Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No recipe this week

No recipe this week -- and this is why -- a new puppy! She's adorable and running us ragged. So take the opportunity to peruse the archives this week and try out some things. Please also take the opportunity to post some comments (encouragement, feedback, love and kisses) – I feel like I’m writing into a void without them!

‘Til next week. . .

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Linguine with clams

This photo certainly does not do justice to this dish, which is my all-time favorite. I tried. I photoshopped. No dice. You'll have to use a little imagination.

I'm not sure when it happened (or why) but linguine vongole became my favorite comfort food some time ago and I cannot resist ordering it whenever I see it on the menu. This means that I've been to many great Italian restaurants and have deprived myself of venturing further than this dish. I simply must have it. I love the garlicky flavor and the sweet little clams. I love digging out the little clams and the satisfying clank of the shells on the plate as the remnants pile up. I've tried it at home to satisfy a craving a number of times and Martha's recipe hits the spot best. It's quick and easy. The only time consuming part is scrubbing the cockles to remove sand and grime. I made it last week and we slurped it up with a crusty whole wheat baguette. Then we ate left-overs standing in the kitchen the next day and it was just as good (if not better)!

Serves 4 to 6

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 pounds Manila clams or cockles, scrubbed and rinsed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta, and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds; do not let garlic brown. Stir in parsley, zest, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of black pepper; cook for 30 seconds. Add wine, and simmer for 1 minute. Add clams; increase heat to medium-high, and cook, covered, until clams begin to open, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in butter until incorporated. Add pasta to skillet, and toss to coat, adding reserved cooking water a tablespoon at a time to loosen, if desired. Transfer to a large serving bowl, and serve.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Spinach-couscous salad

My aunt always buys a terrific spinach couscous salad from a deli on the upper east side that we all love and devour. Time to figure out how to make it at home! It's extremely simple to make and is the perfect summer lunch. I tried a few times to successfully reverse-engineer it and I think I've got it!

1 1/4 cups cooked couscous (cooked in water, not chicken stock which can make it too chicken-y)
4 cups baby spinach, de-stemmed, and any tough veins removed
4 tbs minced green onion (about 3)
4 tbs chopped dill (a surprise ingredient)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup French feta, cut or crumbled into small cubes
~1-2 tbs good olive oil
Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste (I'm generous with both)

Allow couscous to cool. Chiffonade spinach and combine all ingredients. This version, which we like, is more spinach than couscous but adjust quantities to your liking. I like to drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle some additional salt on mine before I eat it but it's also good just as it is.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Versatile banana yogurt muffins

My friend Alison, who has a treasure trove of great recipes, sent me her favorite muffin recipe which I tried this weekend and loved. It's so easy and can be reasonably healthy if you swap the oil for applesauce. She loves raspberry chocolate chip, but R and I picked fresh blueberries recently and I decided to use them in these muffins -- delicious! (note: I added a pinch of cinnamon to the batter and brushed the tops lightly with cold water and dusted with granulated sugar for a pretty finish).

I'll post her original recipe and comments:


With blueberries in season, this is a tasty recipe for brunch or just week day mobile breakfast. Strawberries seemed like a good idea but result was too soggy. My favorite combination is raspberry chocolate chip. Though the batter includes bananas, the flavor is subtle.

Versatile Banana Yogurt Muffin Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt, ½ cup oil, 1 cup sugar. Add 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 ripe bananas, mash by hand), 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla. Mix until fairly smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda and ½ tsp salt.

Add dry to wet, mix until incorporated. Then add 1 heaping cup fruit, nuts or chocolate chips.

Pour batter into muffin tins (I use Texas-size pan to make six large muffins but you can make 12 regular size muffins) and bake 40-45 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Note: Can make muffins with blueberries (fresh work better than frozen), chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, raisins (dark and light), and chocolate chips. Topping of cinnamon sugar is nice too, can swirl cinnamon sugar in the middle of the muffin as well. When adding raisins or nuts can add ½ tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients. To make a non fat version, substitute ½ cup applesauce instead of the oil.