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Monday, February 23, 2009

Cooking for the Soul: Edition 1- Clam Chowder

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...


Lighthouse Prayer Line said...
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Mrs. Gamgee said...

Oooooo... clam chowder... yum! Two questions: How many servings did it make? Can you freeze it? My hubby would be over the moon happy if I could make him some clam chowder!

The Steadfast Warrior said...

Should make about 5-6 servings (depending on how much you like in your bowl). You should be able to freeze it, but thaw it before heating and heat on low very slowly (don't let it boil) so that the cream doesn't break. If it does, whick it well and add a little more cream or milk to bind it again.

Mrs. Gamgee said...

Thanks! I haven't made too many cream soups... I'm going to have to try that next.

The Steadfast Warrior said...

"whick it well" lmao!! I can't type... naturally, I meant whisk !

Andrea said...

Sounds great! I wish I was brave enough to just create my on recipes!


Soralis said...

Sounds great!


sassy said...

Oh I'm hungry now ! That recipe sounds great !


JamieD said...

You are so right - I take so much more pride in something I have made from scratch. My first thought is always, "Look Mom!! I did it!!"

Cara said...

Clam chowder is one of the best memories I have!! As a youngster summering on Cape Cod I "taste tested" all the chowdah at every resturant and made an "official" certificate of "bestness".

Ahhh- I still do love a big bowl of fab. chowder!


ICLW - but always

corrin said...

I work in the food industry (cookbooks, photography, marketing) and clam chowder is one of my favorite recipes.

KimboSue said...

mmmm, sounds yummy!


Dora said...

Mmmmmm! Sounds yummy! If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, their frozen roasted corn would be a great smokey addition.

caitsmom said...

Stopped by for ICLW. I truly admire those who get artistic with their cooking. I love what you said about making it with "love" no matter what!