baking

Reverse Reese’s: Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies!

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Okay, life has been so stressful and overwhelming lately, that I’ve gotten away from the fun things. I have only been to the gym twice this week, I’ve barely been eating (let alone eating well), and I’ve allowed what brings me joy to be pushed away by things that already deserve less of my time than I give them.

So today I am reclaiming my life just for me: I went to the gym this morning, had a light and bright brunch, cleaned my house while my hubby did laundry, carved a pumpkin and NOW I’m going to make some peanut butter cookies!

My Jack Skellington Jack-O-Lantern

Chip looooooves peanut butter cookies, but I find them to often be salty and lacking…probably because they don’t have any chocolate in them. Well, I’m changing that today, dammit. This afternoon I’ll be making what I call a Reverse Reese’s, that is I peanut butter cookie stuffed with chocolate. 1. Are these healthy? No. 2. Do I care? See the answer to the first question.

Reverse Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter (Smooth or crunchy. I use smooth, because, like a child, I think crunchy is gross.)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour (You want to sift it? What are you, an over-acheiver?)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (Optional. I find there’s enough salt in the peanut butter that this isn’t necessary.)                     1 cup Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Use Jiff peanut butter. Or Peter Pan. Or your local grocery store’s generic brand. I know, I know, these are processed, but it’s much harder to get the correct consistency both before and after cooking if you use something organic that often separates. Also, spritz your measuring cup with a little non-stick spray so your peanut butter doesn’t wind up being obnoxious to get out of there. Whip together the butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla. Incorporate the egg. Sprinkle in the flour with your mixer on low in 2-3 batches. Add the baking soda and salt if using, and mix for an additional 30 seconds. or until everything is well combined. It will pull cleanly away from the sides of your bowl when complete.

If your kitchen is warm or it’s a hot day, stick the dough in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 (F). Use this time to clean up. I gave my KitchenAid mixer a good cleaning, tossed most stuff in the sink and wiped down the counter. My KitchenAid is my dream boat, which I inherited from my grandmother. It’s from the 70’s, just look at the plug on the thing, and it works like a champ! Love. It.

Once your dough is ready, take a heaping tablespoon of the peanut butter goodness and flatten in the palm of your hand. Smoosh (that’s the medical term) 8-10 chocolate chips into the center and fold the dough over and seal. Try and keep the chocolate chips in a cluster in the center if you want a Reverse Reese’s. Worst case scenario is you wind up with chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, so you can’t really mess this up. Place on a cookie sheet (these are oily enough that you don’t need to spray your pan) and gently press to about a half inch thick.

Bake for 13-16 minutes. I like mine soft and chewy, so these came out after 14 minutes. Let rest 3-5 minutes before moving off the cookies sheet because they are very delicate when they first come out.  

Serve with milk and a cool Autumn night. 

Orange White Chocolate Craisin Cookies

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A rainy day in Austin is like Christmas. To be able to open one’s windows, allow the breeze to come through is a rarity that must be thoroughly appreciated. I celebrate by making cookies. I don’t like to bake sweet crap too often, but when I do, I normally do it on a Sunday so the extras can either be baked into individual servings for lunches throughout the week or just brought into the office and dumped on less fatty coworkers.

Rather than making those heavy super mega chocolate cookies I normally make, I decided I wanted something lighter, fresher, something that would be great with a cup of coffee. I decided to take a usual cookie recipe and tweak by lightening the sugar and adding a little lemon, fruit, and love. Okay, not love, but I did really like the way they turned out. I call them Lemon White Chocolate Craisin Cookies ’cause I like the alliteration at the end there. I’m sure it should probably be something like the orange White Chocolate Craisin is a trademarked name of the Ocean Spray Company Cookies, or the much less exciting Lemon White Chocolate Dried Cranberry Cookies, but who the hell cares?

Lemon White Chocolate Craisin Cookie

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup backed brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 TBSP juice of a lemon

zest of one orange (about 3 tsps)

2 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cups Ghirardelli white chocolate chips. I know, that’s pretentious, but they really are the best for baking.

1/2 cup dried cranberries (Guess which brand I used?)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the butter and sugar until delicious creamed. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until incorporated. Add the lemon juice (and take the 2 seconds and spend the 30 cents on a reallemon for that) and zest, and whip until it’s all combined.

Now at this point I’m supposed to tell you something like “In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda, then add slowly to the butter mixture…”, but I’m not going to tell you that. I made this recipe a couple of times (that’s what you do when you test and create recipes), once doing the flour and crap whisked in a separate bowl, and once at the end just adding it ingredient by ingredient. I’m going to blow your mind: It made NO difference. None. I bake to make my house smell all warm, fuzzy, and comforting, and to make my fatass fatter. Not for the delicate art of it all.

SO, once you got the butter and everything else mixed, add the flour. I added it a cup first, mixing well, then a cup and a half just so it wouldn’t make a mess. Then the salt, and then the baking soda. Mix until everything is combined. Add the white chocolate and the Craisins last; I have to do this quickly or I find my friends poaching the best ingredients.

Spray a cookie pan with nonp-stick spray and bake heaping tablespoon balls of dough, eight at a time per sheet for 10-12 minutes. I like my cookies chewy, so I did about 11 minutes on these. This recipe makes 24 good-sized cookies, not “fun” size, which is a size I call “small as crap”. I took a picture below of the sized balls of dough versus the final product to give you an idea of size. I don’t have huge man hands or weirdo tiny girl hands like I’m still a child, but I don’t like the way they look in this photo either…

I found these the right sweetness to have with a cup of coffee in lieu of a biscotti. There is a simple glaze, however, that really gives them an extra punch of lemony flavor. When I asked my buds if they “needed” the glaze their response was thus:

“I’m not going to say the need the glaze, because they’re very tasty, but….well, everything’s better with stuff on top.”

My friends loved this glaze like a six year old loves Dunkaroos, but I prefer them without, or with very little glaze.

Simple Lemon Glaze for Anything, but Especially Good with these Cookies

1 cup confectioners sugar

3 TBSP orange juice

The zest of 1 lemon

Whisk everything together and drizzle lightly over cooled cookies. Or french toast. Or pork chops. Hell, it’s simple and awesome, throw it on anything. But make sure to enjoy the cookies.

Easy Fire-Free S’Mores

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In Austin we have the very weird problem of summer actually not being the season for S’mores. I love me some s’mores. All gooey, chocolatey, crunchy, sugary, and delicious. The thing is that here it gets entirely too hot to stand outside, have a fire toast a few ‘mallows, and throw together a s’more. Your chocolate will be melted by the heat of the sun, the flies will be all over you, and most of the time there’s a burn ban against fire pits anyway. Yes, we Austinites have 2 days of cooler days a year, Flash Not-Summer, where we can actually toast marshmallows for s’mores. Our seasons are as follows: Pre-Summer (January – February), Summer (March – October), Slightly Lesser Summer (November – December 29th), and, of course, Flash Not-Summer (December 30-31).

So, what to do? You can always microwave yourself one, but the chocolate is still hard as a rock and the graham cracker gets tough.

The simple answer: use your microwave for a simple ganache and make magic by swapping out the marshmallows for Fluff.

On a cookie sheet lined with wax paper I placed 14 graham cracker halves. I like a good amount of fluff, so in the center of each cracker I dropped s heaping tablespoon of the white stuff, allowing it to settle and spreading with a butter knife prayed with non-stick spray where needed. In a microwave-safe bowl I poured the contents of a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips with 5-6 tablespoons of butter.

I microwaved the mixture in spurts for no more than 12 seconds at a time, stirring at each break. Once the chocolate was melted, I dropped a spoonful, about a level tablespoon, onto the fluff. I placed a graham cracker 1/8th onto the top of each so that the eater would have a place to hold with their fingertips without getting all gooey. Then I placed them in the fridge for 30 minutes to setup a bit.

I was tempted to add strawberry slices to a few and peanut butter to a couple. You could really do so many toppings that would stick perfectly to the fluff, even bananas with a little peanut butter on top for an Elvis inspired treat.

More than anything, though, I recommend these for any time you need an easy chocolate fix or a dessert you can make with your kids. You can keep leftovers in tupperware on the counter for about 3 days or in the fridge for about 5 until the graham starts softening.

Triple Chocolate & Shattered Dreams

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Alright, so “shattered dreams” is a bit over dramatic.

I haven’t been writing lately and I just feel awful. I don’t know what I think. That something will come from all of this? I don’t know. I’m ridiculous. I have been exhausted recently, some weekend  nights sleeping almost 12 hours, getting up in the morning only because I know I have to rouse myself from bed.

I’m not depressed, in fact I have a new job that I like very much. It’s just that said job keeps me very, very busy and by the time I get home I can barely get through the gym and cooking dinner, let alone cooking anything new and interesting.

And it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve been cooking a bit, but mostly making old standards. I’ve been meaning to do Pop Bytes as well, what with the over abundance of movie news for the summer, among other things, but I just…haven’t. Below are some pictures of foods I’ve made recently that I completely had intentions of posting here with recipes, none of which really matter, but keep scrolling and you’ll see the recipe for the triple chocolate cookies I’m baking as we speak. Rock.

Super easy scratch drop cheddar biscuits.

Grilled Pizza with eggplant, mozzarella, and smoked provolone.

Slow roasted Brisket in a red wine reduction with braised & blackened Brussel Sprouts.

Year of the Dragon cupcakes with Lemon-Vanilla center.

And this morning I mastered making poached eggs…

Which I ate with toast, a slice of aged provolone, fresh cherry tomatoes, salt & pepper.

Yum.

So, Triple Chocolate Cookies, yeah?

 This is from the America’s Test Kitchen archives. I was thinking of making chocolate crinkles or crackles or whateverthehell they’re called, but I didn’t like any of the recipes I’ve found. Normally, I have no problem with tweaking a recipe and experimenting, but today I wanted a no brainer.

3 oz. baker’s chocolate

1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) bittersweet chocolate chips. VERY important.

7 TBSPs unsalted butter

2 tsp instant espresso

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

love

Okay, so melt the baker’s chocolate, bittersweet chips, and butter together. Either use a double boiler, also known as a glass bowl over a simmer sauce pot of water, or ye olde microwave. You want it to be smooth and shiny. It’s important that the chips are bittersweet here because the chips have an emulsifier in them that helps them keep their shape, and that emulsifier will work the same magic on our cookies. I fucking love science in food!

Set aside the shiny chocolate. Mix the vanilla & instant espresso together, making instant vanilla espresso extract. It smells amazing, and that’s going to be incorporated through your cookies. Awesome. Now set that aside. In a stand mixer, beat the 3 eggs with the sugar for about 4 minutes on medium-high speed. I stupidly forgot to take a picture of this, but the mixture needs to be thicker, white, and almost creamy. While that’s frothing away, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Ready? Set it aside. Once the 4 minutes are up on the eggs and sugar, turn the mixer down to low, you don’t want to break that froth that you’ve made, and add the extract mixture. Then add the chocolate concoction and continue mixing for another 30 seconds on low, until everything is well blended.

Turn off the mixer and fold in the flour mixture, as well as the semi-sweet chocolate chips. The batter is like brownie batter at this point; set it aside for 30-45 minutes and it will thicken quite a bit. No, you don’t have to refrigerate it. Just set it aside. If it’s July and you live in Austin or Phoenix, then you might want to refrigerate the mixture, but otherwise, the counter is fine.

Once thickened, scoop heaping tablespoons of the chocolate goo on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350. I baked mine for 10 minutes and they probably could’ve used a minute or two more, but my oven normally runs warm. Now here’s the hard part: When you take them out you’re going to think “Those aren’t cooked through!” In fact, a toothpick should come out completely coated in browie-cookieness, if you were to test it. The thing is that these cool forever. Well, it feels like forever. So, take out your so-not-done cookies after about 11-12 minutes, and let sit on the cookie sheets  for ten minutes. Then move them to a cooling rack for an additional 30 minutes. You heard me. Finish baking these cookies and then go out and complete all your shopping, because it seems like an eternity for these to finally cool.

Once they are cool, though, you’re rewarded with a soft, chewy, triple chocolate espresso brownie cookie. Does anyone need these? No. Do you have to have them? Yes.

Hot Wings at Home – The best thing since sliced bread!

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I’m a glutton for punishment. Okay, maybe I’m just a glutton, but after hours of hardcore Ultimate frisbee in the morning (I have 2 – TWO bruises!) I really only wanted to eat what I was craving. When I want something bad I want to make it at home. More punishment. This way, though, I get to be part of the process, I get to save money (sometimes), and the tweaking – oh, the tweaking! I love it. Sometimes I need to have a dinner that screams immaturity and irresponsibility. In this instance I’m talkin’ ’bout hot wings. A whole dinner of hot wings. Screw salad, screw even cole slaw. I mean a whole dinner of wings and wet naps and beer.

Making chicken wings at home is seriously cheap and makes for wicked deliciousness.

1.5 – 2 lbs Chicken Wings, about about 14 wings (which when cut up equals 14 drumettes and 14 wind segments)

1 cup Franks Hot Sauce

2 TBSP melted butter

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp white pepper

3 TBSP flour

First step: cut up yo’ wings into three segments, the drumette, the middle wing part (the less favorable non-drumette), and that end pointy bit that has no meat and it just a waste all around.

Find the joint in each area, line your knife edge in the joint, and slip through. It’s not hard. Chuck the lame little pointy ends, the farthest left in the above picture. Then rinse the remaining pieces, dry them really well, and set them aside in a bowl.

Pour about 3 inches of oil in a stock pot or deep dutch oven and heat to about 325 degrees. I used a pasta pot. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cayenne, peppers, and salt. Then toss the dried wings in the mixture. Once your oil is up to heat, gently -gently -drop the flour coated wing pieces into the oil and let fry for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. If you’re oil doesn’t look like the below picture when the wings are dropped in then it’s not hot enough.

And after 12 minutes they’re all beautifully golden brown like this…

Now, I’m not going to lie: These are awesome just as they are and you’re going to want to eat them, but don’t do it. Don’t give in. I mean, I guess if you have kids that can’t handle the extra spice or you don’t want sauce finger prints everywhere – and I do mean everywhere – then serve them like this. But if you sauce them, it’ll be like Dorthy stepping out of Kansas into Oz. I mean freaking amazing. So don’t be a coward: Stay strong, wait 4-5 minutes to allow them to cool, and sauce ’em.

In a big bowl mix together your Frank’s, the melted butter and any other flavors you’re craving. Extra cayenne? Sure. Chili paste? Go for it. Then throw in your slightly cooled chicken and toss away, either literally toss if you have the kitchen skills or toss with your hands – but then immediately wash them. And definitely don’t touch your eyes or lick your finger tips for the duration of this recipe. Then open a beer and eat away. I recommend in front of the TV. Notice I didn’t say “sports”. I don’t care for sports.

I’m hardcore: I have my wings with a beer in front of Antiques Roadshow. Ahhh, yeah.

Okay, so I have to be honest with you: These are not health food. Are they good for your soul? Fo’ shizzle. Are they good for your heart? Absolutely not. Enough of these will be the direct reason you go into cardiac arrest while on the treadmill one day. So, in an effort to just be plain bad rather than ridiculously bad, I also made a grilled wing that honestly was just as tasty as the above Buffalo wings.

Alternative sticky, spicy Asian grilled hot wing:

1 cup La Choy Orange Ginger sauce

1/2 TBSP srirachi

1 tsp black pepper

1 cup Spicy citrus sauce, cooled (from my chicken tender recipe)

Combine the La Choy sauce, srirachi, and black pepper. Toss the rinsed and dried chicken, and let soak in the coating for about 20 minutes. Heat your grill to medium – high. Once you grill is ready to go and the chicken has marinated a bit, grill with the lid closed for 12-15 minutes or until an internal temperature of 160 has been reached, turning once half way through. Let cool about five minutes once you remove them from the grill. Once they’ve cooled a bit coat them in the spicy citrus sauce. These are messy, but very delicious, and a welcomed healthier twist on traditional fried Buffalo wings.

Bitch Slapping Bland Primavera to the Curb

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I’m hosting a few friends for dinner to watch the Oscars this year. While I except the award show to be filled with mediocrity, my dinner will not. I wanted something bright, filling, delicious, and cheap. Feeding a lot of people adds up fast, so I like to keep costs down where possible.

Normally, I would not choose Pasta Primavera as an exciting meal, per se. More of a pathetic meal would sound more apt to its usual description. America’s Test Kitchen, however, inspired me, as the always do, to look at the usual in a different light. Cook the pasta like risotto and -BAM – awesomeness in every bite. Use the pasta’s own starch as a thickening agent – BOOM – creaminess without the heaviness.

It’s like Alfredo and Primavera had a baby. A delicious, delicious baby.

Now, most of this is directly from America’s Test Kitchen, so I don’t really deserve any credit. I made tweaks here and there to make it even more delicious, but I couldn’t have done it without ATK. I love this recipe because you can really plan ahead and do many of the steps far in advance to make serving a group of people even easier.

3 Leeks

1 bunch Asparagus

1 cup frozen peas

4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed in a garlic press

1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes

1 TBSP ginger

4 cups vegetable stock

1 1/2 cup water

1 TBSP mint

2 TBSP chives

1/2 TBSP rosemary

zest of 1 lemon

5 TBSP olive oil

1 box pasta, penne, cavatelli, or campanelle recommended. This won’t really work with spaghetti or a strand style pasta.

1 cup white wine. I used a pinot grigio and it was fantastic.

Juice of 1 lemon

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

3 TBSP heavy cream (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste

Leeks! Leeks are the sandiest thing ever next to a beach. Chop off the top two inches of outer leek area and cut off the bottom inch. Then roughly chop the top half, the darkest green area, and rinse 3 cups of it in a bowl and set aside. Then cut the remaining light green parts into 1/2 inch pieces, throw in a separate bowl, and rinse. So much easier to rinse once the leeks are in chunks.

Saute the light colored leeks over medium heat in 2 TBSP of oil for about five minutes or until the leeks brown a little, stirring periodically.

While the leeks are sauteing, snap off the ends of the asparagus. Take a stalk of asparagus and start bending from the end; it will snap naturally at the freshest point. You want to eat from the natural break to the tip. Chop the ends that you would normally discard into 1/2 inch pieces and dump into the bowl of darker leek slices. Cut the edible pieces of asparagus into 1 inch bites.

Once the leeks have cooked a bit, let go of some of their moisture, and browned a little, add the i inch asparagus pieces and crushed garlic, and stir. Continue to cook until asparagus is just tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the frozen peas and saute for an additional minute until the peas are just warmed, 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and set the cooked veggies aside.

In a deep stock pot or sauce pan, heat up the veggie stock, water, dark leeks, asparagus, red pepper, and ginger. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

While you’re doctoring the stock, chop up the chives, mint, and rosemary, and combine with the zest of a lemon in a bowl. Set aside. Once the stock has simmered for 10 minutes, strain into a bowl. Discard the strained vegetable remnants. This step and the vegetable cooking step can be completed a couple of hours in advance if necessary. You want there to be 5 cups of rich, doctored and strained stock left. If you’re going to immediately cook the pasta, place the strained stock back into the saucepan and set over medium heat. Keep the stock warm, as it will be added to the pasta in a few minutes. 

Once you’re ready to cook the pasta, heat 2 TBSP oil in a pasta pot over medium heat. Toss in your pasta of choice and brown a bit. This is similar to cooking a risotto, which gives each bite tons of flavor. This only takes about 5 minutes, but you want to stir the pasta regularly to get each piece to brown a little. once the pasta is showing signs of golden deliciousness, add the cup of white wine to the pot and stir until the pasta has completely absorbed it, about 1-2 minutes. At this point the pasta is still raw, but tastes like magic, richly buttered bread. It’s amazing.

When the wine has been absorbed, add the stock and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for an additional 8- 10 minutes or until the pasta is done stirring every . I used Simply Smart pasta, which takes closer to 12 minutes to reach the correct texture.

At that point, turn off the heat and add the juice of one lemon. Stir. Add the 3 TBSP of heavy cream, 1/2 of the herb mixture, and grated parm, and stir well. Once the sauce has reached your desire consistency, dump in the cooked veggie mixture. I like my sauce a little thicker so I put the pot back over heat to stir for an additional 4 minutes, just until it was rich and creamy. Add the cherry tomatoes and – you guessed it – stir. You want the heat of the sauce & pasta to just warm and wilt the tomatoes. Plate each serving and sprinkle on a little of the remaining herb mixture. It’s a beautiful thing.

I topped mine with shaved parm and had a side of steamed broccolini with lemon juice as a side, because one can never have enough veggies. It. Was. INCREDIBLE. It can serve 6 reasonable people or 4 hungry ones.

Clam Chowdah in Austin

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I’m not a fan of football. I’m more of a super fan of eating.

And that’s exactly what Super Bowl Parties are for.

I generally enjoy entertaining, but football is just not my thing. I let other people get this one. Besides, since the world is apparently forgoing winter with exception to areas that normally rarely get it (like Rome), my lawn is entirely too long to have guests to the house and our lawn mower takes forever and is easily distracted.

As the New England Whatsits are playing in today’s little game against Madonna or whoever hell the opposing team is, I have decided to make Clam Chowder. To clarify: New England Clam Chowder. Because Manhattan Clam Chowder is like choosing to have a grilled cheese with Kraft singles when you have the option of Gruyere. It’s a joke.

I’ve offended my husband.

Chip likes Kraft singles. Oh, well.

After the last year or so of warm to deadly hot temperatures, Austin is finally experiencing a day of pseudo winter: the high temperature is expected to be a low 54 degrees with skies overcast and a wee bit rainy. Yeah, it’s not “winter” per se, but when seasons have been phased out due to global warming you learn take what you can get. What I’m saying is that today is as close to a perfect Austin day for Chowdah as one could ask for.

The Cliff House in Maine serves incredible clam chowder and has since 1872. My father, inspired by their famous dish, worked to create a simple, but truly delicious version of creamy clam chowder to make at home. And Dad likes good food. While I strive to make things lighter just as my preference, sometimes I like to play after dinner and don’t want to feel weighed down, I know I can always depend on Dad for something rich, something perfect for winter, something to induce a completely content food coma. So…the plus side: this recipe, which feeds 8-10 hungry people, contains only a single tablespoon of butter. The not-so-plus side? It also calls for 3 cups of heavy cream. You heard me.

NOTE: The spice blend is very important and use chopped clams from a fish monger, as opposed to canned, if at all possible. You will have extra spice blend left once you mix it all together, but you can put it in a ziploc baggie and freeze it – yes, freeze the spices, until the next time you want to make clam chowder. All in all, this recipe costs about $30 to make and when you consider the amount of people it feeds, we’re talking peanuts in terms of cost.

Spice blend

4 tsp dried oregano                 2 tsp dill weed              1 tsp sage

4 tsp dried parsley                   4 tsp thyme                   4 tsp rosemary

2 tsp marjoram                         4 tsp basil                     2 tsp tarragon

1 TBSP flour

If possible, blend everything in a mortar & pestle. If not, mix everything in a bowl and mash together with the back of a metal spoon (wood would absorb some of the oils you want to go into the chowder).

The actual Chowder Recipe:

9 Slices bacon, minced

1 TBSP butter

3 yellow onions, minced

3 medium to large cloves garlic, minced

1 medium to large shallot, minced

4 teaspoons of the above spice blend (Seriously, freeze the remainder. It’s tasty.)

6 TBSP all-pupose flour

3 – 4 cans clams (6.5 oz.) or 1.5 – 2 lbs previously frozen chopped clams

3 cups clams juice

3 cups heavy cream

1  cups milk

1 1/2 tsp white pepper

1 tsp black pepper

1.5 lbs potatoes, diced and boiled. You can peel your potatoes, too. I’m using smallish buttercreams, so I’m leaving the skins on.  Mash 1/2 of the potatoes for a richer Chowder consistency.

Over low heat in a stock pot, soup kettle, or – in my case – a wide pasta pot, saute the bacon and butter, allowing some of the fat to render from the fatty pork. Once a good bit of fat has eeked out, but the bacon is still a bit uncooked, add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Add the spice mix and don’t allow anything to brown. Continue sauteing over low heat, stirring periodically, for about 10 minutes or so, until the onions have softened a bit, but aren’t quite translucent.

Add the flour and clam juice. I whisked the flour and clam juice together in a bowl so I wouldn’t have to worry about flour clumps and added it to the pot. Once everything is mixed well, bring the temperature up to a boil. When a boil is reached, turn everything down to a simmer and throw in the heavy cream and milk. After that’s been simmering for 20 minutes or so, add the pre-boiled potatoes.

Do not add the clams until just a few minutes before serving.

If you are making this at your home to be served in right then and there then:

Toss in the clams after the potatoes, sprinkle in the white pepper, and turn heat up to reach desired serving temperature, but do not bring to a boil. Over cooking the clams or cooking them at too hot a temperature, say a boil, makes them tough and chewy rather than tender and flavorful. I like to top mine with a little sprinkling of the greens from the tips of fennel. I love the color and look, and it’s not as strong as dill would be (similar in look) and adds a delicate new flavor that’s only just noticeable, but very delicious.

As I will be bringing this dish to a friend’s home, ideally I would bring the chowder mixture to their house, covered and on a towel on the floor of the backseat,  commandeer a burner on their stove top, reheat, and throw in the clams and white pepper, and bring to serving temperature at that point.

My recommendation: Don’t travel with hot clam chowder. Just eat it at your house.

And don’t share.

I wish I had a better picture to share, but once the food hit the table everyone dug in. The chowder was rich and flavorful, the clam chunks abundant. It was excellent on a cold, wet day to celebrate New England! Go sports!