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January 2014

Shortcut Manhattan Red Clam Chowder

Manhattan clam chowder1 

Although New England Clam Chowder (the white creamy version) is probably more popular, Manhattan Clam chowder is equally delicious. More like an Italian soup, this tomato based clam chowder makes a great winter dish.  Traditional recipes often require cooking fresh clams and using the cooking broth in the chowder (which is fine if you have the time) but I find that using canned clams and bottled clam juice makes this recipe more manageable, without sacrificing taste or quality. Bal Harbor clam juice is available in most grocery stores and has great flavor. It’s made from steaming whole, premium clams and is triple-filtered. (check out their products here - http://www.barharborfoods.com. This soup will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days, and the flavors continue to meld. Reheat over a low heat, and make sure not to boil the chowder, which can toughen the clams.

Download Shortcut Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe

5 cans clams (6 1/2 ounces each), chopped, juice drained and reserved

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

1 medium carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, chopped small

5 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup dry white wine

3 (8-ounce) bottles Bar Harbor clam juice

1 ¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large bay leaf

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1. Heat the oil over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion, red pepper, carrot, and celery, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, thyme, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the wine and raise heat to high. Boil the wine until it reduces by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved canned clam juices, 3 bottles clam juice, potatoes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot. Simmer to release potato starch, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the tomatoes, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the reserved chopped clams and season with salt and pepper to taste; discard the bay leaf. (Chowder can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot.) Stir in parsley and ladle the chowder into individual bowls. Serve immediately.

My Favorite Corn Muffins

Corn muffins 3 

Corn muffins are so versatile, but many can turn out dry and tasteless. The sour cream in this recipe keeps them moist and tender every time. They’re perfect in the morning with some homemade jam, or serve them at dinner with Chili Con Carne or Chicken Tortilla Soup. To get the best corn flavor, I like to use Bob’s Red Mill Cornmeal. It comes in a variety of grinds. Fine will produce a tender muffin, while medium grind creates a bit more texture.  You can find Bob’s Red Mill products at most grocery stores or order from their website - http://www.bobsredmill.com

Download My Favorite Corn Muffins recipe

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)

1 cup fine or medium-ground, whole-grain yellow cornmeal (4 ½ ounces)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1. Place oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with papers and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to combine; set aside.

3. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl until well combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar to eggs; whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds; add melted butter in 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add half the sour cream and half the milk and whisk to combine; whisk in remaining sour cream and milk until combined.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; mix gently with rubber spatula until batter is just combined and evenly moistened. Do not over-mix. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter evenly among muffin cups, dropping it to form mound. Do not level or flatten surface of mounds.


5. Bake until muffins are light golden brown and skewer inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 18 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in tin 5 minutes; invert muffins onto wire rack, stand muffins upright, cool 5 minutes longer, and serve warm.


Bobs Red Mill Corn Meals

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup2

Chicken Tortilla Soup is a great choice during the winter months – hearty and packed with flavor with just enough heat to warm you on the coldest days. Using a store bought rotisserie chicken makes it quick to make, so it’s great for a weeknight meal.  On a recent trip to Mexico City, I discovered Epazote, a pungent herb that is commonly used in Mexico, especially in the Yucatán. The herb has a slightly tangy, almost lemony flavor, and is somewhat reminiscent of oregano. It is used both for flavor and supposedly for its ability to reduce the flatulence associated with bean dishes. I’ve included it in this recipe, and have also started adding it to my chili recipe, but it’s very hard to find in the US, so feel free to omit. (it is available to order from - Spice House)

Download Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe

Serves 8 To 10

Tortilla Strips

8 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Table salt


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine

1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped fine

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes

2 sprigs epazote, fresh or ½ teaspoon dried Epazote (optional)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

1 rotisserie chicken,

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5-ounce), drained

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons lime juice

Salt and pepper

Optional garnishes: avocado, cotija cheese, crumbled, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, salsa, chopped tomatoes, pickled red onion, minced jalapeno pepper

Tortilla Strips:

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Spread tortilla strips on rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until strips are deep golden brown and crisped, about 14 minutes, rotating pan and shaking strips (to redistribute) halfway through baking time. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to plate lined with several layers paper towels.


1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, (optional Epazote) and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add broth and shredded chicken to pot along with tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice. Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve:

1. Place portions of tortilla strips in bottom of individual bowls and ladle soup into bowls and add optional garnishes.