Butter and Garlic Clams

Butter Clams

When summer fades and the season tilts to autumn, this steamy bowl of buttery clams hits the spot.

I experienced a bowl like this one day last fall. I was researching a travel story on the northern coast of the Olympic peninsula in Washington. If there’s a furthermost corner of the northwest U.S., then this is it. The peninsula is dominated by the Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which sprawls several ecosystems, including mountainous peaks and old-growth forests. Numerous cultural, archeological, and historic sites are woven throughout the landscape, spanning millennia of human occupation from indigenous first cultures to more recent histories of exploration, homesteading, and community development.

On this trip of discovery, the weather was gray, foggy, and misty with intermittent (i.e. frequent) rain showers in true Pacific Northwest form. Yes, it was seasonally wet (the fall season brings the rain). It was also magical, mystical, and magnificent. The horizon loomed with teetering mountains, shrouded in swirls of clouds and fog and bedecked with garlands of waterfalls cascading into serpentine lakes. It was desolate, due in part to the weather and also the season. I had the roads to myself snaking through canyons, interrupted occasionally by logging trucks barreling past and shocking me out of my reverie. I hiked to a ridge, rain be damned, with distant views to British Columbia, through a mist-laden rain forest lush with moss. I traced a river to a roaring crescendo of water tumbling from a precipitous ledge, and I saw salmon spawn.

By the end of the day, cold, soggy, and famished, I returned to sea level to a small fishing town anchoring the mountains to the sea. There were no restaurants open at 4 pm, but for one lone storefront illuminated in the drizzle, with a fish market that provided counter service, where I ordered a simple bowl of garlicky clams steamed in wine and swimming in their buttery juices, buttressed with slabs of garlic bread for soaking up the sweet broth. The singular accompaniment was an icy glass of snappy local riesling. It was perfect.

Since then, I’ve recreated this dish at home a number of times. It’s simple and consistently rewarding. The only thing missing is the weather.

Butter and Garlic Clams

Littleneck clams are my preferred type of clam for this recipe. They are the smallest Quahog clam with sweet and tender meat. Depending on their size, one pound yields 8 to 12 clams. When cleaning clams, discard any opened clams or clams with broken shells before washing. Rinse the clams under cold water, gently scrubbing them clean. Once cooked, discard any unopened clams before serving.

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves 2 to 4

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups un-oaked white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds littleneck clams, about 24, rinsed and scrubbed clean
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
Lemon wedges for serving

1. In a large deep skillet with a lid melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and add the clams. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and steam the clams until the shells have opened, shaking the pan from time to time, 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the clams.

2. Remove the lid and discard any unopened clams. Taste the broth and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Divide the clams and cooking liquid between serving bowls and garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately with garlic bread or crusty bread.

Grilled Pizza with Cauliflower, Chiles, and Olives

An end of summer pizza recipe for the grill:

Cauliflower Chile Pizza

Late summer reaps a kaleidoscope of peppers. Homemade pizza is a great way to show off a fresh and feisty chile pepper combination. On this white (no tomato sauce) pizza, there are four distinctive peppers. Highly decorative Jimmy Nardello chile peppers are long, slender, and gnarly with a mild fruity flavor. Hatch chile peppers are a seasonal specialty, prolific from August through September. They are earthy and buttery in flavor and slightly smoky when roasted. If Hatch chiles are unavailable, mild Anaheim peppers are a good substitute. Poblano chile peppers are the fresh version of dried ancho peppers. When fresh they are relatively mild and earthy with a bite and are great for roasting. Calabrian chiles are small bright red peppers, round or conical in shape, with a moderately high heat level. They are available fresh and are also sold jarred in the Italian or condiment section of your grocery store. They make an excellent garnish with a kick of heat. Feel free to mix and match your own combination of peppers, depending on taste and availability, but try to include a colorful range of sweet to hot for the most flavorful result.

When possible, I make my pizza on the grill. Not only does it keep the heat outdoors in the warm weather, grilling yields a wonderful charred and smoky flavor to the crust. Bear in mind a few tips when preparing your pizza:

1. Store-bought dough is OK! I confess, that while I make my dough from scratch from time to time, I often purchase fresh pizza dough at the store to use immediately or freeze for later use. Prepared doughs are usually sold in one-pound packages, and yield one large rectangular pizza or two small round pizzas.
2. Don’t overload your pizza. If the pizza has too many toppings, it will be heavy and the crust can be soggy. The amounts below are for one large rectangular pizza, using one pound of fresh dough, thinly rolled or stretched. Have all of your ingredients prepped and ready, so that once you roll out the pizza, all you need to do is assemble. Use your judgment when layering the ingredients, and don’t feel compelled to use every last piece. When stretching the dough, it’s fine if it’s irregular in shape. The key is to make it uniform in thickness to ensure even cooking.
3. Parchment paper is your friend. I find it easiest to assemble the pizza on parchment paper, which is easy to slide on and off of the pizza stone. You can trim any excess paper around the edge of the pizza to prevent charring on the grill. If you don’t have a pizza paddle, you can use a rimless cookie sheet to slide under the paper.
4. A pizza stone is ideal. Whether you make a pizza in the oven or on the grill, a pizza stone is a terrific way to transmit the heat evenly to the bottom of the pizza. If you don’t have a pizza stone, then a perforated pizza pan or a baking sheet will also work, but the cooking times may vary.

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Chile Peppers, and Green Olives

Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Makes one rectangular thin-crust pizza, approximately 10 by 15-inches

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt
1/2 head small cauliflower, florets broken into bite-size pieces, about 1 1/2 cups
3 assorted chile peppers, such as Jimmy Nardello, Hatch, and Poblano, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh pizza dough
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, or more to taste
1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup loosely packed finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound fresh pizza dough
8 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella (1 ovaline or 8 ciligiene balls), thinly sliced or shredded
2 Calabrian chiles, thinly sliced (or 2 tablespoons chopped jarred Calabrian chiles)
1/2 cup pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano or Pichonline, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 500°F or prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat. Preheat a pizza stone on the lowest oven rack or on the grill grates for at least 10 minutes.
2. Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
3. Toss the cauliflower and sliced peppers with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl. Lightly season with salt and black pepper and toss again.
4. Roll out or stretch the pizza dough to your desired shape and thickness on parchment paper. I prefer to stretch my dough thin in a large rectangular shape.
5. Lightly brush the dough with the garlic oil, leaving a 3/4-inch border clear around the edges. Sprinkle the red chili flakes and 1/4 cup pecorino cheese over the dough. Spread the cauliflower and peppers over the crust, keeping the border clear.
6. Arrange the mozzarella over the pizza, gently nestling around and over the vegetables. Scatter the Calabrian chilies and green olives over the top and sprinkle the remaining pecorino cheese over the pizza.
7. Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake until the cauliflower is tinged, the crust is golden brown and crisp, and the cheese is melted, 13 to 15 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the crust.
8. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and immediately brush the crust with some of the garlic oil. Drizzle any remaining oil over the pizza. Sprinkle the lemon zest and black pepper over the pizza. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.

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Sheet Pan Chermoula Chicken and Cauliflower with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Winner Winner Chicken (Sheet Pan) Dinner:

Chermoula Roasted Chicken and Romanesco

You’ve probably heard of sheet pan dinners. The term may be trendy, but the concept is not. It simply means arranging all of your dinner components on a rimmed baking sheet, coating them with oil and seasoning, then roasting in the oven – and, voilà, you have a complete dinner on a tray. While the emphasis is certainly on ease of preparation, with the right ingredients this cooking method ensures maximum flavor. Oven roasting coaxes out the flavors of vegetables and meats and is a sure-fire (no pun intended) way to cook to crispy, golden perfection. The key to building great flavor is the ingredients you use to coat and bind the dish. They can be as basic as olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, or more elaborate with aromatic marinades, spices, herbs, and citrus.

This recipe combines two ingredients that are well suited for roasting: bone-in chicken thighs and romanesco, a green brassica, which looks like a cone-headed cauliflower. Importantly, they both require a similar amount of cooking time, so they can happily team up on a baking sheet without one ingredient over-cooking while the other keeps on roasting. (You can also use white cauliflower in this recipe.) A potent, herbaceous chermoula sauce, robust with garlic, lemon, and spices, coats the whole lot and drives in flavor.

The finishing touch to this recipe – not required, but recommended – is a smoky red pepper sauce for swiping and drizzling. It’s inspired by Spanish romesco sauce (not to be confused with the romanesco vegetable!) and traditionally consists of roasted tomatoes and ground almonds or hazelnuts. This smoother rendition uses roasted red peppers to create a sweet and smoky condiment.

Chermoula Chicken and Cauliflower Sheet Pan Dinner

Active time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, plus marinating time
Serves 4

Chermoula Sauce:
1 1/2 cups Italian parsley leaves and tender sprigs
1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves and tender sprigs
1 cup fresh mint leaves
Juice and finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup olive oil

8 bone-in chicken thighs with skin

Red Pepper Sauce:
2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed, coarsely chopped
1 red jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed (optional), coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium head romanesco (or white cauliflower)
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Lemon wedges for serving

1. Combine all of the chermoula ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop. Add the oil and pulse to blend. The chermoula should have a runny salsa consistency. If too thick, add more oil to loosen.
2. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Pour in the chermoula and stir to thoroughly coat, rubbing the marinade between the skin and meat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.
3. Combine all of the red pepper sauce ingredients in the cleaned bowl of a food processor and process to blend. Taste for seasoning. (The sauce may be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
4. Heat the oven to 375°F.
5. Cut the cauliflower from crown to stem in 3/4-inch slices. Cut out the cores and cut the cores into bite-size chunks. (The cores are sweet and edible, so don’t discard them.)
6. Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange, skin-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the cauliflower steaks and pieces on all sides with the residual marinade and arrange around the chicken. Season everything with salt and black pepper.
7. Transfer the tray to the oven and roast until the romanesco is tender and the chicken is golden brown and cooked through (it should register 165°F when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thickest part closest to the bone), about 30 minutes.
8. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with lemon wedges.

A Very Green Frittata

Put your carrot tops and beet greens to use in this healthy frittata recipe:

Greens Frittata TasteFood

When I buy beets, carrots, and turnips at the market, they are often presented as bright bunches, crowned with exuberant stalks sprouting a cascade of green leaves. While it may be tempting to chop off the stems and discard the mountain of greens left behind with the trimmings … don’t do that. These greens are delicious on their own, sautéed in olive oil, blitzed into pestos, folded into omelets, and baked in frittatas. Rich in nutrients and ranging from sweet to peppery to earthy in flavor, they are an under-appreciated bonus attached to your roots and crucifers.

Lately, I’ve been on a beet green kick. Yellow or golden beets are sweet, nutty, and less earthy than their red brethren, and their mildness is reflected in the flavor of their leaves. I remove and store the leaves in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they can last for up to one week, ready for use in a simple side dish or, in this recipe, a frittata.

Beets Bunch TasteFood

It’s safe to say that this frittata is a very green frittata, with just enough egg to bind the leaves but not dominate. If you prefer a more eggy dish, feel free to add 2 more eggs and 1 additional tablespoon of half and half. You can use just one or any combination of greens, including the tops of beets, carrots, and turnips, as well as chopped kale and chard leaves. (If using kale or chard leaves, remove the stems and ribs before adding them to the mix.) I blanch sturdy greens, such as kale, chard, and beet greens, to wilt them just enough for a quick sauté in olive oil and garlic before adding the eggs. When using more fragile greens such as wispy carrot tops, you can omit the blanching step.

Green Frittata

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound greens
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon half and half or whole milk
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1. Wash the greens and tear into large pieces. If using kale or chard, remove the ribs.
2. Heat the oven to 350°F.
3. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the greens and blanch until bright in color, about 1 minute. Drain the greens and press to remove any excess liquid.
4. Whisk the eggs and cream in a bowl and stir in half of the cheese. Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs together in a separate small bowl.
5. Heat the oil in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the greens, season with the salt and black pepper, and sauté until the greens wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Remove the skillet from the heat. Pour the eggs over the greens, gently nudging the greens around to evenly distribute the eggs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the frittata.
7. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are set and the top of the frittata is golden brown in spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Apricot Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin Isn’t Just for Apples
Apricot Tarte Tatin

Shelter in place has given way to an abundance of bread baking. If you follow social media, you can’t miss the number of proud bread photos and sourdough sagas to admire and read. It makes sense. With all of our stay-at-home time, why not take the opportunity to develop and perfect our baking skills? I propose adding Tarte Tatins to that list.

Tarte what? Tarte Tatin is a French upside-down fruit tart that traditionally features fall fruit, such as apple and pear. In fact, any fruit that can be slow-cooked in butter and sugar without dissolving into a puddle will work. Stone fruit, such as plums, nectarines, and apricots, are excellent contenders, which is why Tarte Tatins should be added to your summer to-do list.

The key to a successful Tarte Tatin – besides luscious in-season fruit – is the caramel, which is the base in which the fruit is cooked. A pastry crust is then layered over the bubbling fruity confection, and the tart is finished in the oven. Once baked, the tart is inverted onto a plate, and the caramel becomes the top of the tart: a shiny sheen encasing the fruit like fossilized amber.

Tarte Tatins may appear tricky to make, but each step is straightforward. The biggest mistake you can make is not taking the time to allow the fruit to properly caramelize. It may be tempting to rush this step and hasten to the baking stage, but you will risk a runny topping that lacks in caramel color and flavor.

When making the caramel, remember these tips. As mentioned, heed the time. Be patient and vigilant and allow the caramel to achieve its ideal color. This should take about 30 minutes, while you keep an eye on the bubbling sugar and butter, turning the pan to ensure even cooking. The ideal color should resemble golden-brown amber or the color of peanut butter. If it’s too light, the flavor will read sweet. If it’s too dark, you risk burning when the caramel continues to darken while the tart bakes. I prefer to use a stainless steel oven-proof skillet to make this confection. A cast-iron pan may be alluring and oh-so rustic to use, but it can be difficult to read the color of the caramel as it cooks.

The final turn of the baked tart onto the plate is easier than it sounds. Make sure you are properly gloved up. Steady and center the skillet and the plate, and, well, just flip it. If any bits remain in the pan, you can simply add them to the top of the tart. Detailed perfection is not necessary. This is a rustic tart. Fruit and caramel are forgiving, whether in pristine or cobbled together desserts, and they always taste great. The good news is that once you’ve made a few of these tarts, you’ll get the hang of the technique. So go ahead and start practicing your Tarte Tatin baking skills. Your friends and family will appreciate your new project.

Apricot Tarte Tatin

Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Serves 8

Pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
1/3 cup sour cream

Filling:
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks, room temperature
1 1/2 pounds medium apricots, halved and pitted
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 egg, lightly beaten

Prepare the pastry:
1. Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor once or twice to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Add the sour cream and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather the dough in a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
2. Before preparing the filling, roll the dough out on parchment paper into a round shape to fit the size of the skillet. Slide the parchment and pastry onto a baking tray and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare the tart:
1. Whisk the 2 tablespoons sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Arrange the butter in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet with sloping sides. Evenly sprinkle the 3/4 cup sugar over the skillet. Place over medium heat and cook until the butter melts, the sugar begins to dissolve, and the mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully arrange the apricots, skin-side down, in a circular pattern in the skillet. Sprinkle the reserved sugar mixture and the lemon zest over the fruit.
3. Continue to cook the fruit over medium heat until a deep amber-colored syrup forms, 25 to 30 minutes, turning the skillet to ensure even cooking.
4. While the apricots are cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F.
5. When the caramel is the desired color, remove the skillet from the heat. Working quickly, lay the pastry over the apricots and peel away the parchment. (It’s ok of the pastry breaks or tears in places. You can piece it together once the parchment is discarded. Remember, it’s the bottom of the tart – it needn’t look pristine.) Press the pastry around edges of the skillet. Cut 3 to 4 slits in the pastry and brush with the egg.
6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the pastry is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.
7. Remove the tart from the oven. Let it stand for one minute, then run a knife around the edge of the tart to help it to release when inverted. Place a large heat-proof platter over skillet. Using oven mitts, hold the skillet and platter together and invert the tart onto the platter. If any bits stick to the pan, use a knife or spatula to remove and add to the tart. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh Salad

Invite this salad to your next BBQ:
Kale Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

I call this salad tabbouleh, although many of the ingredients are not what you will typically find in a traditional Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad. Middle Eastern tabbouleh is a puckery bulgur salad, tumbled with fresh herbs, chopped vegetables, lemon, and olive oil. This version takes inspiration from the tabbouleh method but detours south of the U.S. border with ingredients and spices of the Americas. Quinoa replaces the bulgur, while sweet corn, chiles, cilantro, and cumin ripple throughout the salad. Shredded kale partakes in the shower of fresh greens, providing earthy flavor and healthy heft, while lime steps in for the citrus.

This is a perfect summer salad to include in your barbecue spread as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish, or as a vegetarian dish for non-meat eaters. Protein-rich quinoa is a South American plant, which produces small seeds that are rich in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. The seeds may be prepared like rice, and their nutty flavor adds heartiness to salads, pilafs, and stews. Quinoa is also gluten-free, providing a nutritious substitute for bulgur, couscous, and farro.

The key to making this salad is to taste as you build it. There should be a balance of citrus, spice, and heat and a generous amount of greens for flavor and freshness. Quinoa requires a good deal of seasoning, so season the quinoa before adding the remaining salad ingredients. I prefer to use red quinoa for color and flavor, but white quinoa can also be used. This recipe can be prepared in advance of serving and refrigerated for up to 6 hours. Its flavors will meld the longer it sits, so taste again before serving.

Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh

Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes, plus cooling and refrigerating time
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 corn cob, husked, silk removed
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 medium poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 Tuscan kale leaves, tough ribs removed, leaves shredded
1/2 chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

  1. Put the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water. Drain and place in a medium saucepan. Add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until the quinoa releases its tail (germ). Drain again.
  2. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Stir in the garlic, cumin, salt, coriander, black pepper, and cayenne and cool to room temperature.
  3. Cut the corn kernels off of the cob. Add the corn, scallions, peppers, lime juice, and olive oil and stir to combine. Add the kale, parsley, and cilantro and stir well to thoroughly coat the greens and slightly wilt the kale. Taste for seasoning. If too dry, add additional olive oil to moisten.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Smoky Salmon and Spinach Chowder

A Veggie-full Summer Chowder
FIsh Chowder with Salmon

Yes, you can eat warm soup in the summer – especially when it’s chowder. Clam and fish chowders go hand in hand with sunshine and the seashore. While clam chowder is always a favorite, I prefer to make fish chowders, loaded with chunky fish swimming in a smoky, creamy broth.

When making a fish chowder, always choose a firm-fleshed fish, which will hold its shape when cooking in the soup. Delicate, flat filets will flake and dissolve in the broth. While halibut, sea bass, and cod are always good options, I prefer salmon. Salmon’s buttery-rich flesh complements the creamy stock, and when possible, I’ll combine chunks of warm-smoked salmon with fresh salmon. Warm-smoked salmon adds the salty, smoky note essential to a deeply flavorful chowder (this is often achieved with bacon in clam chowders), and has a dry and firm consistency, unlike cold-smoked salmon, which is soft and slippery. Potatoes are another key ingredient, adding thickening starch and substance. And while you can certainly stop there, I encourage adding additional vegetables, such as leafy greens and crucifers, such as cauliflower or broccoli. Then you can pat yourself on the back and call your bowl of chowder a complete meal.

If you’re skeptical about the extra veggies, don’t worry – the creamy, robust chowder can handle them. In fact, vegetables add a welcome earthiness to the rich soup and balance its creaminess. If you are cauliflower-averse, feel free to omit it and add more spinach. Be sure to taste for seasoning when the soup is finished. Depending on the saltiness of the smoked salmon you may need more salt, and don’t (ever) skimp on the freshly ground black pepper.

Salmon and Spinach Chowder

Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped, about 1 cup
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (peeling optional – I like keeping the skin on)
1 1/2 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound salmon filet, skin and pin-bones removed, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1/2 pound hot-smoked salmon filet, skin and pin-bones removed, broken into bite-size chunks
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
Fresh dill for garnish

  1. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened without coloring, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook until slightly toasty in aroma, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Pour in the water and whisk to blend. Add the potatoes and cauliflower. The vegetables should be submerged in the soup. If not, add more water to cover. Bring to a boil, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cream, Tabasco, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Add the fresh and smoked salmon and simmer until the fresh salmon is cooked, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the spinach and simmer until just wilted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with dill. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Crisp with Orange and Cardomom

Save some strawberries for this dessert crisp:
Strawberry Crisp with Orange and Cardamom

Now that it’s officially June, I am obsessed with strawberries. When June rolls around, I behave as though I haven’t seen a strawberry since, well, forever. Full disclosure: I live in California (a.k.a. the land of strawberries), so this is not the actual case. However this hoarding reflex – which I fully embrace – originated when I lived in Denmark, and I’m sticking to it.

Danish strawberry season is fleeting and fickle. If you are lucky, the season cooperates and strawberries will grow, almost before your eyes. It’s a window of time when there’s no holding back; when the name of the game is to gorge on the berries while you can, ever aware that this moment will soon pass. Any surplus that you can’t devour (bless you) or bake into a nightly rotation of berry-full desserts, are frozen and preserved for later consumption as a nostalgic taste of summer sunshine during the dark winter months.

Now that I live in California and there’s less urgency in stocking up on these summery berries, I still revel in the memory and indulge in over-consumption. And when I’ve tired of stuffing my face with fresh berries, I add them to easy desserts, such as this fruit crisp.

Strawberry Crisp with Orange and Cardamom

Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 to 65 minutes, plus cooling time
Serves: 6 to 8

Topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ½-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped almonds (optional)

Filling:
2 pounds strawberries, hulled, halved if small, quartered if large
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt

  1. Make the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the topping resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the almonds, if using. Cover the bowl and chill until use. (The topping may be made up to one day in advance.)
  2. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  3. Combine all of the filling ingredients together in a bowl and gently stir to combine. Spoon the filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual ramekins. Evenly cover with the topping. Transfer to the oven and bake until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes for the baking dish, 30 to 35 minutes for the ramekins. Remove from the oven and cool to lukewarm or room temperature before serving, to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cranberry Bourbon Refresher

This bright cranberry cocktail is a perfect refresher:

Cranberry Bourbon Lime Cocktail

Cranberries may be associated with the holiday season – as well they should – but these plump tart berries are delightful year-round when added to salads, salsas, relishes, and, in this case, cocktails. It’s almost summer, and I think a cocktail is most appropriate these days. The cranberries perfectly balance the honeyed spice of bourbon, acting as a natural bitter, if you will. In this drink, the berries are added in three ways – in a simple syrup, as the base for a muddle, and also as an edible garnish – yep, that’s right, you can eat these berries straight up. They’re that good.

Cranberry Bourbon Refresher
Makes one cocktail

Cranberry Simple Syrup:
2 cups frozen cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 2-inch cinnamon stick

Cocktail:
3 to 4  frozen cranberries
3 to 4 mint leaves
2 lime quarters
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce Cranberry Simple Syrup
1 ounce fresh lime juice
Ice cubes

Make the simple syrup:
Combine the syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the cranberries break down, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing down on the cranberry pulp. Discard the solids. Cool the syrup to room temperature. (The simple syrup may be stored in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.)

Make the cocktail:
Combine the cranberries, mint, and lime quarters in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add the bourbon and Cointreau, and then add the remaining ingredients. Shake vigorously and pour into a tall glass or strain into a rocks glass. Serve with whole cranberries, lime wedges, and mint sprigs.

Disclosure: I was supplied with cranberries from Cape Cod Select for this challenge.
For more recipes and Cape Cod Select information follow their links:
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Pomegranate Glazed Baby Back Ribs

The secret is in the sauce with these sticky, finger-licking baby back ribs.
Pomegranate Lacquered Baby Back Ribs

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and if you haven’t had a chance to escape to the great outdoors to do some grilling, then now is the time to dust off the grill, breathe in the fresh air, and cook up a platter of crispy, sticky ribs. When it comes to these baby back ribs, the secret is in the sauce. Infused with pomegranate molasses, the basting and dipping sauce yields a sweet and puckery glaze, ensuring the ribs will crisp to finger-licking goodness over the fire. No grill? No worries! You can also make these ribs in your oven.

Pomegranate molasses is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s a slick reduction of pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon, and a great addition to marinades, sauces, dressings, even drinks. It’s available in the international section of your supermarket and specialty stores. You can also make your own by combining one quart (4 cups) of unsweetened pomegranate juice with 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat, until the juice is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups and has a syrupy consistency, about 1 hour. Cool the syrup slightly (it will continue to thicken as it cools) and then store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Lacquered Ribs

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: about 3 1/2 hours, plus marinating time
Serves 4 to 6

Rub:
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne

2 racks baby back pork ribs

Sauce:
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Evenly coat the ribs with the rub. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat to meld the flavors, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over low heat, about 275° on a gas grill. (Or heat your oven to 275°F.)
  4. Grill the ribs over indirect low heat until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning and once or twice. During the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, lightly baste with some of the sauce. (If using an oven, arrange the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and roast on the middle rack of your oven.)
  5. Increase the grill heat to medium-high. Baste the ribs with the sauce and grill over direct heat until slightly charred and crisp, turning as needed, 8 to 10 minutes. (Or increase the oven heat to 450°F and cook until beginning to crisp, turning as needed.)
  6. Serve with the remaining sauce for dipping.