Friday, November 5, 2010

House Specialty With Shelly and Drew

Now that we've discovered our "specialty", it's pretty much clams for every guest. Of all the recipes James' favorite is still the tried and true spaghetti with clam sauce. So I whipped up a pot last night when our friends Shelly and Drew came over to discuss Thanksgiving plans. Because we were having guests, and because I know Shelly loves it I added a loaf of buttery garlic bread/ I split the loaf down the middle and covered with a mixture of butter, garlic, parsley, S&P, olive oil and oregano. I wrapped the closed loaf up in tin foil and baked it for about 25 minutes at 400º.
Same old recipe with a little bacon added in the beginning for extra flavor. I sautéed pancetta in olive oil over a low flame until crisp. I added in 5 large cloves of garlic (sliced thin) and a good sized pinch of chili flakes and stirred them around in the hot oil for about 2 minutes. Next came 1 1/2 cups of a mixture of wine and clam juice, a handful of chopped parsley, and the juice of two lemons (I was making a big pot so this was probably double the amounts - except for the garlic -- I generally use). I brought the liquid up to a boil. Then came close to 4 lbs of clams and a big knob of butter. I covered the pot and let the little Manilla clams steam over high heat for about 7 minutes.
When the pasta was drained I added it to the pot with the clams, along with another handful of chopped parsley and about 6 TB of butter. I gave everything a good stir, poured the pasta into a serving bowl and topped with a thin drizzle of olive oil.
I like a little bitter salad to go with the rich pasta. I usually do some kind of arugula combination but this time I decided to try a simple recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook -- shredded radicchio combined with toasted bread crumbs and sieved hard boiled eggs, in a piquant anchovy dressing. Delicious. This salad was a big winner with me and James didn't even taste it. "Honey," he explained " You can't expect me to eat salad when there are clams and spaghetti and bread on the table." Words of a lifelong thin man.
For dessert I tried something simple and vaguely Italian. Pears baked in red wine with toasted almond gelato and pignoli cookies. The pears had been sitting in our fridge so I quickly peeled them, and popped them in a covered baking dish with 1 bottle of fruity red wine, 2 cinnamon sticks, zest of one orange, 4 cloves, and about 1/2 cup brown sugar. That baked for 45 minutes in a 350º oven. I removed the cover and baked for another 45º until the pears were soft and the wine had reduced to a slightly syrupy consistency. Left over from a past recipe I found a tub of almond paste on the shelves in the kitchen. I combined 8 ounces of that with 3/4 cup of powdered sugar in the food processor until it was broken up into tiny, sandy bits. I then mixed in 1 egg white and a TB of honey. I piped that dough out onto parchment covered baking trays, pressed pine nuts into the dough and baked for about 12 minutes (watching very closely) at 350º.
Dinner with friends to plan a dinner with friends.

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