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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Clam Pizza


Clam pizza.  I've read about.  The iconic dish of Rhode Island.  But, I've never had it although it's always sounded intriguing.  So, here I was.  6:00.  No clue what we could have for dinner.  Carryout last night and that wasn't happening two nights in a row.  I had a couple of humongous patty pan squashes thanks to a glitch with a farm-to-table vendor we use.  Read up on how to cook those.  The little ones are great.  Roast them and you're done.  Wasn't too sure what to do with the big ones.  Walked into the kitchen to survey and saw the remaining pizza crust.  The crust I'd used for the tomato pie pizza was one of two.  The second was sitting in it's bag on my counter getting stale.  Fine.  Pizza it was.  But, I wasn't excited about red sauce.  We've had our share of pasta with red sauce over the last week or so.  All of the sudden I thought about clam pizza.  Headed to and started reading the ingredient lists.  Fine, I had a plan.

Into the skillet for the veggies went a package of diced pancetta.  And, into the pizza topping skillet went some butter.  Then, shallots, garlic, spinach, white wine and clams.  Once the pancetta had had an opportunity to flavor the veggies, it got added to the topping.  After coating the crust with olive oil and garlic and a dusting of quattro formaggio and crushed red pepper, the topping went on.  Then, a heaping serving of the same quattro formaggio.  Into the oven.  

What did we think?  A five.  Hands down one of my favorite pizzas EVER.  Now, that reminds me of a story.  When I was in college we didn't have Sunday evening dinner at the sorority house.  Noble Roman's was the new deal down the street.  Unlike most people,  I LOVE anchovies.  So, I'd hike down the street and pick up my anchovy pizza and bring it back to the house.  My sorority sisters would smell the pizza and ask to share.  I'd say sure, it's got anchovies on it.  Strangely enough I never had a taker.  LOL.  And, to think that on our 3rd or 4th date Connie and I ordered an anchovy pizza and loved every bite!

Clam Pizza


1 thin pizza crust or 2 naan bread

2 T butter

1 large shallot, finely diced

4 oz diced pancetta

2 c fresh spinach

1/3 c dry white wine

2 cans minced clams, drained (you can reserve the juice for another use)

1/4 t crushed red pepper

2 t olive oil

garlic powder

2 c quattro formaggio or five cheese Italian or mozzarella, shredded


In a medium skillet, saute the pancetta until it's a bit brown.  Remove it from the skillet and wipe the skillet.  Put in the butter and melt it.  Saute the shallot until it's softened and translucent.  Add in the spinach and cook it down for a couple of minutes and then pour in the wine.  Cook that until your skillet is almost dry.  Then, add the clams and the pancetta.  Remove the skillet from the heat.  

Spread the pizza crust with the olive oil.  Sprinkle on the garlic powder, then a dusting of the cheese followed by the crushed red pepper.  

Top it all with the clam/spinach mixture.  And, then sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. 



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Tomato Pie Pizza

 I love the idea of tomato pie.  What could go wrong with tomatoes, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese in a pie crust?  As it turns out, plenty.  I made one a couple of years ago and it was soggy.  I do believe the leftovers went into the trash bucket.  Yet, I see photos of tomato pie and pretty much drool.  So, I decided to see what I could do that'd have the flavor but not the sogginess.  Pizza it was.  And, it was a solid four on a one to five scale.  

How did I make it?  I started with a prepared thin crust schmeared on Mom's cheese toastie mix, topped that with some bacon crumbles and fresh basil then layered on thickly sliced tomatoes and finished with a shower of quattro formaggio from Trader Joe's.  Into the oven at 450 for ten minutes and we were happy campers.  

What is Mom's cheese toastie mix?  It really started as a cocktail party appetizer.  Shredded cheddar, onion, Worcestershire and mayonnaise on party rye.  Broiled until it was nice and melty and served hot.  Over the years it's become one of our favorites.  Leftover English muffin half from sausage mcmuffins?  Turn it into cheese toastie.  Need a snack late afternoon?  Make some cheese toastie mix, heat it just a bit and schmear it onto Triscuits.  What you do is grate cheddar on the big holes.  Sprinkle it with Worcestershire and toss in some dried onion.  Then, add mayonnaise to moisten.  I'd give you measurements but it really starts with how much cheese you have and what you're going to make with it!   

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Duck in Caramel Brandy Sauce with Peaches and Asparagus

My eye was on carryout from Sahm's.  This was the third day of a virtual conference.  That lasted nine hours a day.  Talk about Zoom burnout!  But, I learned a bunch so it was worth the time.  I'd read an email mid-morning with their specials.  Not having to spend the time cooking and then cleaning up was very appealing.  Then, mid-afternoon our Imperfect box arrived.  A head of romaine, two red bell peppers, some citrus, wonderful pencil-thin asparagus, a bunch of spinach and one of cilantro, creamer potatoes, cod pieces, Dover sole, crab claw meat, a chicken to spatchcock and a half of a smoked duck breast.  Plus, I still had a bunch of peaches.  The duck breast was calling my name.  What could I do with the duck and a peach and the asparagus?  And, should I do a starch?

On to eatyourbooks.  Nothing came up when I put in smoked duck, asparagus, peach.  Finally, after trying umpteen searches I found a couple of potential recipes.  One for pickled red grapes and smoked duck breast.   And, one for smoked duck breast with apples in a caramel brandy sauce from Food and Wine.  Hmmm, that had potential.  And, it'd go well with asparagus.  And, I could even do the creamer potatoes with rosemary.  Now, to reconfigure the recipe for the ingredients on hand.  

Basically, what you'll need is a smoked duck breast.  It's actually half of a smoked duck breast.  It should have a nice fat cap on it.  You'll want to score the fat so it'll render nicely.  Then, you'll need a peach, sugar, , chicken stock, brandy and cornstarch.  For the sides, you'll need creamer potatoes or small red potatoes, butter, rosemary and salt.  And, some asparagus with the tough ends trimmed.  

This comes together pretty quickly.  Start the duck breast on low and slow.  You want to render the fat for cooking the peach.  At the same  time, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and then take a good handful of rosemary sprigs (I used four for the two of us) and cover the bottom of a small skillet.  Top the rosemary with the potatoes.  Try not to have any of the pieces be more than about 1/2" or they'll take too long to cook.  Liberally sprinkle with salt.  Use tongs to keep turning the potatoes so all the sides get nice and brown.  

Meanwhile, back at the duck skillet, the skin will be a lovely brown.  Still doesn't mean you should eat the fat, just that the duck looks beautiful and you've now got the start of a fantastic sauce.  

Cut the peach into quarters.  Remove the duck from the skillet and put in the peach slices.  Sprinkle them with a couple of tablespoons of sugar.  Let them brown and bit and turn them over.  By now you should have a semi-caramelized sauce.  Stir in about 1/4 cup of chicken stock.  I used Better Than Bouillon to make broth since I didn't want to thaw that small an amount of stock.  The recipe says the caramel will seize up and splatter.  Except I wasn't exactly following the recipe...  Shocking, I know.  After incorporating the broth, I pulled the skillet off the heat and poured in a bit of brandy.  Probably about a tablespoon.  Then, I took the dish I mixed the broth in and dumped in a couple of teaspoons of corn starch.  Added a bit of water then stirred that into the sauce.  

A few minutes before I finished the duck sauce - about the time I stirred in the broth - I moved the potatoes to half the skillet and put the asparagus in the other half.  Turned them once so all of the spears got happy.  

So, there you have it.  I sliced the duck and divvied up the slices.  Topped those with the peaches and sauce.  Potatoes and asparagus on the side.  

What did we think?  We actually gave the whole meal a five.  It's VERY rich with all the duck fat that renders.  And, of course the butter and sugar don't help.  Keep your portions small and you'll be fine. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Zucchini Fritters and Grilled Peach Salad, Summer on a Plate

We're rapidly approaching five months of working from home.  One would think that I'd have had plenty of time to blog.  Unfortunately, I've been busy listening to all kinds of economists chatter on about all this chaos in our world instead of blogging in my "spare time."  Now, that doesn't mean I've slacked off on trying new recipes.  Not at all.  We've been eating at home and trying new things regularly.  In fact, we've had a couple of dishes that have been so fabulous that we've had them again right away.  

Eons ago a gal who Connie played bridge with told him that she had a very close friend who also had a blog.  She introduced us and it turned out that Liz and her hubby, Bill, live across the street from a friend of mine from high school.  Steve and his wife Pam are two of Liz and Bill's best friends.  Small world.  The six of us have had some great dinners together.  Now, we're plotting and planning a cocktail party around Liz and Bill's pool so we can enjoy each other's company AND socially distance.  I'm bringing some skewers of fun.  Connie and I spent dinner brainstorming...  Narrowed a list of about 30 options down to ten.  Probably ought to narrow that more, eh?

The reason I bring up Liz is that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her blog.  And, boy can she ever.  She also is a magnificent cook.  Early this summer I'd printed off a recipe for zucchini fritters.  It stayed in the stack with my list of foods to use up and recipes to try.  But, it didn't get made.   Until I got the zucchini club from my friend, Shelli.  I'm serious.  I could've hurt someone using that thing as a club.  I knew it had to be shredded.  And, zucchini bread was out of the question.  Too ordinary.  I wanted something new and different.  Ah Ha!  Liz's zucchini fritters.  I made one small modification to her recipe.  We didn't have any green onions so I substituted a small shallot.  

Along with the fritters I was going to make a salad.  I had a bunch of kale to use up and a new recipe from my friend, Linda.  But, I also had a load of peaches from the Peach Truck.  So, on to the internet I went.  There, I found a grilled peach and apricot salad from Food52.  That one would be modified a lot before I was done.  But, the base was a fabulous idea.  You massage kale with olive oil, drizzle in some lemon juice then top it with prosciutto, grilled peaches and feta.  Since I was grilling the peaches, I also grilled the prosciutto and some red onion.  And, blue cheese sounded better than feta.  Especially since we both love peach halves grilled with blue cheese.  If I had the wedges of blue cheese ready to go, I could put them on top of the hot peaches and the cheese would get a bit melty...  

What did we think?  Both of these were make the next night recipes.  Absolutely fabulous.  I loved the grilled prosciutto because it added a subtle crunch to the salad.  Different textures are always fun in a dish.  And, the hot peaches with the slightly melty blue cheese were heavenly.  The peach juices combined with the extra virgin olive oil and lemon made a divine dressing.  

Zucchini Fritters

serves two


1 lb (about 2 medium) zucchini, coarsely grated



1 egg

2 scallions or 1 small shallot, finely diced

1/2 c flour

sour cream or yogurt


fleur de sel


Toss the zucchini with about 1 tsp of salt.  I used a fine colander with a plate beneath it and pressed on the zucchini several times.  I had to empty the plate a couple of times.  What you don't want is for the zucchini to retain too much water or you'll wind up with mushy fritters that won't brown.  

Beat the egg then add in the scallions or shallot followed by the flour.  Then, add the zucchini.  Heat oil (I used olive oil) to shimmering before you put the zucchini mixture into your skillet.  I used about 1/4 c per fritter and smashed it into about a 4" diameter round.  When the first side was nice and brown, I flipped them.  I served mine with sour cream.  Liz suggests chives and fleur de sel also.  

adapted from thatskinnychickcanbake

Grilled Peach on Kale Salad


serves four

one bunch kale

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 T lemon juice

two large peaches, halved

six-eight slices prosciutto

four 1 oz wedges blue cheese or gorgonzola

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced


Tear the kale into bite-sized pieces.  Be sure to discard the stems.  Toss the kale with a tablespoon of the olive oil and massage it until it's softened.  Mix the rest of the olive oil with the lemon juice in a separate bowl.  Lightly brush the peach halves with olive oil.  Put them in a grill basket cut side down.  Add the sliced onions and prosciutto to the grill basket.  Grill over direct heat until the peaches are caramelized.  Crumble the prosciutto and scatter it over the kale.  Scatter the red onion slices over the kale.  Drizzle dressing over the salad.  Top with the peaches and then the wedges of the blue cheese.  Do all this asap so the hot peaches soften the blue cheese.  

adapted from Food52