Sunday, July 29, 2012

Plum Delicious

Dessert tends to get short-changed on Eats of Eden. It's all, OOH! LOOK AT THIS SIDE DISH!! or BEST ENTREE EVER!! To be honest, I don't make much dessert. Not that I don't love to bake, or that rich, sweet goodness isn't something I crave. But for one thing, dessert is hard to do 5 nights out of 7. It's hard enough to get dinner on the table getting off work at 5, let alone some after-meal extras. My mom used to simplify dessert and give us little dishes of applesauce with cookies or canned peaches for us, but I never think ahead that far. Along with that, I like being able to fit into my pants. Cakes and pies don't help with that cause.

"Oh but Tabitha, you could do some low-fat/sugar-free/low lactose baking..."

Yeah. And I could also gnaw on a piece of cardboard I drew a picture of a cupcake on. If I am going to take the time and the calorie hit to make and eat dessert, I want it to be as delicious and well-textured as possible.

This time of year is one of the best to make dessert. Even though the oven switches on, there are so many beautiful ingredients in rich bounty: get a pie craving in October and you'll end up paying $8 a pound for anemic cherries. Right now I'm in between what I'd like to can: the cherry pie filing and jams are already sealed up and in the garage, and it will be a few weeks before peaches and cucumbers will be in full swing. Raspberries are in their prime this weekend, so I went on Martha Stewart's website to flip through her seasonal slide show for ideas. It was here I found something I drool over every summer but have yet to make: upside-down cake. I've never been able to make it in the past because I didn't have an awesome springform pan (thanks, Annie!!). I sent Matt a grocery list (he decided to go to work Saturday, stupid overachiever), and he came back with dusky black plums, peak raspberries and a little box of blueberries.

"I thought they'd go good with what you've got going on," he said. And they were on sale. Nope, off-book from Martha's recipe, but I liked where his head was at. The fresh fruit was arranged over a caramelize-creating brown sugar top, and a simple batter was spread on top. I was sure to get a picture of the pretty fruit arrangement before the sloppy batter got in the wa, because some things, while delicious, are not so Pinteresting.

The cake baked while Matt prepped the smoker for Round Two, which our friends Brandon and Stephanie came by to help us devour. They also were around to take a good chunk of this cake which, while fresh and not overly-sweet, is sure not to keep long as a leftover in the refrigerator before getting soggy. This is a great recipe for sharing: or for those moments when you want to devour an entire cake by yourself. No judgment here. We also topped it with Cool Whip Lite, which I would also ask you not to judge me for (I didn't want to whip cream, okay? By the time the cake was in the oven, it was wine time! Pinot rose...).

The tartness of the raspberries and plums was the perfect foil to the sweet, buttery-light cake. A delicious collection of the best of this summer's moment. Somewhere between first-of-the-season peas and last-hurrah squashes, the end of July remains bittersweet.

Plum-Raspberry (and blueberry!) Upside Down Cake
from Martha Stewart Food

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 6 medium plums, halved and pitted
  • 1/2 pint raspberries (you can add an additional 1/2 cup blueberries to help fill in with the raspberries if you'd like)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a round 8 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch springform pan; line with parchment paper. Melt 2 tablespoons butter; pour into pan. Using a sieve, sprinkle light-brown sugar evenly over the melted butter. Arrange plum halves cut side down on top of the brown sugar, squeezing in as many plums as possible to allow for shrinkage during baking. Fill in the gaps with raspberries; set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour mixture, and beat until combined. Beat in the sour cream. Beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  3. Spoon cake batter on top of plums and raspberries, spreading evenly with a small spatula. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any juices; transfer to the oven, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake. Remove ring; invert onto a serving plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Closeted Fetish

I may have mentioned this in the past: I have a sauce fetish. Simmer sauces. Marinades. Oils and vinegars. Spicy, tangy, sweet inspirations and possibilities bottled up for a bunch of theoretical parties I dream up and never have. I get sucked into the sale basket at Williams-Sonoma, the neat aisles at New Seasons, specialty vinegar import shops. If it's bottled and delicious, I just. Can't. Resist.

Which is kind of a problem, because I don't have infinite shelf space, and as much as I wished otherwise, sauces are not immortal. After a couple years they start to break down and get scary looking (a fact I just happened to discover when cleaning said pantry last month).

So I made myself a little mission for the week: use up some damn sauce! I had a lovely Williams-Sonoma barbecue braise sauce (marked down from $16.99 to $3.99... nice score, 2011 Tabitha!) I took out along with thin pork cutlets. Matt gave them a quick grill out the outside, and then they went for a quick braise in the oven, bathing in the deeply-flavorful barbecue sauce.

As I sat at my desk at work, working all day on a huge busywork project, I dreamed up a side: spicy crisp potatoes with a mustard and sriracha glaze. Um, yum! Hurry up, 5:00! I have had mixed results with making good crispy-roast potatoes, but what I've slowly learned through sad, soggy trial and error is that lots of heat and little movement is key. I sliced potatoes from the farmer's market, a mix of reds and Yukon golds, along with half a leftover red onion and tons of freshly-pressed garlic. I whisked Dijon mustard, sriracha sauce, olive oil and some of that wonderful pantry champagne vinegar to make a kind of vinaigrette sauce, which I poured over the potatoes.

"Are the pork chops in the oven?" Matt asked, sniffing at the savory air being endlessly circulated around our great room by the air conditioner. "Smells like bacon."


The perfect last touch to my potato side: a touch of leftover bacon from hamburger night a few days ago. I topped each potato neatly with a dice, and stuck the pan in the oven at 425 for 35 minutes while the braised pork cutlets rested. The result? CRISPY, SAUCY POTATOES! Who knew? Crusty on the edges, a perfect, soft toothsome bite in the middle. The sauce dreams come true!

One down, fifty-two bottles to go..... Tangy & Peppery Moroccan Sauce, anyone?

Sriracha-Mustard Crispy Potatoes
4 medium-sized potatoes, red or Yukon variety, halved and cut into even chunks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4" slices
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white champagne vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp sriracha sauce (or more, or less, to taste!)
1/8 tsp ground mustard seed
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of sliced parsley for topping

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spread potatoes evenly on a baking sheet or stone so that no potatoes are touching. Sprinkle with onion and garlic.Top each potato with a bacon piece (or if you're not that anal and don't have to have bacon in every bite, just spread it wherever. Whatever, I can't police your kitchen.)

Whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, sriracha, mustard seed, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over potatoes, sprinkling with additional salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes without turning or flipping potatoes, although you can turn the pan around once in the oven halfway through cooking. Top with additional salt and pepper (potatoes need lots!), and fresh parsley.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Atop Smokey Mountain, All Covered in Cheese

Remember that first season Simpsons episode when Homer bought Marge a bowling ball for her birthday? I may be accused of similar trickery when I bought Matt the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker for his birthday, which arrived last week. A big barrel-style smoker that slow-cooks over wood and charcoal, the best-rated choice amongst those hardcore barbecuing enthusiasts who make such proclamations we should listen to. Did I want Matt to have a happy birthday? Of course. Was he thrilled? Naturally. But I really wanted some damn ribs.

Yesterday we (he) set up the smoker in the backyard, which once we get the grill back there from its garage winter home, will be the Outdoor Cooking SuperStation. Wait, wasn't TBS the SuperStation for a while? I seem to remember that dumb tagline. Since you invest a bag of charcoal, some nice wood chunks and the better part of a day into smoking anything, we decided to make the most of it and smoke on both racks: baby back ribs to eat for dinner, and a chicken for later in the week. I went on a rub bender yesterday at Whole Foods, and Matt brought back Texas rib rub from his trip to El Paso. I rubbed the meats down the night before our smoking so they'd have plenty of time to soak up the flavor infusions. And then get a big crazy dose of smokey! So basically, taste insanity.

It was a lovely day in Portland (and areas slightly further removed like Hubbard) yesterday. A little warm, but I fixed that by putting on my swimsuit for the first time in two years and running through the sprinklers. Smoking makes you stay outside, to ward off fires and make sure the temperature gauge doesn't do anything nutty, but this leads to all sorts of nice stuff like finishing the best book you've read in 18 months ("Tiny Beautiful Things" by Cheryl Strayed) and drink enough lemonade and vodka cocktails to make running through the sprinkler seem like a good idea. It truly is, by the way.

As the work kept chugging along outside, I went inside to make some side dishes. I got some fresh organic white-and-yellow corn during the spice rampage, and I was also planning on making some spicy macaroni and cheese. This is what I want to talk about a bit, because I can't tell you too much about making ribs. It's not so much a recipe thing as it is an equipment-and-technique sort of thing. But I can tell you about making the best freaking macaroni and cheese I have ever put together. It was inspired by the stuff they serve at Famous Dave's on their criminally-overpriced plates of barbecue. A little bit of rib, a cornbread muffin that's great, a meat portion that fits within Weight Watcher guidelines for skinny girls eating brisket, and if you so choose, a very small cup of some seriously delicious spicy mac. I didn't have the recipe, but I did have a few aces:

1. Cougar Gold
My little bro is heading in less than a month (!!!!) to move into his freshman college dorm at WSU in Pullman. Little Zach! The guy I left for Portland almost a decade ago with his mushroom haircut and Harry Potter Legos. Now he's all registering for biology and picking out shower caddies at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Hence time is cruel and I'm fucking old. WSU is a great university for quite a few reasons I'm sure, but not the least of which is its on-site creamery that makes the best cheddar cheese you will Ever. Taste. So piquant and flavorful, it doesn't get lost in dishes like some more pedestrian cheddars.

2. Secret Aardvark Sauce
What's in Secret Aardvark Sauce? Where do I find it? These, you see, are secrets.

Well, okay. I can at least help you find it.

Secret Aardvark is made locally in Portland, and is generally the most perfect hot sauce I've ever experienced. Not too spicy, never overly vinegar-y, just perfect heat that truly enhances anything it touches.

Forgive me sriracha, for I have sinned.

If you don't live in Portland, where it's sold at Whole Foods, New Seasons and other more locally-inclined purveyors, you can get as much as you'd like shipped right to your doorstep: Tell them Tabitha sent you. They'll have no idea who the hell I am, but they should still know.

3. Those little green smoky chiles in cans
You've seen these, right? Tucked in the Hispanic foods aisle at any grocery store you've ever been in? Screw you, canned chipotle. Culinary weaponry!

I made a bechamel for the macaroni and cheese while the noodles cooked--a half n half mix of elbow macaroni and wheels. Why the wheels? Because I challenge you to name a noodle that makes you happier. Also they have a strange quality to make me feel as if I'm eating something much more special than I am. Back in like 1990 when I was tagging alongside my mom at the grocery store, Kraft introduced blue box macaroni IN WHEELS! It was inexplicably way more money per box, but I used to request it all the time--"can we get the wheel macaroni?" Mom tried to logically explain that there was less noodle per box in this version, and it cost way more, but I still equate those noodles with sheer, exotic luxury.

After the sauce had thickened I mixed in the cheese, paprika, chiles and a little cayenne pepper, plus salt and pepper to taste. I topped the whole casserole dish with Secret Aardvark and leftover cheese, then let it cool until baking to serve alongside the meat.

Yes, the ribs were incredible. All applause and credit to Matt and Weber. But what I could not stop compulsively picking at, even though I had eaten far more than I should have already, was that crazy-good macaroni and cheese. I immortalize it here as much for my own benefit, to go back and make it for a hundred barbecues in the future, as for you, dear reader, to try.

Now if I could only make $30 a plate like Dave does...

Spicy Smokey Mountain of Yum Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 lb dry pasta noodles (elbow, wheels, penne, farfalle, whatever)
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%, which is about as low as I'd go as far as fat content)
3 1/2 cups Cougar Gold cheese, shredded (or any really good, high-quality melting cheese like gouda, raclette, Beecher's Flagship, Kerrygold Dubliner)
1/2 cup pancetta, diced and skillet-fried until crisp
1 4 oz can diced roasted chiles
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Secret Aardvark Sauce

In a large pasta pot, boil salted water and cook noodles to package directions. Drain when the noodles are still al dente--cooked, but with a toothsome bite. They will cook for additional time during the bake. Reserve noodles, and keep the pasta pot handy.

In a deep-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk together, continuing to whisk until the mixture forms a golden-hued roux, about five minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a slow boil. As soon as the mixture begins to bubble (about an additional 5-7 minutes), remove from heat. Mix in 3 cups of the grated cheese, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. Mix until the cheese has melted into the hot mixture.

Place the reserved noodles back into the pasta pot, then add the pancetta, chiles and cheese sauce. Mix thoroughly, then spoon into a 9"x9" casserole baking dish. Top the dish with Secret Aardvark to taste (my idea of a good spicy layer is 4-5 squirts of sauce, ensuring each scoop of macaroni and cheese served will have at least a few drops), and with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes, when it will be bubbling and too good to resist.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nameless Cuisine

There are so many food (and drink!) memories from Pacific. Breakfast at Maggie's Buns, the mysterious Grendel's Pasty, and the jalapeno popper rubber glove debacle. But of all the foodie memories in Forest Grove, most probably took place at Izgara. It's an odd little restaurant, not the kind you'd expect to find in a small town tucked between the coast, farmland and vineyard hills. It claims to serve middle eastern cuisine, which it does--falafel, shwarma, and some of the best house-made hummus I've ever tried. But there's some strange fusion going on, like the German-influenced chicken schnitzel pita wraps, and sizzling fries.

(They don't really sizzle, unfortunatley. They're just fries.And as a result, there's the strange addition of a ketchup bottle next to the baba ganoush).

Tonight, while I was trying to dream up a nice and refreshing dinner involving shrimp, I started thinking of my favorite residency restaurant. Vaguely middle eastern flavors mixed together just 'cuz they taste good. At Izgara, they bring out these tiny bowls of appetizer salads before the entrees. They are kind of random, like a really delicious corn salad and cole slaw, but when you mix them together on some naan bread they become a delectable Mediterranean-inspired nacho.

For our own strange smorgasbord I made a curry-scented carrot salad, chimmichurri, basic cole slaw and bought some tzatziki at Whole Foods. The shrimp were marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Just a brief marinade, though--20 minutes or so--too much marinade for shrimp and they start to get gross. I skewered them and gave them a quick squirt of lemon at the very end. They grill up about as fast as the pitas do before they turn to rubber, so don't leave them alone. They hate to be alone. We assembled our own open-faced sandwiches, served with spiced couscous and fresh corn on the cob.

It didn't make a whole lot of sense, and I don't know what to call it exactly, but I can tell you it was light, bright and fresh for the first 90+ degree day of the year. And that's a win in any language.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cherry Pie Futures

Most people's idea of a nice Friday night at home includes some take 'n bake pizza, the latest delivery from Netflix, a lot of couch and turning into contented goo in front of the TV.

When I came home tonight with twenty pounds of cherries, it was clear that this wasn't the kind of Friday we had in store.

Since we're in the thick of cherry season here in Oregon (happy 4th, ya'll!), prices are at their lowest and the produce is at its peak. It's the teeny window of time to buy copious amounts of the harvest and launch a preservation project. At only $1.49 a pound this week (down from about six times that the rest of the year), this was the moment to embark on the project I'd been wanting to do for several years: home-canned cherry pie filling. The recipe got bumped in 2010 because I had just started the MFA and I didn't have the foresight to order Clear Jell ahead of time, and last year this was right around the time I was saying "go to hell, Company Which Will Remain Nameless" and started the job search/interview/see ya process. This year, thanks to my can't-go-back-to-life-without-it Amazon Prime membership, the essential Clear Jell was on my doorstep in two days and I picked up 36 cups worth of cherries on my lunch break.

Clear Jell is a modified corn starch that thickens up like nobody's business. It produces more reliable, consistent results than standard cornstarch, and is available online from places like the aforementioned Amazon for not a lot of money. I've been unsuccessful in finding any at a retail store close by, though I'd suspect that Mirador Store would be a good bet if you're in Portland. Not to mention it's a fun trip out there.

So. Twenty pounds. Three of the biggest mixing bowls I could conjure. One cherry pitter. Shockingly, the project didn't take us as long as I'd feared. Switching between stemming and pitting duty, we finished in about an hour or so. The recipe I found on Simple Bites made only one quart, so I increased it four and five-fold for two separate, 4- and 5-quart batches. Once the cherries are all pitted, the batches actually go very quickly. The cherries get a quick blanche, and the sugar and Clear Jell, plus spices, cook up to a thick boiling slurry in less than ten minutes. I was delighted when we mixed together the cherries and sugar mixture, and it turned into what looked exactly like canned cherry pie filling... except it still tasted like real cherries and the fruit didn't look all fake and sad. I stole a few bites of the last batch, and I can testify that this isn't just a pretty canning face. I could look at these jars all day, yes, but the fresh, still toothsome fruit with the hints of cinnamon and allspice were divine. This would make some of the best waffle topping ever. Speaking of which, I need a waffle iron. One of the few things I never did invest in. Although that damn avocado peeler is still in the drawer.

Now that I've popped my canned pie filling cherry (ugh, sorry, I couldn't resist), there's no stopping me. There are so many fall and winter pies waiting to be filled! So much Clear Jell to order! The summer produce season has just barely started. Sterilize those jars, my friends. It's going to be one hell of a year.

Cherry Pie Filling Recipe from Simple Bites

  • 4 cups cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Clear Jel
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Fill your water-bath canner with water and set to boiling. Make sure your jars are sanitized and heated.
Wash and pit the cherries. In a large nonreactive pot filled with boiling water, blanch the cherries for a minute, then drain. Pour the hot cherries into a bowl and cover.
In the same pot, mix together sugar and Clear Jel. Slowly add the water, whisking to help Clear Jel dissolve evenly. Don’t worry too much if it clumps up – it should dissolve as it heats up. Add the spices and heat over medium-high, until sugar and Clear Jel are dissolved and mixture is starting to bubble. Add the lemon juice and boil for about a minute.
Remove from heat and gently stir in cherries and any accumulated juices. Pour filling into prepared jar(s), wipe rim and set lid on top. Screw ring on finger-tight, and using a jar grabber carefully lower the jar into the water bath.
Process for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and let rest on the counter until completely cooled. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated and used promptly.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Back in Culinary Commission

Between those magnificent February Thai enchiladas and this evening, I have been writing like crazy. My memoir thesis, food articles and book reviews, and some speeches. Unfortunately I've been away from my kitchen and my little foodie home online. Until graduation we were getting by on quesadillas, grilled chicken with a box of Zataran's rice, and take-out Chinese. I hate to admit to this sort of cooking slackery, let along blog about it.

Last weekend was graduation at Pacific University, where two years of reading, writing, editing, trashing terrible ideas, questioning the validity of my dreams versus talent, and meeting some of the most incredible humans in existence culminated in a ceremony--with hats and Harry Potter hoods!, some fantastic photo ops and a buffet dinner with all-you-can-eat shrimp skewers. When I came home Eats of Eden crossed my mind: am I going to bring back my blog? But I was feeling guilty about letting it go, like my yard right now with dandelions creeping in on my tomatoes. And while I ran out and rooted out those weeds as soon as I got home from the ten-day residency, I wasn't sure how to fix my writing hiatus. Was anyone going to come back and read? Should I really be blogging instead of writing the Next Great American Memoir Essay Incorporating the History of Food Preservation? So I kept quiet, and pretended the site didn't exist.

This weekend I got back into food. Between a business trip for Matt and my school stay, we hadn't been home together for almost a month. Whole Foods! Costco! Trader Joe's! Bags and bunches of card swipes later we had a pantry full of staples, a freezer full of protein, and a cache of homemade recipes we'd been craving. Last night, to combat last day of June cloudy gloominess, I made a big pot of scratch spaghetti sauce (in the gorgeous chicken-topped Staub pan that Matt got me for graduation!). Was it good? Oh god yes! After two weeks of restaurant and cafeteria food, even a jar of Ragu served in my own home would've been heaven. But really, it was yummy. But to blog? Again, the anxiety of opening up something I'd cruelly let die creeped in, and I kept my meal (and the leftovers) to myself.

This morning Matt woke up before me and once I was done sleeping in, I found him in the living room absorbed in a Good Eats seafood marathon. "We should have seafood," he said, the Alton Brown brainwashing complete. He suggested clam chowder, a treat we hadn't had aside from coastal town restaurant cups in ages.

"But we could do, like, a seafood medley!" I said, my wheels spinning like crazy, cooking ambition and creativity finally to spare. After ten billion pre-grad paninis, I felt like I was in a serious food rut.

We went to the Whole Foods fish counter, the best fish market I've found in Oregon. As we are not, unfortunately, in Seattle. I digress away from a seafood availability rant, however. Sweet baby scallops, wild dungeoness crab, fresh shrimp and clams: we spared no expense (literally; stupid-expensive checkout shock). I glanced at a Bon Appetit standards chowder recipe, but mostly just chose ingredients that sounded the right notes in my head: leeks, sweet corn, tarragon from the garden. I let the aromatics simmer for a few hours in fish stock, and in the last few minutes of cooking stirred in the cream and seafood. We sat down and raved at each other for our genius idea and execution.

"Have you taken a picture?" Matt asked.


"Aren't you going to blog about it?"

I could almost feel a blush coming on. "No, I don't think so."

"I don't know why. It's amazing."

Why wasn't I blogging? I began Eats of Eden over two years ago before starting the MFA program to work writing into a prominent place in my life. Now that I'm out of the program's structure, I need something to keep me motivated and engaged, and a nice break from the slog a long-form project (turning my thesis into a manuscript) can become. Not to mention a little justification for getting out the fancy dishes, the elaborate recipes, for slipping those special ingredient treats into my cart.

"I'll get the camera," I said.

Crustacean Nation Chowder--with clams!
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1 can clams, juice reserved
3 cups fish stock
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/3 cup potato flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 pound baby scallops
1/2 pound shrimp, deveined and peeled
1/3 pound fresh crabmeat (or as much as you can afford! At $39.99 a pound at Whole Foods, we had to go a little light)
Tabasco to taste
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, then remove and reserve, keeping the rendered bacon fat in the pan. Add aromatics: onion, leek, celery and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute until onions are translucent, 5-6 minutes. Stir in the juice from the canned clams and the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat down to a low simmer and add bay leaf, thyme, cayenne pepper, corn and tarragon, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to mesh together for at least an hour. About 20 minutes before serving time, raise the temperature to medium and slowly incorporate the cream. Add the potato flakes and stir, adding another dose of salt and pepper. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce back down to medium-low. Add baby scallops, bacon (crumbled), shrimp, crabmeat and clams. Stir and cook until heated through, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste. Serve in bowls topped with green onions alongside Saltine or oyster crackers and crusty bread.