Quahog Agog: Clam Cakes – Rhode Island

The smallest state in the country, Rhode Island, is home to some exceptional eats, including coffee milk, New York System Wieners and pizza strips. But because Rhode Island is also known as the Ocean State, we decided to bring you a dish featuring the popular quahog, a unique seafood recipe for one of our favorite dishes, clam cakes.

Rhode Island Clam Cakes

Quahog (pronounced KO-hog) is a Narragansett Indian-derived term for the hard-shell clam found in these regions. You can use canned clams in your cakes, but we used fresh and steamed them ourselves to capture that bright ocean flavor. The maple syrup, buttermilk and beer are an unusual combination, but they all work together to create a winning dish. We recommend a shallow fryer so that the cakes turn out flat rather than golf ball-like. Eat these as an appetizer or dipped in New England Clam Chowder.

Head to Newport, Rhode Island, October 18-19, 2014, for Bowen’s Wharf Annual Seafood Festival. 

Rhode Island Clam Cakes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe adapted from Hank Shaw, http://honest-food.net, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds littleneck clams (yields approx. 1 cup of clam meat = approx. 30 clams)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup reserved clam cooking liquid
  • 1/2 cup cold beer
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Tartar sauce or Tabasco sauce (for dipping)

Instructions

To steam clams: Pick through clams and discard any with cracked or damaged shells. Soak for 20 minutes in fresh water. Lift them out of the water bath (do not strain) and brush vigorously to get rid of any excess sand. Heat 3 to 4 cups of water in a large pot with onion, celery and carrot trimmings until slowly boiling. Turn down heat to medium. Add clams and cover. Steam about 4 to 6 minutes or until the shells start to open. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard any clams that do not open. Once shells are cool enough to handle, open shells, extract meat and chop finely. Reserve the cooking liquid.

To make clam cakes: Heat oil to 350 degrees, preferably in a shallow fryer. Mix all dry ingredients. Mix the clams and all liquid ingredients except the beer. After oil is hot, add beer, then gently fold liquid ingredients into the dry until just combined.

Drop tablespoons of batter into hot oil (and be careful not to crowd the pot). Fry batches until golden, turning once, for approximately 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Serve with tartar or Tabasco sauce, or dip in New England Clam Chowder.

 

 

Whose Stew is it Anyway? Brunswick Stew – Virginia

Virginia is for lovers and we’re feeling the culinary love for Brunswick Stew.

Brunswick Stew - Virginia

 

Legend has it that Jimmy Matthews, a camp cook, created this stew for a hunting party back in 1828 on the banks of the Nottoway River. Other places have claimed Brunswick Stew as their own, most notably Brunswick, Georgia, spawning some serious stew wars. Georgia versions tend to have beef or pork as the protein while the Virginia version uses chicken. Thankfully for us, neither uses squirrel, the primary protein when the dish was created in the nineteenth century. This stew is hearty thanks to the addition of corn, potatoes and butterbeans, and the Brunswick Stewmaster’s Association asserts that it isn’t done until the spoon can stand up in the middle of the stew pot.

Brunswick Stew - Virginia

Head out to the Taste of Brunswick Festival in Alberta, Virginia, October 11, 2014, where you can sample lots of versions during the stew cook off.

Brunswick Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hour, 30 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe adapted from Brunswick Stewmaster’s Association, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 carrot, cut into large pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) small butterbeans or lima beans, drained
  • 2 cans (7 oz.) white shoe peg corn, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

 Instructions

In a large pot, place chicken with enough water to cover it. Add carrot, celery peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer until meat falls off bone, about 45 minutes. Remove chicken but reserve stock. Shred meat. In a separate pot, sauté the chopped onion in vegetable oil until translucent. Add meat, potatoes, tomatoes and salt and peppers, plus some of the stock to desired consistency. Simmer slowly, stirring often to prevent sticking, until potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add additional stock if stew becomes too thick. Add butterbeans and corn, heat an additional 10 to15 minutes or until beans and corn are heated through. Season again with salt and peppers before serving.

 

 

Guac and Roll: Avocado Wontons – California

Mmmmm, avocados. Who doesn’t love the creamy, buttery fruit (yes, a fruit!) with the delicate, nut-like flavor that melts in your mouth? California supplies 90 percent of nation’s crop, with the

Avocado Wontons - California

majority (60 percent) coming from San Diego, the avocado capital of the country. According to the California Avocado Commission, avocados were originally found in South-Central Mexico and made their way to the U.S. in 1871, thanks to the efforts of one Judge R.B. Ord of Santa Barbara. Hundreds of varieties exist but seven types are grown in California, with Hass making up 95 percent of the total crop.

Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, supplying 20 vitamins and minerals and they are one of the few fruits with “good” fats — the mono and polyunsaturated kinds — that can help reduce blood cholesterol levels when eaten in place of saturated or trans fats.

The recipe we’ve featured is an east-meets-west appetizer of Avocado Wontons. The soy dipping sauce adds a nice kick to the wontons, the filling of which is like a chucky guacamole. Yum!

If a trip to the Golden State is in your plans, check out the California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria, October 3-5, 2014.

Avocado Wontons

  • Servings: 10-15
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe created by Alex Caspero of Delish Knowledge for the California Avocado Commission, used with permission

Ingredients

For Wontons:

  • 1/2 cup organic frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 ripe California avocados, diced
  • 30 wonton skins
  • Vegetable oil

For Dipping Sauce:

  •  1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin or simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, white and green sliced very thin on the bias
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili garlic paste

Instructions

For dipping sauce: Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

For wontons: Add the corn, onion, garlic, roasted bell pepper, tomatoes, scallions, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. Gently fold in the diced avocado, being careful not to overmix. Place 1-2 tsp. onto each wonton wrapper. Gently fold over to close forming a triangle. Dip fingers in water and gently press along wrapper edge to seal. Repeat until filling is used. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Pan fry wontons 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Serve with dipping sauce.

 

 

Leave Us Some Lefse – North Dakota

North Dakota, the Roughrider State, celebrates its Northern European influences, especially anything Norwegian. A third of its residents are of Norwegian descent, the highest percentage of any state in the country. Immigration from Norway began around 1870 and these Henriks and Heddas brought the two Ls — lutefisk and lefse.

Lefse

We’ll leave lutefisk for another day, but lefse is nothing more than a potato crepe. Or maybe it’s a potato tortilla? Either way, they are thin and speckled brown from the skillet and are delicious served warm with a bit of cream cheese and jelly or simpler still, with butter and sugar.

Lefse take a bit of effort, but don’t all good things? Start by peeling and cutting up the potatoes and boiling them until they are quite soft, almost falling apart when pierced by a fork. Let the potatoes cool and then put them through a potato ricer. Lumps are fine for mashed potatoes but the consistency here needs to be finer, no lumps allowed. Add the butter, milk and salt and pepper to taste and then refrigerate until the potatoes are cold. You can do this step the day before if you’d like.

When you are ready to make the lefse, add two cups of the potatoes with one cup of the flour. You’ll probably have some potatoes leftover, a bonus as you can eat them for lunch the next day. The mixture will gradually come together and you’ll have a dough that looks like this. Lefse

Divide this dough ball into 16 equal portions.

Lefse dough balls

Now the real fun begins: Rolling the lefse out. Add a cup of flour to a clean mixing bowl. Drop one dough ball into the flour, dusting the dough. Take it out and then gently roll it out with a rolling pin onto a well-floured surface. This might take a few tries until you get the amount of flour needed and how much pressure to apply with the rolling pin. Don’t get frustrated, if the dough is too sticky or holes form while rolling, just form the dough back into a ball, and try again after adding a bit more flour. You’ll want to roll these babies out as thin as possible, 1/8 of an inch or less so that the dough is almost translucent when held up to the light. Gently lift lefse off of surface with a spatula or pastry scraper. 

Lefse

Place onto a heated skillet and cook two to three minutes on each side until golden brown spots appear.

Lefse

Serve them warm, spread with your favorite topping.

Channel your inner Viking and visit the Norsk Hostfest in Minot ND, September 30-October 4, 2014.

Lefse

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. baking potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Jam with cream cheese, or butter with granulated sugar, for serving

Instructions

Peel and cut potatoes into uniform pieces. Place into a large pot of cold water, with potatoes completely covered. Bring potatoes to a gentle boil until they are soft, about ten minutes. Drain and let cool. Press potatoes through a potato ricer. Add butter, milk and salt and pepper. Mix until ingredients are completely absorbed, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Refrigerate mixture until cold.

When ready to make the lefse, mix two cups of the potatoes with one cup of flour. The mixture will be grainy at first but will slowly become a ball of dough as you mix. Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead a few times. Divide dough into 16 equal portions. Roll each portion into a little dough ball. Cover dough balls with a clean tea towel and keep covered as you work.

Heat a non-stick pan or a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add a cup of flour to a clean mixing bowl. Drop one dough ball into the flour, dusting the dough. Remove, then roll out gently with a rolling pin onto a well-floured surface (if dough is too sticky or holes form while rolling, form back into a ball, and add more flour). Roll as thin as possible, 1/8 of an inch or less so that the dough is almost translucent when held up to the light. Gently lift lefse off of surface with a spatula and place onto skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown spots appear. Transfer onto a plate and cover with a clean tea towel. Repeat with remaining dough balls, rolling out one lesfe as one cooks. If lefse start to stick to pan while cooking, brush the pan with a small amount of vegetable oil.

To serve, spread with your topping of choice and then roll up. Lefse will keep for one week in the fridge or three weeks frozen.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes are Southern Comfort – Alabama

When you travel through the Heart of Dixie, as the state of Alabama is known, you’ll undoubtedly see fried green tomatoes listed as either a main course or a side dish on menus in dining establishments ranging from humble meat-and-three roadside diners to more upscale sit-down spots. The association between the dish and the state harks back to the 1991 movie of the

GreenTom.081 label

same name, set around the fictional Whistle Stop Café near Birmingham. Truth be told, we can’t actually say if the dish has its origins anywhere near Alabama, since it’s found on dinner tables throughout the South. But the hot, fried slices – which you can either pan-fry or deep-fry – have become undeniably associated with the state, courtesy of Fannie Flagg’s quintessentially Southern novel. If you’ve never tried this dish, what we can say for sure is that the pairing of fried cornmeal-flour batter with the tart and firm flesh of unripe fruit is irresistible – especially when served with a cool dipping sauce (we chose ranch dressing). Pour a glass of ice-cold sweet tea to go along with it, and you’ve got yourself some good eatin.’

If you’re headed to sweet home Alabama, check out the Whistlestop Festival in Irondale, September 27, 2014.

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 Recipe courtesy of Phyllis Foster of Athens, Ala., used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or buttermilk)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Ranch dressing for dipping

Instructions

In a deep fryer, preheat oil to 350 degrees. Season tomatoes on both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, cayenne and paprika in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, beat eggs with the milk. First dredge tomatoes through the flour mixture, then the egg wash, and then back through the flour mixture again. Add only a few pieces to the fryer at a time, so pieces cook evenly, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and serve with buttermilk ranch dressing.

Ooey, Gooey, From St. Louie: Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri

Definitely a mistake. A mistake turned delicious anyway. Gooey Butter Cake is to St. Louis as deep dish pizza is to Chicago. According to the New York Times, fork-lore has it that in the 1930s,

Gooey Butter Cake - Missouri

a St. Louis baker added too much shortening, butter or sugar while making a cake. Not wanting to waste the ingredients this being the middle of the Depression, the baker tried to sell the cake anyhow. Customers loved it and Gooey Butter Cake was born.

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BPT is GR8: Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich – Iowa

The breaded pork tenderloin — or BPT for those in the know — is such a simple thing. Just a piece of pork tenderloin pounded thin, dipped in an egg wash, battered, then fried.

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A restaurant in Indiana actually claims to have invented the BPT, but when it comes to pork, Iowa is the country’s top producer, with over 10 billion pounds produced in 2012. Heavens to piggy! The BPT is very close to its German cousin, the schnitzel, the only real difference being that schnitzel is pan fried while the BPT takes a deep oil bath. You can find BPTs all over the Hawkeye State in drive-ins, dive bars, and diners.

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Pecan Crusted Trout – Wyoming

Ah, Wyoming. Big sky country. From Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park in the northwest, Devils Tower in the northeast, to Fossil Butte Monument in the southwest, the Cowboy State is hardly lacking in scenic trails for hiking or biking, breathtaking vistas for wildlife watching, and winding rivers for boating, rafting and fishing.

Pecan Crusted TroutThe cutthroat trout is the official state fish of Wyoming. This fish with four subspecies found in the state used to swim in abundance but their numbers have dwindled in recent years due to development, drought and introduction of non-native trout species that overwhelmed the cutthroat. Some conservation groups petitioned the federal government to place the cutthroat on the endangered species list but were unsuccessful. Conservationists are still concerned, particularly with the native Yellowstone cutthroat.

But don’t worry, most of the trout available in U.S. supermarkets is farmed-raised according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. It is marketed as rainbow, golden or steelhead trout and because it’s sustainable and abundant, it’s considered a “best choice.” This recipe pairs the flaky fish with the nutty crunch of pecans, a flavor duo made in heaven.

Taste of the Tetons is coming to Jackson Hole, September 7, 2014, part of the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival.

Pecan Crusted Trout

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 trout fillets
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard

Instructions

Toast pecans by placing them in a skillet on medium heat, continually tossing the nuts in the pan so they do not burn. Cook until the nuts brown just a bit and you can smell them toasting, about 5 minutes. Once cool to the touch, chop finely or pulse in the food processor a few times.

Combine the chopped nuts with the other dry ingredients and the chopped herbs. In a separate bowl, combine butter and mustard. Brush the mustard mixture over the fish fillets. Add nut mixture, pressing firmly to the fish so it adheres. Transfer the fish to a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, crust side up. Baked in preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until fish is flaky.

 

 

Deep Dish Pizza is Numero Uno – Illinois

No other place in the country embraces deep dish pizza like Chicago. This delicious amalgam of buttery crust, gooey mozzarella cheese

Deep Dish Pizza - Illinois

and tangy tomato sauce — a definite knife and fork affair — has been around since at least the 1940s but who first created the dish is bitterly disputed in pizza-centric circles. Pizzeria Uno claims that proprietors Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo came up with the recipe but no documentation exists to support this claim, according to the Chicago Tribune. Two employees of Pizzeria Uno, Rudy Malnati, Sr., and Alice Mae Redmond may have been the true inventors. Continue reading

Juicy Lucy – Minnesota

The origins of the first Juicy Lucy — a cheese-stuffed burger — are a bit murky. Our theory is that a Jonas, Sven or Nils from days of yore craved a tasty morsel to ward off the ten or so months of winter in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Sounds good, right?

Juicy Lucy

Two venerable Minneapolis institutions each claim to have invented the carnivorous concoction and each claim to make the best Juicy Lucy. Twin Cities dwellers fall into two camps: pro Matt’s and pro 5-8 Club and the rivalry is similar to the cheesesteak battle between Geno’s and Pat’s on the south side of Philly. Matt’s claims Continue reading

Highlighting food from our 50 states

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