Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dinner at the Beach

Going to Amelia Island with the family is one of my favorite getaways.  We relax, sit by the ocean, read books, ride bikes, my dad and brother play golf, and we eat! 

The meals that come out of the these trips are always divine!  One of my favorites is steamed clams.  The fresher the clams the better the flavor!  We always go to this place in Fernandina Beach right on the water to get the best, most fresh seafood we can find.  It is a great hole-in-the-wall place that never disappoints!  After we steam the clams in butter, white wine, clam juice, onions, garlic and fresh parsley we are left with the most amazing broth that we simply cannot throw away!  This year we decided to make some New England Clam Chowder with the broth.  Since the soup was going to be rather filling we thought a salad and some bread would be all we would need to make a great meal.

Creamy Cape Cod Clam Chowder with a Fried Goat Cheese, Citrus, and Avocado Salad

We found the recipe for the clam chowder in the The Summer Shack Cookbook by Jasper White and the recipe for the salad in the Two Dudes One Pan cookbook by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo

Creamy Cape Cod Clam Chowder

10 pounds small quahogs or large cherrystone clams
2 cups water
4 ounces meaty salt pork, rind removed and cut into small (1/3 inch) dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter2 medium yellow onions (about 12 ounces), cut into 1/2·inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery (4 ounces), cut into 1/3-inch dice 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
1 large dried bay leaf, 2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEl, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice, 2 cups heavy cream

Kosher or sea salt if needed
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

All chowders improve after they are made, so allow at least an hour from the time the chowder is cooked until it is served.  You can make the chowder 1 or 2 days in advance. Reheat it slowly; never let it hail.

Scrub the clams and rinse well. Place them in a large pot, add the water, cover, and turn the heat to high. Once you see a little steam escape from the pot. let the clams cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and quickly move the clams around in the pot so they will cook evenly, then cover and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the clams open.

Pour off the broth and reserve. After it has settled a bit, strain the broth, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch of broth (and sediment) in the container.  You should have about 4 cups. Remove the clams from the shells, place in a bowl, and refrigerate until cold.

Dice the clams into small (1/3- to 1/2-inch) pieces. Cover and refrigerate.

Rinse and dry the pot and heat over low heat. Add the salt pork and cook until crispy and brown. Add the butter, onions, garlic, celery, thyme, and bay leaf and saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for about 10 minutes until the onions are softened but not browned.

Add the potatoes and 4 cups reserved clam broth. The broth should just barely cover the potatoes; if it doesn't, add more broth or water.  Turn the heat to high, cover the pot, and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. Smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot and stir them into the chowder to lightly thicken it.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream and diced clams. Season with black pepper; you may not need salt (the clams usually add enough oftheir own). If you are serving the chowder within the hour, just let it sit and "cure."  Otherwise, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate it; cover it after it has chilled.

When ready to serve, reheat the chowder slowly over medium heat; do not let it boil. Ladle into cups or bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.


Fried Goat Cheese, Citrus and Avocado Salad
1 (8 oz.) goat cheese log
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup canola oil

For the salad:
2 navel oranges
1 pink grapefruit
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups arugula
3 Hass avocados, pitted and thinly sliced

Slice the goat cheese into 4 rounds and shape into mini hockey pucks.  Place the flour in a medium bowl.  Whisk the egg with 2 tablespoons water in another bowl and place panko bread crumbs in a third bowl.

Toss the goat cheese in the flour to coat.  Tap off the excess flour and then submerge the cheese rounds in the egg wash.  Transfer the goat cheese to the panko and press each disk in the bread crumbs, making sure the crumbs stick to the cheese.  Place on a plate and refrigerate.

Segment the oranges and grapefruit and remove segments from the membrane, working over a bowl to catch the juices.  Add the shallots and sugar to 3 tablespoons of the citrus juices and whisk in the oils a little at a time.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the arugula among 4 plates.  Season  the avocados with some salt and pepper and add a few slices to each plate.  Top with some orange and grapefruuit segments. 

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the breaded goat cheese rounds and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes total.

Drizzle the salads with the citrus dressing and top each with a warm goat cheese round.
Serves 6

As much as we love cooking in, sometimes it is nice to get out and try some of the local favorites.  This year we thought we would try a little place right on the water.

You can't sit outside on a hot summer day and not have a tallboy PBR (or a large pink lemonade for those who are pregnant)


No matter what we are having or what time the food finally gets to the table, it is always a fun and delicious meal.  Many great memories shared around the tables in Amelia Island.

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