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FOOD : Out of Her Shell : A Seafood-Addict Chef Shares a Stove-side Secret: Clams in Cider

September 04, 1988

WHEN Susan Herrmann Loomis decided to put together a cookbook, it was understandable that her first effort be devoted to the subject she adores: seafood--all kinds of seafood, including salmon from Alaska, blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay and crawfish from Louisiana.

Loomis--a chef, food writer, cooking teacher and admitted "seafood junkie"--began her research not at the kitchen range but aboard fishing boats in fishing communities from one end of North America's coastal waters to the other. Her book, "The Great American Seafood Cookbook" (Workman: $19.95, hard-cover; $12.95, paperback) contains 250 recipes for seafood of all types.

Of the following recipe for Clams in Cider, Loomis says: "This is a quintessential Northwest recipe, originally prepared with Manila clams and Washington state hard cider. It's a terrific winter dish, hearty and delicious. Serve with chilled hard apple cider."

The staff tasters who sampled the dish considered it quite unnecessary to wait until winter to enjoy these well-blended flavors. Seafood lovers will find that it makes an excellent Sunday night supper dish any time of the year.

CLAMS IN CIDER

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in thin rounds

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed

1 large clove garlic, minced (do not press through a garlic press)

1 large head curly-leaf lettuce leaves, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups medium-dry hard apple cider

4 pounds Manila, butter or littleneck clams, shells well scrubbed under cold running water

Crusty bread

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrots, and saute until onion begins to turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley, garlic and lettuce. Pour in cider. Bring cider to boil. Arrange clams atop lettuce, and reduce heat to medium so cider is simmering. Cover and cook until clams open, 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any that do not open.

To serve, divide clams, vegetables and cooking liquid evenly among 4 soup bowls. Serve with plenty of fresh, crusty bread. Makes 4 servings.

Food styled by Norman Stewart; prop styling by Stacey Anne for A La Mode/ L.A.; bowl, fork and spoon courtesy of Lynn Deutch, Ltd.

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