the ultimate comfort food: spaghetti with clams

When I need comfort food, there is very little than can compete with a big bowl of perfectly al dente spaghetti, butter, clams, garlic, and yes, a fabulous pecorino.  I don’t care if all of Italy sneers in my face because I enjoy shellfish with cheese. I happen to like it, so THERE.  I totally understand the argument that cheese can mask the natural aroma of great seafood, but I’m tired of this antiquated myth circling about that eating cheese and seafood will give you an upset stomach, and/or make you a trashy human being. It won’t and if you like the taste, I hereby give you permission to grate away.

This quick dish can be filed under 10-minute meals.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of pasta
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 medium shallot, loosely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cans of clams (I used the 6.5oz cans of Trader Joes’ Maine Whole Cherrystone Clams)
  • Salt to taste
  • Grated Pecorino or Pamesan (optional, to taste)

Recipe:

  • Vigorously salt a large vat of water and bring to a boil.
  • Throw in the pound of pasta once the water is hot and time it according to your preference. I usually cook spaghetti for 8 1/2 minutes, testing it along the way until it has the perfect bite.
  • Meanwhile as the water boils and pasta cooks, heat 2 Tablespoons of butter on a skillet. Be careful not to let it burn (I love ghee, or clarified butter for this very reason).
  • Once the pan is hot, toss in the shallots and cook for one to two minutes. Then add the garlic. After another minute finally add in the clams.
  • Drain the pasta and then throw it back into the pot, along with the clams. Toss 2 more Tablespoons of butter (or however much you need to get the pasta coated).
  • Salt to taste and grate fresh pecorino or parmesan over each serving (optional).

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Salmon, Fusilli & Homemade Pesto

I am so behind on posts, it’s border-line ridiculous. I have dozens of great recipes and posts to publish and I am devoting tonight towards writing  a few entries.

This morning Dhiren and I were talking about the impending New Year and 2012. I was complaining expressing how overwhelmed I feel with all my “projects.” I love photography, cooking, teaching and singing equally, but finding time for all of those things in one day is close to impossible. On top of this, I’m also committed to getting fit and losing weight (down 10lbs since September!) and that takes tons of time and a wholelotta commitment as well. Days when I’m able to sing, get some photography work done, cook, eat well, practice, work out and teach come about once a month. Most days I’m left feeling… frazzled.

BUT, Dhiren reminded me that the beauty of this food blog is that it helps to keep me sane. It’s nice having a hobby where you don’t feel a pressure make money with. It’s a total labor of love. And since I need to eat  on a daily basis (sometimes hourly) it’s easy to incorporate it in my life. So here’s a toast to this food blog, for keeping me sane in 2011 and giving me the chance to test out a LOT of different recipes and ideas in the kitchen.

Today I’m highlighting one of the tastiest dishes I’ve had in a long time– oh, and it’s healthy too! Salmon on a bed of fusilli topped with homemade pesto. Dhiren made the pesto, and since it’s his recipe, I’m going to ask him to write a guest post on it soon. This doesn’t even warrant a recipe, since I didn’t season the fish myself either.

I simply bought a package of Wild Pacific Chimichuri salmon at TJ’s, boiled the pasta, let Dhiren make the pesto and threw it all together. This was literally ready in 15 minutes! I LOVE easy, filling meals that keep you full for a long time.

The next couple posts will be much more detailed. Stay tuned for Sicilian Fig Cookies, Homemade Calzone and Bread Pudding! MMM. ‘Tis the season to break your diets.

Orecchiette with Peas in a Creamed Corn Purée

True story: I actually searched “name for a cheesy corn sauce” in order to find a better way to title this recipe (the results weren’t helpful). The word “purée” reminds me of baby food and has always bothered me. Tonight I needed a recipe that utilized canned corn,  left-over heavy cream from my Thanksgiving creme brûlées, and frozen peas. I winged it and this turned out amazing.

I first pureéd the corn with the heavy cream in the blender. I boiled the orecchiette (which is one of my favorite pastas ever since Italy) and then in a separate skillet, I heated up olive oil and sautéed the onion, garlic, chicken stock and peas, respectively. Once the liquid in the peas reduced, I added the pureéd corn and let it simmer until the pasta was done. After draining the pasta, I threw everything together into the pot and added about a 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta for thickening and salted it to taste.

This was amazing, and I’m really proud (and kind of astonished) that something I spontaneously created turned out edible! I’m normally a “follow-the-recipe” kind of girl; one of those people who obsessively weighs ingredients and fills up the sink with measuring cups.

I attribute my success to our recent trip to Italy & France. I’ve never tasted more creative and delicious ways to prepare and coat pasta. I don’t think the typical Americanized “red sauce” will ever satisfy me in any real way again. Our three-week trip was INCREDIBLE by the way. I took so many food photos and mentally drafted dozens of reviews, but alas…

we lost the camera on the plane.

So it was a tragic return to Los Angeles. I hyperventilated and cried for days. Eventually, I decided to put it out of my head and have been trying not to think about the loss since. We luckily got home with four out of the five videotapes, so I’ve been screen-capturing stills from that and making “polaroids”. And as a consolation prize I bought myself my dream camera and a snazzy new L-series lens (and am finalizing full-coverage insurance!).

So anyhow, back to tonight’s dinner. This turned out really, really good. It was rich, creamy and satisfying. So if you have two cans of canned corn, some orecchiette and some peas hanging around, give it a try and let me know how it turns out!