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Thursday, April 10, 2014


Clam Chowder - New England Style 
In Gluten Free Foccacia Bread Bowls

I've been making this same recipe for chowder, or "chowdah" if you live in our New England states, for about 40 years. It's very creamy, buttery and perfectly thick, loaded with yummy little clams, tender potatoes, caramelized onions, and some parsley for color and nutrition. Oh, yes, and topped with some crispy bacon pieces. Fabulous.


Normally I make this glorious soup when it's cold and hopefully raining. I say hopefully raining 'cause we live in Southern California and are experiencing a whopping draught, and actually because I love it when it rains. Period. I love how clean and clear it is during a lull. Oh, and the rainbows are so magnificent it renders one speechless. I find that the fragrance of "clean" is quite outstanding. Now, if I want to REALLY feel happy while it's raining I go to the beach and walk along the beachfront or on the pier. The fish and saltwater smell is quite alluring. There's just something appealing about the smell of the sea, sun tan lotion, bar-b-ques in the fire rings, and lazily lounging, purposefully doing absolutely nada. I love to watch children building sand castles with moats, floating seashell boats, flying seaweed bubble flags from the topmost turrets, and burying each other in the sand. I love to be there camped under my umbrella or easy-up dozing in my beach chair with my feet dug way down in the sand where it's wet and cool.

This of course brings to mind the "El Nino's" we all experimented awhile ago. Everywhere in the world there were very remarkable weather issues. Here in Southern Cal we experienced some down right frightening days and nights of severe rain, with localized street flooding. Thunder so loud and so often the walls on the house shook. Lightening bright enough, and often enough you could read under its flashes without any additional lighting!

My children went to Lutheran Schools, and so they learned Bible teachings everyday while there, and at home. Somewhere in all of that Candice really absorbed our Christian doctrine literally. While experiencing turbulent thunder and lightning about the 7th or 8th day of solid raining, it seemed she had grown a bit more quiet and pensive than normal. One of those nights, when the lightening and thunder where particularly intense, at about 12:30 am, I nearly jumped out of my skin due to Candice peeking at me around the door frame. After I swallowed and willed my heart to slide back down into my chest cavity and keep it from nearly leaping out of my mouth, I asked her what she was doing. She cried,  fearing that she hadn't done something right and wasn't going to heaven with me, and she was so afraid that she just wanted to make sure that I was still there. That I hadn't been raptured and left them behind. That was so touching to me to realize how well she understood our beliefs about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. That NO ONE goes to our Heavenly Father except by the belief in, and the Grace of Jesus. I invited her to get in my bed for the rest of the night, and I went in to get Chelsea who would have been maybe 3 or 4 years old at the time. She was laying in her bed with big tears rolling down her sweet face, she actually jumped into my arms. So the three of us "slept" in my bed, slept is used quite loosely here, it's more like I laid in the middle and was squished, punched, pushed and fiercely cuddled. It was comforting for all of us. Christopher was passed out asleep in his own bed, as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

When we got up that morning, it was very cold and damp. I hate turning the heater on, and will only do so if we can't get warmed up with sweaters, and other warm clothing, and of course something warm to drink. Don't get me wrong here, I will turn it on if our hands are frozen, or we just can't get warm no matter what. Nobody suffered. I don't like the heater because everything dries out from our nasal passages to our hair becoming brittle. It makes me feel like a dried out turkey carcass that was pushed off as edible at a family Thanksgiving event. I'm not naming names here, but yes the turkey's been that bad several times. It wasn't even drown-able with copious amounts of gravy! It would have made a fine pylon for someones concrete patio slab.

Okay, I digress here.

So, no it hasn't been raining, but it was blustery cold this past weekend, and THAT'S why I really wanted clam chowder. But we didn't have it until last night, which of course followed a 91°F day. I turned the air conditioner on, not just for atmosphere making it nicer to eat the chowder, but it had been quite toasty, and I had baked bread. So we needed to cool down anyway.

Okay, so enough rambling.

Clam Chowder New England Style - In GF Focaccia Bread Bowls
I found these wonderful English Muffin metal circle molds at Sur La Tablé. They are $6.00 for a pack of four. That's it. Six bucks. I bought two packs. They work wonderfully for containing bread doughs and enabling better portion control. They keep the dough from doing very wonky things, and are perfect for making hamburger buns. You can even use them as egg molds.
Chowder Ingredients:
3 thick sliced, or 6 thin sliced rashers of bacon
1 large onion, chopped medium-fine
6 medium potatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch dice, I leave the peels on
3 cups water
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, **if using table salt-only use 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-28 ounce can baby clams, drained and looked over for any shell bits, reserve the liquid
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pint half and half
1/4 cup water
3-6 Tablespoons brown rice flour - depending on how thick you like it
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

Chowder Directions:
1. Stack the slices of bacon and run your knife lengthwise to slice them in half, then chop these pieces in 1/4 inch pieces. Cook in a Dutch oven over low heat until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined dish to soak up the extra grease. Set aside to garnish each portion. Reserve the bacon drippings.
2. In the Dutch oven with the bacon drippings, sauté the onion until it's fragrant, soft and caramelized.
3. Add the potatoes and "stir-fry" them over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, add the salt and pepper and the 3 cups of water. 
This step adds some wonderful flavor which will collect on the bottom of the pan, called the "fond". Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir the potato and onion mixture, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits of fond.
4. While that simmers, drain the clams in a sieve over a bowl to collect the liquid-you will be using this in the soup. 


Whisk together a slurry of the clam liquid, 1/4 cup water and starting with 3 tablespoons of brown rice flour until smooth.
5. Add the clams and the clam slurry and stir well to mix. Continue to simmer the soup over medium heat, stirring frequently until soup is thickened 5-10 minutes. Add extra brown rice flour with small amounts of water to add more thickness. be sure to cook flour slurry additions for a few minutes to absorb any raw taste that might remain.
6. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle crispy bacon over the top and serve.

Gluten Free Focaccia Bread Bowls
These delicious bread bowls were inspired by Bette Hagman's Cookbook - The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread. This recipe of mine uses her mix as follows, but reduced in quantity.

Four Flour Bean Mix                                                                 Makes 4 1/2 cups mix
1 cup Garfava Bean Flour                                            
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1 1/2 cups Cornstarch
1 1/2 cups Tapioca Flour

Mix together and store any remaining mix in a cool place. I use mason jars, they are easy to clean, Sharpie markers write on them easily, and can be wiped off with rubbing alcohol to rename for another great flour product or mix.


Gluten Free Focaccia Bread Bowls                                            Makes 8 bread bowls
Special equipment:
8 English muffin rings,
3 1/2 ounce = 3 1/2 inch in diameter portion control scoop,
Clean spray bottle with fresh water

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups Four Flour Bean Mix
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt - **If using table salt reduce amount by half. 
1 teaspoon egg replacer
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 heaping Tablespoons dry milk powder
2 1/4 teaspoons (one packet) rapid rise yeast granules
4 Tablespoons powdered psyllium husks - essential for making your bread taste "wheat-like"
1 Tablespoon dried dill weed
1 Tablespoon dried parsley

Wet Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vinegar (it actually tenderizes the dough)
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups warm water (110°F)

3-4 teaspoons melted butter for brushing the tops of the rolls.

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. 
Lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, then line it with parchment paper. Lightly spray the top of the parchment paper as well. 
If you are using English muffin rounds, be sure to lightly spray inside the rings. Place rings on the baking sheet. 
Place a rack in the middle position in the oven.
1. In a medium bowl sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer bowl on medium-low speed, beat the wet ingredients with the paddle attachment for 30 seconds. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl sides and paddle beater. Resume mixing on medium-high for 1 minute. Scrape dough down again and beat on medium-high for 6 minutes. This hydrates the flours and pretty much assures the product outcome to NOT be dry, cake-y, or pasty. 
3. Using a 3 1/2 inch = 3 1/2 ounce portion control scoop, scoop one portion into each pre-sprayed ring. 
Lightly mist each scoop twice with the spray water. Use your fingers and push the dough down evenly into each ring.
4. Lay two plastic wrap pieces that are two to three inches longer than the baking sheet, lengthwise and overlapping in the middle, onto the counter. Lightly spray with the non-stick spray. Lay them spray side down onto the rings of dough. This will help to keep the plastic wrap from sticking to the dough and deflating it.
5. Let rise in a warm area covered with the treated wrap, about 30-40 minutes or until almost doubled in size. 
Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan around, brush each roll lightly with the melted butter and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes. Rolls should be lightly browned, and have a tender but slightly crisp top. Insert an instant read thermometer into the middle of a roll without touching the side of the ring or the bottom of the baking sheet, it should read about 195°F. 
6. Remove baking sheet from the oven to a wired cooling rack. Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes, then pull a sharp knife carefully around the inside of each ring releasing the rolls.  Brush each roll with remaining melted butter, and place them directly onto the wire rack. Let the rolls cool completely for at least 2 hours to let them set and firm up.
To Serve:
Gently cut a circle around each middle, carefully remove the dough cap and gently pull some of the dough around the inside edge out. These are medium small rolls, so be careful to not break through the sides. 
Fill each bread bowl with hot soup, sprinkle with fresh parsley or dill. Eat!

Enjoy!