I’ve returned from my recent vacation in Nantucket with a hankering for clam chowder. We ate it every day (or so it seemed) while we were there. My young child enjoyed being served a cup of chowder in a coffee mug, in the restaurants. I’ve since researched recipes and quickly confirmed that I would not dare use canned clams in a clam chowder (yikes!). I chose the recipe for “Fresh Clam Chowder,” from cooksrecipes.com, and gladly steamed 18 large cherrystone clams, to make a wonderfully thick chowder.

Notice the short ingredient list for this recipe (another appealing feature). Instead of using salt pork, I used 4 slices of thick, center-cut bacon, which easily browned in 6 minutes. I chopped 1 1/2 onions to achieve my necessary 3 cups. I added half a box of crushed saltines, which felt like such a clever soup-thickening technique.

Heap fresh clams into a steamer and they’ll tell you when they’re cooked, soon opening wide and spewing out steam. Once they were cool enough to handle, I pulled the cooked clams from their shells and chopped them with scissors. My “clam steaming liquid” did indeed measure 4 cups, and became a smart component of my chowder.

The potatoes are just as important as the clams, in this chowder. I peeled and diced 3 1/2 medium-sized red potatoes. After simmering for 20 minutes, the soup seemed quite thick already, so adding the milk and cream at that point was quite an “aha” moment. Such decadence! Such beauty! I added 3/4 tsp. kosher salt to my soup pot, then enjoyed a thick chowder, with its chewy clams. The leftovers were also fantastic.

RECIPE: when you’re ready to make your own clam chowder, make this one
PREP TIME:
enjoy chowder after less than 90 minutes of prep and cooking
TASTE:
thick, creamy potatoes, chewy clams, smoky bacon

Next time, I will cook the “Easy Salmon Cakes,” from the July/August 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below), along with the “Orzo with Brown Butter and Parmesan,” from the August/September 2011 issue of Fine Cooking. See my meal when you return to my site soon.

EASY SALMON CAKES
Serves 4
If you buy a skin-on salmon fillet, buy 1 1/3 lbs. to yield the necessary amount of meat. When processing, it’s OK to have some salmon pieces larger than 1/4-inch.  Just don’t overprocess the fish. Serve with lemon wedges and/or tartar sauce.

3 Tbsp. plus 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
4 tsp. lemon juice
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/4 lb. skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup veg oil

  1. Combine 3 Tbsp. panko, parsley, mayo, lemon juice, scallion, shallot, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne in a medium bowl. Working in 3 batches, pulse salmon in a food processor until coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, about 2 pulses, transferring each batch to the bowl with the panko mixture.  Gently mix until uniformly combined.
  2. Place remaining 3/4 cup panko in pie plate. Using a 1/3-cup measuring cup, scoop level amounts of salmon mixture and transfer to a baking sheet; repeat to make 8 cakes. Carefully move each cake to the panko and coat, gently patting into a disk measuring 2 3/4-inch in diameter and 1-inch high. Return the coated cakes to the sheet.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place cakes in the skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the cakes and cook until the other side is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Transfer cakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain for 1 minute. Serve.