Wednesday, July 28, 2010

GARY'S CLAMS CASINO

Guy and Gary found a great place to go clamming today in the Bogue Sound off Emerald Isle.  The water was about 1-1/2 feet deep and they quickly dug up about 80 clams.  These were the first "Down East" clams for both guys, though they've clammed off the Jersey shore with great luck.  Gary's been pretty well supplied with clams from New Jersey when his brother comes to visit, and Guy manages to beg some.  But, heck, a tip from a local on where to go enticed the men to give it a try.  They weren't disappointed -- it was easy digging.  Gary took the catch home and brought us these fabulous clams casino.

With a little arm twisting, he graciously shared his recipe for this wonderful treat, and I can't wait till these two go clamming again, soon please.


Gary's Clams Casino
Bear Rating:  9 out of 10
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INGREDIENTS:
About 24 clams
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. Pinot Grigio, or other dry white drinking-quality wine
1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 - 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
2-3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

Shuck clams, discarding top shell.  Spread clams on half shell on large baking sheet.  Heat butter in microwave till almost melted.  Stir in garlic powder, wine, and Old Bay.  Drizzle over clams.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs and cheese over clams, then Italian seasoning.  Bake in a 375F oven about 25 minutes, or till tops are golden brown and clams are heated through.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MIRACLE-MARINATED GRILLED FLANK STEAK

Beef has been on my taboo list for several years, though I do occasionally enjoy one of our delicious dry-aged rib steaks.  I'm trying to eat more seafood, always wild caught, but even that can be risky because of mercury and pollutants.  Imagine how thrilled I was to learn of the health benefits of eating grass-fed beef.  It's   actually good for you.  It lowers cholesterol and has less fat and calories than grain-fed beef.  Amazingly, it contains Omega 3 fats -- the good fats -- because they're in the grass that the cattle eat.  And because they graze freely instead of being penned up, they're healthier.  But I never expected to find grass-fed beef in our little Southeast coastal town of New Bern.

Surprise, surprise!  Rainbow Meadow Farms and Acre Angus Beef Farm both sell their grass-fed products at the New Bern Farmer's Market on Saturdays.  I haven't met the Acre Angus people yet, but the Rainbow Meadow Farms people are very nice and will do their best to accommodate your needs.  And, BTW, their applewood-smoked bacon is to die for and well worth the price.  It's the best I've ever tasted, hands down.

Recently, I bought a 1-lb. flank steak from Rainbow Meadow Farms.  Flank steak is just about the leanest cut of beef, and grass-fed beef is already lean, so I was concerned that this might be a bit chewy for my senior teeth and gums.  I needed a suitable marinade, one that would tenderize the beef and impart a good flavor.  An old recipe for "Miracle Marinade" from our New Jersey newspaper sounded perfect.

The flank steak was tender and delicious, with a wonderful flavor that enhanced the beef.    Out of one pound of beef, we got one hot dinner for two, sandwiches for both of us the following night and lunch for one the day after.  And here's the best part:  fussy hubby gave the beef two thumbs up, way up.  We'll be lining up at the Farmer's Market to get more of this wonderful guilt-free meat.

Miracle-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak
Bear Rating:  9 out of 10
PRINTABLE PAGE
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2-1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2-1/2 Tbsp. drinking-quality dry white wine
1-3/4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tsp. Worcestershire
2 tsp. ground dry mustard
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. ground cloves
1 (1-lb) beef flank steak, preferably grass fed

Combine all ingredients except steak in resealable plastic bag.  Seal and massage to distribute ingredients.  Add steak.  Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  Discard marinade.  Place steak on preheated 425F grill, about 4 minutes each side, or till desired degree of doneness is reached.  (Remember that steak will continue to cook after it is removed from heat.)

 Let steak "settle" for 5-10 minutes; cut slices of desired thickness on an angle (like a London broil).  Yield:  About 4 servings

Leftovers make delicious sandwiches.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BAKED BEANS WITH GROUND BEEF


A friend (a born-and-bred New Bernian) recently confided in my hubby that he had the best recipe for baked beans.  "Just mix a pound of hamburger meat, a cup of sugar, a cup of ketchup and a can of Bush's beans."  He swore it was delicious.  I tried to dissuade my husband from trying this concoction, because it sounded just awful to me.  Then another friend (also a born-and-bred New Bernian) dropped by and I asked him if he had heard of this recipe.  Not only had he heard of it, he also swore by it.  He had the recipe in his car and quickly retrieved it for me.  His was slightly different:  1 lb. of ground beef, 1 onion, 1 green pepper, 1 large can of Bush's beans, 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 cup ketchup.  I still wasn't persuaded, but decided to do some research on it.  After scouring the internet, I came up with more precise measurements and decided to appease my hubby with my version, which had a lot less sugar.  Not only was hubby appeased, he was ecstatic to have this version of baked beans.  Even I liked it, so I'm passing it on to all lovers of beans and beef.

Baked Beans with Ground Beef
Source:  The Bear Cupboard
Bear Rating:  9 out of 10
PRINTABLE PAGE

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 small green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 lb. bacon, diced, cooked till crisp
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1-1/2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 (28-oz.) can Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans

Heat oven to 375F.  In skillet, saute ground beef, green pepper, onion and garlic using medium heat.  Drain fat.  Combine remaining ingredients with contents of skillet in a 9x13 pan.  Bake uncovered 1/2 hour, or till bubbling and heated through.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CHEF SAMI, NEW BERN'S BEST KEPT SECRET, NOW AT SEA GLASS CAFE

Sea Glass Cafe and Bakery is not new to New Bern.  The owner of Sea Glass bought Bear Town French Bakery from the previous owner and changed the name.  Business was so good, they outgrew the small building that housed them on S. Glenburnie Road and moved to their present location (the old Crabby Jack's) on Martin Luther King Blvd.  Breakfast and lunch are served daily and the bakery is part of the restaurant.  Fresh rolls, breads and pastries are the delight of their patrons.

What is new is their evening service which is headed up by Sami Ben Selma, the previous chef at La Fontana Restaurant.
The menu offerings, mostly Italian, are similar to what was available at La Fontana.  My husband, who is 100% Sicilian, was in heaven when La Fontana opened up in New Bern.  It was the first Italian restaurant, in the 17 years we've lived in New Bern, to get his endorsement -- and mine.  Finally, a chef who knows how to cook decent Italian food.  It doesn't hurt that Sami is also Sicilian and hasn't been in America for very long.  But then a fire shut La Fontana down, and we almost cried at our loss.  Chef Sami was out of a job.  Not to be deterred, he approached the owner of Sea Glass to let him open at night with a dinner service.  She agreed.  He has no funds to advertise, so it's just word of mouth.  And business is starting to pick up for him, mostly because customers are satisfied.  Once you taste his food, you'll understand why.

Here we are, ready to go in.
We started our meal with the bruschetta appetizer.  Lightly toasted Italian bread drizzled with olive oil is topped with sundried tomato and crab meat and accompanied by Chef Sami's special marinara sauce.  My husband always gets glassy eyed when he eats Sami's marinara sauce, because it's so similar to his family's.

Next up was a garden salad, which came with our reasonably priced entrees.  The house balsamic dressing is perfect with fresh greens and veggies.
We couldn't pass up a plate of Sami's special meatballs in tomato sauce.  They're just slightly spicy with red pepper flakes, but not enough to make your eyes water.  So good.
And the sauce -- well, let's just say it's the perfect destination for this nice basket of to-die-for warm honey-glazed rolls.
Break off a piece of roll and dip into that wonderful sauce.  No butter needed.  We could eat this all day.


OK, time for our entrees, though we are getting quite full about now.  First off, Guy's plate of mussels, which comes several ways (as appetizer or entree, with marinara or white wine).  Guy got the appetizer size in marinara sauce.  He was smart.  There was plenty here to fill him up -- 12 big mussels in that great sauce.  He was a happy camper.

Tom ordered the Springtime Linguine: Fresh pasta, shrimp, mushrooms, ham and pesto with parmesan cream sauce.   He couldn't eat it fast enough and kept repeating, "this is so good, this is so good."  

 
I had the Chicken Bella Vista.  Thinly sliced chicken breast with mushrooms, spinach, tomato concasse, sauteed with shallots and garlic in butter wine sauce.  All I can say is Yummo.  I'm not sure which is better, the delicious rolls or the wonderful homemade pasta.  I guess some of each is in order.


It's not that we didn't want dessert, we did.  There was just no more room.  We'll be going back next week to get more Italian food.  You can get your Italian fix Monday through Thursday, 3PM - 8PM,  Fridays and Saturdays  3PM - 9PM.  

New Bern's best kept secret -- Chef Sami.  If you love real Italian food, done right, he's your man. 
Update January 2011:  Chef Sami has opened his own restaurant, Bella Cucina, in New Bern.