"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Monday, July 16, 2007

Manhattan Clam Chowder and Currant Tea Scones

This is the problem with having a great cookbook that contains over 1000 recipes. You cook a bunch, and you start to get some favorites, and the next thing you know you're cooking the same things over and over and you've stopped branching out. Can I tell you how many times I've made Portuguese Cornmeal Bread? Or Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Green Olives? And my young co-worker, Miranda, makes French Pea Soup at least once a week. Anyway, my point here is that I was flipping through the book looking at all of the recipes I HAVEN'T made yet, and thinking it was time to keep expanding. Watch this spot.

And I have fully recovered from the high tide of 20 mouths to feed at work, thank you those who have asked and expressed concern. Everybody has gone back home and we are getting the house cleaned and put back together.

One of the delicious leftovers from the S.'s 65th anniversary party was half a bag of cherrystones from the raw bar. I kept them in a back refrigerator and couldn't quite decide what to do with them. I was going to make New England Clam Chowder but noted that I had already made it once, so in the spirit of expanding I went to the next recipe and made Manhattan Clam Chowder.

This is a great soup recipe, but people, clams are not the easiest things in the world to get into. There has to be a better tool than the oyster knife I was trying to use, and ultimately I just went with a hammer. The only time I could use the oyster knife was when I could catch a clam "breathing"--they open the shell a tiny crack--and then I could stick the knife in and pry the shell open. But when you're watching the clock you can't stand around waiting for a bowl of clams to take a breath of fresh air, can you? You've got to get in there and get that clam meat one way or another.

You could, of course, buy pre-shucked clams, and next time I just might, but a) it feels like cheating and b) my clams were unshucked.

The Currant Tea Scones are quite nice if you're a scone fan. I had two people turn up their noses yesterday though--E. who thought the currants might be chocolate chips, and a little visiting girl, who apparently thought the same thing but didn't think to ask first. But--if you are prepared for currants and don't need a super-sweet cookie fix to make your life complete, these are very pleasant and eatable. I ate three right out of the oven.

I deviated from the recipe only in the formation of the baked product--this calls for forming it into a round and scoring it--then baking and cutting along the score. This would make scones far too large for tea time at work so I cut the dough up into tiny triangles. If you do this as well please note that the baking time will be much reduced--more along the lines of 15 minutes. My scones were JUST on the not-burned side of doneness--another 45 seconds and they would have gone in the trash.

Scones will never replace the beloved cookies at work for tea time, but they're nice to throw in the mix every once in a while.

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