Isa’s Faux Clam Chowder

I do admire vegans. Their love of animals is so monumental that even consuming cheese and dairy is an affront to their animal friends.

I love animals myself, but I also love cheese and dairy products. I don’t know if I can give that up. What I can do and would like to see happen is for all of us animal lovers to demand better treatment to the animals so that vegans can enjoy cheese and dairy again. I know some of us are already fighting the good fight, but vegans are still not able to enjoy the comforts of dairy and cheese.

I think our animal friends wouldn’t mind us enjoying such treats from them as long as it didn’t stem from abuse.

I’m not vegan, so this is my limited understanding that it’s the treatment of dairy animals that causes vegans to boycott it. Anyone reading this can feel free to educate me more on this issue. I would like to know, so feel free.

Another dairy rich meal I love is clam chowder and I was excited to see how the vegan alternative from Isa Does It would turn it out. True, you can’t have the clams, but what you can have is mushrooms and I do love mushrooms.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 teaspoons of organic cornstarch
  • 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 ribs of celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 or 2 nori sheets, finely chopped
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

The first step is remind you that this recipe takes some early preparation due to the cashew cream ingredient.

To make the cashew cream you just soak the cashews ahead of time for at least two hours. This soaking process can go up to three days if you really want to prepare. If you forgot and don’t have time to soak, you can also boil them for 15 minutes.

Whatever method you end up using, the final step for cashew cream is to blend it.

By the way, if you have a high powered blender you don’t have to soak at all. I’d make sure this is the case before you go all crazy and start blending things. Last year I got a nice high powered blender, but I still soak the cashews because I figure even strong items need a break now and then.

When you do blend the cashews, drain the water first and add 2 cups of vegetable broth and cornstarch.

While this is happening or even before if you want, pre-heat your largest soup pot over medium heat and add oil. Once pot is heated, add the onions and carrots with a little bit of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots soften.

Let’s revisit the cashew cream now. Is it smooth? If no, then keep blending. If it’s a little grainy, that’s fine, but we want it as smooth as possible.

Ok, let’s check out the carrots and onions now. If they are good, add the mushrooms and celery. Cook this for 3 minutes or until they soften. Then add the potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, pepper, nori, and 3 cups of vegetable broth.

Bring this mixture to a boil by covering the pot with a lid. Once boiled, remove the lid and lower the temperature so that the soup can simmer for 10-15 minutes. Don’t let the potatoes turn to mush, though! We want them to be like my idea of a perfect man, tender but still strong. Nobody wants a mush of a man.

At least I don’t…maybe some people do.

Anyway, now it’s time to add in the cashew cream sauce. Allow it to cook under low heat for 7 minutes. You’ll know it’s about ready when it thickens up and when this happens you will add the tomato paste, lemon juice, and more salt and pepper to your liking.

We are now ready to serve! Do so by garnishing your bowl of faux chowder with chopped parsley and/or chives, crackers, and lemon wedges.

I opted for parsley, chives, and lemon.

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As I mentioned earlier, I love clam chowder and while I thought this was a good substitute, it just wasn’t clam chowder folks.

I think if I ate this soup as a creature of his own design, I would like it more. The mushrooms are nice and chewy. You can’t go wrong with shiitake for me.

The potatoes also pair well with the cashew cream and that portion of the soup did remind me a bit of clam chowder.

It still wasn’t clam chowder, though. It just wasn’t.

This soup makes me think of a Pulp song I like called Bad Cover Version.

Here are some lyrics that reflect my feelings.

It’s like a later Tom And Jerry, when the two of them could talk
Like the Stones since the Eighties
Like the last days of Southfork
Like Planet Of The Apes on TV
The second side of Til The Band Comes In
Like an own brand box of cornflakes:
He’s going to let you down, my friend
Listen to the whole thing if you want later. It’s one of my favorite bands and I haven’t listened to them in awhile so I’m probably going to do that now.
Til next time friends.
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Pineapple Ham Cake

Hello dear readers!

It rained a couple of days ago in Los Angeles and yet the clouds still hang low. The sun is in hiding, cause all that rain frizzed out her hair and she doesn’t want anyone to look at her.

It is a dreary day here in the city of angels and the Angelenos don’t know how to cope. They are supposed to be sunny and inviting. Reverie for the dreamers on those infamous  winter days.

What do you do when you can’t California dream?

You call up your cuz Hawaii and say. “Aloha cuz! Is it still paradise over there?”

“Yeah man! What’s up over there?”

“Well you know, we’re kind of a second rate paradise compared to you, but lately I’ve just wanted to slap on a beanie, wear some flannel, and smoke cigarettes while I drink coffee and contemplate the meaning of my existence.”

Hawaii pauses to think what could cheer up Cali cuz. “…would you like a pineapple? I mean I could send you some spam as well and maybe you could…”

Cali rips off their beanie, unbuttons the flannel, and snatches the pineapple out of Hawaii’s hands, “Oh sweet a pineapple! I’m good on that spam though!”

Under Cali’s breath, “Hawaii and their spam fixation, what a weirdo.”

“Okay well hope you enjoy! A hui hou!”

Under Hawaii’s breath, “Man I’m tired of Cali snubbing spam. They’re probably going to have ham with that pineapple. What a waste!”

And so dear readers, we shall have ham with our pineapple and with the help of Taste of Home Cooking for Two we will bring that paradise to our stomachs.

What you’ll need

  • 1 can (8 ounces) sliced pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons of beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons of 2% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 pound fully cooked ground ham (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Our first step is to crack open that can of pineapple. Drain the juice, but don’t throw it out, we will be using it later as a glaze.

Get two round containers that are about 10-oz. Taste of Home recommends ramekins or custard cups. I had neither of these. I made this a couple of weeks ago and can’t recall if I just used a bowl or just cooked it on a pan. The point is that you can make this without a custard cup, but I do think you should use it if you’ve got one.

Whatever you end up using, you’ll want to spray that device with a non stick cooking spray and then place your pineapple in it.

Next, get out a mixing bowl and combine the egg, milk, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon of mustard, and a dash of salt and pepper. Once this mixture is well combined, sprinkle in the pork and ham and mix everything together as evenly as possible.

We are now ready to form our ham patty. Do so by dividing this mixture into two round forms like a burger patty.

Place each patty on top of each pineapple ring.

While they sit there, in a small bowl mix brown sugar, remaining mustard, and one tablespoon of pineapple juice. Once mixed, pour this mixture on top of your patties and bake!

Pineapple ham cakes should be baked under 350 for 35-40 minutes and you’ll know it’s ready when the pork turns slightly brown.

When this happens remove from the oven, flip pineapple side up, and enjoy!

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Spam and custard cups not required

Does the pineapple ham cake bring paradise? Yes, yes it does.

Have you ever had a thick chunk of ham with pineapple? Pineapple ham cake is like a modification of that. Both are delicious, thick, juicy, and slightly sweet.

I ate this plain, but I think it would make an excellent sandwich or “ham” burger if you will.

Side note, did you know hamburgers got their fame from Hamburg and that’s why we call them hamburgers? Why are so many food origins linked to common names for other foods/countries? Like German chocolate cake. It’s not German, just some dude whose last name was German made it. Strange right?

Moving on, I have to say this is a heavenly modification of the classic pineapple and ham paring. It fits perfectly in the hammy city of angels, but you can enjoy it anywhere and you should.

 

Shrimp and Scallop Salad

Well folks, I have another easy recipe to write about.

If you’re looking for a challenge I suggest renting a boat and fishing for your own scallops and shrimp, otherwise there’s not a whole lot of challenge to this salad from At Home with the French Classics.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just miss the days when something would go wrong and I could write something funny and entertaining. Talk about challenges. I am challenged in the being entertaining department these days.

What you’ll need

  • 3/4 pound of large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound of sea scallops, rinsed, tendon removed
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs, dill, chives, or basil
  • 1 large head Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves

The first step is boil 3 quarts of water. Place your seafood in the water and cook until the water reaches a boil again. Once it boils again, drain the water and rinse the seafood under cold water.

Grab the shrimp and slice in half vertically. Do the same with the scallops only horizontally. You can slice the scallops 2-3 times as well to make the slices smaller.

Once the seafood is sliced, set aside and grab a bowl that will be able to hold all ingredients.

We are not going to add everything just yet, because we need to make the vinaigrette. Do so by mixing the lemon juice and mustard and then the oil. Whisk this away and then season with salt and pepper.

Finally add the herbs and set aside.

We are now ready to serve.

To serve, grab a plate and add a handful of lettuce to it. Then whisk your vinaigrette mixture so it is smooth again and add the seafood. Toss the seafood and vinaigrette together until everything is coated well and then add this mixture to our plates.

By the way, you can get creative with your serving and make a circular design with your salad by overlapping the shrimp and scallops or just place the seafood in the middle with the lettuce surrounding the outer edges.

I opted for just mixing everything together. It didn’t occur to me that I could be creative until after I had already dumped everything together.

Feel free to do what you wish. I would advise no triangles though.

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This is a simple recipe with a simple taste and there’s not much to say. I recommend enjoying this on a hot summer day when you just want to be whisked away to a beachfront locale where everything is perfect and airy.

It’s how I imagine The Hamptons would be if you didn’t look beyond surface appearances.