Archive for July, 2012

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

 

Linguine with white clam sauce was on the menu  every single Friday of my adolescent life.  Slippery noodles smothered in garlic and olive oil and then topped with a generous serving of fresh littleneck clams.  The only accompaniment was a large piece of warm Italian bread, torn at the table by hand, to sop up all the briny broth that collected in the bottom of the bowl.

In the summer, the sweetness of the clams is enough to knock you over.  Close the grill for a night and celebrate the coming weekend with an enormous bowl, enjoy.

Ingredients

1 pound Linguine
4 cloves garlic-thinly sliced
1 yellow onion finely chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 dozen little neck clams *CLEANED*
1 bottle clam juice
1 pint chopped fresh clams
1 head of broccoli rabe (optional but delicious)
Freshly torn parsley, Basil and oregano
2 tablespoons butter to finish the sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Preparation

For the clams- you will need to soak in ICE COLD water, in twenty minute increments, 2-3 times in order to ensure they spit out every grain of sand.  Once this is done rinse under water and set aside in a colander.

For the broccoli rabe- (if using) bring a large pot of sea salted water to boil and add the trimmed head of broccoli rabe.  Cook until tender about 8 minutes and transfer to an ice bath * a medium sized bowl placed in a larger sized bowl floating with ice and cold water-this will stop the cooking and ensure perfectly tender broccoli rabe.

…OK lets get going

In a Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive and onion and sauté until softened, add the thinly sliced garlic and continue to cook for a minute longer.  At this point you can add the chopped clams and clam juice and simmer for ten-twelve minutes.

Put your pasta water up to boil with plenty of sea salt.  Cook the linguine according to package directions, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid.

Next take your extra, squeaky clean whole clams and add to the pot cover and continue to cook until all the shells are open.  Discard any that do not open.  Now if using, you can add the cooked broccoli rabe and sauté with the clam sauce.

Because you are an awesome multi-tasker, your linguine should be perfectly al dente by now so go ahead and  add the cooked pasta to the clam sauce and toss well.  You can now add any salt, pepper, red pepper and the two tablespoons of butter to the dish.  Continue to toss the linguine adding the parsley, basil and oregano.  If you find that there is not enough broth and the pasta is dry, slowly add the reserved pasta cooking liquid one tablespoon at a time until moist.  I actually prefer mine drenched in clam juice and sauce, almost soupy! Enjoy with a nice glass of wine and a large piece of warm Italian bread torn right there at the table.

Simple Summer Tomato Salad

Vinnie and Tuddy’s summer camp had only one clear cut rule, “Don’t touch Pop-op’s tomatoes.”  Being small and prone to a bit of trouble, I neglected the “Don’t” in this singular law and became determined to get my grubby little hands on each piece of blazing red fruit.

On a slow mid day break from pizza making and breadcrumb crumbling, I carefully tiptoed over the border stones that outlined my Grandfather’s garden and snuck inside.  Amidst the greenery, wooden stakes and cages I was almost completely camouflaged.  I turned in circles on my heels, dizzy with joy.  Peering over my shoulder, to ensure Drew was keeping a proper look out, I began to methodically touch each dangling tomato solely because I was not supposed to.  I turned around once more and caught my brother with his head face upward, following a passing cloud in the clear blue summer’s sky and I knew I had lingered too long.  I felt my heart drop to the pit of my belly when from nowhere my Grandfather appeared like a ghost.  He lifted me up with one hand from the patch of tomato earth and placed me beside my clueless little brother.  Not a whole lot was said but his disapproving look hung around until dinner.

The next morning as Drew and I sleepily shuffled into the backyard of my Grandparents house, I saw my Pop-op hunched over a small plot of dirt about a hundred yards from his own larger patch.  He had re-planted a Roma tomato bush.  He presented us with an old Chivas Regal container full of miniature garden tools and motioned toward our newly pruned section of the yard.  I think our tomato plant lasted about two weeks, not bad for a gardener of 5 and 3 years of age.

*The recipe below is a classic-it’s simple and perfect alongside every summer meal.  Tomatoes only taste like themselves for two or three months out of the year- so after September you are better off with a can or jar.  The real thing is worth the wait. 

Ingredients

4 garden fresh beefstake tomatoes (if using plum make it 6, if using cherry or grape make it 12-14)
1/2 cup freshly torn basil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Slice the tomatoes into quarter wedges.  In a salad bowl combine the tomatoes salt, basil and black pepper, stir to combine.  in a small bowl or cup combine the honey and olive oil, whisk gently and toss with tomatoes.  Serve and enjoy!

Sicilian Mac & Cheese

Since 1937 cupboards across America have contained slender blue boxes with gold lettering declaring itself “Macaroni & Cheese”- Sure I’ve eaten the stuff- shoveled spoonfuls of the skinny elbow, glowy orange macaroni into my mouth, but I can’t say that this was the mac and cheese we grew up on.

Pasta Ricotta, as it was commonly referred to in our house, was made with rotini pasta smothered in fresh ricotta cheese, tossed with parsley, black pepper, and then topped with a generous handful of grated cheese, this  was our version of the classic American dish.  Picky eater approved and just as simple to make as that other one- you can save all those blue boxes to use as maracas at your next soiree.

For the grown up version below,  I used a pasta made from fava bean flour- the noodles were chewy and had a nutty flavor that stood up really well against the richness and creaminess of the cheese.  Enjoy!

Pasta Ricotta

1 pound Fava bean flour pasta (or regular semolina will do just as well-use any macaroni shape you want- penne, rotini, shells…)
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
handful of fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup of grated cheese (as always I used locatelli)
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste (TASTE FIRST- depending on the cheese it might not need much or any at all!)’

Preparation:

Boil the pasta in a large pot with sea salted water- drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

In a large mixing bowl combine the fresh ricotta, parsley and egg yolk, add the pasta directly to the bowl stirring quickly.  If too dry, add a quarter of cup of the pasta water, continue to do this until you have the consistency you like- you may not have to use all the starchy water.  Top the pasta with freshly ground pepper and grated cheese.  Serve immediately!!

Toast By Mel

Saturday mornings, for me, usually contain a window of time for which the possibilities of the day ahead appear endless. Because I’m smart I know that in order to narrow down the days prospects two things are essential, a clear head and a full belly. I accomplish this feat with “Toast by Mel”; dubbed so by a beloved Inn proprietor my version is a close relative to the French with one important tweak -Greek yogurt in place of the milk. Smothered in Agave Syrup (Paul) or Maple Syrup (me, I’m a purist), this breakfast is just what you need to get your Saturday off on the right foot.

Toast By Mel

serves 2 (easily doubled or tripled)

6 slices hearty grain bread
2 eggs
1 cup of greek yogurt (I used 2 percent fat)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
butter for frying

Preparation: 

In a medium sized bowl, large enough to fit the slices of bread, combine the egg, yogurt, spices, and vanilla until well blended.  One by one dip the bread slices into the yogurt mixture making sure that the entire surface area is completely saturated.

In a medium, large griddle or frying pan melt the butter over medium heat.  gently fry the slices of bread for about three minutes per side or until browned and lightly crisp on the edges.

Serve immediately with Agave, Maple Syrup, Powdered Sugar, and some delicious summer berries.  Enjoy.