a good meal.

Creme fraiche: Mix ingredients well in a bowl. Could definitely go strong with the zest, maybe add a touch of cayenne for a little heat, use plain yogurt instead of creme fraiche, etc.

Bringing it together: Heat soup with meatballs in large sauce pan, ladle into bowl, drizzle a little (as in: not a lot!) creme fraiche mixture over top.