This recipe is (more like was) from the Internet (Food.com®). It is shown as a five star recipe and the reviewers were full of compliments but also some complaints about the sherry overpowering the overall taste of the bisque. I made the bisque and made some improvements as I cooked it and now the recipe is superb. Actually, I made one hell of a lot of improvements and later added ingredient and processing suggestions and variations.
Most of the complaining reviewers simply didn’t realize that the perfect sherry for cooking is an extra dry sherry, sold in quality liquor stores, not the cooking sherry junk in supermarkets and not the stuff you drink that is too strong in flavor and made to be medium sweet or very sweet. The point is that you have to take reviewers comments with a grain of salt because you can’t know precisely what they used or what in fact they did during preparation. Similarly, the recipe, as presented, didn’t specify what type of sherry to use and that is unacceptable. All they indicated was cooking sherry. Ugh! But all’s well that ends well, and if you follow the recipe below your company will definitely rave about the bisque being wonderfully delicious.
After making this bisque per the recipe shown you may want to try one or more of the variations noted at the end of the recipe, which describe the use of shrimp and also a proper process of making and freezing partially prepared bisque for later use.
The recipe serves six people between one to one and one half cups each as an appetizer course or it can feed four people a generous bowl of about two cups of bisque as part of a soup and salad lunch or dinner entrée.
If you plan to serve the bisque very soon after preparation then put the individual serving cups, bowls or crocks into a 180ºF oven.
First, chop/dice the onion and carrot ingredients to make about 1 1/4 cups of each. Then put the diced vegetables into a small food processor with ¼ cup of water and mince at high speed. Stop and stir and then resume processing until the carrots are finely minced. Set the minced vegetables aside. (This was one of my improvements to the provided recipe as it saves a lot of labor.) Note also that one might cook the carrot(s) first to make it softer for easy processing.
Melt 4 tbsp. of butter in a heavy three quart saucepan, (like a French heavy copper saucepan with a tin interior coating used especially for cream dishes) on low heat and add the flour, whisking constantly to create a roux. Increase the heat to medium and whisk until the roux becomes a very pale brown or tan in color. This may take up to five minutes. Do not burn the roux. Adjust the heat as necessary (lower it) to avoid burning the roux. Note: I seldom cook the roux as long as most recipes suggest as it works just as well without risking burning it. It doesn’t have to be brown or tan in color. Simply use it when you first notice a color change. Also, if you intend to freeze the bisque for later use do not make the roux at all.
Slowly add the chicken broth and the clam juice to the roux, whisking constantly to create a smooth mixture.
Add the minced onions and carrot, mix well and simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes.
Add the cream (unless you plan to freeze the bisque for later use), milk or half-and-half, sherry, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, sea salt, paprika and lobster, diced, or crab. Mix and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not boil.
Remove about half of the bisque, shellfish included, to a blender and blend at high speed until totally pureed. Note: I learned the hard way that starting to blend hot soup produces steam pressure inside the blender that can blow the lid off and spray hot soup out, making a supreme mess of your kitchen. To avoid this you can start with a small volume of soup in the blender, like one cup, and gradually add the rest while blending. You might also let the product in the blender cool to about 160 degrees F and then start the blender on a very low speed, increasing the speed to high gradually. And do keep the vent cap on the lid open (or at least not sealed) to allow any steam pressure to escape without blowing off the blender lid.
Pour the pureed bisque from the blender into a two quart bowl. Then puree the other half of the bisque in the blender.
Put all of the puree back into the saucepan. Re-warm the bisque by simmering for one or two minutes on very low heat. Do not let the temperature exceed about 170 degrees F.
Serve warmed individual bowls of the bisque garnished with the diced chives floating on the top.
A crusty French baguette or a warm crusty roll with butter is a nice accompaniment. Simple buttered saltines are also nice. Add a small salad with a vinaigrette type of dressing (don't use a creamy dressing as that will compete with the bisque and thus be boring) and a nice chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio wine and you have a complete, balanced, delicious meal that will really please your guests. The idea is that a good chef creates a meal with contrasting and complementary foods in terms of tastes, textures and colors. Visualize the simple meal I just suggested in terms of shapes and colors, and then think about the different tastes and textures. Get it?
Variations: Shrimp can be substituted for the lobster or crab provided it is thoroughly cleaned, i.e., the dark vein is removed. The shrimp should also be diced prior to other processing.
If you want to make the bisque in advance and vacuum seal and freeze it for later use then do not make the roux at all and do not add the cream until it is needed, just prior to serving the bisque. Freezing soups or bisques containing cream can result in separation of the cream when the product is reheated. Also, roux used to thicken the bisque becomes useless upon reheating, resulting in a thin, runny soup. In other words, thaw the frozen, partially made bisque to room temperature, whisk in about 3 tbsp. of cornstarch and 4 tbsp. of melted butter, heat it while whisking to near boiling to thicken it and then let it cool to about 190 degrees F (use a thermometer). Then add room temperature heavy cream and mix gently but thoroughly using a whisk. Then serve the bisque in the pre-warmed cups, bowls or crocks. Manhattan Clam Chowder - ☺♥ A nice bowl of this chowder goes well with some Keebler Club® crackers and butter on a cold winter day, so I decided to make a really good batch today after getting rid of a 12" deep March snowfall. I combined various Internet recipes and added my own ideas. The following recipe is my takeoff from one similar to that used by Emeril of the Food Network®. It is robust and quite tasty. You can skip the optional Hot Sauce and crushed red pepper flakes if you do not like highly seasoned foods. Like many soups this one is better the second day. Enjoy! Ingredients: (makes about a gallon of chowder, enough for eight large servings) 6, 6.5 oz. cans of chopped clams in clam juice
2 tsp. of Sea salt Directions: Open each can of chopped clams and transfer them to a large bowl after draining the clam juice from the can into a separate bowl. Let the clam juice rest for a minute and then decant the juice into a second bowl, making sure to leave behind any sand or other unwanted matter in the first bowl. Set the bowls of clams and broth aside. Add the bacon to a large heavy pot and fry the bacon on low to medium heat until it is crispy. Pour off all of the fat except for 4 tablespoons. Remove the bacon and break it into small pieces. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper pieces to the pot and sauté them for 10 minutes, until they are softened. Do not allow the vegetables to brown. Lower the heat if necessary. Add the chopped garlic, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, Texas Pete’s® Hot Sauce and crushed red pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the diced potatoes, the bacon pieces, the clam broth, the diced tomatoes/juice, the V-8® juice and the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil, covered. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat, or until the potatoes are tender and the broth has slightly thickened. Remove the pot from the heat and add the reserved chopped clams, shrimp pieces and parsley and season the chowder with the pepper and salt.
Allow the chowder to sit, covered, for up to 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld, then reheat the chowder slowly over low heat. Bring it to a simmer but do not allow the chowder to boil. Enjoy! New England Clam Chowder - ☺♥ This wonderful creamy chowder is my favorite. I first made it back in the latter 1970’s when I was trying to impress a new and very lovely lady in my life, Carol Suzanne Landsinger. As is so typical of me, I glanced at a recipe in some lesser cookbook and decided then and there how I was going to improve it, before making it even one time. So I did. Carol was quite impressed, and I was shocked by my own success, and we had a delightful time eating it from warmed soup bowls with crackers and butter and a salad and enjoying a rose′ wine that she liked best, Rosé d’Anjou®. It is funny how some of the finer details in life are never forgotten, for that was a bit more than half my life ago. What is even funnier is that I was so head over heels in love with her and focused on her beauty and her exciting wit/intelligence and her personality that it is a marvel that I even tasted the food.
Overall, this story calls attention to the fact we humans can be impressed, sometimes deeply, when we are served excellent food. Whatever your personal goal, if you take the time to please someone important in your life or potentially to your life, you have made a wise decision, for our subliminal judgments cause us to associate the quality of the pleasure with the person who provided it. This is no small consideration, and I am the voice of experience.
Ingredients: (Serves four people 1½ cups of chowder) 2, 6.5 oz. cans of chopped clams in clam juice
1 tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley Directions: Use a small slotted spoon to remove the clam pieces from each can of clams and put the pieces in a bowl. Drain the clam juice from the cans of chopped clams into a one quart bowl, avoiding any sand or other material that may be in the bottom of each can. Add the 8 oz. bottle of clam juice to the bowl, again avoiding any material in the bottom of the bottle. Set the clams aside. Set the clam juice aside. Fry the two strips of bacon on low to medium heat until there is no uncooked fat, but do not make the bacon overly crisp and do not burn it or overheat the bacon fat. Remove the bacon to a paper towel. Break it into small pieces when it has cooled. Set the bacon aside. Dice the onion into ½” or smaller pieces. Put them into the skillet with the hot bacon grease. Add the butter and ½ tsp. white pepper. Sauté the onion on low heat until it is translucent. Turn off the heat and add 1 tbsp. of the flour to the skillet and mix well. Dice the potato into cubes 3/8” on a side. Put the reserved clam juice and the potatoes into a two quart covered saucepan and heat on medium high heat until just boiling. Reduce the heat to medium or medium low and allow the potatoes to simmer for 8 minutes, adding a very small amount of water if necessary to barely cover the potato pieces. Add the skillet contents to the saucepan while stirring, increase the heat to medium and stir to mix well and thicken the chowder as it starts to boil. Add the clams and continue to cook on medium heat for one minute. If the chowder has thickened enough proceed to the next step, else use a second tbsp. of flour mixed in ¼ cup of water, add it to the chowder and heat on medium high to barely boiling while stirring. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the heavy cream and the small pieces of bacon, mix well and heat the chowder only up to a simmer. Do not boil. Note: I know of no recipes where the bacon pieces are added back into the chowder, and frankly I think they miss the mark in terms of flavor and texture contrasts. Sample the chowder and adjust the seasoning by adding white pepper or sea salt as needed. We did not use any sea salt earlier until we could tell at the end of the cooking just how much salt the bacon contributed. Serve the chowder in pre-warmed crocks garnished with the freshly chopped parsley, and also serve saltine crackers and butter. Adding a small tossed salad with a non-creamy dressing makes this a complete meal, and it is a nice accompaniment with texture and flavor contrasts. Yes, a light fresh tasting French white burgundy wine is a fine beverage with that meal, or, Carol’s favorite rose′. You may be in love.
Split Pea with Ham Soup - ☺♥
What better way is there to use a leftover ham bone with chunks of leftover meat on it after the holidays? Oh, yeah, I like smoky bean soup too, and sometimes I make that with leftover ham, but good old split pea soup with smoky ham flavor is a real winner on a cold winter day. It “sticks to the ribs!” The recipe for this soup is very simple. So is the procedure for making it. Allow about one hour from start to finish. This recipe serves four people generously, or six people with moderate appetites. Ingredients: 1 large ham bone with meat attached
1 lb. Bag of dried split green peas, rinsed
2 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
1 14 oz. can of water
1 tsp. of white pepper
¼ tsp. of ground cloves
1 medium onion diced fine
2 large carrots diced fine
3 cloves of fresh garlic minced
Sea salt (variable amount; add after cooking when you adjust the seasoning) Directions: Rinse the split peas in cold water and remove any foreign matter. Put them into a soup pot with the ham bone and the chicken broth and the water and heat on high until the water starts to boil. Add the diced carrot and minced garlic and white pepper and mix well. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Let it simmer for 30 minutes. Then extract the ham bone and remove all meat from it, de-fat it and dice the meat and return it to the pot. Discard the bone and the fat. Continue to simmer the soup, stirring about every five minutes while the peas finish cooking and start to disintegrate into the soup. At this point, stir the soup slowly but at least once every two to three minutes, checking for doneness. The soup is done when the peas have broken down and become part of the soup broth and when the consistency of the soup is medium thick. You don’t want thin soup but you also don’t want paste, so keep stirring until you have a medium consistency. The soup will thicken more when it cools so don’t overdo the cooking time. Adjust the seasoning. This means be ready to add sea salt, but not before tasting the soup to determine how much salt the ham contributed. You may need none or up to one teaspoon of salt depending on the ham. Serve the soup with crackers and butter and something light to drink, like a light medium dry white wine or a lemon/lime soda. I promise your family and/or guests will be very happy and satisfied. No one walks away hungry. Note that this soup, indeed most soups except those containing milk or cream, will process nicely for vacuum sealing when they are cold. They freeze well, so you can make large amounts or save leftovers with no loss of quality by vacuum sealing and freezing amounts of one to two servings. A short time in a microwave oven later restores the soup to its original goodness. Just remember not to do that with cream soups as freezing breaks down the cream soup emulsion and you can never get it back to the right consistency upon reheating. Puerto Rican Shrimp Stew - ?
Back in 1984 on a business trip to Puerto Rico I happened to stay at a resort along the north coast. While there I had a shrimp dish that I found particularly nice. It was a shrimp stew that was seasoned perfectly and served over white rice. Many years have gone by and I've never come across that dish in the USA mainland. Recently I thought about the stew and I decided to find a recipe and try making it. Thus, the recipe below is my first attempt and I will report back with results ... and likely a few changes as well. Two of the ingredients listed below, sofrito and sazón, are common items found in hispanic grocery stores or ethnic foods sections of some supermarkets. Sofrito is a nice salsa used as a base in many hispanic dishes. It is easy to find at the supermarket though you can also make it easily if you want to look up a recipe on the Internet and acquire the various ingredients. Sazón is a seasoning composed of dry spices and typically sold in packets, boxes or plastic spice bottles. I have included the recipe for sazón below so you can make it instead of searching for it at the supermarket. All other listed ingredients are commonly found in any supermarket. Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of olive oil 4 tablespoons of sofrito 2 bay leaves 5 to 10 pimento stuffed green olives 1/4 pound of smoked ham (diced) 1 1/2 teaspoons of sazón 1 cup of tomato sauce 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) of stewed tomatoes 1 pound of raw shrimp (medium size, peeled and cleaned) salt to taste pepper to taste 4 cups of cooked white rice Sazón Ingredients: (makes five tablespoons of sazón) 1 tablespoon of ground coriander 1 tablespoon of ground cumin 1 tablespoon of ground annatto seeds (or paprika) 1 tablespoon of garlic powder 1 tablespoon of salt Directions: Make four cups of cooked white rice. Follow the directions for the type of rice you purchased. Keep the cooked rice covered and warm in a 180 degrees F warming oven. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the sofrito, bay leaves, olives and ham. Saute over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sazón, tomato sauce, and stewed tomatoes. Bring to a boil and them immediately reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook it at a simmer until it just turns pink, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer for 1 more minute. Serve hot with the cooked white rice. Enjoy ...
Pumpkin Curry Soup - ☺♥
My son, Ray, Jr., made this soup with his sons, Matthew and Andrew, for our Thanksgiving dinner this year (2012). It was delicious so I decided to put the recipe into Food Nirvana. All the other folks at that dinner agreed the soup is great. So it is ... Thanks, guys! This soup is relatively easy to make. The hardest part is using a colander to eliminate the vegetable skins after simmering, and that isn’t very hard to do. I hope you make this soup. You will enjoy it, guaranteed. Ingredients: 1 medium onion, chopped
fresh cilantro as a garnish Directions: Heat the butter and the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onions, leeks and garlic on medium heat for five minutes. Add the curry powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and some salt and black pepper and stir/mix well. Add the pumpkin puree, the chicken broth and the bay leaf and mix well.
Simmer the soup for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a colander to extract the softened onion, leeks and garlic for the soup while leaving any vegetable skins behind. Return the soup to the stove and add the half and half. Adjust the seasonings and simmer for five minutes and then serve the soup hot.
Use the cilantro as a garnish. Expect compliments!