|May 17, 2013||Posted by jcogswell1 under Breakfast/Brunch|
This year, we had a special treat for Mother’s Day – Tommy’s mom was in Chicago! We had a really wonderful weekend including visits to the Purple Pig, a trip to the Art Institute and dinner at a Polish restaurant called Starapolska (Tommy’s family is of Polish decent, so we wanted to get some tasty Polish food). The weekend ended with a brunch at our place featuring the Mom of honor (Sarah also visited with Matilda because let’s face it – she is a fur mom!).
Brunch for a crowd can be tricky. So many breakfast dishes require standing over a pan slaving away while your guests are enjoying the party without. For this reason, I make it a cook as many items ahead of time as I can. This way I can just pop the dishes back in the oven to heat up as my guests arrive so I don’t miss out on any of the fun.
The other tricky thing about brunch is what to serve. I find people are very particular about what they like to eat in the morning – sweet, savory, eggs, lox, etc. I think the safe bet is to serve one savory and one sweet dish at a minimum. If you are hosting a big brunch, then its best to serve a couple of each.
I also always like to serve a dishes that cater to meat eaters and vegetarians alike. And in my opinion, you have to serve the one staple brunch item that everyone can agree on – mimosas. If you are most ambitious than me, bloody marys and mimosas would be great.
So my menu this past Sunday I thought about what everyone would like. Carol, for example, really only likes eating eggs that she cooks herself, so I knew I didn’t want to do eggs benedict or a big batch of scrambled eggs. Sarah doesn’t eat meat, so I made sure that one of the savory items was veggie friendly. And finally, Tommy loves bacon, so I made sure to cook up a batch to go along with brunch.
For the sweeter offerings, I made a baked french toast recipe from Ina Garten. To me, this recipe epitomizes what I talked about above. French toast is a great brunch item, but I don’t want to individually make each portion. By making a baked french toast dish, I get the flavors and textures I love about this dish, without the hands on time it typically requires.
Also on the sweet side, I put out a big platter of fresh fruit. One of my favorite elements of a big brunch buffet is a gorgeous offering of a variety of fruit.
I choose raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe and honeydew for my platter to showcase a variety of colors and incorporate lots of different fruit flavors.
As for the savory dishes, I opted to go with a couple of quiches. I think quiches are great at any time of day, but work particularly well at brunch because it satisfies any egg desires without having to worry about how people like their eggs cooked.
As I mentioned above, Sarah doesn’t eat meat. Because of this, I made sure one of these quiches were filled with lots of veggies and didn’t sacrifice on flavor. The combination I came up with was fabulous and will absolutely be replicated in the future – goat cheese and mushroom quiche with fresh basil.
Take note of that beautiful pie crust work – Tommy made it! As for the other quiche, I went with the standard Quiche Lorraine, which was delicious as ever!
I missed my mom on Mother’s Day, but was happy to celebrate with Tommy’s. This menu was also so good that I could definitely make it again for my mom once she gets back in town!
Goat Cheese and Mushroom Quiche with Fresh Basil – Serves 6
1/2 recipe for perfect pie crust
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk or cream (I used 50% milk 50% half and half)
1 lb button mushrooms
8 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 TB butter
S+P to taste
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
After you have made the pie crust, place in a 9 inch pie dish and par bake for 10 minutes. There are two methods to par baking. You can either prick the dough lightly with a fork all over or place tin foil with dried beans on top of the dough to ensure that the sides don’t collapse and the bottom doesn’t puff up.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, add mushrooms and cook until softened and slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool.
To make the quiche filling, combine the beaten eggs, milk or cream and salt and pepper in a large bowl until well combined.
To prepare the quiche for the final cooking stage, take the par baked crust out of the oven and evenly spread the mushrooms, basil and goat cheese over the surface.
Then pour the egg and cream mixture over the toppings. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes and then lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 40 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
|December 13, 2012||Posted by jcogswell1 under Breakfast/Brunch, Chicago Young Foodie Spots|
Last month, Tommy was watching Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, and saw a restaurant located in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago called Nana Organic. What caught Tommy’s eye was the fact that not only did all the food look amazing, but everything was organically and locally sourced. Knowing how I feel about “lorganic” food, Tommy immediately put this on the “restaurants to try” list.
Nana’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner during the weekdays and brunch and dinner on the weekends. We definitely wanted to try dinner at Nana, but we already had reservations for both nights of the weekend (one night at Pizza DOC and the other at iNG), so we opted to go on Saturday morning for brunch instead.
The space at Nana is quite large with two long, but narrow, rooms. The rooms are light and airy thanks to the floor to ceiling windows that line the restaurant. When you sit down and look through your menu, you immediately notice how important being an organic and local restaurant is to Nana.
Not only does the menu detail Nana’s restaurant philosophy, but it also informs you about where exactly (aka which farms) your food is coming from. The waitress reminded us that all of the food we would be eating was organically sourced!
I think some people have a misguided perception that organic food is “healthy” food and thus not good. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. All organic butter, cream and oil has the same amount of calories and fat as its non-organic counterparts. So if you are looking for a rich meal (which we definitely got), please rest assured that you can get it with food that produced in an environmentally friendly, non-pesticide way!
But back to the great food and drink at Nana. To start, Tommy and I ordered some brunch drinks. I ordered the roasted poblano and cheddar bloody mary which contained crop organic vodka, spicy, poblano infused tomato juice, house pickles and veggies.
This was a really unique bloody mary because not only was it absent of the traditional horseradish you find in the traditional version (which Tommy appreciated because he hates horse radish), but it also had cheddar cheese mixed into the drink itself. This added a unique flavor and I was only mildly weirded out by the small chunks of cheese that hadn’t full incorporated.
Tommy ordered a spiked hot apple cider which had a house-infused cruzan rum combined with seedling apple cider. The rum was infused with pear, raspberry, star anise, cinnamon and rosemary flavors and was oh so delicious.
The cider came steaming hot and was the perfect drink option for a cold and rainy day like we had on Saturday.
In addition to Nana’s regular menu, they also had a number of breakfast specials. One of them included a “starter” of plantain beignets that sounded too good to pass up. The waitress sealed the deal when she told us that we could order two (instead of the four listed on the menu) and that she highly recommended them.
I am typically not a donut person (which is essentially what beignet is), but these were absolutely amazing. The beignets themselves were doughy on the inside and just barely crisp on the outside thanks to dip in the deep fat fryer. I also love that the beignets were not overly sweet at all. In fact, I would be surprised if they had more than just a bit of sugar in the mixture. The reason this was so important is that Nana served the beignets with a delicious sweet crème anglaise and fresh whipped cream, both of which had a nice sweetness to them. So the combination bite of beignet, crème anglaise and whipped cream was absolutely perfection. To top everything off, we finished with some crunchy plantain chips that were tasty and offered a nice contrast in texture.
For the main portion of the meal, I opted to go with the Huevos Rancheros, per the waitress’ recommendation.
The Huevos Rancheros comes with two eggs any style, crispy corn tortillas, refried pinto beans, onions, peppers, poblano cream, guacamole, queso fresco and your choice of chorizo or soyrizo (soy chorizo).
That seems like a lot of ingredients for one dish, but all the flavors really worked. This had a great balance of spice, salt and tang. In fact, I thought it was so well seasoned I didn’t add a thing – including hot sauce, which is a staple in my brunch diet.
Tommy ordered the “nanadict” which is Nana’s version of eggs benedict that comes with poached eggs, chorizo, pupusas, poblano cream, farm greens and home fries.
Tommy was nice enough to share some of this dish with me and it was also a winner. It actually had a lot of similar flavors to my huevos rancheros, so next time, I think we will mix it up a little bit. What I found to be especially great about this dish is how well the peppery arugula complimented the poblano cream and how delicious the pupusas was. A pupusas is essentially a cornmeal “disk” that in this case took the place of the traditional english muffin. It was quite flavorful and I really enjoyed the corn flavor that it brought to the dish.
Overall, the food was absolutely fantastic. The service wasn’t anything to rave about. In fact, after our waitress suggested menu items and took our order, we basically didn’t see her again. But it definitely wasn’t negative enough to put a damper on the whole experience. I can’t wait to go back again for brunch and try Nana Organic’s dinner. This is a great restaurant and definitely worth the drive (or bus ride) out to Bridgeport!
|October 23, 2012||Posted by jcogswell1 under Boston Young Foodie Spots, Breakfast/Brunch|
Its no secret that Tommy and I love Local 149 in South Boston, as evidenced by our various trips to the restaurant for dinner. And although I have only written about it twice, Tommy and I find ourselves there for dinner nearly every time I am in town. One of the things we haven’t had a chance to do at Local 149 is have brunch there, despite hearing lots of wonderful things about it. We decided to change that this weekend and made a trip to see what it was all about.
In the spirit of brunch, we ordered a couple of drinks – a “house made” mimosa for me and a Crispin Cider for Tommy, who isn’t a huge fan of traditional brunch drinks (think mimosas and bloody marys).
If you are wondering what exactly a house made mimosa is (isn’t it just orange juice and champagne?), you are not alone. I wondered the same thing, so the waitress informed me that Local mixed together fresh orange juice and bottle pomegranate juice to mix with sparkling wine. It didn’t seem anymore special than a regular mimosa, but that didn’t make it any less delicious! Mimosas and brunch are a match made in heaven.
For food, we decided to order the Breakfast Pizza and the Lobster MacMuffin. While in Rome! I always love to order lobster in Boston because it is so widely available, fresh and incorporated in unique ways into food. If I do happen to see lobster on a menu in Chicago, it is typically cooked steamed or boiled and served the traditional way (plus its usually VERY expensive).
The Lobster MacMuffin was definitely unique and I thought had a knock-out presentation.
It was basically a stack of scrambled eggs that was mixed together with lobster knuckles and claws, atop a fresh english muffin, bacon and mizuna (similar to arugula) lettuce. It was served alongside a “harvest vegetable hash” that was basically just boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes mixed together. This was not what I was expecting from the description on the menu and it was very disappointing. If you are going to call something hash, it better at least be browned up some. These were not very good and I would not suggest ordering them. I think that the random piece of toast you see on the plate was a mistake because it was cinnamon raisin and had no relevance to anything else in the dish.
Aside from the lackluster hash and random piece of toast, this dish was very good. I think that the lobster was cooked with the eggs for some period of time because the eggs had a slight lobster taste to them, which I appreciated! It actually made me think of the “shrinkage” Seinfeld episode when George makes the “best scrambled eggs’” anyone has ever had because they were mixed with lobster.
Tommy was very predictable and ordered the breakfast pizza which came with tiny quail eggs, cheese, mizuna and was served on Locals famous “everything crust.” This worked especially well for brunch because it seemed like you were eating a very special bagel!
The eggs were the perfect size for the pizza and every time you cut into one, you got a little bit of yolk on every piece. They were also perfectly cooked – just runny enough – but not so much that the yolk got all over the plate.
Overall, we really enjoyed our drinks and food and the brunch experience further cemented our love for this restaurant. If you live in Boston, you should definitely check it out. It is great tasting, locally sourced food that is very reasonably priced (not to mention the beer menu is out of this world!).
After brunch, we headed over to Harpoon Brewery. Harpoon is actually the second largest brewer in Massachusetts. A lot of people assume that Sam Adams is the largest, but actually it’s Anheuser Busch, which has one of its five breweries in the Bay State. Sam Adams doesn’t actually produce any of the beer that it sells in Massachusetts, although they do have the original brewery operational for tours (it is located in Jamaica Plain, MA).
Tommy and I have been to Harpoon before – maybe 4 years ago – when Sarah, Ben and Kate came for a visit to Boston. Unfortunately, the actual brewery was closed to the public during our last visit, so we were unable to take advantage of the tour that Harpoon normally offers. Fortunately, the beer tasting was still an option and we took full advantage!
This time around, the brewery was open for touring, so Tommy and I were able to see how Harpoon’s brew process works, which was very interesting.
The first thing we learned on the tour is that there are four major ingredients in all beer – water, yeast, malt and hops. While different flavors can be added, and the proportions of these ingredients will vary for different beers, these are four required elements.
Harpoon had malted barley and hops on a table for people to try if they so desired, but warned that a mouth-full of hops would destroy your pallet for about a week!
While we were learning about the first stages of the brewing process, we were served a sample of Harpoon’s Octoberfest beer, which is one of their most popular. This was a deliciously hoppy and full-bodied beer that I really enjoyed.
All of the huge tanks that you see in the background of these photos are full of beer as Harpoon’s Boston brewery is active and produces 60% of all Harpoon beer produced.
After we learned about the beginning processes of beer making (malting, milling, mashing, boiling and fermenting), we headed downstairs to hear about filtration and packaging. While we were listening, we got our next sample of beer – Harpoon’s IPA.
Suffice to say, this was the freshest IPA I have ever drunk because it was poured straight from the barrel it was processed in. Craig, our tour guide, said that this beer would be ready to bottle and ship in three days. From a taste perspective, this was also full of hoppy and malt flavor and was quite bitter (as can be expected from an IPA!). Despite being more full bodied, I thought that this was an easy drinking beer and tasted great very chilled.
During this time, we also learned about Harpoon’s UFO beer. I have had many UFOs in my day, but never knew what made it special, until the tour. UFO stands for Un-Filtered Offering and is a wheat beer that is brewed with orange peel and a unique blend of spices. Harpoon actually also makes a raspberry flavored UFO that we sampled later that is both refreshing and delicious.
From here, we went to Harpoon’s bottling and packaging area where we saw the “assembly” line as well as many empty beer bottles that were anxiously waiting to be filled!
After the tour, we headed upstairs to continue on with the tasting. The tour guides got behind the bar and provided the guests with unlimited samplings of beer for the next 30 minutes!
The beers that Harpoon had on tap were extensive and ranged from Hoppy IPAs to Harpoon’s seasonal varietal: Pumpkin UFO (a personal favorite).
I tried just about every single one and am not sure I could pick a favorite – although the Pumpkin, Cider, and Rye IPA are definitely up there!
If you are visiting Boston (or even a local) and want a fun activity, I could not recommend the Harpoon tour enough. It was $5 a person for an informative beer tour and unlimited tastings of beer. Plus the tour guides are so smart and engaging that the “science” of making beer becomes very accessible. Make sure you tip your guides/bartenders at the end, because they do a fabulous job!
The only thing I should caution about is that weekend tours are very popular and often sell out. We got to the brewery at 12 and were able to snag the last tickets for the 1 PM tour. Everything else was sold out!
I would advise going early (when they open at 11) and getting tickets for a tour later in the day. There is a lot to do in the Seaport District and you can spend many hours walking the water front.
After the tour, we ended up walking to Boston’s Long Warf for an autumn boat tour around the Boston Harbor.
We got tickets through LivingSocial for a two hour tour that took us around Boston and up the South Shore.
We got extremely lucky with the weather (which ended up being around 70 degrees) and it was the perfect way to end a busy day.
After brunch, the brewery tour and the cruise, we were absolutely beat and decided to have a low key dinner at a local bar in Boston. Also, we had to make sure we rested up because we had a big day ahead of us at the Patriots game!
50 yard line behind the Pats Bench – not bad seats!
As usual, I had a wonderful trip to Boston spending time with my favorite guy. Until next time Boston (which incidentally is next weekend for our friends’ wedding!)!
|September 25, 2012||Posted by jcogswell1 under Boston Young Foodie Spots, Breakfast/Brunch, Travel|
A few weeks ago, Tommy and I visited a restaurant that is among our all time favorite brunch spots in Boston – Masa.
Tommy and I love Masa because they have a great brunch menu and an awesome deal on it on Saturdays. Masa’s Brunch Fiesta menu includes two course and a cup of coffee (plus their delicious complimentary corn bread) for just $7.95. You are not going to find a better deal for that amount of food anywhere in Boston!
While I have had everything on the fiesta menu, two of my favorites have to be the Caramelized Plantain Empanada to start and the Santa Fe Style Eggs Benedict for my main course. Also – Masa starts you off with some of their delicious corn bread and homemade butter and jams.
From left to right, the spreads include a maple butter, chipotle raspberry jam and a habanero apricot jelly. I would love to pick a favorite, but truthfully they are all extremely delicious.
The empanada is also always a highlight of the meal. It has a flakey yet doughy crust and is stuffed with plantains. The empanada itself is not overly sweet, but it comes with a sweet and gooey maple/butter sauce that gives it the perfect sugar leve.
The Santa Fe Style Eggs Benedict includes includes two poached eggs atop a freshly baked biscuit and avocado all smothered in a deliciously spicy hollandaise sauce. This is also served with pico de gallo (Mexican salsa made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and chilies) and sautéed potatoes.
Given that I don’t live in Boston anymore, I decided that I needed to come up with a way to get my Masa fix anytime and anywhere (actually, the truth is, my sister came up with the recipe many years ago after I initially introduced her to Masa and she needed her fix).
Southwestern Eggs Benedict – Serves 1 (Inspired by Masa’a Santa Fe Eggs Benedict)
Although this is certainly inspired by my favorite dish at Masa, it is definitely unique as well. The similarities include forgoing the traditional english muffin in favor of a biscuit, adding avocado, poaching the eggs and serving it with a hollandaise sauce. The main difference is the flavoring of the hollandaise sauce. Mine is a spicy chipotle and lemon flavored sauce while Masa’s includes green chilies and definitely not as much spice. Also, I am sure that Masa makes its own hollandaise sauce from scratch? Mine uses packaged hollandaise sauce as a base and makes the whole process much easier!
The other thing that makes this dish easy is the use of an egg poacher pan. I actually don’t own one, but used my mom’s this past weekend and it worked great. Poaching eggs can be a bit of a pain because you have to get the water to the perfect heat, know when to remove the egg and often times have the egg stick to the bottom of the pan. If you don’t have a poacher – just add about 2-3 cups of water to a nonstick sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add about a table spoon of vinegar, drop the egg (its easier if you crack the egg into a small bowl and then pour it into the water) and let it cook for about 5-6 minutes.
Finally, I did not make biscuits from scratch per se. I just used Bisquick and milk and followed the recipe on the back of the box. This couldn’t be easier and the biscuits always turn out delicious. If you are super ambitious and want to try and make your own biscuits, try this recipe from Tyler Florence.
Final Note – The recipe below yields two biscuits even though you will only need one and also yields double the amount of hollandaise sauce that you would need for one serving. I think it is easier to use a full package of the hollandaise and a cup of Bisquick so I just make the double the quantities for these two items and save them for another time (the biscuit freezes well and the sauce will keep in your fridge for at least a week).
1 cup Bisquick Mix
1 and 1/3 cup milk, separated
1/4 medium sized avocado, sliced
1 package hollandaise sauce
1/4 cup butter
1-2 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 TB of lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
S+P to taste
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix 1/3 cup milk and Bisquick together in a small bowl with a fork until combined. Cook for 12 minutes or until browned on top and cooked through.
Add water to an egg poaching pan and bring water to a simmer. You don’t want the water touching the bottom of the part of the pan that holds the eggs because you could risk having them over cook. Once the water is at a simmer, spray the part of the pan that holds the eggs and drop the eggs.
Cover with lid and cook for 7-8 minutes or until the egg whites are just cooked through.
Meanwhile, it is time to make the hollandaise. Add the contents of the packet to a sauce pan with 1 cup of the milk and bring to a simmer whisking constantly so that the package contents disintegrate. Add the butter, the chipotle, lemon juice and lemon zest (reserving some lemon zest to go on top of the final product). Cook all ingredients together for 5 minutes or until thickened.
All that is left to do is the assembling!
Step 1: Slice one of the biscuits in half and place on plate
Step 2: Add sliced avocado and top with salt and pepper
Step 3: Add poached eggs
Step 4: Smother the entire thing with the hollandaise sauce! You can see that mine is a much darker color than Masa’s thanks to the adobo sauce.
Step 5: Sprinkle lemon zest
Serve the benedict alone or with some sautéed breakfast potatoes. My parents had some leftover baby new potatoes from the night before, so I heated those up and added them to my plate.
The only thing left to do is to cut into the poached eggs and incorporate the runny yolk into the sauce!
|September 7, 2012||Posted by jcogswell1 under Boston Young Foodie Spots, Breakfast/Brunch, Dinner, Travel|
After enjoying a great dinner in Boston on Thursday night, Tommy, Kate, Johnny (Tommy’s brother) and I all drove down to Chatham. We got in pretty late and were all tired from the long drive, so we went to bed almost immediately. By the time 8 AM rolled around, we were up and ready to get breakfast at a new-to-us spot in Chatham called the Lazy Lobster.
(We went golfing after breakfast, hence the golf outfit)
Although this restaurant, that serves breakfast and lunch, isn’t new to Chatham, we had never been (probably because we love Hangar B so much . . .). However, when we showed up to Hangar B on Friday morning and the wait was an hour, we opted to try something new.
Despite the name of the restaurant, there wasn’t a whole lot of lobster options on the breakfast menu. However, one thing they did have was Lobster Eggs Benedict. The price was pretty high for the benedict ($18 dollars), so I was a little leery about ordering it. Kate, on the other hand, decided to give it a shot! And man, are we glad that she did.
This dish probably had close to a pound of fresh, delicious, buttery lobster in it. The portion was absolutely huge and absolutely worth the $18 price tag. Kate was nice enough to share more than a couple bites with us and when I go back next time, I will definitely be ordering this.
With that said, I don’t want you to think that I didn’t enjoy my meal, because I absolutely did. I opted for the Pesto Scramble that came with spinach, pesto sauce and cheddar cheese.
My dish came with a huge portion of perfectly scrambled eggs chock full of healthy spinach, rich pesto and melted cheese.
Additionally, I ordered an english muffin and the Lazy Lobster’s “Ultimate Home Fries.”
These fries came with bacon, melted cheddar cheese, scallions and sour cream and were only a $1 dollar up charge from the regular home fries. Kate ordered the Veggie Home fries with her meal which included seasonal vegetables, melted cheddar cheese and sour cream. While she basically ordered the veggie home fries for me and I ordered the ultimate home fries for her and Tom (there was a lot of sharing going on!), I have to say I think the ultimate fries may have beaten out the veggies. Now this might have been obvious to some, but I love veggies, so I anticipated loving the veggie fries more. While I did prefer the flavor of the veggie home fries, I felt like the texture wasn’t as good as the ultimate. The veggies seemed to make the home fries sort of soggy and I much prefer crisp potatoes.
In addition to all this food (we definitely had leftovers!), Tommy ordered the breakfast burrito.
This was served alongside black beans, salsa and sour cream and stuffed with scrambled eggs, avocado, scallions, tomatoes, pepper jack cheese and wrapped in a flour tortilla. I think Tommy enjoyed it a lot.
After breakfast, it was onto to play some golf and then enjoy some time relaxing in the sun during the afternoon.
These are all views from Tommy’s house and dock area. Now you can see why I like to spend so much time here!
After hours of relaxing, I decided I would go “supervise” Tommy and our friend Kenny do some clamming (I say supervise, but I mean, just sit on the dock and watch as they do all the hard work!).
These guys did an amazing job and came back with over a half bushel of clams for us!
The only thing that was left to do was decide how we were going to prepare them. Step one in that process was to separate all the clams into a large and small pile.
I took on this very critical role. You see, while I love clams that are just simply steamed and served alongside butter, I am not a huge fans of the giant quahogs that are often found by Tommy’s house. So for this batch, we steamed the little guys and served them along butter.
And as for the big clams, Kenny suggested that we turn them into stuffed clams for a tasty appetizer for the group. We actually didn’t think that we had all the ingredients for traditional stuffed clams (no one had gone to the store for groceries yet), but soon discovered that with a little creativity and improvisation, we could make something quite delicious!
Stuffed Clams (makes 20 large clams)
This was not the most traditional stuffed clams and this recipe could easily be adjusted to include the flavors you love, but let me tell you, these clams were a hit with our group. The number of “oohs” and “ahhs” that we got was out of this world! I will definitely be making this recipe again!
- 20 large clams, steamed and chopped (reserve clam juice and clam shells)
- 2 pieces of white toast, crushed into breadcrumbs (or approximately 1/2 cup of bread crumbs)
- 1 Italian Sausage, removed from casing and crumbled (or approximately 1/2 LB of crumbled Italian Sausage)
- 1/3 chopped red pepper (we had leftover grilled red pepper from earlier in the day that we used)
- 1/3 chopped onion (ditto on the leftover grilled onion)
- 1/2 cup of clam juice that has been strained to remove any sand
- Juice and Zest of 1 lemon
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sautee the italian sausage in 1 TBs of olive oil until browned. Remove sausage from pan, but do not pour of fat. Sautee peppers and onions in remaining olive oil and fat under tender but not brown. Add sausage back to pan, add clam juice, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste and cook all ingredients together for approximately 5 minutes incorporate all flavors. Add clams and cook for 1 minute (you don’t want to go much longer because you don’t want the clams to get overcooked and gummy). Finally, add the breadcrumbs and coat with juices. You want the mixture to be thick, not too watery, so add more bread crumbs as necessary.
Lay out 20 clam shell halves onto a cookie sheet and begin adding mixture into each shell. Top with a few dried bread crumbs and place in oven to cook for approximately 10 minutes. Everything is already cooked but you want the mixture to get nice and crispy. Remove from oven and let sit, and cool, for approximately 5 minutes (or as long as you can possibly wait. For me, it was about 30 seconds).
Place the clams on a platter and serve with lemon.
Bring clams out to your friends and prepare to be showered with compliments about your amazing cooking skills.
Try to be humble and remember that Tommy and Kenny did all the hard work!
What a way to really kick off the labor day weekend! Great weather, wonderful scenery, amazing food, and most importantly, good friends!