Thursday, August 5, 2010

Clam Chowder - Remembering Our Seattle Trip



Kevin and I visited Seattle earlier this summer, and while we were there we ate clam chowder at three different places.  One of the clam chowders was pretty bad, one was very good, and one was amazing (according to Kevin, it was the best clam chowder he has ever had).  The amazing clam chowder came from Pike Place Chowder which is located in the famous Pike Place Market, and I would definitely recommend trying it out if you visit Seattle!

While we were in Seattle, we hit up some of the usual tourist spots downtown, but we also spent a couple of days driving to some places outside of Seattle.  On one of the days, we drove up to Anacortes where we went on a whale watching tour through the San Juan Islands to see the orca whales.  We ended up seeing 7 or 8 different whales, and it was incredible watching them play and jump out of the water! 

On another day, we made the long drive (and ferry ride) over to the Olympic Penninsula to visit Olympic National Park, and I think we hiked about 10 miles that day!  Although we didn't quite make it to Forks, Washington, to see the Twilight sites (Kevin would have never gone for that!), we had an amazing experience at Rialto Beach seeing the Pacific Ocean and hiking to see the tide pools.  Afterwards, we went on a short hike to see a waterfall.  Our last stop before heading back to Seattle was to Hurricane Ridge to get a good view of the mountains.  Everything we saw was beautiful, and we had a great trip.  We will definitely be back sometime in the future!  Here are a couple pictures we got while visiting the Olympic Penninsula:

First up, a couple pictures that I took while exploring the tide pools at Rialto Beach....this beach was totally different than any beach I've ever visited before. 






Even though we didn't quite make it to Forks to see the Cullens, I saw these signs when we were around the outskirts of LaPush so I had to pull over and take a couple pictures (haha yes I know I am a dork)




We saw some wildlife on our hike up Hurricane Hill.




Here's a picture I took during our last hike of the day up Hurricane Hill.  Unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy that day so we didn't get the million dollar view we were hoping for, but it was still an amazing experience.  The pictures just don't do it justice....it is truly beautiful.


Okay, now back to food!  I wanted to make some clam chowder to remind us of our trip to the Pacific Northwest.  I adapted this recipe from allrecipes, and I was very happy with how it turned out!  I asked the clam chowder expert (my husband, Kevin) what he thought, and he said it was better than the very good clam chowder that we had in Seattle, but not quite as good as the Pike Place Chowder that he thought was the best he's ever had.  I can live with that :)

Ingredients:

3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups cubed potatoes (make sure they are bite-sized pieces - you don't want to leave them too big)
2 carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
EVOO
1 jar clam juice
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Chopped Chives and saltine crackers (or oyster crackers), for serving
 
Directions:
 
Saute the onions, celery, carrots and garlic over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes in a large stockpot.  Add potatoes to the stockpot, and drain the juice from the minced clams over the onions, celery, potatoes, garlic, and carrots. Add the jar of clam juice plus just enough water to cover everything, and cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
 
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Add this mixture to the stockpot with the vegetables and clam juice. Heat through, but do not boil.

Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with chopped chives and saltine crackers.

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