I've been a horrible blogger. I know that. I'm sorry. Forgive me please. A lot has been happening. Some good, some terrible and some REALLY good!
Bad, terrible, worst news first: to all the women out there: give yourself regular breast exams. I just lost my Grandma to breast cancer. It was extremely hard on me. I am still really sad about it. She was one of my favorite people in the whole world. I cannot stress enough how important it is to really know your body well enough to know when there's something wrong. Please please please, if you aren't already, give yourself a monthly breast exam.
Then, as if things weren't sad and crappy enough, I find out a very good friend took his life. Needless to say, this has been a crazy F*ed up few weeks for sure. I'm still in shock from all of the emotional crap that's been shoved in my face. All I can say is this: tell everyone you love that you love them. Even if you think they hear it all the time, who cares, say it again. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to my friend. I didn't get to tell him how much I love him and how much he meant/means to me. Life is so stinkin' short people, say "I love you." Say it loud and say it often.
I feel like he and I will be forever bonded together. He's one of the witnesses on my marriage license. I take that very seriously. I wish I wasn't making such a dumb face in the photo, but man am I grateful for having this moment captured.
Okay, how about some good news?: Linguini and Clams. Yes, this is good news. Come on, cut me some slack people, with all the sad I'm dealing with can't I put pasta in the "good" column? Seriously though - OMG this was so good. Yes I just "omg-ed." I've been super busy with quitting my job and getting my life in order (more on that in a minute), so it's been so nice to FINALLY get back in the kitchen! I love this classic dish because of it's ease and payoff. Super simple to make and when it makes it to the plate people are always super impressed.
REALLY good news: we’re moving! We’re leaving sunny and 70 Southern California for hazy, hot and humid/cold and blustery New York City! I am literally the happiest person in the entire world. I’ve been desperately waiting for my husband to hop on board the “let’s move back to NY” train for about 9 years. FINALLY he’s ready. I knew I had to wait for us to both be on the same page: and we are! Yay! We leave in about a month. With all the craziness that comes with moving (as well as all my personal emotional stuff), I’ve spent little time in the kitchen. I’m mostly trying to go through the freezer and make a meal out of anything I can find. There have definitely been some strange meals.
My hubby happens to be up north with a friend on a white water rafting trip, which means I can make all the things he doesn’t care for…and sleep in late!
For lunch today, I thought I would treat myself to a classic dish: linguini and clams, a favorite of mine. This was something I would request my Dad make for me when I was little. It’s super simple, but oh so satisfying.
Starts the same as most of my meals: cook some pasta. I had linguine so that's what I used. I knew I was only making enough for me, so I obviously made more pasta than I should have then ate it all in one sitting. Oversalt your water for the pasta. Yes, OVERsalt. I don't add any salt to the sauce, I like the flavor of the pasta to offer the salty sea flavor. It pairs beautifully with the clams. Oh, and don't salt the water until it boils, I hear salting BEFORE it boils can cause damage to your pots. I've never experienced it first hand, but maybe that's 'cause I wait until it boils....do as you wish. Drain the pasta al dente - a minute or so before it's completely done. You want to leave a little bite, a little chew to it. Remember, we'll be adding it to the sauce and clams for a minute to incorporate. When we do this, it'll absorb that spicy garlic sauce and finish cooking.
Unless I’m baking, I’m not too strict about measurements. This means there’s a lot of “a handful” “a glug” “a pinch” in this recipe. When you’re not baking and not forced to be so precise, it’s nice to worry more about flavor and less about your measuring spoons. So I encourage you to let your palate do the measuring for this one.
Get some clams. I allotted 6 clams per person, me. I made this meal for just me. Six clams may seem like a lot, but only five opened, so I had to throw one guy out. I'm not really sure what the "correct" way to prepare clams is. I've read a lot and kind of took a little wisdom from each suggestion. I soak mine for 10 minutes in very cold water with about a tablespoon of cornmeal. Remove them from the soak, and scrub the heck out of them under cold running water. Then I gently drop them into boiling water, cover, and let steam until they open - about 3-5 minutes. If he won't open, you've gotta chuck him. Like I said, 5 of my 6 opened. Woo hoo!
After they've opened, I drain them and add them to my sauce. Be very careful to not let them go too far. There is nothing worse than when they get rubbery. Ok, there may be worse things, but none that I can think of right now.
I paired the clams with a white garlic sauce. I like mussels with red sauce, and clams with white sauce. That's just what I'm used to. But hey, whatever floats your boat.
I start my sauce with heating some olive oil in a dutch oven. I like using my Le Creuset Dutch oven for this as it heats very evenly. I throw in about 3/4 - 1 Tablespoon of red pepper flakes. I'm sure that 3/4 of a Tablespoon converts to something more normal sounding, but I'm too lazy to use my brain right now. Let that toast away on low/medium. Chop about a half an onion up. I only had a sweet white onion, so that's what I used. Throw that in and let that sweat out and become translucent. I wanted to go heavy on the garlic so I used 3 HUGE cloves. If you don't go heavy on the garlic, you won't have that bold punch of flavor. This is also why I add so much red pepper. I want that kick of spicy! Make sure the heat is on the low side, you do NOT want the garlic to burn.
This is when things get a little sketchy. Add a glug of clam juice. My Dad used to use canned clams when fresh weren't readily accessible. This is totally acceptable. If you have fresh clams though, use fresh. I used fresh clams and bought a jar of clam juice to amp up the flavor. I probably ended up using about a 1/2 cup or so. Keep in mind this paired with the wine is your "sauce" so you need to go kind of heavy. If you're not crazy about using clam juice and white wine, go light on those and add some broth or stock. After you've added the juice, add a nice glug or two of white wine. I used about a cup and a half. Let that simmer away on medium/low.
Once your pasta is al dente, your clams are steamed and your bread is nice and crusty, you're ready to make some magic happen.
If you have flat leaf parsley on hand, add some. I had some parsley that was looking like it was ready to "follow the light" so I quick tore some off and added that. I also have a basil plant that is holding on by a thread since I went home for my Grandma's funeral and forgot to water it for a week...ooops.
Add your pasta to the sauce, add in your clams and get mixing. Be gently though, you don't want to crack a clam shell; fishing out that little piece would be a total pain in the boot. Crank your heat up to high for about 1 minute. Mix thoroughly and you're ready to plate!
I can't imagine this meal without crusty bread to soak up all that salty, garlicy sauce. You're gonna want a dipper. Get some Italian or French bread. Rip off a piece and nestle that into your bowl.
I know cheese and seafood are a no-no. I don't really give a crap though. I like parmigiano reggiano so I add it to....ya know....everything. If you're morally opposed to adding cheese, don't. I won't ever know. If you want your meal to be finished in the most delicious/perfect way, add the freakin' cheese.
Get eating! Once you've eaten all the pasta and you're left with salty and super garlicy sauce, that's when you're gonna want to go into the kitchen and get another piece of bread. Life's short, remember? get another piece of bread, I won't tell.
Have a good Fourth of July people. Don't blow up your hand or your friend's leg by doing something stupid with a firework. If I see you on YouTube doing something dumb, I'm going to be very disappointed. Enjoy responsibly.
I'll keep you posted on all the details of the move, I'm CRAZY excited, so between packing and selling everything we own on Craigslist, I hope to get in the kitchen a little. Tomorrow I'm making tacos. Stay tuned.
Ladies: boob it up, don't forget.