Stuffies (stuffed quahogs)

This is my take on a classic Rhode Island dish, that uses quahogs, a large variety of clam native to Rhode Island. I know that it’s available in other states in New England, but if you can’t find them in your area, you can also use regular clams for this dish if they’re a bit bigger - you just need more of them. It’s got a lot more vegetables, and a lot more lemon, and it’s PERFECT with Newcastle. Seriously—get some Newcastle before you eat these. You won’t regret it.

To make it: 
  • 5 quahogs (very large clams), rinsed of dirt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 green pepper, chopped coursely
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped coursely (about a cup)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped coursely
  • 1/2 piece turkey kielbasa (about 6-7 inches), chopped coursely
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I use multi-grain, but you can use any kind you like)
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 tsp tabasco sauce
  • 2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 425. Put about a gallon of salted water on to boil. When it boils, put the clams in and cover. Boil 6-8 minutes, until shells open. When they’re done, take them out, rinse in cold water, and take the meat out of the shells (making sure to remove the tough muscly bits—there’s usually 2 or 3). Chop the meat finely and put aside. Break the shells in half, rinse them and lay them out on a baking sheet while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan and add pepper, celery, red onion and kielbasa. Sauté for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are very cooked. Take off the heat. Add the thyme, bread crumbs, lemon juice and zest, minced clam meat and tabasco. Mix together until bread crumbs are moistened. Use the quahog shells to scoop up enough of the mixture to fill the shell. Pack the shell tightly with the mixture (don’t be afraid to use your hands here) and set down on the tray. Continue until all the shells are filled or all the mixture is used up. Sprinkle shredded cheddar on top. Put the filled shells in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and brown. Serve with lemon, tabasco sauce, and a Newcastle.

Tomato soup with zucchini and potatoes

When I was in college, like many other college students, I was pretty darn broke. The good thing was that I was a vegetarian in those days (I try to be now, but not very successfully), so I became very good at finding ways to keep my kitchen stocked without breaking the bank, and I came up with some really terrific recipes that cost me very little to make. One such recipe was this soup: Campbell’s Tomato Soup as a base, made a bit richer and heartier with some sauteed vegetables. This recipe is good for 2-3 servings, and keeps beautifully.

To make it: 
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/8″ slices
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped roughly
  • 3 small potatoes, cut into smallish cubes
  • 1 tbsp butter (or non-hydrogenated margarine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pinches dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garam masala (an Indian spice, available at most supermarkets; if you can’t find it, use a dash each of nutmeg, cumin, and a bit of cinnamon. It’s not the same, but it’ll work)
  • Lots of fresh-ground pepper (I like the 5-peppercorn medley)
  • 2 cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (don’t try to use another kind - it doesn’t work as well)
  • 1 bottle of Wolaver’s Organic Brown Ale

In a largish skillet (preferably one with high walls) or smallish dutch oven, melt butter and add onions and garlic. Saute over medium heat until onions are a bit translucent and add potato. Cook for another 5-7 minutes and add zucchini; saute another 3 minutes. Add spices and stir to incorporate; add tomato soup and beer. Stir to incorporate the ingredients, and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Serve with a bit of shredded parmesan or romano cheese.

Thai Chicken Soup

This soup is spicy with a little sweet & sour action. Most of the spices and seasonings can be gotten in the regular supermarket (check the International Foods section), but some things might require a trip to your local Asian market, which is always a fun time, even if you just marvel at the odd foods on display. The soup is especially good for beating colds, so you could make this any time of year.

To make it: 

Chicken stock:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 head celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for about an hour, stirring periodically. Drain with a large strainer into Tupperware containers. Reserve chicken pieces.

Soup:

  • 1 tsp Chili Paste with Thai Basil
  • 1 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1⁄2″ piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp dried lemongrass (if you can find it already cut, great – otherwise, use a 1-inch piece dried)
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Oil (or olive oil, if allergic to peanuts)
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock (use a bit more for thinner soup)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2/3 cup flat parsley, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, chopped finely
  • ½ medium onion, chopped finely
  • Chicken pieces from stock
  • ½ cup jasmine rice

Sauté carrots, celery and onion in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add chili paste, lemongrass and stock. Simmer for five minutes. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger and rice and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is tender. While soup is simmering, remove skin from chicken thighs and cut meat into medium-size pieces. Add chicken, parsley and lime juice at the end of cooking. Let sit five minutes, and serve.

Cucumber-Tomato salad with dill

This is an incredible dish for summer. It’s cool and refreshing, and has just the right level of spice to it. It’s also very easy to prepare. Makes four servings.

To make it: 
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 1/8″ half-moons
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cut in quarters lengthwise, then in half widthwise
  • one handful (about a dozen) pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (preferably light)
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp Penzey’s Trinidad Lemon-Garlic Marinade seasoning OR:
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of dried ginger
  • freshly-grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Add all ingredients in a large bowl (I tend to layer cucumbers, then tomatoes, then olives, then spices, then vinegars and oil). Toss to coat.

Asian Slaw with Edamame

This is one of those things that I always drag out for parties, especially in the summer (much to the delight of my friends). It’s cheap, it makes a lot of food, and it keeps practically forever. Plus, the lack of mayonnaise makes it the perfect summer slaw - no worries about salmonella! All the ingredients for the dressing are available in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

To make it: 

slaw:

  • 1 small-to-medium green cabbage
  • 1 small red cabbage
  • 1 lb bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 3 large carrots, julienned (or grated very coarsely)

dressing:

  • 1/4 cup organic tamari or shoyu (reduced-sodium, preferably - available in the Asian section of the supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp wasabi powder
  • 1 tsp grated ginger

Peel off outer leaves of both cabbages and shred finely, cutting the leaves from each side of the core and slicing thinly. Toss in large bowl with carrots and edamame.

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over salad. Toss to coat and adjust seasonings as needed (I usually find myself adding a bit more wasabi or sesame oil). Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.