This is what happens when I get extra weekend days:
1. Go clam digging with the fam.
2. Learn to clean clams (thanks youtube!)
3. Make clam chowder
4. Decide to add in bread bowls
5. Also make some lime cookies
Total trips to the grocery store: I think only 2.
More importantly, it was one of those rare, miraculous days when everything I made turned out delicious!
The day after thanksgiving my family and my auntie and uncle and cousins went to the beach to dig clams. It was a great night, we all caught our limit in under an hour. Then I came home, dumped those bivalves on ice and went to bed. Long weekends are tiring!
This morning, I got up and braved the clam cleaning. My family tried to explain the logistics of the process in the car on the way home. All I got out of it was that I should try to find someone else to do it. I looked hopefully at my brave, strong, clam-killing husband/manly-man with my prettiest sweats on and crusty morning eyes and hoped, but no luck. You dig 'em, you clean 'em. So I did.
This is what happened:
1. I watched a few YouTube videos.
2. I thought about how nice the YouTube chef's phrase, "boiling water helps the clams release their shells" sounded.
3. I decided my clam's shells are holding them back from a delicious life of chowderhood. Sometimes releasing our shells is hard. Sometimes it takes boiling water. I am doing them a favor.
4. I contemplated my sister's advice that clam cleaning starts with a shot of whatever's in your cupboard.
5. I got out peach vodka (because that is apparently the only thing in my house besides Amaretto right now), but at 8 a.m. that sounded worse than dealing with the issues holding my clams back from their full chowder potential.
6. I paced in front of the sink. So there they were. And there I was. And I had the scissors. And I had my YouTube education. I apologized profusely to all of them, poured boiling water over them and began.
And in case this long lead up wasn't evidence enough, I'll come right out and say it---clam cleaning was traumatic.
However, once they were cleaned things got significantly easier.
I made a clam broth, boiled the others, chopped 'em up, made my veggies tender, added the creamy stuff and the chopped clams and it was ready. Here's the recipe I concocted from a few that I read. I bet it would have been better with heavy cream, and I even bought some, but then my better self won out and I also bought low-fat evaporated milk and used that instead (Full confession- I also bought non-fat evaporated milk, but I really didn't want to use it. I just didn't. I wanted cream. Low-fat was already a compromise).
Regardless, it was still pretty delightfully creamy, but if abs were of no concern, I would always choose cream over low-fat.
Soup Veggies mixed in with the broth.
Caitlin's Clam Chowder
1 limit of Razor Clams (15)
- 2 cups of Water
- 1 tablespoon of Butter
- 1 cup Onion, chopped in big chunks
- 3-4 cloves of Garlic
- 1 small to medium Fennel Bulb
- 3-5 Razor Clams
1 medium Turnip, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Celery Stalks
3-4 Red Potatoes
1 cup Onion, diced
1 can (12 oz) Low-Fat Evaporated Milk (or Cream if you want to up the delicious factor)
1. Slice vegetables for broth, these will all be thrown out at the end, so they can be chopped large. Put them in a large skillet and sautee with a tablespoon or so of butter for a few minutes, then add 2 cups of water and 3-5 clams. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Then pour through a collander, into a bowl. pick out the clams and throw out the veggies.
2. In the same broth pan, add the turnips, potatoes and a bit more butter. Let them sautee until softened, add in the broth by the half cup to keep them from browning and encourage them to soften. After about 5 minutes, add the celery, onions and remaining broth and let simmer until all veggies are tender.
3. Chop the clams into small pieces and add them with the evaporated milk and stir together.
4. Put about 1/3 of the chowder into the blender if you want a thicker chowder.
When you get to this point (Actually, hopefully about 2 hours prior to this point), you might wonder what you will put this delicious chowder in. Surely a regular bowl will not do! The correct answer is: You will put it in a whole wheat herb bread bowl. I used a Bob's Red Mill Recipe for Whole Wheat Rosemary Baguettes. I didn't have Rosemary unfortunately, but I did have some Penzey's Pasta Sprinkles, my go-to herb mix, which I used instead. The crust was about perfect on these and they made great bread bowls! (
Whole Wheat Rosemary Baguettes
1T Brown Sugar
1 1/4 cup warm Water
2 1/4 teaspoons Yeast
2 teaspoons Salt
1 1/2 cup White Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 tablespoons Rosemary (or general herbs if you don't have any around)
Cornmeal for your baking stone
Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and white flour, stir together. Then add 1 1/2 cups wheat flour.
Knead the dough together for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the herbs over it and knead them in as well. Place in a bowl and let rise for an hour.
Punch the dough down and divide into 4 balls. Let them rise for 40 more minutes.
Brush the tops with water, then put those bowls in the oven at 400 degree and let them bake for 15 minutes.
Then you'll cut the top, scoop out the insides, slather them with butter (you didn't use cream, remember? You deserve some deliciousness) and pour some chowder into the hollowed bread bowl. If you aren't careful, the frog-shaped hot pad will eat it before you can! Beware the frog-shaped hot pad!
Update: I ate another bread bowl today, just plain without the chowder and the bread is good in it's own right as well. Still yummy and moist a day later.)