Point/Counterpoint: Manhattan vs. New England Clam Chowder

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Endless Simmer Editorial staff. The comments posted here are solely the opinions of the authors, no mater how lame or convoluted.

Devil Katt: I don’t know why we’re even debating this. It’s like Pros Verses Joes when it comes to which version is better, and that version is named after the island Manhattan. No ‘foo-foo’ cream sauces to cover up the taste of OUR clams. Milk and cream is supposed to be poured over cereal, not soup, you New England numbskulls! Save it for yer Fig Newtons, ya maple swillin’ wannabe’s! Nothin’s better than the natural, rich flavors of the broth, potatoes, tomatoes and BACON, combined with fresh clams, carrots, onion and celery. And by the way, you can’t make Manhattan clam chowder if you don’t have clams. But if you take the clams out of New England Clam Chowder, whaddaya got? Cream of Potato soup! If  New England Clam Chowder was so good, they wouldn’t try to kill the taste by pouring crackers over the top of it. That glop is so gummy some places have to serve it in a bread bowl just to sell it! Fergetaboutit!

Angel Katt:

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When Inauthentic Is Delicious: Weeknight “Gumbo”

Ok, let me preface this by saying that this is not authentic gumbo.  No need to point it out to me.  I am aware.

I set out to make authentic gumbo with the brown roux and what not, but if you know anything about gumbo, it’s pretty labor intensive and time consuming.  That’s not my bag, baby.

I am going to tell you a little anecdote (if you can even call it that) from my week, so you get a feel of how I work in the kitchen.

I went to three different stores looking for fish sauce for this gumbo recipe.  Not sure why.  I read it in a cookbook, so I figured it’s important.  So, 3 stores and nothing.  Then my Dad found it and got it for me (love you, Dad!)  It was such a huge bottle of fish sauce, so I  suppose I was set for many future gumbos.

Except, I couldn’t get it open.  That dang top would not come off.  I guess this would be where an extra set of (not weak old lady) hands would have been beneficial.  Honestly, I probably could have gotten it open, but I have no patience or perseverance for such a task.  Don’t I sound like a fun person?

Long story short: no fish sauce made it into this dish.  So sad.  But true.

Here’s how it all went down.

Weeknight “Gumbo”

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A New Tradition: Mock Holiday Borscht

The great thing about being an adult is that you’re free to either continue the traditions of your past, or to create totally new ones of your own design. I’ve started one that I call the “Mock Holiday.” It’s usually held the week after an actual holiday because it’s cheaper to rent costumes and they’re more available. Costumes, you say? Well of course! Holidays should be festive, and besides, it’s always better to overindulge and possibly have the contents of your just-eaten dinner magically reappear, while wearing someone else’s clothing. Our mock holidays are always planned around a lavish dinner prepared and contributed to by each member of the family. And when I say family, I mean a twisted group of like-minded acquaintances that meet on an annual basis to dine, drink and celebrate each others’ company, always at the expense of the poor bastard who has to host it at their place. Some of our past Mock Holidays have included a ‘Zombie Thanksgiving’ where each participate had to dress up in full pilgrim attire while sporting their best white-faced, brain craving makeup; ‘Super Hero Trans-Gender Christmas’ where everyone arrives dressed as their favorite opposite-sex comic book crusader, (you should have seen my She-Hulk); and our ‘Easter Playboy All-Nighter’ where all of the guys dressed in pajamas and smoking jackets, and the girls dress up as….bunnies!

Our one rule about following a traditional holiday with a mock holiday is that we can’t have traditional food like turkey for Thanksgiving or ham for Easter. Our Mock Holidays are just an excuse to get together and eat copiously, so it’s up to the current host to decide the menu. ‘Zombie Thanksgiving’ featured deep-dish pizzas while ‘Easter Playboy All-Nighter’ had lobster thermidor. Our only tradition is to be untraditional!

This weekend is no exception. To celebrate ‘Slave Labor Day’ (which is the buzz-kill of all holidays as it marks the end of summer), forget about brats and burgers and say hello to a traditional Russian feast featuring ice cold vodka, borscht and beef stroganoff! Why Russian? Hell, why not? Actually it’s where my finger landed when I closed my eyes and picked a volume from my cookbook library. And that’s the reason why I’m including my borscht recipe. It’s a little untraditional as I like to sear my beef cubes prior to boiling my stock, but then that seems to be the central theme here. So go forth and celebrate ‘Slave Labor Day’ in style! And help me make a decision here; should I go as a Chinese railroad laborer or an Egyptian pyramid builder?

Katt’s Borscht

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Taking EDF to the Next Level

As you may have noticed from my various posts on the subject, I am in a constant state of eating down the fridge and/or cabinets.  One key to doing this successfully, I have found, is to keep a few interesting ingredients on hand, lest eating down the fridge become an exercise in tedium.  The ideal add-ins are shelf-stable, or at least will stay good in the fridge for six months or so.  A well-stocked spice rack is a good first step.  I am realizing, though, that there is a whole other category of these add-ins, a top shelf, if you will.  A jar of  capers or sundried tomatoes in oil, for example.

One way I have identified some of these premio foods-to-have-on-hand is by checking out some favorite food blogs and cookbooks and noting things that seem to pop up again and again.  The latest addition to the fridge door is  white miso paste, purchased at Korean Korner.  My new go-to food blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches, features it often, in everything from tofu glaze to coleslaw.

Also, once you have miso paste, making miso soup is about as hard as boiling water.

Easy Miso Soup

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Top 10 American Flags Made Out of Food

Here at Endless Simmer, we pledge allegiance to two things: this great country we call America, and all the ridic food treasures it holds within. Fine citizens of our sea-to-shining-sea have taken it upon themselves to honor the former with the latter; there are so many entertaining food flags lurking around the internet. Just in time for the daydrinking-fueled, explosion-laden meatstravaganza that is the celebration of our glorious nation’s birth, here are our T10AFMOOF: Top 10 American Flags Made Out Of Food.

10. Taco Bell Hot Sauce Flag

Like many of life’s greatest and most inspirational mysteries, we’re not sure exactly where it originated… but this beautiful Taco Bell Hot Sauce Flag has been making the rounds on Twitter lately. We support it. Not a bad idea for a festive “tablescape” if you’re serving tacos at your holiday gathering.

 9. Cake Pop Flag

Cake? Fine. Cake pops? Sure, whatever. Cake pops remade into cake?! Invention and the freedom to do what you want is the backbone of this great country! We’ll take it! Thanks, Bakerella.

 8. Pancake Flag

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas has the right idea: start your day the American way! To turn boring, regular pancakes into spectacularly patriotic pancakes that even George Washington would be proud of, all you need is some food coloring and chocolate chips.

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The Last Gasps of Soup Season

I love soup.  My husband does not.  He likes it okay, but he considers it to be mainly a side dish, whereas I would happily eat soup for dinner most nights of the week, particularly if it is accompanied by some nice, crusty bread.  Still, despite his anti-soup-as-main-dish bias, I can usually get away with one day a week where the main course is in liquid form.  I also use a side of grilled cheese as a selling point.

But all that is about to change.  Once the weather officially becomes summer, which here in DC should be in the next week or so, soup is officially off the menu. I understand that, I do.  Who wants to eat hot soup on a hot day?  As for cold soups, well, not so much.  I can’t really refute the argument that gazpacho is basically like eating salsa with a spoon.

Nature has given me a few cold and rainy days these past few weeks, and I have taken full advantage.  My go-to soup recipe is, like most of my recipes, not really a recipe at all.  Don’t blame me, though.  As you can see by the ancient sticky note below, this one has been handed down to me from my mom.

Just in case you can’t make out her scratchy, water-splotched scrawl, I will give you my interpretation.

Cream of a Vegetable Soup

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Artsy Photo Series of the Day

And the result…

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