There's something about cooking from scratch that grounds me. It reminds me that the most basic things in life are simple and take effort and time. Growing up in a family of great cooks, I spent a lot of time standing beside the stove watching my mom, pestering for ingredients and quantities. She taught me that good food can take no time at all or can take a really long time. Both, if made with love, are the best. She also taught me that you don't always need to know the exact amounts. Life is about guessing and making it up as you go along. I've decided to post the recipes that I play with and create on my own.
Tonight's dinner was Clam Chowder. I searched online for different recipes, but no single recipe appealed to me. I know I wanted a cream-based chowder (New England/ Boston style) and I knew it had clams in it, but I needed more info. After looking at about 6 recipes, I decided that I pretty much already knew what to do and set out to create my own recipe.
Lindsay's Clam Chowder:
6 large slices bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped finely
1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped finely
1 med-lg carrot, peeled and chopped finely
2 tbls. butter
2 1/2 tbls. flour
3 cups water
1 bottle clam juice
2 cans whole baby clams
2 med potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1/4 cubes
1- 1 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tblsp black pepper
1 cup cream
1. Cook bacon in pan. Halfway through cooking, remove half the bacon and set aside. Finish cooking remaining bacon until crisp. Set aside on a plate with paper towel to drain.
2. In large pot, melt butter on med. Add celery, onion and carrot. Cook until tender.
3. Add flour to pot, mixing thoroughly and cooking for 2 or 3 minutes until clear and thick.
4. Add water, clam juice, clams, potatoes, thyme and black pepper. Also add the half cooked bacon that was set aside.
5. Turn down to med-low heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.
6. Add cream and bring back to a simmer. If you prefer your chowder thicker (like I do) you can add a mixture of cornstarch and hot water (mixed well) to the simmering chowder. It should thicken fairly quickly. Be sure to add slowly and not too much or it will become solid rather than creamy! Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
7. Serve with a sprinkling of crisp bacon.
Voila! Homemade creamy goodness. Don't ask me for nutritional information as I couldn't tell you. All I know is that clams are a great source of protein and a little cream in your life won't kill you. You could use milk if you really, really have too. I'll try not to hold it against you.
The beauty about a great recipe is that it's always open for interpretation and tweaking. I know I'll be playing with this one for awhile. If you make it and have suggestions, let me know.
I've been playing with the idea of a little bit lemon juice to brighten it up...