Search This Blog


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Clam Shell Stuffies

My daughter asked for the link to my baked stuffed clam recipe as a friend of hers wanted to try it. He made them and she sent me a photograph. I was so impressed with his presentation. He steamed open fresh little neck clams to use in the stuffing mix and kept the shells intact, placing the stuffing on both sides of the shell.
I have some canned whole baby clams that are waiting to be used and thought I would try a little bit of a different stuffed clam recipe and use his presentation and look to bring the cost down a bit.
I have the intact shells from my daughter from when they made clam fritters and she steamed open the clams so I am all set to experiment - with a recipe and with a presentation.
You can start with whole little neck clams so you can get the shells but be careful to pull them out as soon as they open. What you want to avoid is a rubbery clam in the mixture. Or, you can do as I am and use whole baby clams from a can.
The great thing about this recipe is that with less ingredients and getting the canned clams at the job lot store and bacon on sale I was able to make these for approximately $7.82. These clams are an inexpensive appetizer that have a wow factor with flavor. You can use another buttery type cracker in place of the Ritz® like Keebler's Townhouse crackers.
  • 1 1/2 sleeve Ritz® crackers
  • 1 10 oz. can baby whole clams with reserved juice
  • 10 strips bacon
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
  • salt to taste (be careful because bacon and Parmesan cheese are salty)
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°. Lay the bacon on a foil lined baking tray and bake until nice and crispy - about 20 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels.
  2. In a food processor grind the crackers until fine and place them in a large bowl.
  3. Also using the food processor grind the celery and onion. Set a saute pan over medium low heat and melt the half stick of butter. Add in the celery and onion and some cracked black pepper. Stir and cook until the vegetables are softened. About 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool down.
  4. Take your cooked and crispy bacon and break apart into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until small and add the bacon to the cracker mixture.
  5. Now that the vegetables are cooled down, add them to the crackers and bacon along with the Parmesan cheese and other dried spices.
  6. Pour off about 1 tbsp. of the clam juice from the can of clams and dump clams and juice into the mixture. Stir well using your hands or a spoon.
  7. Stuff each clam with any amount of stuffing you like. When they are all stuffed, place them on a baking sheet.
  8. They bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 25 minutes loosely covered with aluminum foil.

These make for a great appetizer for a party or picnic. You can also serve these as a dinner. I cut the cost down my skipping a few ingredients in my original Baked Stuffed Clam recipe. This makes quite a number of clams if you do them as single shells (a little more than double) and presented as I did in the top photograph, you get approximately 11 - 12 servings. The yield depends on how much filling you put in each shell.

Clam shell stuffies are full of flavor and they re-heat well in a microwave the next day in case you have extra. I did mine on the reheat setting for about two minutes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Connecticut Blue Crabs in Seafood Sauce

My daughter turned 34 years old this year and she's a fisher-woman, yes she is. From as far back as I can remember Jen loved fishing and it did not matter whether it was fishing at a lake, stream, pond or the ocean. She simply loves fishing and she also loves catching (and ultimately eating) blue crabs. It first began with her grandpa Don when she was just knee high to a grass hopper. I think he had something to do with her interest in catching crabs. And ask her what's the best way to catch crabs? Well with a line and some stinky chicken and a net to catch the crab once it latches on to the chicken.
Yesterday she ventured with her good friend Chris on his boat to the waterways in Old Saybrook Connecticut and they hauled in a good amount of crab. Lucky for me I got the call that we were going to be the recipient of some of the days catch. In this container were seven live and feisty blue crabs.

We have fond memories of sitting around our table enjoying blue crabs that were cooked, clean and then added to a slow simmering sauce which I dubbed my Seafood Sauce. It's how my mother did it back in the day when Jen's grandfather and his friend went crabbing and used to bring home bushel baskets full of them. At that time they owned a local tavern and lunch restaurant so cooking and cleaning the crabs which took quite a long time just happened to be easier in the commercial type kitchen.
All of us in our family prefer cooking the crabs and cleaning them prior to sitting down at a table to eat them. In most crab boils you don't have that luxury of an already cleaned crab. They add the crabs to the water with lemons and Old Bay and when they are ready you get them steaming hot on a slab of newspaper with a mallet to crack them open.
Because the crab has to cool down to clean them and rinse them under cold running water is the reason my mother developed this sauce. It's a super delicious and very simple sauce to make.
I went on line to see how long I should cook the crabs and I can't believe the amount of time varied from 3-5 minutes up to 20 minutes - sheesh! I let the water come up to a boil and put the crabs in and closed the lid. It took a good 2 minutes for the water to come up to a boil again and I cooked them for 8 more minutes. Knowing that I would be simmering them in the sauce I felt that was a good amount of time. It really was guessing on the time.

I found a great video that explains the difference between the sexes of the crab and how to remove the shell and clean the crab and how to get the meat out of the crabs.

For the Seafood Sauce:
  • 1 large green bell pepper – seeds removed and sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion – sliced
  • 2 small cans tomato sauce
  • 3/4 can of water (use the tomato sauce can for measurement)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic – finely minced
  • 1½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. In a deep skillet (that has a lid), and over moderate heat melt the butter and olive oil. I use the combination of butter and olive oil due to the fact that the olive oil has a higher smoking point and to have less “fat” in the dish.
  2. When the butter and olive oil are melted, add in the sliced onions and peppers and garlic. Allow them to cook down and soften a touch. About 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add in the tomato sauce, water and all of the dried spices. Stir and pop the lid on. Allow this to cook for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust for seasonings. If you feel the sauce has come together and is full of flavor, you add in the cooked crabs and simmer for about 20 minutes or longer. You want the crabs to be thoroughly heated and they absorb some of that great flavor from the sauce.
These are labor intensive to eat and depending on the size of the crab you may not get tons of meat. However the dining experience is wonderful. Why you ask? Because you can't rush the meal - it takes time and the longer you sit with your family or friends sharing this dinner the better you feel. Your sharing food, telling stories, laughing and most of all you are making a memory. A memory of great times had around the dinner table.
The other part of this is the experience of catching the crabs. While that may not be for everyone, it is tons of fun and inexpensive family time. Get the chicken (ask your stores butcher) for chicken ready to go over the edge - see if they will give it or sell it dirt cheap. The stinkier the chicken the more it would attract the crabs!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Caesar Dressing

Satisfying, delicious, light yet filling, a grilled chicken Caesar salad can be the best lunch you take to work all week or that nice and easy laid back kind of dinner. Crisp romaine lettuce, perfectly grilled chicken, a drizzle of Caesar dressing and buttery croutons make the perfect fork full of food.

It was a blessing to have my son and his fiance come down from Massachusetts to visit us this weekend. I wanted to be able to pack them some food to take back with them on the train. It needed to be portable and easy to eat but sandwiches were not going to cut it.
What I ended up doing was making Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with some home made Caesar Dressing. There was also some home made croutons as well. You can follow the link for the recipe for these crunchy and absolutely yummy croutons.

Here is the recipe for the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 egg*
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Place the garlic cloves and anchovies in a food processor and blend well. Add in the lemon juice and 1 whole egg.
  2. Add in some black pepper.
  3. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until an almost mayonnaise consistency.
  4. Adjust for salt and black pepper.
*If you are using an egg substitute in place of a raw egg, the ratio is 1/4 cup egg substitute for 1 whole egg.

Assemble a plate or platter with some crispy romaine lettuce, the grilled chicken and the croutons with a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. The meal is light but filling and a super supper or lunch all by itself.