Clam Chowder & Lox & Bagels...Bread Pudding?

The hubby and I were recently watching a documentary that I urge everyone to check out.  It's called Fork over Knives.  Directed by Lee Fulkerson, this film examines the claim that most cancer and other diseases are caused by eating animal protein, and that vegetable protein actually does the opposite by eradicating disease.

Thanks to my obsession with food, I thoroughly enjoy watching films like this one, since I feel it educates me and allows me to make empowered decisions about what I put into my mouth, and the mouths of my loved ones.  Watching them often inspires me to change our diet completely, if only for a short time, but usually leaves a lasting impression and one or two permanent changes.  Another great one to watch is Food Inc.  I guarantee it will change the way you look at food forever.

With that being said, we have decided try the vegetarian thing more often; not just on Mondays.  Tonight I will be making a vegetarian lasagna that looks fantastic, with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and provolone cheese.  Last night I made clam chowder and a smoked salmon rye bread pudding.  Thanks to Michael Smith, one of my absolute favorite chefs, the meal was great.  Check out the recipes below.

Smoked Salmon Rye Bread Pudding
1 loaf of rye bread sliced thick (I bought the pre-sliced loaf)
12oz smoked salmon sliced thin (don't cheap out on this, quality equals flavor here)
1 red onion finely chopped
1/4c capers
2c milk
2 eggs
1 T dijon
salt & pepper
1 bunch of dill chopped (I didn't have fresh dill so I used about a tbsp of dried)
1c havarti, grated (I used about 1/2c - trying to cut calories and fat)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Toast the bread slices until golden brown and then cut into cubes.  Place in a large bowl with the salmon, onions, and capers.  In another bowl, pour in milk, eggs, dijon, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the dill and cheese.  Pour the wet mixture over the bread cubes and toss well to combine.  Let it rest for 5 minutes so the bread can soak up the liquids.  Pour into a lightly oiled 8x8 baking dish and bake until puffy and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Now I must say that mine seemed rather dry after it had rested, so I added about another cup of milk, 1 more egg, some more dijon, dill and salt and pepper.  I also baked it for about an hour - it was still too wet after 45 minutes.  If you enjoy lox and bagels as much as I do, than this is a real treat.

Clam Chowder
8 slices of bacon chopped
1 onion chopped
2 celery diced
1/2c white wine
1c cream (I used 2% evaporated milk)
1c milk
2 5oz cans of clams (or you can use fresh but will have to buy clam juice)
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 unpeeled grated potato
1 can evaporated milk
1 lb seafood (mussels, white fish, lobster, etc - I used imitation crab meat, it's what I had on hand)
1 lb parsley chopped
salt & pepper

Brown the bacon with a little bit of water (this is a trick I learned from Michael - it helps it crisp better without burning) in a soup pot until crisp.  Add the onions and celery with about 1/2c water.  Saute for a few minutes until soft.  Add the wine, cream (or evaporated milk), milk and juice from the clams.  Add the bay leaves, thyme, and grated potato and bring to a slow simmer.  Continue simmering for 15 minutes or until the potato softens and the chowder thickens.  Add the clam meat, fish that you are using, evaporated milk and parsley.  Bring back to heat.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Serve

This chowder was fantastic, and it's great that you can add whatever fish you have on hand.  The bread pudding can be shaken up as well.  Instead of smoked salmon you could use bacon, and change the havarti to cheddar.

Play with your recipes, use what you have on hand, tweak them to incorporate what you like, remove what you don't.  Have fun with food, I always do!!