Saturday, November 14, 2009

Linguini With Red Clam Sauce

Linguini with Red Clam Sauce, plus a few bay scallops!

The weather around here has been dismal and dreary, with lots of rain and clouds everyday for about a week. Friday night was just too depressing to even think about dragging around, looking for a convivial spot to have a drink and get a plate of good food, so I decided to make one of our family favorites, Linguine with Red Clam Sauce. This recipe is not only good to eat, it is very low in calories and fat. I like to add in what ever other kind of seafood we happen to have around the house, and last night it was a cup full of frozen bay scallops (the little ones).

This is so easy and everything can be kept on hand for those nights when you forget to thaw something or you did not have time to prep a meal early in the day. The basic sauce it very budget friendly -- canned clams are always inexpensive, just watch for frozen seafood sales at the local grocery store. for the extra seafood to toss in.

Try this -- I am betting it will become a part of your meal rotation. It's a go to winner! I have often served it to company, dressed up with fresh clams and shrimp, and it's always a hit. This recipe will serve 4 - 6, depending on what you serve with it. Don't forget the salad and bread, to make it go a little farther!

Linguini With Red Clam Sauce

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (get a good brand or San Marzano)

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small can minced clams in juice**

1 handful chopped flat leaf parsley OR 1 tsp. dried oregano + 1 tsp. dried basil

a spritz of fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c. dry red wine

freshly ground black pepper

1 16 oz. box linguini, cooked al dente

In a large, deep non stick frying pan, heat your oil over low heat and add the onions and garlic. Let this cook low and slow, to develop the flavor, being careful not to brown the garlic. I like to do this at least 10 minutes. Open the can of clams and drain off the juice; then, add it to the pan, reserving your clams for later. Continue to let this simmer for a few minutes. Drain the juice from the tomatoes into the pan and then crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them to the sauce. ("Why not use crushed tomatoes" you are asking? Because most of them have tomato puree added and the consistency is too smooth. Same thing with diced tomatoes, wrong consistency.) If you are using the dried herbs, add them at this point. Sprinkle in a scant tsp. of salt (don't over do the salt, the clams and juice are salty on their own) and a few gridings of black pepper. Add the wine. Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Turn it down, cover it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. (Start heating up your big pot of water for the pasta, so it all gets ready about the same time.)

At this point, add in your clams and a cup or so of any other seafood you like. Some to try are whole, peeled and deveined shrimp, scrubbed cherry stone clams, bay scallops or sea scallops cut in fourths. If you are using fresh seafood, just make sure it is well drained and cleaned.

Bring the sauce back to a boil, just for a few minutes, long enough to cook your additional seafood -- the canned clams are cooked. Shrimp and scallops take about 5 minutes, whole clams are ready when they pop open. Discard any that do not pop.

I have made this dish many times with just the clams, and it works fine and is delicious. However, adding the extra seafood gives it a little WOW factor. It all depends on your budget and what you have in your kitchen!

Lastly add the fresh flat leaf parsley, if that is the herb you have, and the spritz of lemon. Serve over hot, cooked linguini. Be sure to serve this with crusty bread -- the sauce is very juicy and you will want to soak it all up and not miss a drop!! It's not traditional, but I can't resist adding a few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano to the top.
**Cooks note: Be sure to buy minced clams, not chopped. And be sure to follow the directions to add the juice from the can early in the recipe and the clams themselves at the very end. If you cook canned clams too long, they begin to taste like chopped rubber bands!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Here are Two Chili's to try: Mom's Chili and White Bean Chicken Chili

Everyone has a favorite chili recipe, possibly one that has been passed along through their family, or that they created on their own. Today, I bring you TWO great chili recipes, each one completely different from the other. The first one, Mom's Chili, is my own, that came to me from memories of my mom's chili, and from my Aunt Cissy, a wonderful cook, who always had a pot of chili on the back burner for hungry kids and teenagers.

The second recipe came through the family too, but from a cousin on my hubby's side of the family, and is quite different from the chili I grew up with. I hope you enjoy them both! Make the Arkansas Cornbread I wrote about earlier this month, and have yourself a chili party! That's what we do around here each fall. Have fun and happy eating!

Mom's Chili

1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T. chili powder
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
Cook all of the above together in a deep pot or dutch oven, until beef is crumbled and cooked through.
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can Rotel original tomatoes and green chilies
6 oz. beer (you'll have to drink the other half, DARN!)
4 T. chili powder
1 - 2 tsp. hot sauce (we like Tapatio or Frank's)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
a dash of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt + a few grindings fresh black pepper
a pinch of cinnamon (optional, to taste-- adds a little depth to the chili)
Bring this to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer and cook it for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.

Lastly Add:
1 can drained light red kidney beans
1 can drained dark red kidney beans
1 can drained black beans
1 6 oz. can tomato paste (you may omit this if you like a "looser" chili)
Stir it all together well and bring the chili back to a boil. Turn it down and let cook at least another 30 minutes.
Will feed at least 6 - 8. Freezes well. When I serve it to company, I serve it w/light sour cream, 4 cheese shredded Mexican blend, saltine crackers and chopped green onions.

White Bean Chicken Chili
4 large boneless chicken breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed
3 16 oz. cans Great Northern Beans (you can use white kidney beans if you can't find Great Northern)
1 14 oz. jar Salsa (your favorite, "medium" heat is recommended)
2 cups chicken broth
1 8 - 10 oz. block Monterey "Pepper Jack" Cheese

If using breasts, boil the chicken 'til tender. Once cool, pull it apart with a fork. If using a rotisserie chicken, remove the skin and discard. Take off all the meat from the carcass and cut into bite sized pieces. (I like this better w/ a rotisserie chicken, I think the texture is a little better.)
Combine beans, salsa, broth and chicken in a large saucepan or crock pot. Heat on low to med. heat for at least 45 minutes, if using a saucepan. 1 - 2 hours on med/high in a crock pot. Make sure it is heated though and bubbly, before adding cheese.
Cut cheese into small chunks and add to mixture. Stir well. Reduce heat to low, and let it simmer. It should cook at least another hour in a saucepan, 2 -3 hours on low in a crock pot. Stir now and then, to distribute the cheese evenly. Don't let it get to a rolling boil after the cheese goes in -- just simmer it!
The longer this cooks, the better it gets!
Makes at least 8 bowls of chili.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Arkansas Cornbread

I love cornbread, the moister, the better. I like a little "kick" with mine too. Here is a perfect choice to make when the urge to spluge hits you! This recipe makes a lot, so it's perfect for sharing or making to give away as a gift! Goes great with chili and is a tasty snack, too. Enjoy!

Arkansas Cornbread

2 8 oz. pkg. corn muffin mix
2 c. milk
1/2 c. veg. oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 large onion, grated (I use a food processor or food mill for this)
2 T. sugar
1 8 oz. can cream style corn
1/2 c. seeded and chopped chili peppers ( I use a combo of the canned chopped green chilies and some hot ones)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix everything together until just blended. Divide batter between 3 greased 9" pans or use one greased 13 X 9" pan.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.
Very moist and flavorful! You can control the "heat" by choosing the peppers your family likes.

For this batch, I used the Habaneros that I grew over the summer -- just one of them-- mixed in w/a small can of chopped green chilies. Freezes well and makes a nice gift!