New Haven Style Clam Pizza (from Behind Enemy Lines)

Image

New Yorkers are proud of their pizza. There are good slices to be had on corners in the Village, amazing pies to be found throughout most of Brooklyn and upscale pizzas served in trendy restaurants with hipster waiters promising that their crusts are ‘bold and festive.’

But 90 miles away in New Haven, there is an even more intense, albeit smaller pizza pride movement. Indeed the clam pies at New Haven’s legendary Pepe’s are truly remarkable. The pizza is not cheese-heavy and the flavor hints of the very best Pasta alle Vongole you’ve ever tasted. Garlicy, buttery and briny at the same time but with a chewy crust. I’m afraid to sing the praises of New Haven’s pizza while only 3 blocks away from one of New York’s most intense pizza joints which has had a line out the door for the last 25 years but sometimes, I prefer New Haven style pies. And I like them even more when they’re made at home with local ingredients.

I had been playing around with Mario Batali’s pizza crust recipe using local honey to add the tiniest bit of sweetness to the dough. And don’t get me started on local clams. They are one of most affordable ways to make a top-tier local meal at home. And because a good clam pie has only a little cheese, it’s an ideal way to showcase firmer, sharper, local cheeses.

So get that pizza stone in the oven and get ready for what could be…hang on…someone’s coming. I mean “New York has the best pizza in the world! I love it. I don’t like anything else.”

New Haven Style Clam Pizza (from Behind Enemy Lines)

Farmers Market Bill $7/2 servings = $3.50/serving

Make enough pizza dough using your favorite recipe to make 2 large or 4 small pizzas

Roll out pizza into an 8-9 inch round

Preheat pizza stone to 500 (or 550 if possible) for half an hour

Coarsely chop 3 cloves of garlic

Steam a dozen small clams in a half-cup of water and reserve cooking liquid

Remove clams from shell and set aside

Add 1 and 1/2  tablespoons of butter to clam cooking liquid and stir in chopped garlic

Grate a half-cup of firm, local pecorino or other sharp cheese

Dust pizza peel with a small handful of cornmeal

Place crust on pizza peel

Sprinkle cheese on top along with a pinch of salt

Spoon clams on top of cheese and drizzle butter/garlic mixture over the top

Place pizza on stone

Bake pizza for 6 minutes or until brown on top

Serve with a local IPA or red ale

Sautéed Calamari w/ Grape Tomatoes and Summer Herbs

Sautéed Calamari w/ Grape Tomatoes and Summer Herbs

Farmers Market Bill $12/4 servings= $3/serving

Most things that come with a side of marinara are yummy. Mozzarella sticks, mini-calzones, and calamari. In fact, I think after a particularly late night once, I might have ordered an appetizer sampler with all of the above. That’s what happens when you watch all the Police Academy movies back to back. Eventually, it’s 2AM and you start craving something with a side of marinara.

But if it’s earlier in the day perhaps you have good ingredients around, there might be an even tastier option.

The squid from Long Island was described to me by a fellow farmers market shopper as ‘The most underrated thing at any farmers market.’  It’s cheap, extremely easy to prepare, delicious, sustainable, and available much of the year. This time of year, there are plenty of tomatoes as well. And some of you I know are still trying to get rid of herbs from your garden and this is a good way to do it.

I do this with only the tiniest bit of breading and a very hot pan. It certainly has the bite of good calamari, but it’s missing the heaviness of the fried version and the raw tomatoes make the whole thing an ideal warm-weather main course. In fact, I think that after making the dish, you’ll agree that sides of marinara are for late nights and bad movies, but not usually for fresh and seasonal cooking.

Sautéed Calamari w/ Grape Tomatoes and Summer Herbs

Farmers Market Bill $12/4 servings= $3/serving

Heat 2 tablepoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat

Blot dry 1.5 pounds of squid and slice into small rings

Season a half cup of bread crumbs with salt and pepper

Add a teaspoon of white flour

Dredge squid very lightly in breadcrumb flour mixture and place in pan

(If your pan is crowded, do this in smaller batches or the squid may not brown)

Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally

Slice a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes in half

Chop a large handful of basil, tarragon, parsley, or whatever else is fresh

Toss squid with tomatoes and herbs

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and drizzle with olive oil

Add salt and pepper to taste

For those who do not keep Kosher: Steamers in Ham Broth

Steamers in Ham Broth

Well hello Kosher readers! While I love the insightful comments you’ve been sending in about my Jewish dishes, I’m not sure this recipe is for you and perhaps you should come back next week for a recipe you might like better.

Pork and shellfish can range from good (bacon wrapped scallops at an office party) to great (Portuguese Clam Stew with Tomato and linguiça) to exquisite (Spanish Paella with Clams and Chorizo). But whatever the specifics of the dish, there is something exciting about the brininess of shellfish with some rich pork mixed in.

I don’t keep Kosher although my grandmother taught Kosher cooking at one point and many of my friends keep Kosher now. Growing up, we never ate Christmas or Easter hams even though I always knew they were tasty. Now I have no problem serving pork in my home, provided it comes from a local, small operation with extraordinarily high animal welfare standards. I think Tamarack Hollow fits the bill and they make a ham that is simply life changing for most of my guests who have tried it. But for some reason, I don’t serve ham all that often and when I do, I rarely save the bones. But the bones themselves are so full of flavor and nutrients that it would be wrong for a true Home Cook Locavore to pitch something that could so easily be used to make another meal. But what really inspired this dish, were the glistening steamer clams from Pura Vida out of Long Island. These clams rivaled those from Northern New England and begged to steamed and eaten. So 2 dozen steamers were on their way home and a ham bone sat in a bowl in the fridge along with some old carrots and an onion or two. While not the usual method of bringing shellfish and pork together, why not make a ham broth and then steam the clams in it making an even brinier and more delicious broth to serve with the clams? A squeeze of lime and a sprig of cilantro brightens up the dish and gives it an almost palate cleansing quality after each bite.

I noticed some great looking Kosher short ribs at the market this week and I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes. For now though, it’s time for pork, shellfish, and some very nice weather.

Steamers w/ Ham Broth (Farmers Market Bill $16/2 Large Servings = $8/serving)

For the ham broth:

Place a bone from a large ham in a stock pot

Add 2 carrots, 2 onions and whatever other veggies you have around along with 2 bay leaves

Cover bone and vegetables with water

Simmer for 2-3 hours, skimming every hour or so

Strain and taste stock adding pepper and possibly some salt (the ham bone adds some salt already and the steamers will be briny as well so go easy!)

 

For Steamers

Add 2 cups of ham stock to large skillet and bring to boil over high heat

Scrub 2 dozen local steamers and place in pan with ham stock

Cover and steam for 5 minutes or so or until all steamers have opened

Spoon a dozen clams into each of 2 serving bowls and pour remaining broth over steamers

Drizzle the juice of half a lime into bowls and garnish with a couple sprigs of farmers market cilantro

Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mangrove Snapper Tostadas

Fast food Mexican food can be tasty but sometimes I don’t want to think about the 45% ‘real’ filling or wonder when the meat hose was last cleaned out. But tostadas can be fresh, light, and made with local ingredients. If you have good seafood available locally, fish tacos or tostadas can be a fast and delicious weeknight meal.

I first tasted really great fish tacos in Los Angeles where people go so far as to wait in line for half and hour for a hand-pressed tortilla  with perfectly fried fish and cabbage slaw on top. Those tacos are truly things of beauty.

For the home version, I thought it might be better to saute the fish in a pan with some breadcrumbs instead of deep-frying. It makes the dish lighter and the cleanup easier. I found a small fillet of mangrove snapper that had been caught that morning and I had some leftover tomatoes, onions, and poblano peppers from the farmers market as well as half a Florida avocado. I also keep tortillas in the freezer for nights like this.

This works with almost any light fish. I’ve done something similar with tilapia and flounder and the results are just as wonderful. Similarly, feel free to chop up whatever vegetables you have around and throw them in the salsa. It will all be good.

And when you sit down to enjoy your meal, possibly with a margarita or beer in hand, you can rejoice in the fact that you put a light and local Mexican meal on the table without ever using a meat hose.

Mangrove Snapper Tostadas (Farmers Market Bill $12/3 servings= $4/serving)

Salsa:

Dice up a medium onion, 2 poblano peppers, and two medium tomatoes

Season with salt and a squeeze of lime juice

Fish

Beat one egg into a bowl

In another bowl, add about a cup of panko bread crumbs

Add a pinch each of salt, pepper and chili powder to both the bread crumbs and the egg

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat

Dredge an 8-10 oz piece of snapper in the egg and then coat with breadcrumbs

Saute fish for 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through (It’s fine if the fish falls apart or if you need to cut into it to check doneness)

Warm up 3 tortillas in microwave or oven

Break fish apart and top each tortilla with a couple pieces of fish and a hefty spoonful of salsa

I added avocado and bit of sour cream at the end and of course hot sauce would work well too

Citrus Glazed Gulf Prawns–These Colors Don’t Run

I love using the Seafood Watch program on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.

It’s a great tool for figuring out what seafood is the most sustainable based on the type of fish, the country of origin and on whether or not it is wild or farmed (some farmed choices are indeed better). I love shrimp but there are serious problems with most of the shrimp from overseas. Gulf Shrimp though? The sweet and near-perfect looking specimens found along Florida’s Gulf Coast are not only some of the most delicious shellfish I’ve ever tasted, they are among the most sustainable as well. So it’s time to wave the American Flag and start buying American when we want shrimp. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a Toby Keith song or at least a talk-radio segment about the importance of buying American shrimp. In fact, I think we wasted far too much time making fun of arugula-eaters as being out of touch. Perhaps it is those buying shrimp from 10,000 miles away we should be taking a look at. They might be the real socialists.

Fresh and local citrus is also very good in Florida. It’s sweeter, nicer looking, and I’m certain healthier than what we get in our supermarkets in the North. Oranges and grapefruits are  good for breakfast but because $4 buys you a very large bag of them, I wanted to find some other uses for them as well.

The jumbo prawns are on the pricy side. They’re going to run you around $8/serving. That’s more than many of the proteins I write about here but still less than most entrees in a mediocre restaurant. So drape that American flag around yourself  and get yourself some Gulf Shrimp. You’ll be happy with your meal I’m certain. Also, it will keep people from thinking you’re a communist.

Citrus Glazed Gulf Prawns $16/2 servings = $8/Serving

Peel prawns and set aside

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (the higher smoke point helps here) over high heat

While oil is heating, juice 1 orange and wedge of grapefruit into a small bowl

Add a tablespoon of soy sauce and a hefty pinch of cracked pepper

Toss prawns in bowl with sauce

One by one, shake off the excess sauce and put in pan (be careful, it may spatter a bit)

Cook for 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through in the middle

Remove prawns from pan and turn heat to low

Add remaining sauce and cook for a minute

Add 2 teaspoons of butter and whisk into sauce

Toss prawns back in the pan to coat with the cooked sauce

Serve on a platter with a citrus wedge if desired

Roast Jackfish over Bad-Ass Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes are bad ass. Their red and yellow counterparts whine as soon as it gets a little chilly out. Some of the really lame ones even shrivel up and die. But green tomatoes are not so fragile and I even found one that had been sitting in my fridge for over a week and half that was perfectly fine. They do not need to be handled delicately and can often be found fried (and in the title of a good movie with Kathy Bates). I’m pretty sure that they laugh at the rest of the summer veggies that complain as soon as long sleeve season begins. Yes, green tomatoes can tolerate a lot. So can whole coldwater fish.

The folks at the farmers market had a fish called Jackfish which looked dense and that I thought could stand up to the green tomatoes. Having never cooked the fish before, I consulted one of my favorite seafood cookbooks Fish and Shellfish by James Peterson. Jim’s book is great because after each recipe, it lists some comparable fish that can be substituted if the exact fish in the recipe is not available. I’ve found that having books like this makes it far easier to eat in season because it reminds me that most recipes can be adjusted to better showcase what’s available seasonally and locally. Anyway, Jim’s book recommends 15 minutes of cooking time in a 400-450 degree oven per inch of thickness. My fish was about an inch thick. No complicated math involved.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be excited for the first tomatoes next season. But for a couple more weeks, these resiliant little green guys will more than suffice.

Roast Jackfish over Bad-Ass Green Tomatoes

Total Market Bill $15/3 Servings = $5/serving

Preheat oven to 425

Give a pound of green tomatoes and 3 cloves of garlic a rough chop

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven safe skillet over medium heat

Add tomatoes and garlic along with some salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes become slightly soft

Add a cup of white cooking wine, beer, or stock along with a pinch of cayenne pepper and a pinch of curry powder

Sprinkle both sides of a 1.5-3 pound whole fish generously with salt and pepper

When oven has preheated, lay fish on top of tomatoes and roast for 15 minutes per inch of thickness

I check my fish with a meat thermometer and I’ve found that once it reaches 130 degrees or so, you’re good to go. No need to check the tomatoes. They are fine whether they are sitting in a refrigerator, in a 425 degree oven, or anywhere in between.