Sunday, June 27, 2010

What the heck do I do with....Clams???

Rob is lucky enough to know someone who goes clamming in Quincy, Ma and who brings him clams on a regular basis. So, every couple of weeks, I'll get a text from Rob that simply reads, Clams....
I'm not 100% positive what type of clam they are, but based on their size I'm going with little necks or cherry stones; they might be too big to be little necks.
Clams require a little bit of clean up; simply rinse the clams in some cold water and scrub the outsides of the shells to get any grit off.
What do you do with a clam? Well, the easiest thing to do is to simply put the clam on a medium hot grill and let them steam open. Once you put the clams on the grill, close the grill and give them about 5 minutes, then POP, they'll pop open. Remove them carefully trying to save the clam juice or liquor, as it is called that is left in the shell. You can eat them right out of the shell. They are usually tender and delicious, salty from the sea, and perhaps a bit sandy, but that's all good.

If you have more time, boil up some spaghetti or other pasta of choice and start some garlic cooking over medium heat in some olive oil.
Once the garlic starts to get a bit brown, add your clams in, as well as some white wine, a squeeze of lemon, a squeeze of honey and put the cover on. You can also use beer if you chose, instead of wine. I used Vino Verde, an effervescent, almost green in color, wine from Portugal.
I had some scallions laying around, so I chopped some up and threw them in as well.
It takes a good 8-10 minutes for the clams to open and when they do, their liquor will mix with the steaming liquid to form a nice sauce for the pasta.
NOTE: Do not eat or attempt to eat a clam that does not open; it is not a good clam and should not be eaten, but discarded.
After the clams steam open, dress the spaghetti with them and top with a green herb like parsley or's up to you whether or not you want to top with Parmesan cheese as well....

Enjoy your clams!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What the heck do I do with....Tempeh?

You're probably saying, What the heck IS tempeh???
Tempeh is a fermented soy product that is used as a meat substitute. The fermentation process uses the whole soy bean, and sometimes includes other ingredients, such as grains and/or other beans. The result is a firm textured block with highly digestable protein and fiber.
The brand I used was Soy Boy, 5 Grain flavor. It has soy beans, brown rice, millet, barley and rye in it.
Here are the stats:
In a 3 oz serving there are 130 calories, 3g fat (0.5g saturated), 15g carb, 1.5g fiber, 11g protein!!! It also has admirable levels of iron and calcium.

So, what the heck do you do with tempeh? Well, like tofu, tempeh really benefits from some period of marination. So, for this preparation, I simply broke the block of tempeh into pieces, and marinated it in reduced sodium tamari, seasoned rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger that I grated on a microplane and a small amount of agave syrup to round out the flavors. I let the tempeh marinate in the fridge for about 6 hrs.
After marination, you can saute the tempeh or stir fry it with mixed veggies. You can use it in place of ground meat in stews and chilis. You can even grill it or bake it.
I baked the tempeh and remaining marinade at 375 for about 20 minutes. As it bakes, the marinade becomes sauce; the agave syrup caramalizes a bit and adds a nice flavor to the sauce. When it was done, I simply garnished it with some chopped green onions. Serve the tempeh with a veggie of your choice to make your meal complete.