Monday, April 30, 2012

Clam and Wiper Try Pots Chowder

If you've read Moby-Dick, perhaps you'll remember the chapter about chowder. I sure do! It was my favorite. 

Before handing over their fates to the Pequod, Ishmael and his exotic friend Queequeg arrive at the Try Pots Inn:

"Upon making known our desires for a supper and a bed, Mrs. Hussey, postponing further scolding for the present, ushered us into a little room, and seating us at a table spread with the relics of a recently concluded repast, turned round to us and said - "Clam or Cod?"

"What's that about Cods, ma'am?" said I, with much politeness. 

"Clam or Cod?" she repeated. 

"A clam for supper? a cold clam; is that what you mean, Mrs. Hussey?" says I; "but that's a rather cold and clammy reception in the winter time, ain't it, Mrs Hussey?"

But being in a great hurry to resume scolding the man in the purple shirt, who was waiting for it in the entry, and seeming to hear nothing but the word "clam," Mrs. Hussey hurried towards an open door leading to the kitchen, and bawling out "clam for two," disappeared.

"Queequeg," said I, "do you think that we can make out a supper for us both on one clam?"

However, a warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained. Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetites being sharpened by the frosty voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing his favorite fishing food before him, and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we despatched it with great expedition: when leaning back a moment and bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey's clam and cod announcement, I thought I would try a little experiment.

Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered the word "cod" with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments the savory steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good time a fine cod- chowder was placed before us."

And that concludes Melville's wonderful excerpt about chowder. Who would not want chowder after having read something like that!? It's already making you hungry, isn't it? Yep. Thought so. Although this isn't our healthiest recipe, we swear that this will be the chunkiest and heartiest chowder you've ever had, fit for hunters and sailors alike. After having our chowder, you probably wouldn't have to eat for 3 years -- an entire whaling voyage! We slowly simmered our Try Pots Chowder with large pieces of white fish, lots of tiny baby clams, bacon bits, Yukon gold potatoes and celery. To add a surprise, roasted kernels of corn give that pleasant burst of sweetness when lapping. For the novel's sake, we will pretend we used cod, but we really didn't. Thank you to Rick's family in Nebraska for providing us with beautiful wiper filets, perfect for this recipe. You can use any firm white fish you have on hand. Enjoy!! 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
- 4 slices of thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, like Chardonnay
- 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbs. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 2 (10 ounce) cans of whole baby clams
- 1/2 - 1 lb. firm white fleshed fish filets
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 - 8 tbs. of unsalted butter (optional)
- 3 tbs. corn starch
- 2 tbs. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 ears of sweet corn, lightly roasted over the grill or broiled

1. In a Dutch-oven, cook bacon. 
Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.  
2. Over medium-high heat, add chopped onion to the bacon grease and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. 
3. Then add 1/2 cup of dry white wine. 
We like this kind. Yummy! Great for drinking. 
Allow the wine to reduce by half. 
4. Then add diced potatoes and celery. 
Drain the juice from the canned clams and add it to the pot of potatoes and celery. There should be enough liquid to cover the vegetables completely. If not, add water. 
5. Then add Old Bay, bay leaf, thyme, salt and ground black pepper. 

Bring to a boil. Then lower heat to medium and cook covered until potatoes and celery are almost done, about 10-15 minutes. 
6. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it's steamy, but not boiling. Whisk in corn starch, making sure you get rid of all lumps. Stir the cream mixture into the pot of potatoes. If the chowder is still loose, allow it to simmer uncovered to thicken. Do not allow it to boil, or else your cream might curdle. 
7. Remember to remove any dark flesh from the fish. This will give you cleaner tasting and less "fishy" fish. Cut into 1 inch pieces. 

For those who don't live by the sea, wiper is perfect for chowder. 
When the chowder is almost to desired thickness, add fish and half of the reserved bacon bits. 
Then the clams.
Allow the chowder to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the fish is cooked all the way through. If desired, mix unsalted butter into the chowder.  This will make the chowder even richer.
8. Stir in freshly chopped parsley. Slice roasted kernels off corn and mix into chowder as well. Add more salt and pepper, if needed. Let the chowder rest about 30 minutes before serving. This will allow the flavors to improve. 
Mmmm! Garnish with remaining bacon bits and parsley. Serve with crusty bread and the rest of the chilled Chardonnay. The flavors of the chowder paired well with the wine. 

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Malibu Creek State Park

A year ago, we went to Malibu Creek State Park to camp. It's located just north of Los Angeles, and it's one of our favorite places in Southern California.  This past weekend, we returned to Malibu Creek for a day of hiking and to photograph the park's stunning landscape, flora and fauna. We got great shots of mule deer via digiscoping, which is when you mount a camera to a spotting scope. This is especially useful to hunters who don't own a high power telephoto lens, but do own a spotting scope. If the animal doesn't present an opportunity to shoot, might as well do some shooting with your camera to show all your friends and family back home what you saw, and to prepare for the next season.

Most of the deers shots here were taken from at least 400 yards away. So if you haven't already seen our pictures on Food for Hunter's Facebook page, here a few of our favorite photos from our day in the woods. But really, we encourage you all to follow us on Facebook. We will be able to offer you more interactive content. We post almost everyday to our page there.

A group of does. 

A beautiful doe we spotted coming from the treeline.

She got quite close. Then some bikers came by and scared her off. If you must bike in the wilderness, try to be less obtrusive. 

Spike! We were surprised to see some young bucks starting their antlers early.

Wonder what they were looking at ... probably some hot does across the ways. 

While hiking earlier in the day, we came by a big ol' rattlesnake! We think it's a southern pacific rattler. 

It slithered across the trail and into the grass on the other side. 
The trees there are beautiful. Many just stood by themselves, probably for hundreds of years-- since the Chumash lived in this valley. 

There were also a lot of turkey vulture.

Tree tunnel!

Rick's handsome smile. I think he's having fun. 

We hiked to a place called the Rock Pool. Some splunkers came climbing by...

Remember "Romey" the Roaming Fox? Well, he made friends with a crawdad. 

It was a beautiful little spot. We were bummed that we didn't bring our bathing suits. 

California poppy, growing in the wild. So pretty... 

Here's me sitting by the creek. I know I'm having fun!

If you come to Southern California, Malibu Creek State Park is definitely a must visit to get away from all the nasty city lights and sounds. 
The Sahara mustard plant is a common sight in California parks. They originate from North Africa and the middle east. They're invasive, but we still think they're pretty. 

The scottish thistle. If allowed to grow bigger, they grow into artichoke like bulbs. They actually taste like artichokes too, except tinier. 

Game trail!

Before we left, I sneaked up on some deer just before sunset. I got pretty close and took this picture with my zoom lens.

Here is one last photo of the valley before dark.

Thick clouds from the sea came rolling in ...

As it got darker, the sound of frogs surrounded us. Funny, because we didn't see a single frog all day. Where did they come from? It kind of reminded me of my visit to Vietnam many years ago. The sound of frogs littered the night, so much that it was hard to fall asleep. 

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Vegetable Guilt"

Here is a comic from Dan Long, the creator of EQ Comics. I just had to share!
To enlarge, click on the image. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Duck Rolls

I've been to Philadelphia twice. The first time was in high school. I stayed at Valley Forge for 4 days as part of a AP U.S. History program-- and because I'm a nerd. I did all the usual things, like visiting Washington's headquarters in Valley Forge, the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, seeing our good ol' Liberty Bell and of course, having my first ever authentic Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich! I would post up a picture of it, but I somehow lost all my photos from that trip in the midst of multiple computer crashes. Thanks Windows. (Back up all your photos!) As simple as they are, Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches are a gift from heaven. Really! This was 5 years ago, and I'm still talking about it. Perhaps it tasted so good because I was actually IN Philadelphia, with the "Rocky Steps" and our U.S. Constitution's birth nearby. Regardless, it was a treat to remember. 

As fate would have it, I returned to Philadelphia last year to blog for the AT&T National golf tournament. But this time, I was 21-- let's just say that my second experience was quite different from the first. No, I didn't have a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich on this visit. I had Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, and they were out of this world! If you visit Philly, check out the Continental Midtown. Their food was amazing. 

I have yet to visit Gettysburg though. One day, Rick and I will go and walk those sacred grounds. And we would barely utter a word. Who knows what we will hear? Perhaps a silence. Perhaps a voice. Perhaps many voices. But we will be honored, nonetheless.

Anyway, here is my rendition of the Continental's Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls. Instead of beef, we used wild duck breasts, sliced thinly and cooked with onion, scallion and Worcestershire sauce. The mixture was then stuffed in egg roll wrappers along with provolone, and fried to a cheesy perfection. 

Benjamin Franklin would approve. I bet he wished he were eating these while flying his little kite.

Does anyone else find this portrait of Franklin mildly odd? But it cannot be denied that he looks rather kick-a**. Must be the beaver hat.


Servings: 2, about 6 egg rolls
Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus 2-3 days if you want to brine the duck)
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 lb. of wild duck breasts (brined)
- 1/4 cup of white/brown onion, thinly sliced
- 1 green onion, white and light green parts thinly sliced
- 3-4 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
- 1 tbs. olive oil for sauteing 
- egg roll wrappers (store bought)
- provolone cheese slices
- 1 egg, beaten
- vegetable/corn/peanut oil for frying
Dipping Sauce
- 3/4 c. ketchup
- 1/2 tsp. powdered mustard
- 2 tbs. brown sugar
- Tabasco sauce, to taste

1. Slice duck breasts against the grain thinly. Watch for shot and discard parts with blood shot. The pieces we have here look so light on the outside because they have been brined. You should try it. It really makes a big difference. To brine, click here.
2. Heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Saute sliced onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt over onion to help draw out moisture.
Add the sliced duck breast and green onion, and saute until the meat is browned. Add 3-4 splashes of Worcestershire, salt and pepper, to taste. 

Drain the mixture of all liquids and allow to cool. Hot liquid will ruin the egg roll wrappers when assembling.
3. Lay 1 egg roll wrap on a clean, dry surface, with one corner directly pointing at you. It should look like a diamond from where you stand.  Place 1 provolone slice in the middle and then some of the cooled duck mixture horizontally across the cheese slice. Be careful not to overfill. 
Egg roll wrappers are pretty easy to find in American grocery stores. We bought ours at Ralph's.This brand was quite easy to work with.
Tightly fold up the corner closest to you over the filling. Brush some beaten egg onto the two side corners and fold them in. Make sure everything is neat and tight, or else bubbles and leaking will form when you fry. 
Brush the top corner with egg and roll up the entire egg roll. Make sure everything is well sealed. You don't want oil getting inside. 
This is what it should look like. Repeat until you run out of duck mixture.
4. Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a saucepan, just enough so the egg rolls don't touch the bottom of the pan. To test if the oil is ready, drop in a tiny piece of egg roll wrap. If floats, bubbles up and starts frying right away, it's ready. 
Fry egg rolls on both sides until browned, about 1 minute each side.
Drain fried egg rolls on paper towels.
5. To make dipping sauce, simply mix ketchup, powdered mustard, brown sugar and Tabasco sauce in a bowl.
They also make great little appetizers! Just cut in half.
Mmmm... it's awesome with the dipping sauce! 

As always, thanks for visiting our blog. We hope you enjoy this recipe!

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