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West Texas Manhattan Clam Chowder
By Sandy Davis
I was in the Big Apple this past week and, as usual, while I am there I try to procure and consume as much seafood as possible. It is so fresh there and the choices are myriad. I went to my local seafood store and saw some terrific looking minced clams with a lot of natural juice. However, I was in the mood for something spicy to combat the cold winds of New York. Creamy New England style clam chowder just wouldn't fit the bill, so ... I found a stray can of Rotel tomatoes lurking in my cabinet from goodness knows when and some Tabasco... and I kept thinking of those clams. Then it hit me: Manhattan Clam Chowder with a Texas twist; and a pan of cornbread. I was off to the races. The whole idea couldn't be more perfect for a cold New Year's Eve meal with a couple of old friends.
I secured the clams after barely escaping the busy seafood market on the afternoon of New Year's Eve. Everyone there was buying lobster. I bought one pound of clams and they were only five bucks. Cheap, granted, compared to lobster, but once I started cooking, I couldn't have found anything better to ward off the cold and ring in the new year. We ate like kings!
So here's what I did:
4 oz. bacon, chopped finely
1/3 cup olive oil
-Brown the bacon in the olive oil until almost crisp, then add the following:
1 white onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced coarsely
1/2 cup celery, sliced thinly
1/2 carrots, sliced thinly
-Saute until all the veggies turn soft and slightly brown, then add:
Two heaping tablespoons of flour
-Stir until a smooth paste forms, then add:
2 8 oz. bottles of clam juice
2 cups canned chicken broth
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can Rotel tomatoes
2 teaspoons old bay seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
drops of Tabasco, to taste
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced between 1/4 and 1/2 inch
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
(Hint: keep extra chicken broth or clam juice handy in case the soup needs to be thinned.)
-Simmer until the potatoes are completely soft, and stir in:
2 cups minced clams with juice
-Bring back to simmer and immediately turn off the heat and cover for no more than five minutes. The trick here is not to boil or overcook the clams - they will become tough and chewy. You want them to be tender, moist, and flavorful.
-Stir in a generous handful of chopped scallions or parsley, or both. Cilantro would be tasty here as well. Serve immediately with hot cornbread and your favorite white or red wine! I promise they all will be back for seconds. Should feed for with some leftover for lunch the next day! Happy New Year and Enjoy!
Start your new year right by including whole grains in your diet. Quinoa is an ancient grain from South America that is a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids as well as a good source for calcium, phosphorus and iron. If you are considering cutting back on your meat intake, quinoa is a great food to add to your diet. Enjoy this Tex-Mex influenced salad as a side dish or as a lunch entree with soup.
Toasted Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Arugula and Avocado
1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lime, juice only
2 oz light olive oil
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
1 bunch green onions
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can 15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh arugula leaves
Toast raw quinoa in a hot skillet over medium/high heat. Keep quinoa moving by shifting skillet back and forth over heat. When quinoa starts to turn golden and â€śpopâ€ť. Remove from heat. Pour cold water over quinoa and rinse thoroughly. Put quinoa, vegetable broth, cumin and cayenne in small sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
While quinoa cooks, put lime juice, garlic and olive oil in large mixing bowl.Â Add green onions, corn, beans and cilantro. When quinoa is cooked, allow to cool then toss into bowl. Toss well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve chilled with fresh arugula leaves, and sliced avocado.