Kid’s Culinary World Tour: Maine Clam Chowder and Whoopie Pies

OK, folks, I’m not even going to try to pretend I’m not slightly biased about the awesomeness of this next culinary adventure. Having lived in Maine through high school and college (go Black Bears!), I’ve developed a special fondness for Vacation Land. Anyone who’s lived in Maine at one time or another can attest to the motto being 100% true. It really IS “The Way Life Should Be!” It’s beautiful, the folks are as friendly as can be and holy crap the food is delicious! So I admit to nudging Madison towards “visiting” this state next on our Culinary World Tour because it’s summer and I was craving “Maine food” anyway! For this stamp in our Food Passport, we decided to make some good ol’ Maine clam chowder and whoopie pies! Now, there is some debate as to the origin of both those dishes, but having spent so much time in Maine, I can definitely verify that they are two staples of Maine cuisine. And they are made differently in Maine than in other places, so that’s good enough for me!

Kid's Culinary World Tour: Maine Clam Chowder and Whoopie Pies

Now. I need to take a moment to talk about whoopie pies. Because, if you’ve never tried one before – and I’m really not familiar with places outside of Maine that make/sell them, so there may be many of you who haven’t tried them- you need to prepare yourself for the mouthful of awesome that you are about to experience. Seriously. I’m talking like… put on your stretchiest pants and sit your butt down in your favorite chair. Whoopie pies are a comfort food punch in the mouth in the best possible way. I honestly forgot how amazing they were since moving back to Connecticut but back in the day, they were sold in our cafeteria… at every Mom ‘n’ Pop store… gas station… bake sale… you name it. There is an entire bakery devoted to whoopie pies in Gardiner, ME (Wicked Whoopies. Go there. You will possibly die from pure sugary bliss but it will be worth it…. Or if you don’t like to travel for your sugar comas, THEY DELIVER. Did you read that correctly? Yes. Someone will put a real Maine whoopie pie in a box and ship it to your door.), and I’m fairly certain it is the official state treat.

So… is this a lot of hype? Yes. Will you ever regret making… buying… eating… a real whoopie pie? Absolutely not. Now there are a few debates on whoopie pie filling…some people use regular frosting… some use just marshmallow fluff… some use a cream cheese type concoction. While these are all delicious, I’m a whoopie pie purest and like to stick with the magical concoction included in this recipe. And this is a recipe from a couple of Maine grannies… so I’m pretty sure that makes it the best ever (visit the link to the original recipe to see pics of the adorable grannies making whoopie pies).

Kid's Culinary World Tour: Maine Clam Chowder and Whoopie Pies

After we did our little bit of trivia searching – Madison learned that there is a county in Maine (Aroostock) that is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined (this of course blew her mind) – we set up our Pandora station to accompany our baking. This time around we went for a bluegrass station, as I have so many fond memories of summers in Maine with blueberry and bluegrass festivals, and it just seemed right. To my surprise, Madison loved the bluegrass (I swear, this kid is a “Mainah” at heart!). And onto the cooking!

Kid's Culinary World Tour: Maine Clam Chowder and Whoopie Pies

MAINE WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients for Cakes:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons of cocoa (rita uses 4)
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 

  1. Cream sugar and shortening together.
  2. Add beaten egg yolks.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together.
  4. Add milk and vanilla alternatively with the dry ingredients into the wet mix.
  5. Drop the batter in equal spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving room to spread.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degrees oven for 7-10 minutes.
  7. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Ingredients for Filling: 

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Fluff

Directions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients and blend with an electric mixer.
  2. Spoon filling onto completely cooled cakes and top off like a sandwich.Kid's Culinary World Tour: Maine Clam Chowder and Whoopie Pies

(As you can see… we didn’t wait long enough to put the filling in the whoopies – it smelled too good to wait! They were still a little too warm so it got a little messy but it was still delish!)

This recipe was found on katyelliott.com

MAINE CLAM CHOWDER

Kid's Culinary World Tour: Maine Clam Chowder and Whoopie Pies

Photo Credit: Go New England

The recipe is from the historic Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine and it pairs the briny clam broth with hickory smoked bacon. Maine clam chowder is not as thick as other New England chowders, but in my opinion it’s the best there is! Give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice hickory-smoked bacon, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon The Cliff House Spice Blend (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 can clams (6.5 ounces)
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced

To create The Cliff House Spice Blend: 

  • 4 teaspoons oregano
  • 4 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons dill
  • 4 teaspoons thyme
  • 4 teaspoons basil
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 4 teaspoons rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Blend all ingredients (crushing in a mortar if possible). Store in a resealable plastic bag to refrigerate.

Directions: 

  1. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-pint soup kettle, sauté bacon, butter, onion, garlic and The Cliff House Spice Blend over low heat. Do not allow to brown.
  2. Drain clams and set aside, reserving the juice.
  3. Slowly stir the flour and clam juices into the sauté mixture.
  4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat.
  5. Add half and half. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add white pepper, potatoes and clams.
  7. Heat to serving temperature. (Avoid boiling, as this can make the clams tough.)
  8. Serve immediately with crackers (and cornbread!)

This recipe was found on gonewengland.about.com

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