Thursday, 26 May 2011

New England Clam Chowder

I love, I mean LOVE, New England clam chowder. A few weeks ago my very pregnant friend from MA mentioned she was craving it. She doesn't really like to cook and they don't do clam chowder in Ireland, so I thought I'd try my hand at making some and take it over to her. I hadn't had it in ages myself, so I thought this was a win win for both of us! After I started making it I panicked a little bit, wondering if this mid-Atlantic girl could pull off making this soup for a true New England connoisseur of the clam chowder. Fortunately, it turned out better than I expected!

There are a million recipes out there for this soup, calling for things like dill or celery. You can pick one really depending on your taste, but from what I could remember dill and celery aren't really authentic. After searching around quite a bit I ended up using a recipe from a Boston tourist site and can be found here. It's a simple soup to make with basic ingredients. Fresh clams are very expensive here, so I ended up just using tinned ones and it was still delicious. I made this the night before and it tasted even better the next day.

I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit, so here's my version using the tinned clams:

Approx. 1 cup tinned clams*, drain and save the juice
2 pieces of streaky bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 dried bay leaf
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp flour
1 cup 2% or semi-skimmed milk
1 cup single cream
Salt to taste
Dash of cayenne

Heat up a sauce pan and fry the bacon until crispy. Add the onion, thyme, bay leaf, and butter. Once the butter melts, add the flour and stir until blended**. Once the onions are translucent, add in the reserved clam juice, diced potatoes, and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft, 8-10 minutes. Once the potatoes are soft add in the cream and clams. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne, tasting until you get it just right to your liking.

That's it! Super easy! I just heated it through the next day and it was even more delicious than right after I made it. This made enough for the two of us to have a hearty lunch with some nice bread.

*Use more or less clams depending on how clammy you like it!
**Yeah, I messed up here. I forgot to put in the flour. So to thicken the soup I added cornstarch before adding the cream and clams. I just added a little bit at a time, eyeballing it until it was a nice thickness.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Beef Goulash

This is my husband's FAVORITE meal (well, other than roast chicken). He gets really excited when I tell him I'm going to make it which totally cracks me up. Funny enough, it's a recipe from the UK version of the Weight Watcher's magazine. I happened to pick up a copy when we were getting on a train and I've made a couple of tasty things from it! This is a quick, easy, and filling recipe, perfect for cold winter nights.

I don't really modify the original recipe too much. The only real changes are made due to what I have on hand, which means the recipe calls for 'paprika' and I use 'smoked paprika'. It does give it a really nice smokey flavor. Also, the recipe called for 'two green peppers', but I always just use whatever I have at that time. This last time I used one yellow and one green pepper. I've used one red and one green in the past. I just think it looks a little more interesting when you mix it up! Also, they tell you to hollow out rolls and serve the goulash in the bread bowl. I'm way too lazy for that!

In WW land, this recipe serves 4. Often times I'll eat 1 serving and Wes eats the rest! 

Beef Goulash
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp smoked paprika
450g (1lb) sirloin steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
Low fat cooking spray
1 large onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (at least one of them green), de-seeded and chopped
50ml (2fl oz) red wine
300g (10.5oz) passata (aka tomato sauce)
1 beef stock cube, dissolved in 150ml (5fl oz) hot water
4 x 60g (2oz) crusty bread rolls
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (if you manage to remember it. I never do!)

1. Mix together the flour and smoked paprika with a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat.
2. Mist a large lidded pan with low fat spray and heat until hot. Add the beef, turning it occasionally until it is brown all over. You may need to do this in batches. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Mist the pan again and stir fry the onion and peppers until softened. Add the red wine and let it bubble up, then add the passata, stock and meat. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the meat is tender.
3. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with parsley if you so desire!

Serves 4
With the roll it's 5.5 WW points. Without the roll it's 3.5!