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From Dish Rachelle:
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The Boy and I recently joined a CSF (Community Supported Fishery), on the recommendation of former Dish Jess who, with her husband, runs Fair Share CSF in San Francisco.  I’m bummed we can’t support her business but we’ve fallen in love with the Village Fishmonger! Once a week we get a small bundle of fish, anything from Yellowfin tuna, to monkfish, to trout, to clams.  As adventurous eaters and pretty capable cooks, we love the challenge of working with a surprise ingredient every Monday.  It’s like our very own episode of Chopped.

I like ceviche but this is my first time making it at home, in part because I’ve never before had access to a seafood source that I trusted enough to go raw.  But week-after-week of beautiful fish convinced us to take the leap – and I’m still very much alive to tell the tale.

This simple recipe is pretty free form, and you can substitute any of the ingredients for others, if you prefer – lemons for lime, cilantro for parsley, etc.  However, if you’re going to use another fish, do a little research.  Fluke can (and should) be tossed in the marinade and then served almost immediately; if you let it soak in acids too long, it will get tough.  However, if you use raw shrimp, for instance, you’ll need to let it sit overnight before serving to get the texture right.

Ingredients

Serves 2-4

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2 medium fluke filets, sushi grade

½ ripe avocado, diced

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 blood oranges

Salt

Oregano

Fresh jalapeno slices

Chopped scallion

Sliced radish

Chopped parsley

Olive oil

Sea salt

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Make your marinade.  In a large bowl, combine juices, salt, a pinch or two of oregano, some jalapeno slices (to taste), some scallion – and anything else your heart desires.  Taste it to make sure the salt levels are right and it’s something you want to eat.

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Let stand for about 15 minutes so that flavors combine.

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Just before you’re ready to serve, slice your fluke into bite-sized pieces.  If there’s a little lag time between slicing and serving, put it back in the fridge – you want the fish as cold as possible.

When you’re ready to eat, toss the fish and avocado in the marinade, stirring to combine.  Let stand for 3-4 minutes so the flavors soak in, then plate, garnishing with scallion, radish, parsley, a sprinkle of olive oil and some sea salt.

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From Dish Rachelle:
Clam chowder
I’m pretty sure that in my lifetime I’ve done some serious damage to the clam population of the Northeast. Some of my favorite dishes – and my family’s favorite dishes – center around this one simple ingredient. I grew up eating fried clam strips with tartar sauce with my Mom at Howard Johnson’s at brunch on Sundays and at fish fry places on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore. I always ordered the chalky New England clam chowder at Friendly’s when I was little (and we know what a big part Friendly’s played in my childhood). I’ve known my father to cook three dishes, and three dishes only: 1) “Cheese eggs” (aka scrambled eggs with American cheese) 2) Linguine with white clam sauce and 3) Baked clams (see the bottom of this post for a neat trick he taught me). I love Zuppa di Clams and even raw ones on the half shell with cocktail sauce. This is really just starting to sound like a survey of New Jersey restaurant menus.

I’ve made Manhattan clam chowder before (“red”) but never New England. I was very pleasantly surprised. Sorry, clams – this might become another go-to.

Ingredients (makes 2 entrée-sized portions or 4 appetizers)

18 raw whole clams, shells on
2 strips bacon, chopped
Olive oil
½ large yellow onion, chopped
splash of dry white wine
1 large baking potato, diced small
clam stock (see below)
1/3 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
Ground pepper

Start by steaming your clams open. In a large, deep saucepan, place rinsed clams (shells on) in about a half-inch of water. Cover and steam over medium-high heat, giving the pan a shake every few minutes. Cook until the water looks foamy and the shells are all wide open, about 10 minutes.
Steamed clams
With tongs, remove the clams to a bowl. Do not drain or discard the clammy water at the bottom of your saucepan, because this will become the base of your stock! Remove the clam meat from the shells and reserve for later. Place the empty shells back in the saucepan and add about a pint and a half of water, covering and bringing it up to a simmer. Let this cook while you prepare your other ingredients.
Coming out of their shells
Clam stock
Cook the chopped bacon in a soup/stew pot over medium heat. When it looks about done, add the onions and a little bit of olive oil so they don’t stick, and soften. Deglaze with the white wine and add the potatoes.
Diced potato
Return to your clam stock and taste it. It will likely be very salty. Remove shells* and pour the liquid through a cheese cloth to remove any sand or grit that has come from them, and then pour the strained liquid straight into your soup pot. Add some fresh water if necessary to cover ingredients and dilute the salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, mostly covered, about 15 minutes.

Check your potatoes and make sure they’re done. If so, roughly chop the clam meat and add to the pot along with any liquids that emerged. Add the corn and stir. Cook, mostly covered, over low heat for another 5 minutes.
Chopped clam
Add heavy cream and if you prefer a thicker soup, the cornstarch (you can dissolve it in a little bit of warm water first to make a paste so that it’s not gritty in your mouth). Plate and season with ground pepper.

*You can toss them, or rinse and save them for another use. My Dad used to make baked clams using canned clams – easy, but without the benefit of shells for easy baking and nice presentation. No problem: when he ordered clams casino at a restaurant, he used to ask the waiter if he could keep the empty shells so that the next time he felt to urge to make baked clams he’d have them on hand.
Mutual admiration society, clam edition

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From Dish Rachelle:

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I love brunch but on a chilly January Sunday, sometimes I love lounging in my sweatpants even more. What’s a Dish to do?

The answer’s surprisingly obvious: if you can’t bring the people to the croque madame, bring the croque madame to the people. To be honest, this isn’t my go-to brunch order (I’m more of an omelette or pancakes kind of girl) but I recently saw two internet recipes that inspired me to give this gourmet ham, egg and cheese another shot.

The first is this breakfast sandwich post from Ideas in Food, one of my husband’s favorite cooking blogs. He sent it to me because he knows there’s a special place in my heart for “Egg in the Bread” aka “Toad in the Hole” because my parents used to make it for me when I was little and I still cook it for us every once in a while.

The second is Ruth Reichl’s grilled cheese recipe from her How to Make it Better series for Gilt Taste. I incorporated many of her suggestions here and as promised, my sandwich was better for it.

I’m not going to get overly precise in my measurements here because seriously, it’s brunch – if we can’t be laid-back before noon on a Sunday, then really, when can we be?

Also: do you know how to make ANYTHING better? Add cats.
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Ingredients (serves two)

4 slices country bread

butter for spreading

shredded gruyere cheese (start with about a cup – if you need more, go for it)

1-1 ½ tablespoons chopped shallot

black pepper

2 slices of ham

mayo for spreading

more butter for cooking

2 eggs

Diet food, this isn’t:

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Start by layering one slice of bread on top of another and creating a hole in the center using a cookie cutter. Extra points if it’s cat-shaped. Repeat for second sandwich.

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Mix together the grated gruyere with the chopped shallots and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Butter the inside of each slice of bread. If the butter’s too cold and/or the bread’s too delicate, warm it in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Butter side up, sprinkle a healthy amount of the cheese mixture on two slices of bread (one for each sandwich). Avoid the hole in the center.

Cover the cheese with a slice of ham, tearing it into pieces if necessary to arrange it around the cat.
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Sprinkle just a bit more cheese over the ham and then close the sandwich, lining up the holes. Spread a thin layer of mayo on the outside of the bread and flip, carefully, to repeat on the other side.

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Once both sandwiches are closed, melt a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Carefully place your sandwiches in the hot butter and crack an egg in the center of each one.

Cook on one side until golden brown, about 4 minutes, and then flip. Cook until bottom side is golden brown and the egg has reached a desired level of doneness.

Serve immediately, with a nice helping of dressed greens, Brooklyn brunch style.

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