NEW England is a beautiful part of the world and the birthplace of some wonderful seafood dishes.
Perhaps the most famous is New England clam chowder, or "chowdah" as the locals pronounce it. The traditional preparation calls for using fresh steamer clams, but to speed things up, the following recipe substitutes canned clams and bottled clam juice, both available in the canned fish section of most supermarkets. Served with hot, fresh biscuits and with a delicious apple crisp waiting in the wings, this is a dinner to warm your heart during the worst nor'easter.
CREAMY NEW ENGLAND CHOWDER
3 150-ml cans baby clams, juices reserved
2-3 cups bottled clam juice
3 bacon slices, chopped into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp dried thyme
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups light cream
2 Tbsp dry sherry (optional)
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (or more or less to taste)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Drain the clam juice from the baby clams and combine with enough bottled juice to make three cups of liquid. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat cook the bacon until just crisp.
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about five minutes. Stir in the flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about two-three minutes. Whisk in the clam juice; bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, whisking frequently (the liquid should be the consistency of unwhipped whipping cream). Add more clam juice if it's too thick. Add the bay leaf and the thyme. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place the drained clams in a medium saucepan with the whipping cream and light cream; simmer together for six-seven minutes. When the potatoes are tender add the clam-cream mixture to the soup base
and simmer for an additional two minutes. Remove bay leaf; stir in the sherry, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Makes six-eight servings.
BACK BAY CHEDDAR BISCUITS
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ cup butter, slightly softened
1¼ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream
1¼ cups milk
6 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the first seven ingredients (flour through garlic powder) in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Work in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture forms coarse crumbs; stir in the cheese, then the sour cream and the milk.
Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish; scoop up large spoonfuls of the biscuit dough and place them side by side in the greased dish, spaced about a half-inch apart.
Mix the topping ingredients together and spoon half of the topping evenly over the unbaked biscuits. Bake for about 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and spoon the remaining topping over baked biscuits.
Serve warm. Makes about 20 biscuits.
THE BEST APPLE CRISP
6-8 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into eighths
1 ?3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp cornstarch
¾ cup butter
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the sliced apples in a large saucepan with three-quarters of a cup of water; sprinkle with the sugar and one teaspoon cinnamon; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until apples are just tender, about eight minutes.
Mix the cornstarch with one-quarter cup cold water and add to the apples. Bring back to a boil and cook until juices have thickened slightly, one-two minutes. Taste the mixture and add more sugar if desired. Turn out the apples into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl combine the flour, brown sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until crumbly; sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Bake until topping is lightly browned and juices bubble up around the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes (you might want to place a cookie sheet on the oven rack under the pan in case any juices boil over). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Makes eight servings.