Monthly Archives: July 2013

Best of Both Cities Clam Chowder

Decisions, decisions…Do I have Manhattan or Boston Clam Chowder? Well, Manhattan is the red stuff and Boston is the white stuff. I prefer the Boston style but when I tasted this version, I loved it more! It’s the best of both cities so give it a try…I think you will agree, it takes away the decision making.

canneryI originally had this at the Cannery Restaurant in Vancouver, BC….a truly iconic restaurant that unfortunately closed in 2010 after 39 years in business. I always have to try and recreate a dish I have loved in a restaurant at home so here is my version of this great twist on Clam Chowder! Cheers to the Cannery. You had a great run!!

Red & White Clam Chowder Print

Serves 6

6 cups fish stock (I make my own-see recipe below)

¼ cup unsalted butter

¼ cup organic all purpose white flour

¼ cup peeled and small diced carrots

¼ cup celery small diced

¼ chopped onion

½ cup small diced potato (I don’t peel them if they are a thin skinned potato like a red or new potato)

¼ cup sweet red pepper, small diced

¼ cup tomato paste

1 ½ TBSP Worcestershire Sauce

1 TBSP hot sauce like Tabasco or Frank’s (optional)

¼ cup whipping cream (use a bit more if you like it really creamy)

salt and pepper to taste

Now for the seafood…I happen to live where I can dig my own clams. The ones I get here on Gabriola Is. are mostly manila clams but if you are buying them, you want clams that are small (about an inch and a half in diameter) or there is the canned option but I prefer to do this with fresh clams. If you can dig your own, make sure you get some sea water to soak them in for a few hours. Throw in a ½ cup or so of corn meal so they spit out the sand while soaking. You shouldn’t need to do this if you buy them but ask your fish monger if it’s necessary or not. Once your clams are clean and ready to steam, put some fish stock (about an inch or so) in a large pot and throw in a few springs of parsley, thyme a clove of chopped garlic and a bit of chopped onion. Put your clams into the pot, cover and turn on high until boiling, once the clams open (this doesn’t take long), they are ready to shuck. For this recipe you want to end up with about 1 cup of shucked clams so you will need about 3 lbs of clams in the shell. Save and strain the cooking liquid and add to your stock.

clam chowder

Variation: You can also use Mussels in this recipe so the same goes…steam them. Mussels that you buy in the shell usually don’t need cleaning much but make sure you remove the beards if they have them. If you are getting them from the beach yourself, you will definitely need to debeard them.

You can also add near the end of the chowder cooking process, peeled raw prawns, crab or lobster meat. You could also add some raw halibut or cod cut into ½ inch chunks. Then you can simmer gently for a few minutes until the seafood is cooked through. Not too long though!

So here we go…Melt the butter in a large pot and sauté the carrots, celery, onion, red pepper and potato until the onions are translucent, stir occasionally. If you want, you can also cube up some bacon and use it with the butter. Cook it until nearly crispy before adding the other ingredients. Another variation…small dice wine chorizo sausage and use instead of bacon. Chorizo pairs very well with seafood.

Add the flour and stir well to make a roux. Blend in the tomato sauce. Stir in the fish stock a couple of cups at a time. Stir well.

Simmer for about 40 minutes, stir occasionally.

Add the clams and any other seafood you have decided to use, simmer 3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cream and salt and pepper to taste.

And you are ready to serve. Garnish with a little chopped parsley. A fun way to serve it is in a small round hollowed out sour dough loaf. Or…just with some good crusty bread on the side.

Fish Stock

3 or 4 whole fish carcasses (include heads if possible) from non-oily fish such as sole,

halibut, rockfish, snapper etc. (No salmon or tuna)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 onions, sliced

1 leek, washed thoroughly and coarsely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 carrot, sliced

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, crushed in their skin with the back of a broad knife

4 litres cold purified water

Handful of fresh parsley

5 fresh thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

6 black peppercorns

Melt butter in stockpot. Sauté vegetables and cook until tender. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add fish carcasses and cover with water (make sure it covers bones but is about two inches from top of pot). Bring to boil. Skim the scum that rises to the surface.

Add the parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Simmer stock on low for about 4 hours. When cool, remove large pieces of bone etc. Strain and refrigerate until fat congeals on top of stock. Skim off the fat and strain through a fine sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Stock can be refrigerated up to three days or frozen for up to 3 months. Alternatively, pressure can.

Variations: Prawn, crab or lobster. You can combine all of the above but I usually do prawn on its own and put crab and lobster shells together. You will need about 2 lbs of shells. Do include the prawn heads and any innards from the crab or lobster.

Try steaming clams and mussels in some fish stock, wine, garlic and shallots. Simple, delicious and nutritious.



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Chinese Food-Make it at Home

Living on a small island makes it hard to get a good Chinese Food fix! We got some from a place near the ferry but it was not that great and then of course you have no idea what they are putting in it. So I figured that if I was going to eat something that might be not on the ‘really healthy’ list, then I’d figure out how to make it myself and then I can at least control what goes in it. It was important to me to get it close to the taste of a restaurant to satisfy the craving. So here’s a couple of my favourites and I’ll keep adding as I perfect each dish. My absolute fave is Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls…I know…deep fried but I can use better oil than a restaurant. You can bet your bippy that they are using canola oil and that does not cross my doorstep. Peanut oil isn’t on the really healthy list but it is better than canola and does do a good job. You could use coconut oil too since it has a high smoke point but it will impart a bit of a ‘coconutty’ taste. I found a brand of cornstarch called Let’s Do…Organic. It’s not only organic but GMO free:)

Sweet and Sour Chicken (or pork) Balls

sweet and sour chickenAnother easy and yummy treat!

Pot Stickers with Dipping Sauce

pot stickers


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