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Flourless New England Clam Chowder


(serves 10)
New England or Boston Clam Chowder, the ultimate blending of seafood and vegetables in a hearty soup. When you are making 
America’s most famous soup there are a few things you want. Thicken the chowder without any taste of flour, make the chowder faster without having to wait an eternity for the potatoes to disintegrate, give the chowder rich layers of flavour. After a lot of trial and error, I think I have come up with just the right recipe to achieve all these things. 

Ingredientsclam chowder 1000

  1. Canned Clams in Brine (3 x 184g)
  2. Bacon (6 slices)
  3. Canned Anchovies in Oil (50g wet weight)
  4. White Wine (0.5 cup)
  5. Potatoes (5 large)
  6. Leek (1 stalk)
  7. Onions (2)
  8. Scallion (10 stalks)
  9. Mascarpone (125g)
  10. Bread (4 slices)
  11. Hon Dashi
  12. Sherry
  13. Dill Weed

Preparation Part I

  1. Cut the crust off 4 slices of bread and leave in the fridge to dry overnight.
  2. Peel the potatoes. Boil 3 (not all 5) of them in a large pot with 10 cups of water.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, cube the bread into 1cm pieces and crush them into crumbs in a plastic bag with a mallet. Toast the bread cubes lightly if they are not crispy enough to be smashed.
  4. Dice 5 slices of semi frozen bacon and allow them to thaw.
  5. Fish the potatoes from the pot after boiling them for 20 minutes. Keep the water on a low simmer and put the bread crumbs in.
  6. Julienne the onions. Partially open a tin of anchovies and pour its oil into a pan. Fry half of the onions on low heat in the pan, stirring occasionally.
  7. In the meanwhile dice the remaining 2 potatoes into 1cm cubes. Julienne the scallion and the leek. Don’t add them to the pot just yet; you can put the cut vegetables with the raw onion bits.
  8. When the onions have become limp and translucent, mash the anchovies in the tin itself and add to the pan. Stir fry for a minute to mix the anchovy into the onions, turn up the fire and then deglaze the pan with half a cup of white wine. Bring to a boil and after a minute pour the contents of the pan into the simmering pot.
  9. Next, stir fry the bacon bits in the same pan. When the bacon fat has rendered and the bacon begins to brown add the brine from the clams, reserving the meat for later use. After a minute after it reaches boiling, again pour the contents of the pan into the (still simmering) pot.
  10. When all the breadcrumbs have melted, mash the 3 cooked potatoes and add the mash to the pot followed by all the vegetable bits. Add 1T of Hon Dashi pellets, 1T dill weed and 1t sugar. Top up with water such that everything is submerged. Continue to simmer for another 40 minutes stirring occasionally, then leave the pot covered on the stove to cool.
  11. When you are about ready to serve your clam chowder, bring the pot back to a boil and add the clam meat. Place 125g of mascarpone in a bowl with some hot liquid from the pot. Mix until all the lumps are gone and pour back into the pot.
  12. Add 3T of sherry and 1t black pepper, simmer for a further 5 minutes and then add salt (and sugar) to taste. Serve with oyster or other similar type of unsalted crackers

 Notes

  • If you have fresh clam meat you can add that to the chowder in step 10, but you still need to use the canned clams, for the clam brine.
  • Yes I did not use any celery in my recipe, its not essential in my opinion. If you insist on adding some chopped celery, fry them with the onions in step 6.
  • If you are using waxy type potatoes, you can keep the skin on the diced potatoes if you prefer. Depending on the size of your potatoes you may need more than 5; I’ve assumed the use of large ones. For a thinner chowder, mash only 2 potatoes.
  • If you don’t have any Hon Dashi, you can substitute in any kind of seafood-type stock cube.
 
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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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No-Cream Boston Clam Chowder


(serves 6)
Boston Clam Chowder is a clam chowder of the white variety that is popular in the New England area. Its basic ingredients are pretty standard, but it is precisely the combination of clams, bacon, onions, potatoes that makes the Boston Clam Chowder such a favourite. Its perfect for cold weather, or just anytime you hunger for a hearty soup. Once you know the secret to thickenining a chowder properly, whipping up a batch is not all that difficult.

Clarification – just because there is no cream doesn’t mean this is a healthy recipe.

Ingredients

  1. Bottled Clams (2 x 250ml)
  2. Smoked Clams (1 flat tin)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Fennel (equivalent of 1 onion)
  5. Bacon (6 slices)
  6. Potato (2)
  7. Milk (1 cup)
  8. Butter (50g)
  9. Flour
  10. Sage
  11. Thyme
  12. Cognac  

Preparation 

  1. Julienne the onion and fennel into small bits. For this part you only need the fennel bulb, but you can save the leafy bits (some people call it the frond?) for garnishing.
  2. Cut the bacon into small squares; the bacon will be easier to handle if it is stacked and semi frozen.
  3. Peel and dice one potato into small bits that will disintegrate after some simmering. This will make the chowder thicker. Cut the second one into larger cubes that will remain intact.
  4. Fry the bacon bits in a pan on low heat to melt its fat. When the bacon is beginning to crisp nicely, add the onion and fennel and stir fry till they begin to caramelize. Turn up the heat and add the clams, including their brine.
  5. Pour everything into a soup pot. Add the potato and 2 cups of water. Set to a low simmer.
  6. Dry the pan with some kitchen towels and melt 50g of butter in it on a low flame. When the butter has melted, sprinkle in 2T of flour and stir fry till the flour begins to darken. Next, pour in 1 cup of milk very slowly, stirring vigourously the entire time to flatten lumps.
  7. After a while, you will end up with a thick white sauce. Add the tin of smoked clams to the sauce, including all the oil. Stir in some of the soup into the white sauce till it gets watery, then pour everything back into the soup pot.
  8. Add 1t thyme and 1t sage to the pot and simmer for 2 hours. You’ll need to stir occasionally to prevent bits from sticking to the bottom. Add hot water to bring the soup back to the right consistency as needed. At the end, a piece of bread should be able to stand (not just float) on the chowder. With 5 minutes to go, add 2T of brandy.
  9. Season only after the simmering is done. Taste first before adding salt. Depending on how salty the clam brine was, you may (or may not) need to add a pork / vegetable bullion cube. On the soup plate itself, garnish with black pepper and fennel leaves, plus some chopped parsley if you like.

Notes

  • Use only the bottled variety of clams. Any food canned with brine will acquire a metallic taste and thus clams in a can are a no,no. The smoked clams are in oil, so the ‘can rule’ doesn’t apply.
  • If you have the good fortune to be using fresh clams, all the better. Soak your clams in cold water to get them to extrude sand, and then quickly cook in boiling water for a minute. Use the boiling liquid in the soup as per the brine mentioned above but add the clams (after shelling) only at the very end – so the meat remains tender.
  • If you don’t want to use or can’t find fennel, substitute with celery.
  • The white sauce is an essential step so don’t think you can skip it. The flour will soak up the oil from the bacon and smoked clams. Otherwise, you may end up with droplets of oil floating on the surface.
  • How come some restaurant’s clam chowder is so much whitee? They use milk in step 5. 
 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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Lasagna Carbonara


(serves 4-5)
How does one go about marrying lasagna with carbonara? I’ve used pretty much the same run-of-the-mill ingredients as you would find in any carbonara : bacon, pasta, parmigiano, egg yolk; but I had to get a little creative to make it work, introducing a juicy bacon terrine to house the ‘carbonara’ between the layers of lasagna pasta and mushrooms. The end result is another kobi-original.  

Ingredients

  1. Bacon (12 slices)
  2. Marscapone (250g)
  3. Parmigiano Reggiano (100g)
  4. Emmental (100g)
  5. Eggs (2)
  6. Brown Mushrooms (200g)
  7. Onion (1)
  8. Lasagna (8 slices)
  9. Bread (4 Slices)
  10. Milk (1 cup)
  11. White Wine (1/2 cup)
  12. Oregano
  13. Turmeric

Preparation 

  1. Dice the onion and cut the mushrooms into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Cut the bread into cubes after trimming away the crust. Soak the bread in a mixture of 1 cup of milk and two egg yolks. Use a large bowl as you will be adding more things to it later.
  3. Finely grate the parmigiano reggiano. Slice the emmental into thin pieces.
  4. Stack your bacon on the cutting board such that the fat layers coincide and trim off some of the fat as shown in the photo. There is no where for the fat to go once it melts so this is an essential step. Discard the trimmings and then cut the meat into small pieces.
  5. Pan fry the onion in a bit of oil over low heat till they soften and start to brown. Pour in 1/2 cup of white wine and reduce it to 1/4 of its original volume. After you turn off the heat, add the marscapone and stir well.
  6. Add the contents of the pan to the big bowl. In addition, add 1T oregano,1t sugar, 1/2t turmeric and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Finally add the bacon bits and 3/4 of the grated  parmigiano reggiano.
  7. Mix the contents of the bowl well with a large spoon. Use a food processor to blend everything until you get a lumpy bacon paste. There is no need for it to be totally smooth. This is your sauce.
  8. Preheat your oven to 160oC (320oF).
  9. Apply a thin layer of the sauce to the bottom of a pyrex dish (that can hold eight cups of water). The add layers on top of it in the following sequence: pasta, mushroom, sauce, pasta, emmental, sauce, mushroom,  pasta, sauce. You don’t have that much sauce, ration it appropriately so you don’t run out before the end. Top off with the remaining grated parmigiano reggiano. 
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes or until you see the parmigiano form a golden brown crust. The lasagna is best served with a sunny-side-up egg on top (not in the picture because I didn’t want to obscure the beautiful lasagna crust).

Notes

  • The inspiration for thsi recipe comes from a ‘white’ lasagna I ate when my dad took me on a vacation to Europe. I was only 11 years old, but the taste of that dish from Venice lingers in my mind til today. I didn’t come across a similar dish for over three decades so I finally decided the only way I was going to taste something similar was to cook it myself.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, use pancetta instead of regular bacon. You can also consider dressing the plate with some actual carbonara sauce (which is what I should have done for the photo but was too lazy).
  • I prefer to work with ‘instant’ lasagna as it is less messy. When using this type of pre-cooked lasagna, one must remember to soak each piece of the pasta in hot water for about 10 seconds to get rid of their coating of fine flour. If you choose to use uncooked pasta, boil them till it they are semi-soft -between steps 8 and 9.
 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in A Kobi Original, Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe

 

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Steamed Mussels with Bacon


(serves 3)
This is pretty much your steamed mussels provencal style, but with the tomatoes replaced by bacon bits. The quick steaming method leaves the mussels succulent but still full of flavour. Its perfect as a quick cooking appetizer with minimal preparation, and as a bonus the recipe leaves you enough white wine to accompany the mussels.
    
 
Ingredients
  1. Black Mussels (24)
  2. Leek (1 stalk)
  3. Bacon (3 Slices)
  4. Garlic (1bulb = 12 cloves)
  5. Dry White Wine (3/4 cup)
  6. Cream (1/3 cup)
  7. Tarragon
  8. Basil
  9. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Let me start by discussing the mussels themselves. For this recipe, you should use raw black or blue mussels, nothing that has been pre-cooked or frozen and certainly not those giant green monster mussels.
  2. Place three slices of bacon, stacked on each other, in the freezer.
  3. Soak your mussels in cold water. Scrub with a toothbrush to get rid of grit if you have to and pull out the beards (see notes below).
  4. Slice your leek into half lengthwise and with the flat ends on the board, julienne them into thin slices. Also, peel and mince the garlic through a garlic press.
  5. By now your bacon should be semi-frozen. Slice them lengthwise into 4 smaller strips and then slice them again breadthwise, to end up with small squares. Put this bacon in the pan under medium heat. Make sure the pan comes with a cover.
  6. When the bacon begins to brown and has lost its fat, add the leek and stir-fry for about ten minutes. Then pour in 3/4 cup of white wine. Add 1T tarragon, 1T thyme and 1T basil. When the wine is at a strong boil, stir in the minced garlic and add your mussels. Immediately cover and cook for two minutes.
  7. After two minutes, the mussels would have openned and you should scoop them up onto the serving plates. Discard any mussels which remain firmly closed as those were dead before they were even taken from the sea.
  8. Continue cooking the sauce uncovered after adding 1/3 cup cream. When the liquid has been reduced in volume by half, add 1t  of sugar, 1t black pepper and right at the very end salt to taste. Pour the sauce over your clams.

Notes

  • The beard are the ‘roots’ which mussels use to anchor themselves to the sea bed (see picture). Only a bit of the beard may be showing but there is usually more of it concealed in the shell. Use a towel to improve your grip and just firmly pull the beard off. The beard should come off attached to a small flat bone if you’ve done it correctly.
  • Some people make a big deal about using only mussels that are alive. That’s all good, but not everyone can get fresh mussels easily. Consider chilled ‘live’ mussels that are sealed with liquid in 1 kilo plastic packs as an alternative.
  • If you don’t want to add cream at the end, drizzle in virgin olive oil as an alternative.
  • Instead of using salt, try using hon dashi.
 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Appetizers, French, Seafood

 

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Fettucine Carbonara


(serves 2)
This may be one of the most basic pasta recipes but the combination of bacon, egg yolk and cheese makes for a wonderful pasta sauce which is considered one of the great classics. Anyone can make this pasta dish with a minimum of fuss in a relatively short amount of time, using common ingredients. If someone who is cooking for the first time comes to me for advice, this is the recipe I’d recommend.  
 
Ingredients
  1. Bacon (200g)
  2. Fettucine (160g)
  3. Heavy Cream (150ml)
  4. Parmigiano Reggiano (40g)
  5. Egg (1)
  6. Chopped Parsley
  7. Turmeric
  8. Nutmeg 
  9. Cognac
  10. Honey

Preparation

  1. Take your egg out of the fridge so it can warm up a bit.
  2. Cut 200g of bacon (basically 6 strips) breadthwise into thin slices. I find that if you partially freeze your bacon in a stack, this will make the task all the easier. Put the bacon to fry in a pan under low heat until most of the fat has been melted to oil. The bacon itself should begin to crisp and turn to a dark shade of pink. 
  3. The bacon will continue to cook until it begins to cool so turn the heat off a minute before you think its done. During this minute, mix 2T cognac with 1/2t of honey, 1/2 t of nutmeg in a bowl. Scoop out the bacon pieces onto a strainer held over the pan, such that the drippings fall back into the pan. Place the bacon into the marinade and mix well. For best results, you can do parts 1-3 ahead of time so the bacon has a longer time to soak and soften up.
  4. Put a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. When this boils, put your pasta in.
  5. While waiting for the water to boil, finely grate 40g of Parmigiano Reggiano (or any of the other grating cheeses).
  6. Then add the grated cheese, together with 150ml of whipping cream and 1/4t of turmeric to the bacon oil in the pan. Heat under low heat for a short while while stirring, until all the cheese has melted. Then turn the heat off once again. You should end up with a nice yellow sauce which thickens by itself over time.
  7. When the pasta begins to soften and is about 3/4 done, strain the pasta and transfer it to the pan as well. At this stage, pour the bacon including any liquid in as well. Stir fry under low heat until the fettucine is almost al dente. 
  8. Leave the pasta to stand in the pan. In the meanwhile seperate away the white of your egg and stir the yolk into the pasta after the pan has been given a minute to cool down. You can also use two yolks if you like. Stir immediately to prevent the yolk(s) from solidifying before it melds with the sauce.
  9. As a final touch sprinkle on 1T of chopped parsley and some black pepper. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Strictly speaking you are supposed to use pancetta for a true carbonara but it comes in small cubes and I find that a lot of it gets left behind on the plate. Bacon on the other hand sticks well and evenly to the fettucine and that is why I usually use bacon.
  • Carbonara verses Alfredo I
    Italians will insist that there should be no garlic or onion in a carbonara sauce, which are some of the ingredients found in alfredo sauce. Well for once I am in agreement with tradition.
  • Carbonara verses Alfredo II
    However, I am inclined to use a limited amount of cream which Italians also insist belongs only in an alfredo sauce. The cream makes for a better dish, just make sure you don’t use too much or you really will end up with an Alfredo sauce instead.  Remember, a carbonara sauce is supposed to be thick and clingly – zoom in on the photo to get a closer look.
  • If you have grappa lying around the house for some strange reason, by all means use that instead of the cognac (and skip the honey as well). If you are the adventurous type, you can also try Chinese Cooking Wine.
 
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Posted by on November 21, 2010 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta

 

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Macaroni and Cheese


(serves 3-4) 
A while back I came up with a ‘European’ version of Mac & Cheese, which contains a secret ingredient, bacon. When you want to add flavour to a vegetarian dish, use meat I always say. It’s great as a side dish or can be eaten on its own. I’ve also made it extra creamy by using mascapone and doing away with any kind of bread or flour.  I guess that sums up why my macaroni and cheese is European?   

Ingredients 

  1. Emmental (125g)
  2. Mascarpone (125 g)
  3. Cheddar Singles (4 slices)
  4. Farfalle Pasta  (3 cups)
  5. Onion (1/2)
  6. Bacon (5 slices)
  7. Milk (1/2 cup)
  8. Chicken Cube (1)
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Tarragon
  11. Brandy

Preparation

  1. The recipe starts off with a soffritto of bacon and onion. Cut your bacon and onion into pieces not exceeding 3x3mm in size. The smaller the better as they have to disintegrate into the cheese. The bacon needs to be almost frozen for you to accomplish this easily.  In a pan, heat the bacon until some of the fat liquifies and then add the onion bits.
  2. While the soffritto is frying, cut the Emmental into 1 cm cubes so that it fills half a cup. Take the opportunity to dissolve a chicken cube in 3/4 cup of hot water to make chicken stock. Mash the cube with a spoon to ensure it dissolves. At this point, preheat oven.
  3. When the onion softens, add the chicken stock and milk. Boil for 30 seconds. Next add the Mascarpone, then Emmental and finally the cheddar singles in that order, making sure the previous cheese has been fully mixed in and melted before adding the next one. Reduce this under low heat until you end up with about 2 cups of sauce. Flavour with 1t of white pepper, 1t of coriander seed powder, 1T of tarragon and 2T of brandy. Set aside.
  4. Now for the pasta.  Pick a pyrex or casserole dish where the raw pasta fills about half the container. Boil the pasta for five minutes (olive oil and pinch of salt in water before pasta) and then strain. 
  5. Place the pasta, which should still be hard, into the pyrex or casserole dish. Pour the the cheese mixture in and mix lightly. Bake for 20 minutes at about 180oC (350oF) or until cheese begins to brown.  

Notes

  • OK, I didn’t actually use macaroni. I’ve swapped in bowtie pasta for macaroni as coats and stacks well but really any type of non-noodle pasta will do.
  • Why am I using the yucky processed cheese instead of real cheddar? It melts well because of its inferiority and gives the cheese sauce just the right consistency by preventing the emmental from clumping. The emmental is the main flavour so don’t fret, no one will know there is processed cheese unless you tell them.
  • You can also choose to make the macaroni and cheese in individual portions by baking a seperate serving for each person in a ramekin.
 
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Posted by on November 7, 2009 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe

 

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