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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mom's Clam Chowder

Oh, Winter-day goodness! I can't think of a more comforting food (and if it's complemented with a pan of sweet cornbread, so much the better).  Thanks to my Mommy for always making the creamiest comfort food on cold days!

 There are two things that set this clam chowder apart: the bacon and the red wine vinegar. Bacon needs no explanation, but that splash of red wine vinegar at the end adds so much zest . . . it livens up all the flavors and turns a delicious, hearty chowder into something worth sharing with your friends (or everyone on the World Wide Web).

I usually add more vegetables than it calls for.  Five small potatoes
made about three cups worth.
If you don't have celery . . . don't bother making this.
Cast-iron skillet: accept no substitutions.
Drained clam juice and drained bacon "juice" . . . not for vegetarians :)
Add the chopped veggies to the mixture, then add water
until the vegetables are just covered.
Start the roux: thoroughly mix flour with melted butter and
then add a quart of half and half (I often use a half-cup
of butter & flour instead of 3/4 cups)
Whisk the roux while the vegetables are getting tender
The difference between so-so clam chowder and the last
clam chowder recipe you'll ever need.
After you add the roux to the veggies, add the chopped, cooked
bacon and clams, then that essential splash of vinegar. 
Serve immediately.
We had this chowder on a day when the HIGH was one degree.
ONE.  The low was in the negative twenties.  It really was the
best possible dinner, and we sopped it up with sweet cornbread.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bex Deluxe Cheesecake

The reason this is my favorite cheesecake is because it calls for almond extract instead of lemon juice.  It's such a warm, subtle flavor--I feel like lemon overpowers other cheesecakes I've tried.  And I always prefer a Nilla wafer crust over a graham cracker one.

Bonus: it feeds a CROWD.  You can easily slice it into 16 or even 20 pieces.

1 box of Nilla Wafers, pulsed in the food processor to a fine crumb
Add one half cup melted butter (+ a pinch of salt) and mix till moist
Grease your springform pan with butter or shortening, then press
the crust into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan
You can use a hand mixer or your industrial mixer.  I like to to add
the eggs one at a time while the dough hook on my Bosch is still
spinning.  Because I live on the edge of culinary DANGER, yo . . .
Notice it's not completely smooth--a hand mixer
(or not the dough hook) will beat it much more
smoothly . . . but it was still delightful.
Ready for the oven.  YOU MUST SET THE TIMER so you won't
forget to turn the heat down after 12 minutes.  I have learned
this lesson the hard way, alas.

And here it is.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!