Cooks Corner

Must-try recipes for spicy guacamole, clam chowder and apple pie

Guacamole with green apple and habanero, for Spicy Guacamole Day on Saturday.
Guacamole with green apple and habanero, for Spicy Guacamole Day on Saturday. Cantina La Veinte

Glenda of Miami contacted Cook’s Corner in response to a request for the Manhattan clam chowder recipe from the now-closed Mike Gordon’s Seafood Restaurant off the 79th Street Causeway.

“I don’t have that one, but I do have the recipe for the New England style, and it is the best I’ve ever tasted,” Glenda wrote. “I got the recipe from my boyfriend at the time, who was a cook there. The boyfriend is long gone, but I kept the recipe! I have even used bottles of clam juice and canned clams for this when I didn’t have the time to mess with fresh clams, and it is still good.”

I worked out a recipe for home use (the recipe Glenda sent called for a bushel of clams and had no directions for them), and found this to be a thick and creamy clam chowder, with just the right smokiness from the bacon. You might add a few drops of Tabasco, or a handful of fresh chives on top, or even some corn to make it go further.

Does it matter what type of clam you use? A lot of chefs insist on small cherrystones, but to my way of thinking you could use any clam you find at your market — in this much cream and butter, anything will taste wonderful. I suggest not adding salt until the end, since it is hard to tell how briny a flavor your clams bring to the stew.

Guacamole holiday

Executive chef Santiago Gomez of Cantina La Veinte in Brickell (495 Brickell Ave.) likes to play with his guacamole and came up with this riff for this month’s Spicy Guacamole Day. I love the flavor of sweet apple against the habanero’s heat.

I’ve run into some pretty intriguing variations on the guacamole theme lately — everything from black beans and corn mixed in to a smoked salmon and caviar blend. If you’ve found fusions worth sharing, let me know!

Wonton versatility

When I saw this quick yet visually impressive dessert idea for baked “purses” I had to pass it along. It seems that wonton wrappers are good for a lot more than making dumplings for soup — there are dozens of ideas like this one at nasoya.com/recipes.

Use this technique and tie the purses up with all kinds of sweet or savory stuffings. In a pinch you could even use canned pie filling with a handful of nuts or a complementing dried or fresh berry to make it seem homemade.

Sleuth’s corner

Q. A while back I found a recipe for meatloaf in a newspaper. I remember lining the loaf pan with brown sugar and I think ketchup. It was a great-tasting meatloaf, too. I can’t find the recipe anywhere. Do you think it was one of yours? If so, can you repeat it?

Antoinette Feldkamp, Lorain, Ohio

A. The notion of lining the pan with brown sugar and ketchup is intriguing, but the recipe was not mine. If a reader can help, we’ll pass the recipe along. But your query did remind me of the way my mother made meatloaf, which perhaps will help.

She always brushed her loaf with that ketchup-brown sugar mixture, but not until it had baked. She’d pour off the rendered fat, then return the loaf to the oven, with a mix of 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar beaten into 1/2 cup ketchup poured on top. In just a few minutes, when the sugars start to caramelize and the glaze goes shiny, serve.

Linda Cicero: LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com, @TasteMemories. Write to Cook’s Corner at Food, Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Spicy Apple Guacamole

Recipe by Cantina La Veinte executive chef Santiago Gomez.

3 large ripe Hass avocados

Juice of 1 lime

1 medium white onion, diced fine

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, diced fine

1 habanero pepper, diced fine

1 cored green apple, diced

Salt to taste

Slice the avocados in half, remove seeds, scoop out of the shell, and use a fork to mash with the lime juice. Stir in the remaining ingredients and serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: About 2 cups

Quick Apple Pie Purses

Recipe by Jenn Colt.

24 egg roll wrappers (1 pound refrigerated package)

8 tablespoons butter

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup dried cranberries chopped

1/4 cup nuts chopped (optional)

1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Kitchen twine

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 12 pieces of kitchen twine in 7-inch lengths. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a microwave or large saute pan over medium heat. Set aside ¼ cup of butter for basting.

Add apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries and nuts (if using) to saute pan. Stir continuously until apples are tender 8-12 minutes, and remove from heat.

Place two egg roll wrappers on a dry work surface. Spoon ¼ cup filling into the center. Gather corners upward around the filling to create a pouch. Gently tie the string around the top (not too tight) and transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wraps.

Brush pouches with the melted butter. Bake until wrappers are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Garnish with dried cranberries, nuts and cinnamon sugar and serve with ice cream if desired.

Yield: 12 servings

Could Be Mike Gordon’s New England Clam Chowder

Recipe adapted from one contributed by a reader.

5 pounds of fresh clams

4 thick slices bacon, diced fine

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, minced

4 ribs celery, minced

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, diced

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

Scrub the shells thoroughly. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add the clams, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook 6 minutes, remove any clams that have opened and set aside. Cook 3 to 4 more minutes. Remove any clams that have not opened and discard. Strain the cooking liquid through a coffee filter (to remove any sand).

Cook the bacon over medium heat until rendered and crispy brown. Add the butter, onion, celery and potatoes and saute about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are clear. Sprinkle with the flour and cook 2 minutes more, stirring. Gradually return the broth to the pan while stirring to keep any lumps from forming, and then add the bay leaves and white pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until potatoes are cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove about 1/2 cup of potatoes. Mash the potatoes and return to the pot along with the milk. Stir in the clams and cream, heat through, and taste for salt and pepper before serving with oyster crackers on the side.

Yield: 4 servings

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