Steamed Clams with Spicy Italian Sausage and Fennel

At culinary school there is a huge kitchen that we all work in and last semester there were three classes…Culinary I, Culinary III and Baking & Pastry I.  Our first few weeks of class were nerve racking for myself and my fellow CI students.  The kitchen was so large and intimidating with its industrial sized stove, ovens and utensils everywhere.  I had never been in a walk in before and I couldn’t have told you where anything was!  Basically I was a little lost but tried to keep my cool and not show any signs of weakness.  The kitchen is not for wimps people!  Looking at the C3 students, who had obviously been there a while and felt at ease even on the first week, was a little intimidating.  Some already had that “chef’s ego” and couldn’t bother to help the little people, but there were a few who showed me the ropes and eventually shared some of their delicious recipes with me.

Because we were in separate classes we were always preparing different recipes, so on this particular day while I was learning knife skills C3 was learning how to cook shellfish.  I wasn’t really that interested at first because they were making clams and besides clam chowder I really hadn’t had them too often.  As I was chopping away at my pound of carrots this sweet spicy smell hit me and I turned to see what they were cooking.  Whatever it was I was determined to taste it.  So after they presented their dish to the head chef I asked to try it and when I did it was one of those moments where you close your eyes and ask where have you been all my life!  I’ve tasted some good food but this went way beyond that so this is my attempt at recreating that experience.  The best part is using a crostini to soak up the juices at the end.


Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2×1/3-inch strips
  • 1 large fennel bulb with fronds, bulb cored, sliced; fronds chopped (for garnish)
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausages coarsely crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed in mortar with pestle (or chopped finely)
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 4 dozens Manila clams (about 2 1/3 pounds), scrubbed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano


Heat oil in large deep skillet over high heat. Add bell pepper, sliced fennel, Italian sausage, and fennel seeds, and sauté until sausage is brown and vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add clam juice, and bring to boil. Add clams and oregano; reduce heat to medium-high, cover, and cook just until clams open, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Divide among 4 bowls, discarding any unopened clams. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and serve with toasted bread.





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Fried Green Tomatoes

As a result of my foodgasmic experience at the Farmer’s Market last week I had a bag full of green tomatoes that I needed to use so I thought what better to cook than fried green tomatoes?  Personally I’m not much of a tomatoes person, but what I found out is that red and green tomatoes are completely different.  Green tomatoes are a little firmer with more flesh than red tomatoes and are a little sweeter.  I actually tried to fry some red tomatoes which you can see in my pictures but they were NOT good…I won’t be trying that again!

But the fried green tomatoes were delicious, perfect for a summer afternoon snack.  I didn’t have time to make a dip to go with it but next time I will try to find a yummy recipe.  These are best eaten immediately after they’re fried, while they’re still warm.


  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten $
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 medium-size green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste


In a shallow bowl whisk together egg and buttermilk; set aside.  Combine bread crumbs, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or pan.  Place flour in another shallow bowl.  Dredge tomato slices in flour; dip in egg mixture, and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

Pour oil to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in a large cast-iron skillet; heat to 375°. Drop tomatoes, in batches, into hot oil, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden.  Drain on paper towels or a rack and serve immediately.



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Garlic Cilantro Shrimp




  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound of jumbo tiger prawn shrimp with the shell still on
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of Nature’s brand seasoning

Garlic Bread

  • 1 baguette
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika


1.   Rinse the shrimp under cold water and season with Nature’s seasoning.  Make sure to season the inside of the shrimp and not just the shell.

2.   Warm 3 tablespoons of butter in medium saucepan until it starts to foam.  Add minced garlic and saute til garlic is fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).

3.   Add shrimp and cook with the shell on.  Alternate both sides for about five minutes each side or until the shrimp is pink.  It usually takes longer to cook the shrimp with the shell on so sometimes I will turn the shrimp upright, placing the actual meat of the shrimp on the pan to make sure it is cooked all the way through.

4.   While the shrimp is cooking slice the baguette in 1/2 inch slices.  Spread with butter and sprinkle generously with garlic powder and paprika.

5.   Broil on low until the bread is golden brown and has a nice crust on top (about 5 minutes).

4.   Remove the shrimp from pan and serve immediately with garlic bread. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!


An NCJ Original


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Buffalo Fried Shrimp



For shrimp:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Creole-style seasoning

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails attached (optional)

4 cups oil for frying


For Buffalo Sauce:

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

6 ounces hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper



1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, Creole-style seasoning, garlic powder, ground cayenne pepper, onion powder, and ground black pepper. Seal the bag and shake a few times to combine the ingredients well.

2. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and place them in the plastic bag with the flour mixture. Seal the bag and shake to coat all of the shrimp well with the flour mixture.

3. Place the coated shrimp on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. Save remaining flour mixture in the bag.

4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together garlic, butter hot sauce and cayenne pepper; set aside. In a pot, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

5. Remove shrimp from refrigerator and shake a second time in flour mixture.

6. Place the shrimp in hot oil and fry until pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately coat with buffalo sauce.  Serve with fresh celery and blue cheese dressing.

Note: Don’t coat the shrimp with the buffalo sauce too soon.  I would advise waiting until you’re about to serve the shrimp to add the sauce or serve the sauce on the side.  This makes about 4 servings.


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Summer Egg Salad



  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika


  1. Place egg in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.
  2. Place the chopped eggs in a bowl, and stir in the mayonnaise, mustard and green onion. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Stir and serve on your favorite bread or crackers.


Adapted from Allrecipes


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