I like My Chowder Red

ClamChowderPlated small

I love seafood!  Cooked or raw, I love it all, so I was pissed when I developed an allergy to one of my favorites, scallops!  Lobster, crab, & clams are my first choices if available, so, thankfully, that was the only shellfish that I’m affected by or it would definitely be #HoustonWeHaveAProblem!

Because I actually like to taste the clams, and don’t want to have to dig through a murky sea of potatoes in search of a few scattered slivers, there are few places, outside of Ivar’s clemin Seattle & Atlantic Fish Company in Boston, where I choose the cream based New England Clam Chowder that most people are familiar with.  If given the choice, I much prefer the spicier, tomato, broth based, Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Because few places on the west coast offer a decent version of the chowder I prefer, I found a couple of recipes that I was able to pull parts from to create one that’s both satisfying and can be made with minimal effort.

Manhattan Inspired Clam Chowder

  • 48 little neck clams
  • 2 – 8 oz bottles clam juice
  • Quarter pound bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Pinch dried, crushed red pepper
  • 2 celery stalks, quartered & chopped
  • 2 carrots, quartered & chopped
  • 2 large white potatoes, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 Cup dry white wine (Chardonnay is fine)
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 TBLS chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
  1. Wash the clams well under cold running water in colander.
  2. Place clams in a large pot, and add enough water to cover clams by 2 inches.
  3. Cover the pan and place over high heat.
  4. When the water comes to a boil, give the pan a good shake.
  5. Turn the heat to low, and cook clams another 30 seconds or so.
  6. Remove from the heat, and take out all the clams that have opened, using a slotted spoon. If any clams remain closed, put back on the heat, with the lid on the pan, and cook another 1-2 minutes.
  7. Remove remaining clams, reserve, discard any clams that have not opened.
  8. Pour the clam juice through a fine strainer and measure.  If you have more than 4 cups, simmer to reduce to 4 cups.
  9. Put the bacon into a large, heavy saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the bacon begins to brown. Pour off excess fat, leaving behind the bacon and about 3 tablespoons of fat in the pan.
  10. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and crushed red pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes.
  11. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up all of the brown bits
  12. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute more.
  13. Tie the parsley sprigs, fresh thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add to the pot.
  14. Add the reserved clam cooking liquid, the bottled clam juice, the potatoes, and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  15. While chowder is coming to a boil, remove clams from their shells and chop coarsely. Add to chowder and reduce heat to low.
  16. Cook over low heat for another 5 minutes; check to make sure potatoes are soft and chowder is well seasoned.
  17. Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Divide among warm soup bowls and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

For a fancy touch you can leave a few clams in the shell and float a couple in the bowl.  Serve with crusty sourdough bread and butter and a salad for a hearty meal. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

You have a few wine options with this chowder:

  • (White) Partially-Oaked Dry California Chardonnay pairs nicely with the crushed red pepper, potatoes, thyme and onion in this dish
  • (White) Unoaked Medium-dry German Riesling is a nice compliment to the tomatoes, onions, peppers and potatoes in this dish
  • (Red) Oaked Italian Barbaresco pairs beautifully with the peppers, potatoes, onions and celery in this dish

WesterlyChardWesterly Wines 2014 Bentrock ChardonnayRated a 93 by Wine Enthusiast: Available at The Original Wine Club

DrHeidemannsBernkastelAuslese2016Dr. Heidemanns Bernkastel Auslese Riesling – Rated a 93 by Wine Enthusiast:  Available at Totalwine.com for $19.99.

RivataBarbarescoRivata Barbaresco – Intense, cherry spiced, medium bodied, and available at Totalwine.com for $21.99. #GirlsGoneWine

Amaretto Poached Peaches

slow-cooker-amaretto-poached-peaches-03082016
PHOTO: Chelsea Kyle, PROP STYLING: Alex Brannian, FOOD STYLING: Dawn Perry

I’m planning a weekend dinner party and love having a make ahead dessert that allows me to spend as little time during the party in the kitchen as possible.  Considering that it’s peak peach season, and very few people have a strong aversion for them, I’d consider it  prime time to dig into my favorite peach recipes at www.californiagirlsgonewine.

This one is fast, can be made ahead, and only tastes better the longer it sits before being reheated!  The very best thing about this recipe is you have two choices when you make it:  Hands on by cooking it on the stove top or hands off by cooking it in the slow cooker!  For what it’s worth, I prefer the more focused control over the end product that comes from using the stove top method.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

  • 6 peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup Amaretto
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBLS honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cold water OR 3 tsp arrowroot + 2 tsp cold water
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

For Stove Top:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Heat peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in a medium pot over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat until 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
  5. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  6. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  7. Return peach mixture just to a boil.
  8. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then remove from heat.
  9. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

For Slow Cooker:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Toss peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until peaches are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  4. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  5. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then turn slow cooker off.
  6. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  7. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

**Tip  You can save yourself time during your dinner party by scooping your ice cream into your serving bowls and putting them into your freezer before the party starts.  #GirlsGoneWine

Note that I made a few changes & notes to the original linked recipe:

  • They didn’t specify whether to peel the peaches or not, but the photo shows unpeeled peaches;
  • The Amaretto (almond liqueur) you use matters to the amount you use.  If you ci-disaronno-originale-amaretto-02f22ebe37e1d171are using Amaretto Disaronno use the amount shown in the recipe.  If you are using another brand you may want to slightly reduce the amount as some tend to have a more pronounced almond flavor.  Adjust according to your taste;
  • I found the recipe to be “too saucy” and the sauce to be too thin the first time I made it so I made 2 changes: I increased the peaches from 4 to 6 and added a thickening agent to the sauce (cornstarch or arrowroot).  In this case, use cornstarch or arrowroot to maintain your shiny sauce;
  • I read the reviews of the original recipe, on www.epicurious.com, and agreed that it needed just a touch more honey, so I added an additional tablespoon; and
  • I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon to compliment the peaches, and tame the spice of the red peppers and the peppery basil.

This recipe served 8 and was a definite crowd pleaser!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi

creamymushroomspinachgnocciThis recipe is #FastFillingandFlavorful which makes it a perfect weeknight choice.

This dish serves 4-6 and will pair well with a dry white wine like this 93 Point $16, 2015 Casablanca Valley Arboleda Chardonnay from Chile or this 90 Point $22, 2017 La Marea Kristy Vineyard Albariño out of Monterey County on the Central Coast of California.  Open one of these bottles of wine, add a crisp green salad and you’ve got an elegant #MidWeekFeast.

Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi with Creamy Parmesan White Wine Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dashes Italian seasoning
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 1 pound uncooked potato gnocchi
  • 1 generous handful baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste
  1. Add the olive oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
  2. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the Dijon mustard and white wine. Let it cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the cream and gnocchi. Wait until the sauce just starts to boil again, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spinach, cover the pan again, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. You can add a chopped up cooked chicken breast to this when you are adding the spinach into the sauce if you want to add meat.
  7. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt & pepper. Give it a taste; gnocchi should be soft. If not, continue to cook for another few minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with more Parmesan cheese grated over top if desired.

For weeknight cooking I am always looking for recipes that combine three criteria:

  1. No exotic or expensive ingredients I have to search high and low for
  2. Ready in thirty minutes or less
  3. Can be made with meat or without

This recipe fit all of these plus two others that make it a winner in my book:

  1. When a main dish recipe can be doubled so it can be a side dish or a lunch later in the week
  2. When one of the ingredients is wine or the finished product naturally pairs with wine #GirlsGoneWine approved! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Salmon in Parchment

If you are always on the lookout for quick and easy weeknight recipes, and don’t stop here first, do what I often do when I am looking for inspiration and follow Food Porn on Twitter.

Today there was a quick and easy to follow video for Salmon Baked in Parchment that will help you get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes!

4salmonrecipes

  • Pesto Salmon
  • Teriyaki Salmon
  • Lemon Dill Salmon
  • Garlic Butter Salmon

 

I’ve done the lemon dill salmon and it came out perfect.  Next on my list to try is the pesto salmon.  This girl loves pesto and this girl loves salmon!  Let’s face it, #ThisGirlLovesToEat 

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active community page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

slow-cooker-chicken-cacciatoreNobody likes to worry about cooking dinner after getting home from work on Monday night.

The weekend was a non-stop whirlwind of activity.  Kids games, recitals, activities, parties, chores, and maybe some adult beverages have left you with no energy to plan a meal after your first day back at the grind of the work week.

Thankfully Cooking Light Magazine has come to the rescue with a YouTube video to guide us all through a “fix it and forget it” healthy and hearty weeknight meal that will bring the whole family to the table and make you look like a SUPERSTAR!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 8 (6-oz.) boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  1. Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in a 6-quart electric slow cooker, stirring with a whisk
  2. Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms)
  3. Add chicken thighs to stock mixture; submerge in liquid
  4. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours
  5. Remove chicken
  6. Add oil and pasta to slow cooker
  7. Cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done
  8. Stir in spinach until wilted
  9. Divide pasta mixture among 8 shallow bowls
  10. Top evenly with chicken
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

mushroom-and-chicken-risottoI am a sucker for a thick, creamy risotto, but hate the time it takes to stand by the stove and stir in the liquid it takes to get it that way. This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine satisfies my need for a speedy prep without sacrificing taste or the texture I love!  An added bonus, for anyone who has an intolerance, it’s Gluten Free!

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
  2. In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn’t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, the Parmesan, and the parsley and heat through. Serve the risotto with additional Parmesan.

SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING

The sweetness here will be nicely mirrored by an off-dry, aromatic white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer from California.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood