Pizza at Home with a Stellar Salad Class–No Special Equipment Needed

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I’m not the best pizza maker in the family; that honor goes to my son Sean, who makes the most delicious pizza I’ve ever eaten.  Since pizza is my favorite food, that’s saying a lot.  So if I can make good pizza at home, anyone can. I’ve taught or made pizza to a few folks including parents and kids over the years and they, in turn, have made it with family and friends as it’s a fun group project, though it’s simple for the solo cook as well. If you’ve ever wanted to make pizza, but are frightened off by words like yeast or wood-fire, this post is for you!

Food and health guru, writer Michael Pollan is fond of saying,

“Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.”

While pizza isn’t exactly junk food as it’s often full of good things, it is highly caloric for the nutrition available. It’s also really easy to chow down on it.  If you make it yourself, you’ll be careful about how much you eat because you had to make it! Try making the salad first and eating it while the pizza bakes. You’ll eat less pizza.  Do include the kids: get them in on the baking; they love to make pizza and you’ll add a great skill to their arsenal of abilities. To say nothing of the positive memories.

This pizza, based on a Tyler Florence recipe, makes 12 or 15 pieces –enough for 4 to 6 people–and goes from start of dough to ready-to-eat in about an hour and a half.  Maybe less.  The dough recipe makes enough for two pizzas, so you could be prepping a second while the first bakes if you have a crowd.  It uses no special equipment like a pizza stone or pizza peel. In fact, if you don’t have a pizza cutter (the little gizmo handle with a spiffy wheel at the end), you are not in trouble; a knife works fine and perhaps better. You’ll need a large bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a saucepan, a jellyroll or half-sheet pan (2 for $8.99 at COSTCO), and a stove with an oven.  If you have  a standing electric mixer like a Kitchen Aid, that will help make the dough, but if not, your hands and arms will work just as well and you won’t have to lift weights that day. I give directions for both methods. You can also pick up fresh dough from your local pizza place or the grocery store (check refrigerated section), but it’s just as fast and much cheaper to make it.

If you’re not in tonight’s class, try this at home and join us that way:

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Pie 101–Fresh Strawberry Pie for Memorial Day

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2 places left in the SUMMER SOUPS-NO COOKING! Cooking Class at Mountain High (formerly Shouse)  on Thursday, June 18:  5-8pm.  Come learn how to be cool in the kitchen!  Click above on CURRENT CLASSES for sign-up info. Can’t wait to cook with you.

Without going into nasty details, I’ve been sick on and off for over a month.  I’d just get over one misery only to encounter another. One I’m sure I brought on all by myself, another arrived via Dave and work (everyone’s had this), and the last was maybe bit of a rerun of it all because why in the world would I want a week in which I was well?  Continue reading

Rhubarb-Raspberry Almond Crisp or Stewed Rhubarb with Greek Yogurt

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IMG_7555There seem to be fruit people and chocolate people when we’re talking dessert.  You know who you are.  I, for instance, am definitely not crazy about apple pie. (I love fresh apples.)  I make a mean one and will have one small slice on the day it’s baked.  It then belongs to Dave, his Dad, Sean, or whoever else is a pie lover.  I love chocolate.  Dave’s never loved chocolate, though in the last few years he’s begun to eat some.  No longer are all the chocolate things in the house exclusively mine. At formal dinners when chocolate mousse or cake was served, both portions ended up in front of me; for years, he wouldn’t touch them.  Then one day, he began eating his chocolate dessert, leaving me in the dust.  He occasionally drinks a cup of decaf coffee, too.  I don’t know what’s happening to my world. The coffee pot has always been totally mine.

I’ll admit, though, that I’m crazy about rhubarb or pie plant, (which is now in season in Colorado) just as I am about cranberries.  The two have a lot in common when it comes to cooking and eating them.  Both are so rude, crude, and sour that they’re inedible without some sweetening and cooking.  Both are gorgeous, glorious, royalty red.  I adore either mixed with other fruits; apples do well as a companion for rhubarb and cranberries.

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  Last year, I made a much larger Rhubarb-Blueberry Crisp with cinnamon and oatmeal: recipe here.

And, of course, all berries happily couple with each.  Both of these red gems freeze perfectly with no great work.  Throw the cranberries in a heavy plastic bag and dip into them for a year for muffins.  Chop rhubarb in the spring, place just as it is in quart freezer containers, and you can have rhubarb-apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas Day brunch. Stewed rhubarb or cranberry sauce can be frozen in small or large amounts; I like the small containers for topping yogurt or ice cream:

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To stew rhubarb:  Heat 2 cups chopped rhubarb with 1/3 – 1/2 cup granulated sugar and water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook until tender–maybe 15 minutes.  Cool and place in two small freezer containers or serve on yogurt or ice cream. Also good on a peanut butter or a cream cheese sandwich. Makes about 4 small servings.  Can double or triple, though make sure and taste the liquid as it cooks to see if you’d like more sweetener. (Optional:  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for each 2 cups rhubarb.)  You can also make rhubarb sauce. Just continue to cook until the rhubarb is mushy and mash with a potato masher.

Since Colorado springs are long and complicated–often punctuated by big snow or ice storms–our spring crops come later than in the rest of the country; rhubarb and other true spring happinesses are only now showing up. Asparagus is at the market now late in May, and gorgeous birds, like this Western Tanager in my side yard, are now making nests or filling up before flying on…

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If you’re still into spring or just have some rhubarb (I notice the newest food magazines are all summery-grilling issues), enjoy a little crisp. There might not exist a faster baked dessert for your inner pie-lover:

RHUBARB-RASPBERRY ALMOND CRISP

6 servings

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 While vegetable gardening isn’t exactly possible up here on the mesa with our herd of daily deer, there are places in which things do grow. My Colorado rhubarb plant died while we lived in Saint Paul, so this crisp  is made from rhubarb bought at the store.  The cashier says, “Is this chard?”  I’ll plant a new patch this fall.

  • 4 cups trimmed rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups raspberries (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup each: all-purpose unbleached white flour, brown sugar, and granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter
  • Ice cream or whipped cream for serving, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack in the center of the oven.

To an ungreased 2-quart, oblong baking dish, add the rhubarb, raspberries, salt, and almond extract; toss. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together  the flours, sugars, cinnamon, and almonds.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until well combined — big crumbs — using a pastry cutter, your fingers, two knives, or pulsing slowly in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pour out the flour mixture on top of the rhubarb and raspberry mixture, spreading evenly.

Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 40-50 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Store totally cooled leftovers tightly wrapped on the counter for 2 days and then in the fridge for another 2 days. (Basic fruit desserts without cream or eggs needn’t be refrigerated. They are best warm or at room temperature.)

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Truth in Recipes:  The basic idea and proportions for my crisp came from an old ’70’s BETTY CROCKER cookbook, which appears periodically as a much-loved guest in my blog. I hope you’ve just such a good old dependable cookbook in your kitchen arsenal.  I’ve jacked the basic crisp up with the berries, the almonds and almond extract, and changed both the kind of sugar and amount called for. Perhaps the recipe is nearly mine by now, but I’m happy to share credit with Betty any day.

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Just a no reason shot of “the babies,” Tucker and Rosie, whom we often call “Miss Bo-Bo,” as she’s just a tad nutty about running from window to window announcing every person, dog, cat, bird, and bunny that just might be visiting our yard while I bake or nurse a bad cold. I live with a pocketful of kibble trying to persuade her to act otherwise. Exhale.

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Sing a new song; sweeten up a little rhubarb today,

Alyce

So You Made my Salmon and Want to Know What to Do with Leftovers? Salmon Caprese-Kale Salad with Avocado Dressing or Aioli

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Space available in next two Thursday night classes: Make Pizza at Home/Stellar Salad (5/21) and Kids Cook! Dinner (5.28) classes. For sign up and more info, click on top right corner link:  CURRENT CLASSES. Additionally, I have the Pizza at Home/Stellar Salad open for 2 students only at my house on 5/27. $55./credit  $50 cash/check. Includes recipe booklet and wine with dinner!

If you made my Tinfoil Salmon with Buttered Thyme Tomatoes on Brown Rice, or any of my other salmon dishes, and have a piece of salmon leftover, here’s a beautiful way to stretch that salmon to 3 or 4 servings and eat healthy while you’re at it. If you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m crazy for caprese variations.

When I shop for a few meals, I often try to just buy a few extra things that will build a big salad or a few burritos, a frittata, an omelet, or even sandwiches.  I typically buy and cook eIMG_7576xtra protein just because it’s a. nice to have around and b. I don’t always have time to cook a whole meal every day.  Occasionally I’ll throw that extra cooked protein portion in the freezer for emergencies. This time I had grabbed some fresh mozzarella (often marked down in my grocery), tomatoes, basil, and I already had asparagus and kale in the drawer for salad.  A ripe avocado blended with vinegar, raw egg yolk, some minced red onion, and a mixture of olive and canola oils gave me an avocado mayonnaise (or perhaps it’s an avocado-red onion aioli?) for a dressing.  Try this:

SALMON CAPRESE-KALE SALAD WITH AVOCADO DRESSING or AIOLI

3-4 smaller servings  or enough for 2 very hungry people

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup leftover rice and tomatoes, optional
  • 3 cups finely chopped kale
  • 2 Lemons-1 cut in half for juicing, the other cut into wedges for garnish
  • 1 4-6 ounce cooked salmon fillet, skin removed, and sliced into about 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 – 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Avocado mayonnaise or aioli (my recipe below)

1.  In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the chopped asparagus in the oil seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper.  About half-way through the cooking, add the leftover rice and tomatoes from the original meal if you have them; they’re optional.

2. Meanwhile, add kale in a ring 2-3 inches wide around the perimeter or edges of medium serving dish and squeeze half a lemon over the greens. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

3. Layer salmon slices, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves in a circle around the inside perimeter of the kale ring. Season with a little more salt and pepper over the salmon layer.

4. When asparagus is cooked and rice is hot, spoon into center beginning with rice  and topping with asparagus. If using only asparagus, fill the ring as best you can, perhaps squeezing the concentric rings a bit to close any gaps.  Squeeze a little more lemon juice over all.  Dress with avocado dressing/aioli. Garnish with lemon wedges.

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AVOCADO DRESSING OR AIOLI

In a food processor bowl fitted with metal blade, measure 2 tablespoons good-quality white wine vinegar, 2 room-temperature egg yolks, one peeled, seeded, and chopped avocado, a tablespoon or so of minced red onion, and a good pinch each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Blend until very smooth. With machine running, slowly drizzle about 1/4 cup each olive and canola oils until the mixture is well-blended or emulsified.  Add a drop or two of hot sauce and stir.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  You might add a little lemon juice if you like.  Use immediately or store, tightly wrapped in fridge for up to one day.

NO FOOD PROCESSOR?  Follow this link for food blogger David Lebovitz’ post on making aioli by hand.  While you’re there, enjoy all of David’s beautiful and always entertaining recipes, photos, and stories from Paris and elsewhere.

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Sing a new song; make a new salad out of leftovers,

Alyce

Tinfoil Salmon and Buttered Tomatoes with Thyme on Brown Rice

Food-Fish-Salmon w Butter Tomatp Sauce amd Brpwm Roce

Space available in next two Thursday night classes: Make Pizza at Home/Stellar Salad (5/21) and Kids Cook! Dinner (5.28) classes. For sign up and more info, click on top right corner link:  CURRENT CLASSES.

Back in the saddle again...  We’re just home from a 6-night cruise from Honolulu to Vancouver with no stops.  Just us, the sea, and three meals a day I didn’t shop for, cook, or clean up. In fact, we had breakfast delivered to our room all but one morning–awakening each time to the soft rap on the door indicating our coffee had arrived.  We did little besides walk, sleep, eat, nap, dance, read, listen to music, and admire the view.   There is nothing like doing nothing. After all, rest is one of the ten commandments, right? I’ll admit I was suffering through a wretched cold and the unstinted sleep and total coddling did me nothing but good.

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Spring Brunch Cooking Class–Master Quiche Recipe, Homemade Sausage, and Sam Sifton’s Glorious Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

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Upcoming cooking classes:  see above, top right corner-CURRENT CLASSES. Come cook and eat.  No shopping and no cleanup.  I promise.

NOTE:  After this post, More Time will be on vacation for a wee while. I’ll see you when I get back!  

About once a year I invite folks for a slow-down-your-life, stay and chat Sunday brunch for which the menu is short and sweet: a few quiches–each different, all made ahead and warming as folks have a first drink, a big bowl of fresh fruit cut up and maybe mixed with some fresh mint, a basket of muffins and/or rolls or a skillet of crispy potatoes (recipes below), and a choice of “osas” (OH-sahs)—MIMosas, POMosas, Bellinis, CRANmosas, and so on (choose your own juice or fruit and top with sparkling wine.) A big pot of coffee is turned on just before guests’ arrival, brunch music is tuned in, and everything is laid out on the table or counter all happily self-serve. Plates are at the start, food in the middle, and flatware is wrapped and tied in napkins, placed in a basket at the end of the buffet so no one must juggle plate, flatware, and dishing up food all at the same time. Drinks are set-up in their own stations and guests sit wherever they like, moving around at will, as conversations wax and wane, or when they’re hunting seconds.

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Recipe for Whole Wheat Cranberry Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (above)

Recipe for Blueberry Muffins from my book  (below)                IMG_5693

This class, taught at Mountain High Appliance (formerly Shouse) in the Jenn-Air Kitchen (or at home if I have just four students!) focuses on the main portion of a basic make-ahead brunch that you can embellish (i.e.muffins, coffee cake, green salad, bloody marys), but also gives you the happy opportunity to create your very own breakfast sausage and a warm, boozy bread pudding for dessert–which, according to Ina Garten, is what people will remember anyway.  (I think people will remember the comfort of being together.) The Menu, then, which can be divided between guests for potluck, looks like this: Continue reading

Mozzarella French Toast Sandwiches with Marinara Dip and Asparagus-Fennel Soup with Pistachio Pesto

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This week’s cooking class, SPRING BRUNCH, still has an opening for Wednesday, 4/29, 5-8pm; let me know!  Make any quiche,  then make your own favorite breakfast sausage. Top it off with Bananas Foster Bread pudding with Caramel Sauce.  List of upcoming classes and registration info located at the top, right corner of blog under CURRENT CLASSES. Can’t wait to cook with you.

When the rest of the country appears to be celebrating spring, we in the beautiful state of Colorado experience snow, hail, rain, thunder, and more all in one day.  The day before it was sunny and 65, but that didn’t mean peas were blooming or asparagus was ready; it just meant the tumbleweeds weren’t dry and blowing yet and the small pot of hopeful pansies was being very faithful indeed.

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I don’t think we get depressed about it because, after all, we probably have the best weather overall in the country.  We have temperate winters, rare rainy days, cool summer nights, and a continually changing western view as the clouds decide what they’re going to do with the mountains at any given time.  But we may need to occasionally think like spring.  And when we do, we make comforting skillets full of warming goodness because spring can be damned cold here.  A wet 45 is colder than a dry 10.  Last Thursday night when I came out of work after teaching the FRENCH NIGHT AT HOME class, I had to clean off inches of snow from the car and ruined my shoes in the wet frozen slush. Life has loveliness to sell, as Sara Teasdale says.  We’re thankful for the moisture because we live in fire country… Continue reading

One-Pan Orzo “Risotto” with Asparagus, Fennel, and Cherry Tomatoes

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Still have some openings in upcoming classes, which begin next Thursday, April 16, 5-8pm at Shouse Appliance in Colorado Springs.   There are  two available spots each in the FRENCH CLASS, April 16 and in the BRUNCH class (we’re learning how to make homemade sausage!), April 25, as well in the rest of the series.  Click at top on CURRENT CLASSES for list and registration info. Can’t wait to cook with you!

Orzo, the tiny rice-like pasta, and vegetables is a favorite combination of mine and you’ll see it on the blog a time or two. Or more. This particular comforting oh-so-green pasta dish, which is easily made vegan, seems to catapult spring vegetables such as asparagus, fennel, and baby spinach way up onto their long-awaited pedestal.  It also feels and nearly looks like risotto minus the questionably constant stirring, angst, and jaw-clenching risotto seems to engender. While it bubbles away nearly untended, you can look to other occupations like pouring wine, chatting,  setting the table, or if you’re like me, petting Rosie–just spayed and not too happy with it. Poor baby. She does like the pills that come all wrapped up in cream cheese for easy swallowing.

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For other meals, I cook orzo separately and make a heartier dish or pasta salad, adding feta, tiny tomatoes, celery or peas, basil or parsley, and a vinaigrette. Either variation is easy to make ahead early on a warm day for a potluck or as a bed for that night’s grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or chops. You can find regular orzo easily in the pasta aisle of your B-flat grocery store, but there are also some brands that sell the whole-wheat variety, which adds fiber and protein.  Try this:

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ONE-PAN ORZO “RISOTTO” WITH ASPARAGUS, FENNEL, AND CHERRY TOMATOES

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Cream of Pea Soup with Mint, Scallions, and Sharp Cheddar or Easter Leftovers

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Still have some openings in upcoming classes, which begin next Thursday, April 16.    Click at top on CURRENT CLASSES for list and registration info.

It is a joy and at times a true puzzle to figure out how to use up leftovers, but a good cook lets nothing go to waste.   Or, as Winston Churchill said,

Never let a good crisis go to waste.

And it is at times a “crisis’ in the fridge:  2 boiled eggs, two pieces of bacon, a quart of milk nearly gone bad, a bowl of boiled potatoes, and one piece of sad stale baguette are in your direct view every time you open the door.  Why isn’t there a lovely fillet of salmon, a great bottle of Chardonnay, and deeply-green spinach just out of the neighbor’s garden? Instead of a fresh fish meal, you make a quick potato soup topped with toasted breadcrumbs and then chop together a little egg salad for crackers as a side. And often you’re happier than if you’d cooked from scratch. (Aside: In Seattle, you’re fined $25 if food is found in your garbage.  You must use and eat or compost.)

below:  dogs all dressed up for Easter

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Tuesday morning’s “crisis” (OH DEAR) was a bit of cold Asparagus Vinaigrette with Chopped Eggs I had taken to friends for an Easter Eve supper.  Holiday leftover crises are somewhat worse than the traditional what’s-in-that-tupperware? problem.  Well,  I just heated a small plateful in a skillet and cooked two eggs on top for my breakfast:

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Good Friday–Hot Cross Buns and Clam Chowder

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The last days of Lent are full between w51bOCZagW9L._AA160_orship, study, shopping, cooking, and baking.   I often read THE LAST WEEK by Borg and Crossan…day by day or occasionally a couple of days at a time. (Read my Lenten blog Good Friday post here.)

Good Friday is, for me, Hot Cross Bun day and this year I used a new recipe from the BBC Good Food site by master baker Paul Hollywood. (Recipe here.)
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I adore these new buns and have now changed my recipe allegiance to Mr. Hollywood. (Here’s my old one.)  Where else would you look for a Hot Cross Bun recipe?  (Read about the famous buns’ history here.) Make some and cement friendships as well as protect yourself from evil!  Or just make them because they’re good.  Sing along to “Hot Cross Buns.

Rosie has kept herself busy “chasing” deer from one window to the next as I bake.  Tucker isn’t so energetic and knows the deer will be back soon. We’ve all been waiting for Emily to come home and she’s here!  I’ve made Clam Chowder for lunch to go with the buns.IMG_7408

d5e69-emily-graduationseminaryHere’s a photo from nearly two years ago now when she graduated from seminary and we sang in the choir for her service.  We’ll have to grab some pics this weekend, which is already feeling too short.

IMG_7420ABOUT MY BUNS–just in case you use this recipe:

1. The recipe uses metric measurements mostly, but not totally.  You’ll need to weigh your flour, sugar, etc.  I didn’t do the conversions to cups, etc., because I don’t mind baking like this.  If you don’t have a scale and need a chart for comparison/conversion, use this.  The recipe is worth it. (Soft, fluffy, flavorful rolls studded with gorgeous raisins flavored with orange and cinnamon. Sigh.)

2. The recipe calls for 3 proofs or rising.  I used two, refrigerated the dough in the middle, and found that worked fine.  In other words, I let the first rise go for a few hours, punched down the dough, put it into a zip-lock bag, and threw it into the fridge overnight.

3. Next morning, I added the apples, cinnamon, orange rind (skipping the rest of the dried fruit–no loss) and formed them into rolls.  Onto  parchment-lined pans they went covered with oiled plastic wrap to rise again on a stove with the oven on preheating.

4. After reading the recipe reviews, I didn’t make my crosses with flour paste, but rather made a simple vanilla buttercream icing and piped the crosses on with a quart plastic bag that I clipped a corner from. I like them better that way anyway.

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And just in case you’d like to make the chowdah….

QUICK CLAM CHOWDER  serves 4

This is so simple I didn’t see a reason to write out the recipe totally. Ingredients are in italics. Read through and you’ll have the idea.  You can embroider this Friday Fish Soup with added chopped asparagus or chopped tiny green beans. In my book (and here), I add fresh green peas. No bacon or salt pork in this recipe, though; it’s still a Friday in Lent.  Or try grating  some sharp cheese into each bowl — a nice addition.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a 6-quart pot. Add a finely chopped onion, two each stalks of finely chopped celery and carrots, and a minced garlic clove.  Season with two teaspoons dried thyme, a bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Cook covered over medium heat, stirring, until softened. Add 4-5 chopped new unpeeled red potatoes and heat through.  Pour in 1/2 cup white wine and let cook down a couple of minutes.  Pour in two bottles of clam juice and the juice from one 5-ounce can of clams. (Save clams to the side for a few minutes.)  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender.  Mash the potatoes just a bit with a potato masher.  Throw in a handful of chopped parsley.  Pour in 2 cups  milk and 1 cup half an half and heat through without boiling. Stir in clams; warm through. Season with a few drops of hot sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with oyster crackers. (Whoever gets the bay leaf has good luck until Lent begins again.)

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If you observe Good Friday traditions, I hope your day goes exactly as you need it to.  If you do not, just make some good bread and soup and enjoy.

Sing a new song,

Alyce

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