Everyday Cooking

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pippies and Pumpkin Flowers in Coconut Milk

My family has been putting up with very unimaginative meals of late as I'd been busy preparing goodies for our Christmas give-aways:
Mango and Lime Jam
Cinnamon Stars

This is actually the first year that I'm gifting homemade stuff on a large scale. Last year's fudgy brownies and biscuits for the neighbours were whipped up in an afternoon. Not these. Halfway thru, I seriously had to think up friendships and how they (did not) served me in the last year in an effort to shorten the list of recipients. Just kidding!;-)
The jamming and baking did take a lot out of me and I'm still not finished. Another 7 or 8 hampers to put together. Some of those will have these lovely Oreo-style cookies (from Patricia's Technicolor Kitchen) instead of the Cinnamon Stars, for friends who are allergic to nuts. Can't wait to bake and taste those. Now if only I could find the time. Or the energy. Spending too much time in the kitchen and having the kids fall ill totally sapped me of energy and inspiration.

Then, Mum dropped by on the weekend with these:
very pretty Pumpkin flowers from an aunt's garden. Couldn't wait to get my hands on those but the common ways of preparing gourd flowers (stuffed with cheese or in fritters) were not enticing enough.

Another inspiration came from a fellow blogger. Tigerfish' Clam Pasta made me think of Pippies (or Cockles or Surf Clams). The last time I had them were three years ago, on a short visit to Sydney (I was still living in Zurich then) while I was six and a half months pregnant. Hubby and I rented a beach house for a few days with another couple (the girlfriend was eight months pregnant!). The pregnant women suddenly decided that we were in the mood for Pippies and so off we went digging at the closest surf beach within the National Park. Dodging the park ranger (it wasn't exactly legal to gather the clams from the National Park but that's by the by...) and ignoring the eye-rolling by the husbands, two huge ladies had their fill of clams that wonderful sunny afternoon.

Anyhow, despite the long and digressing introduction, combining the Pippies and Pumpkin flowers in a dish was a simple exercise. Sautéed in garlic, onion, ginger and tomatoes, the fresh and clean flavour of the Pippies was not overwhelmed by any strong ingredients. The slight bitterness of the flowers added an interesting dimension to the dish.
I had this with steamed rice but it would also be lovely with some crusty bread for a summer's lunch.

Pippies and Pumpkin Flowers in Coconut Milk
serves 4

1 kg Pippies (or clams)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger
2 medium onions, sliced finely
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1tsp tumeric (optional, I only used for colour)
1 tin coconut milk (400mL)
salt and pepper
15 Pumpkin flowers
5 pcs red chillies*

To prepare the flowers, take out the stamen in the middle and rinse the flowers.

It is best to soak the Pippies in saltwater overnight to get rid of most of the grit.
After soaking, brush the shells in clean cold water.
Steam the Pippies in a large pot with a cup of water. It will only take around 5 minutes for the clams to open up. Drain in a colander, over a bowl to save the cooking juices. Discard any shells that did not open.

In a pan, heat up the oil and sautée the garlic and ginger. When they have coloured a little, add the onion ,tomatoes and tumeric if using. Mix around and cover. Cook until the tomatoes have softened and you have a sauce-like consistency.

Add the coconut milk and half a cup of the Pippies cooking juices.
Let the sauce boil and simmer until it has thickened a little. Throw in the Pippies in their shell. Turn the heat up until the sauce boils. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the Pumpkin flowers and chillies. Quickly and carefully mix, then turn off the heat.

*I left the chillies whole as I knew I would be sharing these with family who don't care much about spicy dishes. If you love your food with zing, chop up the chillies and add at the same time as the onions and tomatoes.


Dhanggit said...

your friends are lucky to have a friend like you..really taking time out to prepare them some wonderful goodies for christmas :-), my giveaways arent finish yet..i start to feel lazy hahahah

i love this recipe that you made, its new to me, i always use fresh cream and white wine with my clams when i make pasta..but this version i love im use the coconut milk and pumpkin flowers gave that "chic" touch!!! hope your well now :-) and the kids too!!

Marvin said...

I agree with dhanggit, you're friends must be so happy to get gifts from you!

The Pippies and Pumpkin flowers looks like a great creation. I'll have to wait until spring though for more pumpkin flowers.

Peter M said...

What a knockout of a dish...Bravo!

Veron said...

What a cute alternative name for clams. They do look delicious with the pumpkin flowers.

Cynthia said...

Dhanggit and Marvin are so right, your friends are very lucky to have you. So next year, can I look forward to some homemade gifts? You know, since I'll be included in the list :)

Thanks so much for dropping by my blog and helping me to discover yours.

I hope to get some time to chill, I know, it seems frutile in this season but still...

ut-man said...

Wow sarap naman! I never thought of clams in coconut milk or pumpkin flowers in coconut milk until now. What a great cooking innovation…

Laurie Constantino said...

I love pumpkin/squash flowers in every way I've ever made them. This looks so good -- I'm sorry I'll have to wait until next year to eat it. Also, your picture of the pumpkin flowers is gorgeous - it would make lovely notecards. Good job!

Rasa Malaysia said...

I love all kinds of clams but have never had pippies...what a cute name. Looks delish. :)

Gay Carrillo said...

Sarap naman! Another way to eat squash flowers here. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Laura said...

Hey Miss!

I had forgotten about the pippies! I'm going to have to try this recipe one day cause they are three of my favourite things, pippies, coconut milk and pumpkin flowers.


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