Drunken Clams and Noodles

Drunken Clams and Noodles Cooking In The Time Of Covid
We interrupt our January journey through the wonderful world of curry to bring you a special event called Cooking in the time of Covid. My kids went back to school last Wednesday. By Saturday, my boys tested positive. They have been isolated in the room they share ever since. Thankfully, the rest of the family has remained covid-free. Though, meals have been difficult to manage.

The boys’ main complaint has been a very sore throat (like a bad case of strep—if you’ve ever had it). Since swallowing things is painful, I’ve been making dishes that are soft, easier to swallow, and kid-friendly. Basically, my 17-year-olds have reverted to the age of 8. It’s been a lot of pasta, to be honest. I made Mac n Cheese the other night from scratch. Never from a box. There are lines I just won’t cross.

And, last night I made some really tasty ramen.

My whole family went on a ramen kick over the holidays to the point that we were having some form of ramen every couple of days. Not sure what started it, but I now have every possible ingredient you could need to make it.

I found this recipe for Drunken Clams and Noodles in the current issue of Bon Appetite. It was a big hit—though be aware of the Thai chilis ‘cause it was spicy. I used the amount listed. But, I must have picked a super-hot chili. Luckily, it wasn’t so hot that it was inedible…unless you ask my daughter who doesn’t like heat. My husband said it was spot-on but he likes it when his eyelids sweat. The boys are just hoping the spicy hot broth will burn the virus from their bodies.

Drunken Clams and Noodles Recipe
Adapted from Bon Appetit February 2022
Yields 4 servings Read more…

South Indian Mixed Vegetable Curry

South Indian Mixed Vegetable CurrySpice it Up
There is always a bit of a letdown after the holidays. After weeks of planning and food and get-togethers, all the excitement and frenetic energy are just gone. It’s sitting out beside your driveway with the Christmas tree. (Wow, aren’t I a ray of sunshine?) I have mentioned in the past that in January my food choices tend to skew towards the super spicy. And, I think this post-holiday void is at least part of the reason.

Curries have been on my mind—if only because they are a great way to combine the healthy eating we all seem to take a stab at in the beginning of the new year with the much-needed oompf of aromatics and heat. While the aspirations of leading a vegetable-forward, healthy clean life may fade as we head into February, exploring the world of curry can take you into next month and beyond because there are so many possibilities.

When most people think of curry they immediately think of India, but curries are found in a wide range of countries and cultures thanks to centuries of commerce practiced along trade routes like the Silk Road and the Curry Trail. Today you will find delicious curries not only in India but in Africa and South America as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and so many more countries.

Our recipe for South Indian Mixed Vegetable Curry is a simple one. Some of the ingredients can be hard to find (especially in the current trade climate). So, I have listed their substitutes as well…

South Indian Mixed Vegetable Curry Recipe
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese TartNew Year’s Nosh
It happened. I actually uttered the words I am tired of food the other day and my family was right there with me. After indulging in nothing but the good stuff for 36 hours we were ready to not eat. We were all very excited about the salad I made for dinner last night. But now we’re staring New Year’s in the face. What to do?

I think the best course of action is to go small and snacky. A few finger foods that are easy and perfect for grazing without being a whole big meal. Maybe a charcuterie platter which seems to be all the rage right now. Or potentially a few hot bites like these Cashel Blue, Spinach, and Smoked Salmon Tartlets or the Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart below. The dough makes for a great bite but I have done it with pre-made puff pastry and had great results. It also works well with apples if you are so inclined.

No matter what your New Year’s celebration will look like, here’s hoping you have a safe, healthy and happy New Year!!!

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart
Adapted from the New York Times Cooking Section
Yields 12 servings

This sweet and savory pear tart is sophisticated enough for holiday celebrations. The topping is a comforting, mellow jumble of sweet roasted pears and shallots perfumed with thyme and pungent blue cheese.

If you want to simplify this recipe, purchase some good-quality puff pastry (like Dufour’s in our freezer) and substitute it for making your own dough.

For the crust
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
2-1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

For the topping
2-1/4 pounds pears or apples, cored, quartered, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3/4 pound shallots, peeled, trimmed, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
5 thyme branches
3/4 cup finely crumbled blue cheese
Flaky sea salt

Proof the yeast
Place 3/4 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water. Let stand until frothy (about 5 minutes).

Make the crust
In another large bowl, whisk together both flours, cornmeal, and 1-3/4 teaspoons of salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients; stir in yeast mixture and 1/3 cup of the olive oil until mixture is combined. If the dough seems dry, add a little more water.

Knead the dough
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough is smooth and elastic, (about 7 to 10 minutes). Or, knead in a mixer or food processor fit with the dough blade for 3 to 5 minutes.

Allow the dough to rise
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it loosely with a damp dishtowel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it has doubled in volume (about 1 hour).

Roast the toppings
While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 425º F. In a large bowl, toss together the pears (or apples), shallots, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the black pepper, and thyme. Spread the mixture onto two large baking sheets. Roast, tossing occasionally until the mixture is tender and golden (about 30 minutes).

Increase the oven temperature to 450º F. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet.

Assemble the tart
Punch down the dough and transfer it to the baking sheet. Using a rolling pin or your fingers, roll or stretch the dough to make an even layer that is about 3/16-inch thick.

Scatter the pear-shallot mixture over the crust and scatter the cheese on top. Drizzle the tart with oil and season with flaky sea salt and black pepper.

Bake the tart
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is just melted (about 17 to 25 minutes).

To serve
Cool the tart slightly then cut into squares and serve.

Turtle Swirl Cheesecake

Turtle Swirl CheesecakeThe Great Cream Cheese Shortage of 2021
So, apparently, there is a cream cheese shortage? Word on the street is that the shortage is so bad that Kraft, the makers of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, is offering a $20 digital reward for those who are willing to forgo their usual holiday cheesecakes or brownies for something else.

I haven’t noticed an issue myself. Every time I have been in the cream cheese section of any store there is no sign of a problem. But, I am not someone who normally will make cheesecake for Christmas. So, my cream cheese anxiety isn’t high.

I don’t make cheesecakes very often. Not sure why. That is except that cheesecakes are diva-like in their creation. They require more effort and attention than other desserts. And, then there is the fact that they are not easy on the waistline.

My husband loves cheesecake and laments the fact that I don’t make it very often. I did, however, make this Turtle Swirl Cheesecake for him years ago for his birthday dinner. I must admit this is probably my favorite cheesecake—which is surprising considering my real favorite is a well-made plain cheesecake. I like ‘em simple.

If you are a holiday cheesecake enthusiast, definitely give this version a try. It is a showstopper and would be at home on any holiday table. And, may we all get through this latest pandemic set back together…

Turtle Swirl Cheesecake Recipe
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 12 servings

This cheesecake needs to be chilled overnight, so begin the recipe the day before. Read more…