Friday, July 23, 2010

Clam Chowder

I absolutely love clam chowder. I first had it when we came to Canada in 2008 served with a huge corned beef and sauerkraut toasted sandwich. It was bliss.

I don't know why it took me so long to make it......but I'm so glad I did. It was a triumph. As with most of my recipes I adapted a good old fashioned recipe and put my own spin on it. Have a go and let me know what you think

Clam Chowder
I Large can of Clams in Juice (400g)
1 Cup chopped red onion
3 Cups small diced red potatoes
2 Cups of half and half cream
1Tbsp Butter plus some extra for sautéing
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Tbsp Dill chopped

In a large saucepan add a good knob of butter and melt over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté' until softened, then remove and set aside. Keeping the pan on the heat add the Tbsp butter and melt. Stir in the flour until you get a thick paste. Strain the clams and retain the juice. Add this juice slowly  into the flour paste and stir to blend them together making a thickish sauce. Add the diced potatoes and simmer with the lid on for 10 mins or until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally You may need to add some water or more clam juice if the stock gets too thick Once the  potatoes are tender return the onions to the pan and the clams. Mix well and then add the cream. Season with salt and pepper and dill. Simmer for a further 3-5 minutes. Then serve.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cherry Overload....Scones and Iced tea

Last week I bought half a pound of cherries from the farmers market and they seam to have lasted forever. They have been on several picnics with us and we have often been snacking on them so why so many left? Today that answer didn't matter.... they came into their own, making a wonderful drink and a sweet snack. Originally I had just planned to make scones with them but once stoned and chopped there were even more, so cherry iced tea came into play and I am so glad it did. Currently I'm sipping on a nice cool glass of the iced tea, mmm mmm.

I was surprised at how easy both recipes were. In total it took me half an hour to make both and that included baking times etc.

Cherry Scones
1/4 Cup of stoned chopped cherries
2 Cups of Self Raising Flour
30 grams Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Water
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Sugar
Brown sugar for sprinkling

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and sugar, then make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the water and milk. Using a knife, cut through the mixture until combined. Flour the work surface and kneed the dough until smooth (This should only take a few minutes.). Using your finger poke holes into the dough and add cherry pieces, turn the dough over and repeat. Roll the dough to a 2 cm thickness and cut into medium size pieces or use a cookie cutter (5 cm in diameter). Whisk the egg in a small bowl with a tablespoon of water. Dip the top of the scones into the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with brown sugar. In a preheated oven at 400 degrees bake the scones on a parchment lined tray for 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Et voila!!!

Cherry Iced Tea
1/2 Cup of Chopped Cherries
6 Regular Tea bags
3/4 Cups of Granulated Sugar
3 Cups Boiling Water
5 Cups Cold water.

In a large measuring jug add the cherries and tea bags. Pour in 3 cups of boiling water cover with clingfilm and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Once steeped, strain through a sift and discard the tea bags and cherries reserving the liquid. Add the sugar to the liquid and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved add the cold water and stir. Pour into jugs and allow to chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Serve over ice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sea asparagus salad

I spent Saturday morning at the most wonderful farmers market with my friends Allison and Janine. Stalls were abundant with fresh produce. There was huge bunches of bright colored beets, thousands of deep purple cherries, fresh green lettuces, aromatic herbs, plump garlic bulbs, tri-colored peppers and so much more beautiful produce. It was amazing and the best thing was that everything was so fresh. We wondered around the market picking up veggies and stopping  for the odd taste of homemade cheese and fresh fruit.

From the corner of my eye I saw a stall selling wild sea asparagus also known as samphire. I decided to buy one of the last remaining bags and try it with pan fried fish. Janine had told me all about white salmon that another vendor sold, so that got my taste buds going. Unfortunately there was no white salmon for sale but that didn't stop me from buying the samphire.

I had no idea how to cook the samphire so I asked the vendor  and he told me that I could pretty much do anything with it, from sauteeing it to steaming it. I trawled through the internet and decided to blanche the samphire and then dress it with olive oil and lemon juice. This would compliment the pan fried plaice (I was planning on serving) nicely. 

Sea Asparagus Salad (Serves 2)
1 Cup of Samphire
Olive Oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
Fresh cracked black pepper

Remove any tough stems from the samphire and wash thoroughly. Blanche for two to three minutes in simmering water. Strain. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice (to taste) and season with pepper. Serve immediately.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hollandaise Sauce (Italian Eggs benedict)

Oh my gosh!!! Yum yum yum. Having had a productive morning I was craving eggs for brunch. My first thought was scrambled eggs on toast. This then moved onto poached eggs on toast which quickly evolved into eggs Benedict with an Italian theme. I had Italian bread and plum tomatoes and some basil that definitely needed using up. My brain went into overdrive. I thought of making a warm mayonnaise with olive oil but soon decided on an adapted hollandaise sauce using white wine mustard and oodles of lovely butter. Traditionally hollandaise is made with egg yolks, lemon juice and butter. Had I have had lemon juice I would have used that but to be honest the mustard works a treat and I think I actually prefer it!!! It has a tangy and spicy taste.

Before making the sauce I prepared my butter cutting it into several small cubes. I cut way too much butter. I now have a bowl of cubed butter sitting in the fridge. I knew I had to prepare the butter beforehand as I know that making hollandaise can be quite daunting. There are many stories of the sauce splitting or the egg scrambling due to not whisking enough or using the wrong heat. I blocked these stories out of my head and went for it acting all confident. I added a small amount of boiling water to a small pan and had the stove on at a medium heat. A bowl went over the pan. In went the egg yolk and mustard and I began to whisk frantically but calmly. Cubes of butter were added two at a time and when they were nearly incorporated in went another couple of cubes. I knew that only one egg yolk could hold a certain amount of butter but for one person I wasn't too bothered. I added enough butter to create enough sauce to coat my poached egg. To be honest I didn't use as much butter as I thought I would. Had I been making sauce for more than one person I think I would use two egg yolks. The sauce took about 5-7 minutes to make, enough to toast my bread and poach my egg. I layered all my ingredients onto my toast and liberally poured the hollandaise over top.

The hollandaise was smooth, buttery and creamy and just what I needed to feed my craving. It was one of the best I have ever tasted. I even cleaned the bowl out using another piece of bread. I wasn't going to waste any of this golden emulsion.

Italian Eggs Benedict
Italian Bread Toasted
Plum Tomatoes Sliced
Basil Leaf
Poached Egg
Hollandaise Sauce

Layer tomatoes on the toast followed by the basil leave and poached egg. Pour over the hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise Sauce (for one)
1 Egg yolk
1/4 Tsp White Wine Mustard
Cubes of Butter

In a glass bowl whisk the egg yolk and mustard together. Place the bowl over a small pan of just simmering water (I used a medium heat) ensuring the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk in 2 cubes of butter at a time until nearly disappeared then add another two cubes and repeat until the sauce becomes thick and creamy and plentiful. You do really have to eyeball the amount of butter needed. It all goes by feel, look and taste. Season with salt and pour over eggs, vegetables or fish. Sprinkle with a small pinch of paprika.