Linguine with Clams and Lemon

While all of you are either at work or school I figured why not give you a great dish to make for dinner tonight. All im saying is give it a try! Put away the ramen noodles and frozen pizzas and take a trip to the grocery store for an inexpensive and easy dish.

Clams are a funny ingredient because not everybody likes the consistency or taste of them. However I have found that many people are simply just to stubborn to try clams in the first place. Saying you don’t like something before trying it must be one of my biggest pet peeves. I had a roommate in college that lived on popcorn and frozen pizzas. The one day I made him a plate of my linguine and clams and he flipped his lid. The only bad part was that he kept hounding me to make it for him again. Enjoy!

Linguine con vongole e limone (Linguine with Clams and Lemon)

Cook time: ~ 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic(finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley (chopped)
  • 2 lb little neck or baby clams (washed and scrubbed)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup clam or fish stock
  • 1 lb Linguine
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

First you want to clean and scrub your clams under cold water. Discard any clams that are not closed and will not close at your touch.

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In a large sautee pan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add your garlic till it becomes aromatic (about 30 seconds)

Add clams, stock and white wine and saute in pan. cover and cook until the wine has been reduced and the clams have steamed open (about 6 minutes) discard any clams that did not open. (add a little butter in there if you would like, just dont tell mom)

While clams are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it to taste. Add the linguine and cook (about 8-10 minutes) drain in a strainer and transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and add the clams and stock. lightly dust the lemon zest, red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper and mix in with the pasta. Lightly sprinkle your parsley for nice flavor and presentation….Its that easy!

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and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

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Coq Au Vin

Lets be honest and say that I mainly started cooking for one reason and one reason only. The Ladies love it! Thats right ladies. I like dinner by candle light and long romantic walks to the fridge!

For some of you gentlemen out there, Valentines day is fast approaching and if im a betting man, which I am…You have already made reservations at your favorite restaurant and have ordered the roses. Let me tell you something, that is the most boring thing I have ever heard in my life. There is nothing that makes your girl feel more special than by doing the same thing that every other couple in America does. Turn those berries you have between your legs into grapefruits and make your lady a romantic dinner. Don’t be scared to pull out all the stops either!

All thank you’s can be sent to my email!

Enough talk let’s get into some food.

Tonight I made a very classic dish called Coq Au Vin. It is a french dish that dates back way before you and I were roaming this earth. Coq Au Vin loosely translates to english to mean “rooster in wine.” It was traditionally made with poultry and braised or cooked in the wine from the region from where the chef derived. (typically Burgundy region of France)

Coq au vin

Cook time: ~ 1 hour 10 minutes

Serving size: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs and legs
  • 6 bacon slices (coarsely chopped)
  • 4 tbsp Parsley (chopped)
  • 8 oz. Crimini mushrooms (halved)
  • 2 large carrots (chopped)
  • 6 shallots (halved)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup dry red wine (Syrah, Bordeaux, Tuscan)
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (not necessary)
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • Salt and Pepper

Firsts start by Preheating your oven to 400 degrees

Sautee bacon in a large nonstick pan over medium/high heat till crispy and remove with a slotted spoon and keep till later. Season your chicken with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of parsley and add directly to the bacon drippings. sautee untill cooked through, about 8 minutes on each side. Transfer to baking dish and finish cooking in oven until sauce is complete. (save pan with grease and chicken drippings)

coq au vin

On medium heat in the same pan, add the mushrooms, shallots, garlic and carrots. season with salt and pepper and sautee untill brown, about 4 minutes. turn to high heat and add your bacon, wine and broth and another tbsp of parsley. (add the bbq sauce for a little smokeyness if you would like)

Bring to a boil then let boil on high heat for 8-10 minutes (stir ever 2 minutes). When the red wine has been reduced out add your flour and stir well. cook for another couple of minutes while the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and add it back into the pan along with the juice from the baking dish. Mix together and serve in a large bowl!

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and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

Neapolitan-Style Shellfish

The other day I was out with a beautiful young lady who preceded to ask me a question to which I could not answer. She turned to me and said “what is the greatest dish that you had ever had.” I would like to think my silence was partially because I was distracted by her but in all honesty I did not know. Then it hit me. While I was in Naples I came across the most simple, delicious yet elegant dish I had ever had. 

When I got back to the states I had tried to duplicate it to the best of my ability, yet I always fell a bit short. The dish was always great but it wasnt Naples great. After tampering with the ingredients a bit, I think ive got it!

Without further ado I give to you:

Cozze e’ Vongole alla Napoletana (Neapolitan-style shellfish)

Cook time: ~ 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 lb mixed clams and mussels
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Bermuda onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 1 leek (cut into rings)
  • 1 lb of tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
  • 4 cups dry white wine
  • ~ 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

The first step is a little trick that I learned. Instead of rinsing your shellfish place them in a pot of cold water that has a cup of corn meal in it for about 30-45 minutes. The cornmeal will slightly be absorbed into the shellfish helping expel all the sand that is inside.

While they are draining start de-bearding your mussels. The “beard” is the course like thread that mussels use to attach themselves to rocks and piers.  You may use your fingers or a knife to help grasp the beard and pull it quickly toward the hinge of the shell. The beard rips out of the mussel and should be discarded.How-To-Clean-and-Debeard-Mussels

Next, scrub the surface of your shellfish to remove any sand and corn meal residue.

Over medium-hi heat, heat the olive oil in a large pot and begin to saute’ the garlic, onions and leeks. When the onions have become translucent begin to stir int he tomatoes and season with salt and pepper and cook briefly. (about 4 minutes)

Next, add the shellfish , cover the pot and cook for another 4 minutes. Be sure to shake the pot several times while they are cooking.

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pour in the wine, blend in the parsley and then cover the pot cooking for another 10 minutes on medium heat. When finished be sure to discard any of the mussels or clams that did not open and serve in a bowl with the broth you have created.

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All I have left to say is make sure that there is bread for dipping

and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

Prosciutto Wrapped Caprese Appetizer!

“…And on the eighth day, God created prosciutto”

It’s always hard for us men to really understand what women want these days. You ladies are always giving us these mixed signals as to what makes you happy, you can never just tell us the key to your hearts! Us men, were easy. They say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. I say the key to any Italian mans heart is through prosciutto! Thats right, this dry-cured ham is a little slice of heaven to us Italian men!

Nobody knows a man better than their mother and I speak the truth when I say I would still let her pack my lunches if it was socially acceptable for her to do so. Other kids were getting PB & J sandwiches and string cheese, I was getting prosciutto on ciabatta with fresh mozzarella. I think she even packed the oil and balsamic on the side incase I wanted to mix my own dressing (yeah, like I didn’t look like a big enough loser already).

This next recipe is so easy, it could make even the most uncoordinated kitchen mom/dad look like an Iron chef. Every family gathering we always put out a great spread and im always in charge of the same dish, the caprese salad! Where’s the prosciutto you ask? let’s get into it shall we!

Prosciutto Avvolto Antipasto Caprese: (Prosciutto wrapped caprese appetizer)

Serving size: ~ 3 dozen (appetizer size)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound prosciutto (about 30 slices per pound, leaving extra for a snack)
  • 18 Marinated mozzarella balls (cut in halves)
  • 18 Cherry tomatos (cut in halves)
  • Fresh basil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Italian olive oil
  • 36 toothpicks

Most grocery stores carry marinated Mozzarella balls which will make your life a lot easier and help the dish come together quicker!

First Start by slicing you prosciutto into inch thin strips, second slice the mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes into halves.

Next, Arrange each slice of prosciutto flat and put a piece of basil on one end of each slice. Top each piece of basil with a piece of mozzarella and a tomato halve, matching the cut sides to make a ball.

Season lightly with both salt and pepper, then roll up the balls in the prosciutto. If you want to put the basil in the middle of the tomato and mozzarella that will work just as well.

Lastly place a toothpick through the prosciutto wrapped mozzarella so it is secure and easy to enjoy. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and a tiny drizzle of balsamic and serve!

Not only is this a great appetizer to kick off any party, its delicious and easy to make

as always,

Buon Appetito America

JCL

HOMEMADE PASTA!

HOMEMADE PASTA!!!

Alright everyone, this is a very creative and unfamiliar post for most of you. Anyone who knows me understands that generally I love eating anything. I enjoy anything as long as its well prepared, steak, tacos, sushi but nothing compares to a great pasta dish! Any real italian will tell you how the whole family gets together on sunday for the homemade sauce, im not impressed…give me a call when you make your own pasta! Talk about impressing family, friends or a loved one…the secret is homemade pasta. I am too excited to keep talking so let’s get right into it shale we!

Pasta Fatta in Casa:(Fresh Homemade Pasta)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (keep flour close, may need extra)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

*technique is a key factor in making homemade pasta!

First, sift the flour onto your surface so it is shaped like a miniature volcano and press a hollow in the center.

Make sure the hole you have hollowed out only goes about a quarter of the way down into the flour.

In a mixing bowl stir together 7 tablespoons of water with the salt, egg and olive oil and pour the mixture into the hollow. With a wooden spoon stir in part of the flour from the edge toward the center and continue stirring together until the mixture forms a smooth supple dough.

Shape and knead the dough with your hands and form it into a ball and let it rest under a damp cloth for about 40 minutes. (letting the dough rest is very important and should not be skipped)

After letting the dough rest dust the working area and a rolling-pin with flour and begin rolling out the dough to the thinnest possible rectangular you can. After acquiring a nice thin sheet fold dough over multiple times and continue to roll again (repeat process 1 or 2 more times)

 Dust the sheet of dough with flour and loosely roll it up lengthwise. Cut it into thin strips with a large, sharp knife! last set aside a place to dry them and lightly dust with flour. Then roll the pasta strands into loose looking nests and place them on the bed of flour you made for yourself. let noodles dry a bit before cooking!

There you have it some nice fresh homemade pasta that could make even the largest Italian man blush!

“No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention.” ~ Christopher Morley

as always,

Buon Appetito America

JCL