Steamed Clams with Purple Potatoes

This recipe turned out to be quite an endeavor given my complete unfamiliarity with mollusks. I've heard the best place in town to buy fresh seafood is the Fish Lady in Soquel, so I made my way down there one Sunday afternoon planning to buy clams for the first time ever. My naïveté soon shone to a whole new level as I waited in line at the glass case displaying the daily catch... I was eyeing all of the items in the case when I swore out of the corner of my eye I saw the little clams move in the bowl. I thought clams were, like, you know, dead when you buy them at the store. Apparently not... I've never cooked anything living and certainly had no intention of starting that day. I booked it to the Whole Foods down the street and picked up perfectly fine, albeit slightly less fresh clams that were completely closed, modestly containing their innards in their innocuous shells. A good scrubbing and steam later, they were perfect! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs little neck clams, washed and scrubbed
  • 2 pieces bacon
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 4-5 small fingerling potatoes (I used purple)
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de provonce
  • salt & pepper to taste

Extra options

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup cream

Directions

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until done but not crispy, set aside and chop to bits when cool. In the bacon fat reserved in the pan, add the garlic and shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine and let simmer down for 5 minutes, then add the chicken broth. Add the bacon bits, clams, carrots, potatoes, and herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rolling simmer, cover with a lid, and cook until the clams open up. Remove from the heat and *if* you want extra rich flavor, add the butter and the cream and stir. Serve immediately. Serve with sourdough bread for dipping, or over a bed of linguine. 

Summer Stone Fruit Salad

I was in the mood for a healthy, light summer salad over the weekend and went to our little local organic market for fresh ingredients and inspiration. I started with wheat berries... these are so so good for you, as they are a whole grain with the kernel still intact, so they are filled with fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. I grabbed some burrata cheese and bacon, which are not so good for you, but holy crap they taste amazing! Just use less of those ingredients when assembling the salad... they are really just there for the flavor.  A little olive oil and the juice from the stone fruit is all this salad needs for dressing, and the sweetness of the fruit perfectly complements the peppery arugula and the nutty flavor of the wheat berries. I served my salad with a nice, crisp Rosé courtesy of Bonny Doon Vineyard that had been sitting on ice all day, and it made for a perfect summer Sunday dinner out in the garden.

Ingredients

  • Organic baby arugula (I buy this one)
  • 1 cup wheat berries (there are a few different varieties; I bought the soft white variety)
  • 2-3 pieces stone fruit (I used a pluot and a black plum)
  • Burrata cheese
  • 3-4 pieces bacon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

COOKING DIRECTIONS

Get the wheat berries started first; boil 1 cup wheat berries in 3 cups water. Cover and let simmer for 45-50 minutes. Start to check around this time to see if they're soft and chewy. Once they are, turn off the heat and let sit.

While the wheat berries are boiling, cook the bacon to desired texture... I leave mine a little chewy because I don't like it to be too crumbly. When done, set aside on paper towels to cool and soak up any excess bacon fat.

ASSEMBLING THE SALAD

  • Drizzle the olive oil lightly over the baby arugula in a large mixing bowl and mix around well to get it all lightly dressed, and place the greens as the base on your plate or in a bowl.
  • Next, put a 1/2 cup sized scoop of the cooked wheat berries on top
  • Cut fresh burrata cheese into desired-sized slices and place on top of the wheat berries (this is a personal preference, but I like me some burrata, so I tend to be generous!)
  • Cut the stone fruit into slices, removing the pits, and assemble around the burrata
  • Chop up the bacon into bits and sprinkle over the top!

 

Turkey Bacon Frittata with Shallot & Chive Boursin Cheese

Serves about 4 people

Tip: don't leave the room after you've finished cooking the potatoes and leave them unattended... your hungry fiance might get out of bed and EAT.THEM.ALL!!  

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper (each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3-4 boiled medium/large red potatoes
  • 6 slices turkey bacon (or regular bacon!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion; chopped
  • 1 5-oz package of Boursin Shallot and Chive cheese

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pre-boil the potatoes (skin on or peeled - your preference) so they are cooked through and ready to dice into 1/4" cubes. I like to boil my potatoes the night before so they are cooled and easy to work with in the morning.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an ovenproof 9-10 inch skillet over medium-high heat and cook the turkey bacon until cooked to desired consistency (I like mine still a bit soft and chewy).  Remove from the pan, dry/cool the bacon in between paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Add the chopped onion to the pan (right in there with the leftover goodness from the bacon), stirring regularly until they turn soft and translucent.  Then and the diced potato, season with salt and pepper, and toss them around every minute or so to get them evenly cooked (takes about 10-15 minutes).  It's OK if they get a good brown scab on them, and also OK that the onions will turn a burnt brown color... they won't taste burnt as long as you're moving them around regularly.  

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until just combined.  Roughly chop the turkey bacon up into  pieces and mix into the egg mixture.

Once the potatoes are done, pour the beaten egg mixture evenly over potatoes and crumble the Boursin cheese over the top. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake, uncovered, until set and just cooked through (about 15 minutes).

Wait for it to cool about 5 minutes and then slice and serve!  Optional - salsa slathered over the top of this tastes amazing, too!