Tag Archives: Fred

The Chowder Bowl

5 Feb

So, the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

If you’re anything like me, you’re still trying to figure out how they even got into what the NFL wants you to think of as “The Big Game” in the first place.

Perhaps, as a New Yorker, I’ve come to expect our teams to be mostly mediocre. The Yankees, as much as I love them, seem to have lost the come-from-behind fire that made them so exciting to watch for so many years. The Mets are always claiming to have finally procured that last player they need to become the best team ever, and then nothing happens. And then there’s the Knicks. Oh sweet mercy, the Knicks! Have you ever seen such a spectacle? They’re like a goat rodeo masquerading as a professional sports team.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

I suppose I should admit right off the bat that I’m not a football fan.

That said, I was still aware that the New England Patriots were having a “magic season.” I knew that their quarterback was dating Giselle, I knew that they had the hubris to pre-print a book about their perfect year, I knew that they were virtually guaranteed to win. Yet I had no inkling that the team from our own backyard (also known as New Jersey) was even fair to middling this year.

And so, even though it is once again “TV free February,” Isaac and I granted ourselves a special dispensation to watch the game. And Puppy Bowl, of course. And since you can’t have a Super Bowl without food, I discovered something important, something I could get behind. This game wasn’t about a perfect season, or blue-collar heroes, about pretty-boy quarterbacks or coaching dynasties.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

Oh no my friends.

This game was about chowder supremacy.

New England clam chowder vs. Manhattan clam chowder. Creamy and white vs. tomatoey and piquant. The chowder known around the world vs. the chowder maligned as the “other” chowder. The chowder kids cheer for vs. the chowder that makes kids groan.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

But, not really. In my heart, there is only one chowder. New England clam chowder forever! I’ve tried to like Manhattan clam chowder, I really have. I love tomatoes and I love clams, but Manhattan clam chowder I do not love. It’s not a chowder. Chowders have cream and butter. But Isaac? Exactly the opposite. He loves Manhattan clam chowder best.

So instead of making New England clam chowder, which would have implied clandestine culinary support of the Patriots, or Manhattan clam chowder, which would have made the cook grumpy, a sure way to ruin the soup, we made Brooklyn clam chowder.

Fred loves football AND clams

What’s Brooklyn clam chowder you ask? It’s an homage to two of the greatest dishes we’ve discovered since moving to Bay Ridge.

The first is Polonica‘s cucumber soup; a simple broth, made creamy with a touch of sour cream and flavored with Polish dill pickles and tons of fresh dill. The second is a special we had once at local Italian stalwart Canedo’s; clams and mussels steamed in white wine with tons of garlic and hot, pickled cherry peppers.

Homesick Texan's Mythical Biscuits

Brooklyn clam chowder has its foundations in New England clam chowder, but the pickled peppers do give it a Manhattan chowder-esque reddish hue. I know it sounds weird to put pickles in soup, but you’ll just have to trust me on this. They add a beguiling flavor that’s very hard to put your finger on, an unexpected lightness and delicacy to a soup that can be a bit heavy.

Brooklyn Clam Chowder

If I may mix my metaphors, this chowder is a real home run. Especially when served with an endless supply of Lisa’s extraordinary biscuits, a pat of Ronnybrook garlic butter and a growler of locally-brewed SixPoint beer.

Brooklyn Clam Chowder

Top it all off with a Giants victory, and you’ve got the recipe for a very pleasant Sunday evening.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Brooklyn Clam Chowder.

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9 Oct

The interweb, much like the Yankees and the weather just won’t cooperate this week.

And so, since I have no time to write a real post, I’ll leave you with this:

Fred of the Fuzzy Face

Fred’s back!

Don’t know who Fred is, click here.

More food later, until then, enjoy your moment of cute.

Bits & Bobs

8 Jul

I’ve got two horticultural mysteries that need solving. I’m flummoxed. So I turn them over to you guys!

Black Fred

Yesterday was the first day of the Sunset Park greenmarket on 4th Avenue at 59th Street.

This is a greenmarket aimed directly at the community. No shishi cheeses or froufrou produce here. Just simple, beautiful, freshly picked greens, veggies, fruits and herbs that can be bought with cash or food stamps. We talked to the market manager, a cool woman who thankfully can say cebolla in a way that gets across to the farmer that I’m looking for onions.

Mystery Green

I picked up a bunch of long, thin green leaves and inhaled. The smell was intoxicating, somewhere between coriander and curry leaves. I asked the farmer what it was and he said something that I didn’t understand. He made a frustrated gesture and said, “Salads, good for salads.” I was sold.

But now I want to know what it is. Can anyone identify my mystery green?

Mystery Green

In other news, a vine from my neighbors backyard is growing up the fire escape and trying to tendril itself around my tomatoes. It looks familiar and yet slightly dangerous. I keep trying to train it away from my ‘maters, which don’t seem to be in any hurry to flower or produce fruit.

Mystery Vine

Can anyone identify my mystery vine?

Mystery Vine

In other garden news, that pretty black kitty up there is one of the members of the Four Freds. That’s Black Fred. There’s also Original Fred, Fuzzy Fred and Tuxedo Fred (nee Black Fred). I love having them around, it’s like having my own personal anti-squirrel infantry.

Back with real posts and real cooking soon enough, but for now, I send my virtual thanks to anyone that can help me out!

Fred’s Bread

12 Mar

I can hear Fred gently calling to me from the dining room. I don’t know what he wants. I’ll probably never know. You see, Fred is a cat.

Handsome Devil

We discovered him lazing about in the sun when putting in the air conditioner yesterday, and he only disappeared when the sun went down. All day long he moved from dining room window to kitchen window and then back depending on where we were, gently miaowing in a friendly, conversational way while I baked bread. His handsome, fuzzy face was so distracting in fact, that he caused me to make some blunders in my loaf. Hence, Fred’s bread.

And how did this presumably stray cat get a name? I said something to the boy about fuzzy face, which made me think of Funny Face, which led me to think of Audrey Hepburn and of course Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s which led me to Fred . Et voila! A name is born. (I suppose Cat would have been a more logical name to chose from the movie, but inspiration doesn’t always strike perfectly).


A few weeks ago I was googling something random when I stumbled over this recipe. I was so excited. Crusty Croatian Bread? Yes! The bread in Croatia was amazing. There was something different about it. I kept conjecturing that it was possibly corn meal, but I could never find a recipe for any kind of Croatian bread that wasn’t a sweet, holiday-themed loaf until this one. I was a little disappointed to see nothing unusual in it however aside from the butter.

Last weekend I tried it out. I even found cake yeast and bought a scale to assure that I followed the recipe exactly. I whipped up a pot of fish soup (Shorbet el Samak to be exact) from my new favorite cookbook to have with the bread. I did everything perfectly. And how did the loaf turn out?


Bad Bread

It was bland and featureless. The crust was a ditzy shade of blond. The crumb was alright but had no flavor. The boy, as always, said it was wonderful. Isn’t he great? It was actually pretty good when soaked in olive oil, and after it had gone stale it reminded me of the bread sticks from the Olive Garden (I’ll leave you to decide if that’s a compliment or not).

And so I spent the week tinkering with the recipe in my head. I would add more salt, a little sugar, some white whole wheat flour and some cornmeal, just to see what happens. I would follow the recipe in technique, but add some twists of my own with a dash of advice from Nigel.

That was the plan, and then Fred showed up.

I was so busy “talking” to him I completely forgot to cut the butter into the flour. Oops. Apparently that was not a crucial step (I added it in little chunks to the already mixed dough) and the loaf turned out AMAZING.

Perfect Bread

The crust is deeply golden, very slightly charred and yet a breeze to cut through. The crumb is perfect, moist and full of flavor. I can’t believe I nailed my own bread recipe on the first try. It must have been Fred.

Perfect Bread

And now speaking of Fred… I know nothing about cats as I’m incredibly allergic and have never had one. So, I’m asking you guys. Is he a stray? Just a wandering Tom? What should I do? Should I let him in, put him in a carrier and take him to a vet and try and find him a home? Should I feed him?


He’s obviously full of love. He kept rubbing up against the screen as if he wished it was someone’s hands petting him, but he would also claw at the window screen in a way that made me fear for our new sofa. The only time I’ve ever spent with cats was when I worked for the HSUS in high school, and those were all strays or abused and bit me and scratched me and sent me to the hospital numerous times (not good role models).

Is Fred pulling a Snowball II on me?

Head below the jump for the recipe for Fred’s Bread.
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