Somewhere in the description of this blog is something about food. Apparently when I started Penny Carnival I thought I was going to talk about food more often than I do.
I think what has happened along the way is that when I finally have a chance to make something good, we're all so hungry by the time it is ready that I consume it without taking a picture. The rest of the time, I'm eating not-so-good food. Like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And the chocolate bunnies that my daughters sort of forgot about the day after Easter. Dipped in peanut butter.
Which leads me to my recent Googling for the word "diet." Maybe it was the finale of The Biggest Loser that inspired me. (Did anyone else watch it? I admit it--I teared up a few times.) I just feel really ready to get rid of the last 10 pounds of baby weight. My youngest is 19 months now. I think that means I no longer have an excuse to wear a skirted swimsuit this summer.
So I was talking to my sister on the phone yesterday about the different options out there--Weight Watchers, Body for Life, etc.--everything that sort of sounds like torture when you're not all fired up to do it.
And the little stinker goes and mentions that she's craving clam cakes.
Clam cakes. Clam cakes. Suddenly all I can think about are clam cakes and Del's lemonade, two staples in the summertime diet of any respectable Rhode Islander (or honorary Rhode Islander, as my sister and I are).
New plan, I decide. Instead of Weight Watchers, I'm just going to eat whatever I want--just less of it.
Right. So today I made clam cakes. And proceeded to eat four of them. Big ones. Looks like I'm going to have to order a swimsuit from this company this year.
I thought I'd share the recipe in case anyone else is as psychologically weak as I am. And while I'm at it, I'm going to share my family's recipe for whoopie pies (we call them devil dogs) to really seal the deal. (Plus, Penny Carnival reader Robyn e-mailed wondering if I had a whoopie pie recipe the other day. I found it, Robyn!)
This is an abbreviated version of Emeril Lagasse's, based on the ingredients I had in the house and other tinkering. They turned out quite good!
2 1/4 cups fresh clams (I left mine whole, unlike Emeril, and I'd steamed them the night before with white wine, garlic and olive oil. They were leftovers from last night's dinner)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
A smidge each of the following: paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano and thyme
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup clam juice (I used the juice from the leftover steamed clams)
1 clove minced garlic
Canola oil, for frying
-Wash and steam the clams if you haven't already.
-In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
-Add the egg, milk, clam juice and garlic. Stir until you have a thick batter.
-Stir in the clams.
-Heat oil in a frying pan.
-Drop the batter into the hot oil, about 2 tablespoons per clam cake. Leave plenty of room between the cakes and don't skimp on the oil.
-Cooking, turning once, until golden brown (about four minutes per side).
-Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
-Emeril suggests serving the clam cakes with tartar sauce, but a squeeze of lemon juice is all I need.
Serve with something cold and summery, like beer or a mojito. I've been making virgin mojitos lately (lime juice, sugar, mint leaves, club soda). Nothing against rum. It's that I mostly just like the freshness of mojitos and at the rate I've been drinking them, I'd be an unfit mother if I included the alcohol.
And now for the Whoopie Pies, a.k.a. Aunt Theresa's Devil Dogs
We make ours cute and small, so you can have, like, 10 of them, right? Right???!! I need help.
For the chocolate cake part:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
pinch of salt
-Heat oven to 425 degrees.
-Beat sugar and shortening until creamy. Add egg and vanilla.
-Sift dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
-Alternately add dry ingredients and milk, mixing until you achieve a thick batter.
-Drop by the teaspoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
-Bake for five minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove from sheet and let cool completely.
For the filling, I have two versions.
The real filling recipe:
In a saucepan, heat 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour and 1/2 cup of milk, stirring constantly until a thick paste forms. Turn off heat.
In a mixing bowl, cream 1/4 cup of shortening and 1/4 cup of butter.
Add 1/2 cup of sugar, a dash of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and the flour/milk paste. Whip until fluffy.
The cheater's filling (still very tasty):
Beat 3/4 cup shortening, 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff until fluffy.
Once the chocolate cakes are completely (COMPLETELY!) cooled, sandwich a generous helping of the filling in between pairs.