Real Food for Real Life

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I had to have this!

Linguine with Clams and Roasted Tomatoes

A few weeks ago I found a recipe in The New York Times for linguine with littleneck clams and roasted tomatoes...the picture alone was enough to make me drool, but after reading the recipe, I knew I had to have this.  But what to do?  If I served a bowl of pasta with clams in their shells, Chris would go running from the room, and chances were good that Ben would turn his nose up at it too.  

A week or so later came a day to cook from pantry stores, and with this dish still stuck firmly in my brain, I went with it.  I had a can of minced clams in their liquor and a bottle of clam juice, so I figured that I would substitute those for the whole clams and see what happened.  Chris was none the wiser, his only complaint being that the tomatoes weren't cooked into a "sauce" (the boy not being a tomato fan).  Ben knew exactly what I was doing, but enjoyed the dish anyway (but why not with whole clams?).  I made a few other changes from the original recipe to accommodate what I had on hand, including using some mojo de ajó  I had in the fridge instead of the olive oil and sliced garlic (remembered after I had taken the picture, alas).  I will definitely make this garlicky, luxurious tasting dish again, but next time I will add a second can of clams and skip the bottled clam juice.

Linguine with Clams and Roasted Tomatoes

1 lb. cherry or tomatoes, halved
1 pound dry linguine(I used a 13oz box of Dreamfields)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake, more to serve if desired
1 cup dry white wine
1 small can minced clams with liquor
1 small bottle clam juice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the tomatoes and the mojo de ajó to coat in a baking dish large enough to accommodate them in a single layer; roast tomatoes for 20 minutes.  In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the pasta until it is 2 minutes from being done to taste. Drain.  Return the pasta pot to medium-high heat and add the roasted tomatoes, wine and clam juice. Bring to a boil and add the linguine and can of clams with liquor; reduce heat to medium and cook until the pasta is al dente and the clams have heated through (do not overcook or you will have tough clams and mushy pasta).  Divide mixture among serving bowls and serve, garnishing with chopped parsley if you have it on hand.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

.Summer's end...

This bowl of cherry tomatoes has become a fixture on my kitchen windowsill.

This last weekend of summer has been brutally hot, with afternoon temperatures of 100+, so I have kept myself busy indoors, with much time spent in the kitchen.

The mozzarella doesn't show well against a white plate.
I have stocked up the fridge with a Key Lime PieMojo de Ajó, and a variety of salads for the weekend (and coming week), including longtime favorite Three Bean Salad and a Caprese Salad using my homegrown basil and drizzled with the Balsamic reduction  that I have recently become so fond of.  I also added slivers of red onion to this one since I had a bit left from another salad and it seemed a shame not to use it.

As pretty and practical as it is, I have given up trying to grow veggies in my beds...we have too many rabbits and deer and I just don't have it in me for the heartbreak (at least they are no longer eating my roses :).  This leaves me growing in pots on the deck...this year I have basil (as always), cherry tomatoes, and jalapeños.  It was time for another jalepeño harvest, so I pickled more, hopefully we will end up with enough this year to get us through the winter.

It also seemed a good time to start putting away pesto for the winter, putting away 1/2 cup portions in small freezer containers, just covered with a slick of olive oil.  By next weekend I'll be able to harvest more basil for future use...I can't even imagine paying $2 anymore for the tiny little grocery package when I am cutting it by the armful.  I also mixed up some Pesto Cream Cheese for Christopher and I to share over the next week.

Now about the cherry tomatoes...our friends Doug and Sharon Trimmer own Trimmer Hardware here in Hamilton, and every year Doug starts hundreds of tomato plants himself to sell in the spring (they are his babies :).  I sent Ben this spring to get me two plants, figuring he would get Romas, or some nice slicing variety, but he came home with FOUR cherry tomato plants.  The plants have done beautifully in their pots and we have enjoyed the little bites of sweetness all summer in our salads, as well as roasted with olive oil and garlic slivers (my mouth waters just thinking of it).  Well, what was a fairly small, but constant, supply over the summer, in this last week has exploded and I had several POUNDS of the tomatoes.

I have been craving Tomato Pie anyway, so I used two pounds of quartered cherry tomatoes in place of the regular tomatoes and was not disappointed in the least.  The resulting pie was not nearly as wet, and the tomato flavor was more concentrated (and sweet), so I think this shall be repeated.  If you have not tried Tomato Pie before, now is the time.  We have found it to be particularly nice for breakfast with some fresh fruit, especially summer cantaloupe.

Doesn't that make your mouth water?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

An easy appetizer (or entree)...

Creamy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

I found large packages of huge mushrooms on sale and picked them up knowing that I wanted to stuff them.  That, however, was the end of the planning process, and when it came time to actually make my stuffed mushrooms, I didn't know with what I would stuff them.  A search through the fridge uncovered a roll of turkey sausage, some cream cheese, and a bell pepper, so off I went :)  This exceedingly simple recipe used few ingredients and turned out fantastic.  Christopher especially liked these since they used two of his favorite things, mushroom and sausage.  These would make a fantastic appetizer, but I served them with a green salad and called it dinner.  Enjoy.

Creamy sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

2 large pakgs, of large white or cimini mushrooms
1 lb. ground sausage of choice (I used "hot" turkey breakfast sausage)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large yellow or red bell pepper, finely diced
1 8 oz. pkg. reduced fat cream cheese
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 359 degrees.  Wipe the mushrooms with a damp towel to clean and pull out the stems, leaving a hollow; place on a baking sheet or dish large enough to accommodate them all and set aside.  Brown the sausage, breaking into small bits.  Remove the sausage to a mixing bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving the drippings in the pan.  If you have used pork sausage and there is more fat left than needed to saute the onion and bell pepper, spoon some of it out; conversely, if you have used a chicken or turkey sausage, you may need to add a touch of olive oil.  Saute the veggies until crisp tender and place into the mixing bowl with the sausage.  

Add the cream cheese and stir until well combined and the cheese is melty.  Add the egg and combine again.  Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps, heaping as necessary to use it all.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the filling has set and the tops are nice and browned.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve hot or at room temperature.
All nice and toasty from the oven.

Add a salad and call it dinner.

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