1880’s Philadelphia Clam Chowder

mincing clams

mincing fresh razor clams

My great clam chowder is adapted from a recipe in General Mills’, mid-20th century Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book; this reproduced cookbook was originally published in 1880, by Washburn Crosby Co., the makers of Gold Medal flour.  (This collection also includes my all-time favorite oatmeal cookie, which I will share at a later date.)

I have enlarged upon this 19th century method of making this dish, by adding such flavor/texture enhancers as garlic, onion, celery, and unpeeled potatoes.  Miss Parloa calls her receipt Philadelphia clam chowder; it introduces the technique of straining the clams, thus lending a delicate touch to the fish soup.  I am not a big fan of clam chowder, but I love this because of its mellowness, resulting from the removal of the clam juice.

There is much to be said about the distinctive flavors of shellfish and fish.  Harold McGee shares this apt science in his excellent treatise On Food and Cooking.  He teaches why ocean and freshwater creatures vary so greatly in taste, the former having a much stronger bite.

Ocean water is about 3% salt by weight, while the optimum level of all dissolved minerals inside of animal cells is less than 1%.  Consequently ocean creatures need to balance this substantial salt mineral, that they are breathing in and swallowing; they do this with amino acids, amines, and urea, which their bodies produce.

Behold, these substances have different flavors!  For example the amino acid glycine is sweet, while glutamic acid is savory; shellfish are especially rich in these and other amino acids.  Unlike shellfish, finfish rely heavily on the amine TMAO for processing salt, which is largely tasteless.  Sharks, skates, and rays make ready the salt water with a slightly salty and bitter urea.  However, this urea and the amine TMAO are converted into stinky substances, by bacteria and fish enzymes in these dead, ocean-dwelling fish; thus, after they are killed, their meat tastes and smells powerfully bad with age, while that of their freshwater relatives doesn’t.

Freshwater fish have a gentler effect on our taste buds, because the water they live in is actually less salty, than that of their cells; therefore, they do not need to accumulate these pungent amino acids, amines, or urea, which their ocean-dwelling cousins require to process the dissolved mineral salt.

You can see that different shellfish and fish supply our mouths with unique experiences.  Seawater varieties use a diversity of amino acids, amines, and urea to balance the salt in their cellular systems; these differing substances boast of a wide variety of powerful tastes.  Their freshwater counterparts, which don’t require these salt equalizers, are bland by comparison.

Miss Parloa counters the strong flavor of clam chowder by straining the clams, removing their excess liquid, which has an abundance of the above mentioned amino acids.  (For more history on Miss Parloa and 19th century American cuisine, see 1880’s Escalloped Salmon-2017/04/17, 1880’s Minced Cabbage-2017/04/24, and 1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies-2017/10/30.)  I take this illustrious chef’s simple inspiration and provide an even richer experience, with additional textures and mouth-watering thrills.  You will like this delicious, yet mild, chowder!

References:

General Mills’ Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s , Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880).  This partial reproduction was printed sometime in the mid-20th century.

Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984, 2004), pp. 188-189.

Philadelphia Clam Chowder  Adapted from a recipe in General Mill’s, mid-20th century Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s  Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880).  Yields: 8 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 30 min/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 1 hr.

Note: if you don’t have large enough pots for the makeshift double boiler-see step 1 for photo and directions-just cook the soup over direct heat; this, however, may cause it to separate some, but this last option will reduce the cooking time.

1 1/2 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic at high temperatures.)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

6 ounce drained weight minced clams, or 3 strained 6.5 ounce cans  (May use 6 ounces fresh razor clams, chopped fine, see top photo.)

2 stalks celery, cut in 1/4 inch dice

3 tbsp parsley, minced

1 lb potatoes, unpeeled, chopped in small 1/2 inch pieces

5 large cloves garlic, minced  (May use 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)

1 1/2 quarts milk  (Whole milk is preferable.)

1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is best; available in health section at local supermarkets.)

1/2 tsp white pepper, or to taste

  1. make-shift double boiler

    make-shift double boiler

    Heat coconut oil in a 4-quart pot that will sit inside a slightly larger pot to make a double boiler, see photo.  (If you don’t have two large pots, cook the chowder over direct heat; cooking will be faster with this last option, however, the cream soup may separate some.)

  2. When a small piece of onion sizzles in oil, add the rest of the onions and sweat, cook until translucent.  Remove from heat when done.
  3. Fill larger pot 2/5’s full of hot tap water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Meantime make roux, by melting butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir constantly with a wire whisk; cook until light brown in color, about 2 minutes; set aside.
  5. Spray celery, parsley, and potatoes with a safe, inexpensive, effective produce spray: fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.  After spraying vegetables, let sit for 3 minutes, rinse really well.
  6. Drain canned clams in a colander.  If using fresh razor clams, drain and chop fine (see top photo).
  7. Chop all vegetables and garlic; add to pot of cooked onions.
  8. Add milk, clams, salt, and pepper to the pan of vegetables.  Fit this smaller pan into the larger pot, so it sits above the boiling water (see photo).  Watch water level while cooking to make sure water doesn’t boil dry.  Cook chowder until potatoes are soft, about 50 minutes.  Note: if preparing over direct heat, bring soup to a gentle boil; lower heat; and simmer until potatoes are soft-this option will lessen the cooking time.
  9. When vegetables are soft, beat in roux with a big spoon; cook 5 more minutes, or until soup is thickened.  Stir constantly.
  10. Adjust seasonings and serve.  May freeze leftovers; when you heat thawed chowder, however, it will be of a thinner consistency.  If desired, you may thicken with a small amount of roux-about 1 tbsp of melted butter cooked with an equal amount of flour-this amount will be adequate to thicken 4 leftover servings.
  11. I am passionate about this soup!

Gingered Bok Choy with Ground Turkey

gingered bok choy with ground turkey

gingered bok choy with ground turkey

My whole family acquired the cooking gene, a rich inheritance received from our parents. However the grander bequest was that of their love: Mom and Dad cherished one another in a steadfast, unspeakable way.

This security has always belonged to our entire family. It has never weakened, no matter what, for even death has not separated my parents.

My father went to heaven on November 16, 2006, but I contend that my mother enjoys his presence even more now.  At 93, she sits in Buzzy-baby’s chair and eats ice cream with him.  She joyfully informs me, when I call, that he is letting her finish his share too, as he always did while he was alive.

My parents each possessed individual attributes that allowed for their earnest commitment: my father had a beautiful heart and my mother unshakable faith. Over the years, I have declared that my greatest heritage of all comprises these two qualities.  These endowments, along with the cooking gene, set the stage for all I get to do in this world.  They have formed me: in love with my God, I am a food historian.

This legacy of devotion and faith is more precious than gold, though my siblings and I received gold as well.

My inherited strong heart, powerful faith, and ability to cook, all three, propel me into this marvelous, God-given destiny.  Give me pots, pans, and ingredients and heaven-sent food results. My meals excite all your senses.

Today’s recipe, with its Chinese flair, is easy to follow, though it takes some patient chopping of vegetables. (The process of this preparation flows, especially after the first time you make it.)  My dish is low in carbohydrates, vitamin-proficient, and has an inexpensive, high-quality protein. Abundant health and pleasure result!

The inspiration for it grew in me.  Recently I was influenced by Chef Susanna Foo. She Americanized her Chinese cuisine by substituting our everyday ingredients, for their Oriental counterparts, which were challenging to get in the 1990’s.  Foo discovered that these simple adjustments actually enhanced her cooking.1  Thus I chose apple cider instead of rice vinegar and, for heat, jalapeno instead of Szechuan peppers.  My palette was also crying for orange juice in the mix.  I added to these surprises typical Chinese ingredients: ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, coriander, and bok choy, which is a Chinese cabbage from Brassica rapa, the same species that gave us the turnip.  (Note: the spice coriander is common to Chinese, Indian and Mexican cooking; its fresh leaves are known as cilantro.)  The glorious blending of these foods thrilled me!

Now I encourage you: look to your life, discover your unique inheritance (your intrinsic gifts), go forward with them.  Indeed your birthright was ordained before time began.  In the meantime try my recipe!

  1. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 211.
assembly of gingered bok choy

assembly of gingered bok choy

Gingered Bok Choy with Ground Turkey  Yields: 5-6 servings.  Total active prep time: 1 1/4 hour.

3 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best for sauteing; olive oil produces carcinogens at high temperatures.)

1 medium/large yellow onion, halved at the root and sliced thin

2 carrots  (Organic carrots are very inexpensive; find them in 1 lb packages at Trader’s or Winco.)

2 stalks of celery

l large red bell pepper  (It is important to use organic bell peppers, as this vegetable really absorbs pesticides.)

1 lb bok choy  (Organic bok choy comes in smaller heads; weigh before purchasing.)

1 lb ground turkey  (Natural is important; Foster Farms is reasonably priced and good.)

4 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine

1 large jalapeno pepper, minced small  (May use more for a hotter dish.)

3 cubes frozen garlic, or 5 large cloves fresh garlic  (Frozen garlic is available at Trader Joe’s, it provides ease in cooking, especially excellent for this recipe.)

1/3  cup organic tamari  (May substitute soy sauce, but not as healthy or flavorful; tamari is available in the health section at Fred Meyer’s, or at other national chains such as Whole Foods.)

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar  (Raw is the best; inexpensive at Trader’s.)

1/3 cup orange juice  (May squeeze your own, or use orange juice that is not from concentrate, such as Florida’s Natural or Tropicana’s.)

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp sesame oil  (This is found at a good price at Trader’s.)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 cup corn starch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water

Steamed rice  (I personally prefer brown basmati.)

  1. Heat 1 ½ tbsp of oil in an extra-large frying pan over medium heat.  Add a small piece of onion; when it sizzles, oil is ready; add remaining onions and carmelize (cook until dark brown).
  2. Meanwhile cook turkey in a large sauté pan.  (Turn off heat when finished.) Go to next step in meantime.
  3. Clean all vegetables, except ginger, with an inexpensive effective spray (a mixture of  97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit for 3 minutes and rinse extra well.  Set aside.  While waiting for vegetables, start cooking rice.
  4. Next peel and mince ginger in very small pieces.  Set aside.
  5. Chop garlic fine, if using fresh.  Set aside.  (Frozen garlic from Trader’s works better with this recipe.)
  6. When onions are brown, add to cooked meat, set aside.  (Note: you will reuse this extra-large pan for cooking the vegetables.)
  7. Meantime dissolve corn starch in 1/4 cup cold water, set aside.  Next slowly heat garlic, tamari, vinegar, orange juice, water, sesame oil, and coriander in a small saucepan over medium/low heat.  It will take about 15 minutes for light bubbles to rise in liquid.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  8. Prepare carrots by scraping with a knife and thinly slicing at a diagonal. (Scraping, rather than peeling, preserves vitamins just under the skin.)  Cut celery in 3/4-inch wide diagonal pieces.  Place carrots and celery in a bowl, set aside.
  9. Chop pepper in 3/4-inch x 2 1/2-inch wide strips.  Place in another bowl with bok choy, which is chopped in strips the same size as the pepper-include greens.  Set all aside.
  10. Heat remaining oil in the extra-large pan.  Place a small piece of carrot in oil, wait for it to sizzle.  Also turn heat on to medium/low under pan of meat/onions.  Go to the next step.
  11. The liquid sauce should be forming light bubbles by now; add the cornstarch, which is thoroughly dissolved in water; beat constantly with a wire whisk.  It thickens quickly.  Remove from heat when thick and clear. (This takes only about 15 seconds.)  Set aside
  12. Add carrots, celery, and ginger to hot oil.  Stir well to coat vegetables with oil.  Cook 3 min, stirring occasionally.  Add bok choy and pepper strips, mix well with carrots.  Cook for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables are done, but still crisp.  Be sure to stir frequently.
  13. Mix together: hot meat, finished vegetables, and sauce.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.  This pleases the palate!

Serungdeng Kacang

serungdeng kacang

serungdeng kacang

The condiment serungdeng kacang first completed my food in the early 1980’s, when I was catering historical events in Billings, Montana.  In those days, I sought recipes that allowed me to offer thematic meals from diverse cultures and times. To my joy, I discovered a host of receipts from Indonesia; thus, I presented an Indonesian rijsttafel to my eager audiences.

I loved to act in my youth and knew the Billings’ theatrical community well.  As an aside, actors often make a living in the restaurant business; they are adept at waiting tables.  Then my creative dinners needed both excellent service and improvisation.  An incredible fit was made with my Billings’ thespian friends; thus, I frequently employed them in my catered dramas.

My favorite memory, using this partnership, was a fundraiser for the Billings’ Children’s Theatre: I presented an authentic Moroccan dinner, for a staged “Night at Rick’s Place”.  The five winning tickets from those auctioned off-each with their three guests-were transported back to World War II in the theatre’s upstairs; this large room had been converted into Rick’s Place, from the movie Casablanca.  It was furnished with a bar off to one side of the restaurant, which consisted of five tables of four, clothed with white linen.  The city’s leading actors peopled the bar scene.  More of these, dressed in tuxedos, served the unsuspecting partakers in this suspense.

Broadway arts resulted!  Numerous brawls took place in the bar; the Gestapo arrived; guests were pick-pocketed, and on and on…Talk about fun.

My part was the researched Moroccan meal.  That afternoon, after weeks of cooking, I showed up for the final preparations in the theatre’s limited kitchen. Behold, the limits escalated upon my arrival-the stove wasn’t working!  The true test of my creativity came.  However, God’s grace broke through: makeshift occurred as a call went out and citizens brought in hot plates.  The meal came off triumphantly: I, in a Moroccan dress, told the innocent company the colorful history as each dish was served.

I repeated this dinner numerous times in my career, but this show never again reached the thrill of its original occurrence.  That night in Casablanca best exemplified what I did with my work then.  Now my food history presentations entertain larger audiences.  Still guests participate in dinner-theatre-type-events. They engage by eating authentic foods; I, dressed in period costume, narrate their careful story.

Today my grand affairs mostly involve Northwest history, for which I was trained in graduate school.  However back in the 80’s and 90’s, I presented other cultures and times in my gala occasions.  Among these many thematic experiences was an Indonesian rijsttafel, which is a banquet of delicacies from this southeast Asian republic, formerly known at the Dutch East Indies.

Serungdeng kacang is a condiment for rice dishes in these ethnic feasts. My particular recipe comes from Java, one of the many islands in Indonesia. These coconut crumbs, spiced with onion and garlic, are spread liberally over the rice portions, in addition to a variety of other garnishes.

Serungdeng kacang has multiple, inventive benefits: it is also compatible with Indian curries; acts as a delicious hors d’oeuvre; and, my favorite, it provides the crowning touch to salads!  Keep this enhancement to tossed greens on hand. Make a double batch and keep it in a sealed storage bag.  The beauty of this topping lasts indefinitely.

simple mincing of onion

simple mincing of onion

Serungdeng Kacang  Yields: 3 cups.  Total prep time: 1 hr/ active prep time: 30 min/ cooking time: 30 min.

6 tbsp yellow onion, minced  (You will need a medium/large onion; follow directions below for simple mincing-see photo.)

6 medium/large garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 tbsp sugar  (Organic cane sugar is best; available at Trader Joe’s and Costco.)

1 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important; available in the health section of local supermarkets.)

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is the best for flavor and quality.)

2 cups unsweetened coconut chips  (Available in bulk at our local Winco, or in a 12-ounce Bob’s Red Mill package at local supermarkets.)

1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

  1. An easy way to mince onion is to peel it, leaving the root on; next, score it by cutting slices close together across the top one way, going 3/4 of way down into the onion; then, turn it and cut slices the other direction (see photo).  When onion is prepared thus, shave the minced pieces off the end of it with a sharp knife.
  2. Start by measuring 6 tbsp of minced onion; save rest of onion for other cooking.  With a mortar and pestle mash onions, garlic, sugar, and salt.  When this is a thick puree, set aside.  (See mortar and pestle in photo.)
  3. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium/low heat.  Place a piece of the coconut in oil; when it turns brown, oil is ready for cooking.
  4. Meantime mix together coconut and onion mixture in a large bowl.  Make sure coconut is completely coated.
  5. When oil is hot, add coconut mixture; stir well to coat coconut with oil; cook 20 minutes, or until golden brown in color and slightly wet.  Stir every 5 minutes, so as not to burn.  (Let it cook for full 5-minute increments, however; this allows for the coconut to brown.)
  6. When coconut is light golden brown, add the peanuts and cook for another 5 minutes; stir twice now.  Note: it will get a darker brown and drier, as it cooks more with the peanuts and then cools in the pan.
  7. Remove from heat and be sure to cool in skillet; this completes the drying process.  (See top photo for finished product.)
  8. Keep in a sealed storage bag, lasts for months.

Sauteed Squash with Curried Yogurt Sauce

sauteed squash with curried yogurt sauce

sautéed squash with curried yogurt sauce

My beloved friend, who provides me with her garden’s bounty, asked me to concoct this recipe for sautéed squash.  She fell in love with its original, at an excellent restaurant, while traveling.

Goldie longed to enjoy repeats of this masterpiece, without having to leave the Portland area.  She trusted my expertise to supply her with the means to do so; thus, this powerfully good recipe was formed-thanks to another chef’s inspiration!

This whole process made me aware that we need each other’s expertise; thus, we lend our strengths to one another in order to break through circumstances-both in the kitchen and life. This exceptional combination started in the mind of an adept chef, but I built on it using my own approach.  In turn, I encourage you to take it to your worlds by innovating further.

None of us wants to miss playing out our foreordained part!  I loved acting in community theatre in days past.  Here I learned that there are no small actors, just small parts.   The eye can’t say to the nose I have no part in you, or where would the sense of smell be in the body.  In this manner, we can’t fulfill our destinies without each other’s help, while always remembering that every “body part” is critical.  We don’t want to forfeit, even by default, any of our precious chances to give or receive support.  This way we discover our life-purposes.

James Trager has been all that for me in my writings.  With a mind like mine for detail, he offers a feast of food history information in The Food Chronology.  His work of art so equips me with an abundance of needed facts, to effect my God-given calling.

For instance he has four entries on squash.  The first dates back to 1527, when conquistadors returned to Spain with facts about New World foods.  They reported that the Aztecs consumed squash and beans among numerous other delicacies, such as: white worms, eggs of water bugs, and domesticated guinea pigs; these tamed animals were eaten with the skin on-the hair being removed as with a suckling pig.1  (Note: while studying food in 1985, I was offered guinea pig in Peru, land the conquistadors conquered in the 16th century.)

Next Trager takes us to Virginia in 1588.  Then English mathematician Thomas Hariot wrote that these Virginia fields were planted Indian-style with squash, maize, beans, and melons.  However he noted they yielded five times more than the same acre in England.2

I take this chance to build on Trager’s house: this New World area, nearly two centuries before the forming of America, was called Virginia, a word from the Latin virgo (stem virgin).  The land was named after Queen Elizabeth I, who was queen of England and Ireland (1558-1603).  She was known as “the virgin queen”; thus, this virgin land became Virginia.

Finally, our illustrious historian Trager details the early public appearances of spaghetti and calabaza squash in the United States.  The first, resembling spaghetti, was introduced in 1962 by a specialty produce company in Los Angeles.3  Then, when Miami’s Grand Bay Hotel opened in 1982, Jamaican-born Chef Katsuo Sugiura had a loin of lamb among his specialties.  He smoked this over oolong tea and hickory chips; Sugiura served it with calabaza squash, grilled Portobello mushrooms, and yuca.4

I love to share the bread of life through my recipes and words.  As you can see, my act of creating is so dependent on the works of others.  Now may you expand this, my fire, in your lives-both inside and outside your kitchens.

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1995), p. 88.
  2. Ibid., p. 104.
  3. Ibid., p. 569.
  4. Ibid., p. 660.
preparing squash

preparing squash

Sautéed Squash with Curried Yogurt Sauce Yields: 3-4 servings.  Total prep time: 3/4 hr.

3 tbsp butter

2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine  (I have also substituted 1/4 tsp dried ginger, but fresh is better.)

1/2 large apple, peeled and chopped in very small pieces  (I prefer granny smith apples here, but not necessary.)

1/4 tsp curry powder

2 tsp honey

1/2 cup plain yogurt  (Nancy’s Plain with Honey is good; Stoneyfield organic plain Greek yogurt is even better.)

1/4 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch wide strips

Roasted almond slices for garnish, optional  (May roast nuts ahead of time at 265 degrees for 40 minutes.)

  1. Put a serving platter in a warm oven.
  2. Melt 1/2 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add ginger, apple, curry powder, and honey; sauté until fruit is soft; stir frequently. Remove from heat, add yogurt immediately, season to taste with salt.  Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile peel squash with a sharp knife.  Remove any seeds.  Place flat side of halved squash on counter and cut in 1/4 inch wide slices; cut these slices into equal sized strips.  (See above photo.)
  4. In large frying pan, heat 1 1/2 tbsp of butter over medium/low heat, until a small piece of squash sizzles.  Sauté as many strips in hot butter as will fit in pan; cook for about 4 min per side, or until soft and golden brown. Remove cooked pieces to warm platter and keep in oven.  When this batch is finished, add another 1/2 tbsp of butter to pan and repeat this step, until all the squash is done.
  5. Pour yogurt sauce on hot squash, garnish with almond slices, and serve. Be prepared for joy unspeakable!