As I mentioned Sunday, while my Mom was visiting we took a cooking class at Whole Foods. The class was New England Seafood Shack and was described with this:
“Calling all seafood lovers! The Northeast region of the US offers some of the world’s best seafood, and the area’s cooks know how to tease top flavor out of all kinds of seafood with an unfussy style. Learn the fundamentals of New England seafood cookery as you taste a wide range of dishes typical of the classic seafood shack. We’ll end our evening with a classic hot fudge sundae.
MENU: Fish Fritters with Tartar Sauce; Steamers with Drawn Butter; Scallop & Clam Chowder with Boston Brown Bread; and Crab Rolls.”
A few years back my parents had visited the Northeast and had enjoyed many wonderful seafood meals. So Mom was looking forward to this class and how it compared with the foods she had sampled on her trip.
This class was a demonstration class taught by Merijoy. As fun as the hands-on classes are, they are also exhausting. After our day of shopping we were more than happy to have a class where we watched and ate!
We started with a portion of yummy fish fritters while Merijoy demonstrated how to prepare them. Fritters are basically a free form fish stick. She had used a mix of tilapia and halibut. A couple of tips she shared were to precook your fish by poaching in water with Old Bay seasoning and celery leaves. (This is the fish stock we would later use in the chowder). Also, to put the chopped onion in a couple of layers of paper towels and wring out as much moisture as possible to help keep the fritters from being too moist and falling apart.
Next she made the Scallop and Clam Chowder. She doubled the recipe to accommodate the class number but that was still a lot of clams in the bowl! It was looking good already!
And in tasting, it was even better!! This was the best clam chowder I have ever had… and I’ve sampled them from the east coast to the west coast … and Alaska’s coasts too! I’ve put this recipe at the end of the post for you to enjoy.
She next demonstrated how to steam littleneck clams and what to look for when cooking fresh clams.
But what really got my attention was the Boston brown bread!
Mom said this was a popular dish in the 70s, and that I had eaten a lot of it. I don’t remember that but I am planning on eating a lot more of it! It was made with 3 different flours and was dense and moist.
It’s cooked in a one pound coffee can (a thing that does NOT exist anymore… the cans of coffee I found a couple days later had all been reduced to 10 ounces!). The can sits covered halfway up in a water bath and is steam baked for 2 hours. SO good!
Our final recipe was crab rolls. Merijoy shared the tip that to look for the inevitable shell fragments, spread the crab out thinly on a cooking sheet and gently pat the top. The shells pieces will come to the top and be easy to remove.
After mixing the ingredients, the crab mixture was still quite chunky.
Spread on a toasted bun with a piece of red leaf lettuce, it was delicious.
Mom and I enjoyed the class very much. It was fun, informative, and tasty!
Scallop and Clam Chowder
8 slices thick-cut bacon
2 small onions, chopped
1 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh)
4 cups fresh and/or bottled clam juice OR fish stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 white skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound bay scallops
25 shucked med. hard shelled clams, reserving liquor, chopped OR 10 ounces frozen or canned clams and 3/4 cup of bottled clam juice
Paprika, for garnish
Minced chives, for garnish
Sauté bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until lightly crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels and drain well. Chop coarsely.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from saucepan. Add onions and thyme to the saucepan and sauté over medium-high heat until onions are light golden, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups clam juice OR fish stock, wine, and potatoes. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add cream and half of bacon and bring back to simmer. (This portion can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add half of scallops and sauté until light golden, about 2 minutes. (They will not quite be done). Add scallops to simmering chowder. Repeat with remaining butter and scallops. Meanwhile, stir in the clams to the simmer chowder and simmer for 2 minutes.
Season chowder to taste with salt and pepper. Adjust consistency with water if needed.
Ladle chowder into bowls. Sprinkle with paprika, chives, and remaining bacon and serve immediately.