clams in crazy water

“What’s crazy water got to do with cooking and anyway, who wants to eat fish in water?” ~ Marcella Hazan, Marcella Cucina

From where I’m sitting at my desk, I can hear the sound of water streaming in the room below me. It’s pleasant; Zen-like. It’s a gurgling fountain sound you’d hear while reclining on a heated, padded table with eye pillows on your face, in a dark room while aromatic oils are being soothed onto your stressed out body. SNAP! 

Actually, the sound is coming from my basement, which is not an organic spa retreat; just an ordinary partially finished one with a brand-spanking-new-just-installed-this-morning four-hundred-dollar sump pump. Hot and stone and massage are way nicer to say than sump. Or pump.

Isn’t it crazy that water is at once the beautiful blue sea or babbling brook, the very thing we want to escape to, and also a monstrous enemy when it’s flowing like a river into your house and you need it to be gone?

My heart goes out to you and anyone you know suffering from the effects of stormy flood waters. It’s happened to me before, in another house and it’s awful. This time - thank god – there was no flooding in our home; just an overwhelmed drain system that threatened to cause trouble into the wee hours last night. The trickling sound is the water table getting restored to normal. Thank you, sump pump. French drain – you too.

Anyway, there is the coincidence of my planning to write about these clams in Neapolitan crazy water – acqua pazza, as they say – and all the watery weather in my life today.

Marcella writes “water is what brings together all the seasoning ingredients, the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, chili pepper, salt and olive oil.” So simple. It’s the beauty of a brodo, or Italian broth.


Since the clams and crazy water come together to make a beautiful soupy-zuppa, I decided to fortify it with fregola (sometimes spelled fregula), a special type of pasta from Sardinia. I love the artisanal pasta produced by Rustichella D’Abruzzo; the fregola sarda they make is made from semolina. It’s much like large grains of couscous, only toasted. It’s got this great, toothy texture and sweet, nutty flavor, perfect for rustic broths like this one.

Recipe inspired by Fish in Crazy Water in Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan

clams in crazy water

clams in crazy water

Ingredients

  1. 20-24 littleneck clams or cockles, rinsed
  2. 1 pound cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  3. 3 whole garlic cloves, lightly smashed the side of a large knife
  4. 1 handful flat leaf parsley leaves plus 2 tablespoons chopped
  5. 1 fresh red chili pepper, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. Pinch saffron threads
  8. Extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  10. 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  11. Juice of 1 lemon
  12. 1 cup fregola sarda

Instructions

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Add a teaspoon sea salt and add the clams. Swish them around a little then let them soak one hour. Lift the clams out of the water, leaving any sand or grit that settled on the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Set aside 1 cup of the tomatoes; put the rest in a saucepan with the garlic, parsley leaves, chili, salt, saffron and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow bubbling simmer and cook 30 minutes. Pour the broth through a strainer set over a bowl of small saucepan, (discard the vegetables).
  3. Cook the fregola sarda in boiling salted water - in my experience it can take longer to cook than other types of small pasta before becoming tender – about 20 minutes. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon oil; cover and keep warm
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a saute pan large enough to hold all the clams (12 inches diameter should do it); add the garlic and shallot and cook until fragrant and sizzling. Toss in the clams, reserved tomatoes, broth and lemon juice. Cover the pan and turn up the heat to high and cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Discard any clams that haven't opened. Taste the broth to see if it needs salt (or more chili).
  5. Spoon the fregola sarda into individual bowls and ladle with the clams and broth. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
http://familystylefood.com/2014/05/clams-in-crazy-water/

spicy scampi with rosemary cannellini

spicy-scampi-cannellini-recipe

What’s your back pocket way to put dinner together when life has been too hectic? You know those days; when there’s no plan, not much fresh stuff in the refrigerator and hardly any energy left to think about cooking.

I can hear someone saying “I order takeout” – and I get that. I do too! After long days cooking for other people during my other job, there are many nights when I’m perfectly happy to leave dinner in the capable hands of Someone Else.

spicy-scampi-rosemary-cannellini-recipe

But there’s still something a lot more satisfying about cooking at home, creating a simple meal from what’s on hand. I rely on some basics to carry me through those days. I keep shrimp in the freezer, and along with a few other pantry staples - including cannellini beans, tomatoes and dried pasta or rice, dinner is served.

Defrosting the shrimp in a big bowl of water takes less than 15 minutes, and if your shrimp happen to be already peeled and deveined the rest of this recipe will take barely 15 minutes more.

Otherwise, if you’re able, make cooking a collaborative effort and employ a (hungry) kitchen helper to do the peeling while you open a bottle of wine and chop some rosemary.

Rosemary will keep in your fridge for a week or more and can survive indoors as a houseplant during the colder months, which in my book makes it a staple. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to smell and to cook with.

spicy-shrimp-cannellini-recipe

spicy scampi with rosemary cannellini

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound jumbo (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  2. 1 tablespoon crushed garlic (3 or 4 cloves)
  3. 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
  4. ½ - 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  5. Kosher salt
  6. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  7. 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh rosemary and Italian parsley
  8. 1 cup cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained
  9. ¼ cup canned tomato puree or passata; such as Pomi
  10. 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the garlic, fresh and dried chili, ½ teaspoon salt and the olive oil.
  2. Place a medium (10-inch) skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the shrimp mixture in one layer. Cook 1 minute; turn the shrimp over and toss in the herbs and cannellini. Stir in the tomato puree and ¼ cup water; bring to a simmer cook a few more minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and the sauce thickens slightly.
  3. Add the butter and swirl until it melts into the sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  4. Serve hot over cooked pasta or rice.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/spicy-scampi-with-rosemary-cannellini/

Planked Salmon with Indian Spices and Raita

Planked Salmon with Indian Spices
During the summer, there’s not much that makes me happier than sitting outside with a glass of wine in my hand while the entire dinner cooks on the grill – this is a recipe that allow you to do just that.

Using a cedar plank to grill salmon has a few bonuses: It adds a distinctive smoky flavor, it’s an easier way to cook fragile salmon fillets on the grill, and it makes a great presentation on the table.

Grilling corn for the accompanying relish pulls everything together with the salmon, along with an Indian-inspired spice butter and cooling yogurt raita on the side.

Planked Salmon with Indian Spices and Raita

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 4 ears corn, shucked
  2. 1 serrano chile pepper
  3. 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  4. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  5. 2 teaspoons tandoori spice mix *
  6. ¼ cup butter, softened
  7. 1 ½ pounds skin-on salmon filet
  8. 1 cup Greek yogurt
  9. ¼ cup chopped seedless cucumber
  10. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Soak a cedar grilling plank in a shallow pan of water (a roasting pan works well) until saturated, at least 2 hours ahead of cooking.
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect grilling or heat a gas grill to medium high. Roast the corn on the grill until browned on all sides, turning every few minutes. Cool, then slice the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife. Combine the corn, chile, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  3. Put the cedar plank on the grill rack and heat until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Mash together the spice mix and butter until blended. Lay the salmon on the cedar plank and season with salt and pepper. Smear the butter over the salmon and place the plank back on the grill. Cover the grill and cook 12 – 15 minutes, or until the salmon is translucent and begins to flake.
  5. Stir together the yogurt, cucumber and cilantro.
  6. Cut the salmon into 4 portions, but not through the skin. Slide each portion off the skin with a spatula. Serve the salmon with some corn relish and raita on the side.

Notes

* To make your own tandoori spice blend stir together ¼ teaspoon each ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper.

http://familystylefood.com/2012/08/planked-salmon-with-indian-spices-and-raita/