The Good Home Cookbook (Collectors Press, Fall 2006) is a landmark cookbook that compiles tried and true American favorite recipes. Key to the book's success is the more than 1,000 people currently participating in the first ever national public recipe testing campaign.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Manhattan Clam Chowder--using fresh clams

This is a fresh tasting chowder with a rich tomato base. Many rounds of testing were done to get this right!

Manhattan Clam Chowder
No one really knows how this red chowder got its name, but its tomato base and other savory flavors offer a tangy variation to cream-based New England clam chowder. Serve with pilot crackers or toasted garlic bread.

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup water or red wine
5 lbs clams, such as manila or littleneck
3 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium celery rib, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 cups tomato juice
2 cups waxy potatoes, such as thin-skinned red or white, peeled and diced small
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the water or red wine in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the clams, cover, and cook until the clams have opened, 5 to 10 minutes depending upon the size of the clams. Remove the clams from the pot, discarding any that are unopened, and remove the clams from the shells. Coarse chop the clams and set aside. Strain the clam liquor through cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel to remove sand, and set aside.
2. Fry the bacon over medium-high heat in a large soup pot or saucepan until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the onions, celery, and carrot and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add tomato juice, potatoes, clam liquor, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, thyme, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
4. Add the clams and c ook for 2-3 more minutes. Remove the bay leaf and add the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve hot.

Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder. To make Manhattan Clam Chowder with canned clams instead of fresh, replace the fresh clams with 4 (7-ounce) cans chopped clams. Drain the canned clams, reserving the clam liquor, and complete the recipe as directed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Chicken Gumbo--comfort food from the south

Recipe tester feedback indicated you could make this with any level of heat (spice) that you want. So I went mild for the kids and added a LOT of spice to mine. It turned out great. The okra was incredible. We used frozen okra and it kept its form nicely. The brown roux added an interesting flavor as did the file powder. Hope you enjoy this!

Chicken Gumbo
Gumbo is the soup most closely associated with Cajun cooking. It contains the “holy trinity” of onions, celery, and bell peppers, as well as the distinctive brown roux, which gives the soup its silky texture. Tasso is a smoked pickled pork sausage that gives this dish a unique smoky flavor. Smoked ham or Andoullie sausage will also work.

Serves 6 to 8

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 pound bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded (optional) and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth (see page 000)
1 pound okra (fresh or frozen), stems removed and pods sliced (about 4 cups)
1/2 pound tasso or smoked ham, diced
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons file powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
4 to 6 cups cooked white rice, to serve
2 cups diced cooked chicken
chile powder, to serve
Louisiana-style hot sauce, to serve

1. To make the roux, combine the vegetable oil and flour in a large frying pan, stirring until you have a smooth paste. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the paste is a rich chocolate brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside.
2. Fry the bacon in a large soup pot or saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon and reserve for another use.
3. Add the onion, green pepper, celery, jalapeño, and garlic to the bacon fat and sauté over medium heat until the onion is limp, about 4 minutes.
4. Add 6 cups broth, okra, tasso, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves and file powder. Carefully stir in the roux. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, lower the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Add the chicken. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
6. To serve, ladle the gumbo over rice in large soup bowls. Pass the chile powder and hot sauce at the table.