Clams and Spaghetti–White Sauce

 

I made this recipe for the first time back in 2014 and highly recommend it for a quick and delicious meal.IMG_6286IMG_6287 (2)IMG_6283 (2)It is super easy and not intimidating at all. I got the recipe from Jessica’s Seinfeld’s book The Can’t Cookbook even though I know how to cook. 

http://www.doitdelicious.com this is Jessica Seinfeld’s site or you can just buy the book “The Can’t Cookbook”.

Ingredients:

2 dozen littleneck clams

3 cloves garlic

app. 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc. I actually used what I had open which was a Pinot Grigio

1 box spaghetti, you can use any kind of spaghetti you like. I actually had bucatini style in the house so that’s what I used

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

*if you’d like a little heat and you should know your audience because mine didn’t so I put on table for those who wanted to add heat. If you are adding add app. 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Kosher Salt , to taste. I have to say I added almost no extra salt at all.

You’ll need a large deep pot to cook clams in. I used my Le Creuset Pot.

Directions:

I placed my clams in a colander and I put the colander in a larger bowl in the sink and I filled the bowl with cold water. I let the clams soak for a few minutes, then rubbed with my fingers to dislodge any dirt; then drained the clams. Throw away any clams that remain open or were smashed. ( my clams were pretty clean) I purchased them clean from Whole Foods. Any Fish Store will clean them for you, but always run them through this process to remove any residual sand, etc.

Smash the garlic and chop it . Chop the Parsley. Measure the Wine. Place all your ingredients near to the stove.

Cook Pasta according to directions on box.

Place a large pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Pour in 2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil until it heats up and shimmers ( a few minutes) Add chopped garlic to the pot, and cook , stirring , for at least a minute, until you can actually smell the garlic breaking down. Don’t Burn!!!! Now add the wine and the clams and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and you’ll want a fairly high flame, probably medium-high . Cook clams until they open, I probably cooked for about 10 – 12 minutes. Looked so beautiful! Add the parsley and the red pepper now if you’re using. Throw away any unopened clams, they are no good.

Once pasta is al dente and drained I transferred to a large serving bowl and added 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil to pasta, top with clams. Sprinkle if you’d like a tiny bit of coarse salt now if you feel it needs it. I did not need to add any additional salt or pepper. Adjust to your taste.

Amazing!!!! and did I mention Super Easy!!!!!

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Easy and delicious way to serve up shredded brussels sprouts. Super easy if you buy them already shredded and even if you shred yourself in the food processor this couldn’t be faster or easier.

A perfect side dish to meats, fish and almost any protein. Although I am a big fan of roasting them this was a very tasty alternative and pan to table in less than 15 minutes!

I kept this vegetarian but you can also throw in diced pancetta and give it a little zing if you don’t want it simply vegetarian.

This is another wonderful recipe from Ina Garten’s book Cooking for Jeffrey.

Ingredients:

2 12 ounce packages of fresh Brussels sprouts , I bought them already shredded in Whole Foods or you can do yourself in the food processor with the large slicing disk.

2 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

2 Tablespoons good Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste — start with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and add as you like

1 Tablespoon Syrupy Balsamic Vinegar–now this is the secret ingredient and don’t leave it out . This is available in most supermarkets today.

Obviously you can cut this recipe in 1/2 and just divide up all ingredients.

Directions:

Heat the butter and the Olive Oil in a 12 to 14″ inch saute pan over medium high heat. Add the Brussels , 1 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt and 3/4 Teaspoon Pepper and saute stirring occasionally, app. 5-7 minutes. Saute till crisp-tender and still bright green. Taste for Salt and Pepper.  Remove from the heat source and stir in the Balsamic Vinegar, season to taste, and serve hot.

*Make sure you buy syrupy balsamic vinegar and not just plain balsamic vinegar. Also don’t over-cook or you’ll have a mushy mess on your hands.

 

Classic Potato Pancakes –Latkes

This is a delicious fairly easy recipe for simple latkes. If you eat them hot they’re best but that’s tough to do sometimes. They really are most delicious hot off the frying pan. Serve with Applesauce or Sour Cream . Enjoy and Happy Chanukah from my kitchen to yours.

If you make ahead of time you can re-heat in the oven on a baking sheet.

This is what I do.

This recipe should serve 4

Ingredients:

2 large Russet Potatoes — peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters

1 large Spanish Onion–peeled and cut into quarters

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Teaspoon baking powder

Vegetable Oil for frying

Directions:

Using a food processor with a coarse grating disc, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the mixture to a clean dishtowel ( I prefer a thin one for this task) and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. This is key to a delicious latke.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder and pepper and mix until the flour is absorbed.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about 1/4 inch of the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the hot pan, cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flatten and shape into round discs. When edges of the latkes start to brown and get crispy ( about 5 minutes) , transfer the latkes to a paper towel lined plate to drain . Repeat.

If you’re making double the recipe I would swap out the oil and wipe with paper towel and start with fresh oil. For one batch the oil was fine. Just control the heat on your stove.

Enjoy and Happy Chanukah.

 

 

 

Baked Salami (Oldie but Goodie)

Here is an amazing appetizer if you are looking for something to hold everyone over till dinner. This is an oldie but goodie recipe, and everyone loves it always. Rarely is there a piece left over. Good Old Fashioned Kosher Salami. (the kind in the package from Hebrew National is what I’m talking about)   A-Mazing!

I have to say this is my #1 post on my blog hands down since 2011. People love this recipe.

*you will want to double recipe for the larger salami shown. Recipe below is for the smaller one.

Ingredients:

1 Kosher Salami (this is a larger one for a larger crowd)

1/2 cup Marmalade ( I like orange) but can be Lemon or Ginger

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard- I used Maille Dijon Mustard

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Score into Salami, cut into Salami in narrow slices but not completely through to bottom. Just make slices almost to the bottom. Mix all ingredients together and spread on Salami, place on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and cook for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Serve on a plate with sliced pumpernickle or rye bread or crackers. I buy that party pumpernickle bread which is already cut into small pieces and available almost everywhere.

*this may get very sticky so you can also cover tray with aluminum foil

 

Saucy Stuffed Shells – Baked and Meatless

Shells 004Shells 007Shells 009This is an oldie but goodie recipe of mine originally posted in 2013.

You must be thinking is she kidding Stuffed Shells? gotta be the most fattening food to eat , and it probably is outside of lasagna, baked ziti and the like.  I just love a baked pasta — nothing like it for good old fashioned comfort food. This recipe is delicious and sometimes you just hafta roll with it. I wanted a crowd pleaser that was vegetarian and something that can easily be made ahead and frozen.  My mind wanders to yummy, gooey food with a lot of cheese . Ah , yes Stuffed Shells.  I wouldn’t cook like this all the time, but once every blue moon no one is getting hurt, right? I served with a salad , no need for bread and butter here. Homemade Maple Syrup Salad Dressing ( see on blog) and it was really pretty awesome. Took a few hours to prepare, mostly because I made my own sauce ( Sunday night sauce) but feel free to use a jar of prepared sauce if you must. This is a perfect meal to make ahead of time, and just pop into oven.

Of course if you love it with meat you can make a meat sauce and follow same directions.

Happy Holidays to all — and visit me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 box Jumbo Shells ( you won’t use all but a lot of them break, etc.)

1 lb. Ricotta ( I used Part Skim)

1 lb. Mozzarella Shredded ( I used Part Skim) if you can obtain fresh mozzarella and shred it that would make it even better! whatever works for you

1 cup grated Parmesan ( any kind you like)

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*marinara sauce or any red sauce I made my own and use my own recipe. If buying sauce and there are some delicious good sauces out there, you’ll need at least 1 jar and maybe a 1 1/2 jars. I make a big batch of sauce and freeze the remainder. It’s nice to have a little extra sauce in case you need it when you re-heat the stuffed shells.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare Pasta , cook for between 12 and 15 minutes, you’ll want them soft but not undercooked at the center. Drain pasta and cool for easy handling.

Combine ricotta, 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/2 of the Parmesan, parsley and egg in a bowl. Taste for Salt and Pepper.

When shells have cooled down, fill them with rounded spoonfuls of cheese mixture and arrange them seam side down in casserole dish. I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex. Top Shells with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella and grated cheese. Place shells in very hot oven . You can turn on broiler for last few minutes , it should be slightly browned and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Delicious!

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Ditalini

I suppose it’s that time of the year again when we crave warm cozy meals. this is perfect for sunday dinner (or any night ) will feed about 6-8 people nicely. freezes perfectly. and served with a beautiful salad and some bread it’s an awesome meal. i make so many soups and will be following up throughout the winter with all of my wonderful soup recipes, but this one is really special. the lentils add a wonderful flavor and texture, the sausage adds a savory spice. i mix hot and sweet sausage but feel free to go all sweet, i also like the sausage to have some fennel in it, i use italian pork sausage. you can obviously substitute with turkey or chicken sausage. so cozy on up to this one, it’s a true keeper. I believe this recipe came from a cookbook by julia della croce, who has the most awesome italian recipes. i’ve made a few changes for myself, but maybe you will too. this is filling enough as a meal which is how we eat it.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. (1 1/2 cups) lentils

10 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 lb. sausage, I used 1/2 sweet and 1/2 spicy italian pork sausage , feel free to use turkey sausage /chicken sausage. I like fennel in my sausage, so the italian ones usually have it. i have made it with turkey and it’s delicious.

3 tablespoons olive oil , You may need a little more after you cook the sausage. (see directions)

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion chopped (yellow)

1 large celery stalk chopped ( leaves included)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 16 oz. can plum tomatoes, i use the chopped, peeled and seeded ones, along with the juice.

1/2 cup ditalini or any little pasta

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

some flat leaf parsley chopped up (optional)

grated fresh parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

pick over the lentils, remove any stones, imperfect ones, etc. wash the lentils in cold water ( I use a colander to pick through) Transfer to a large pot ( my trusty Le Creuset) large dutch oven. Cover the lentils with broth and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer immediately. Simmer for about 15 minutes. while the soup is cooking , remove sausage from it’s casing ( butcher can do this for you as well) In a large ample frying pan, put the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and when the olive oil is heated up , put in sausage, and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave whatever oil is still in the pan, should be about 1 tablespoon.  I usually add a little more olive oil here about 1 more tablespoon should do it. then  add the garlic, onion, celery, and thyme and saute till vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. When veggies are softened, return sausage to the pan. in a bowl or measuring cup i take a few ladles of broth out of pot and mix the 3 tablespoons of tomato paste into it. then add to sausage mixture .  add all ingredients into lentil/broth plus can of chopped tomatoes in their juice.  let all ingredients blend together and bring back to a low boil, then simmer for about an hour. before i serve it i return to a boil and add pasta, it only takes about 8 minutes for pasta to cook through. discard the bay leaf, ladle into soup bowls, add freshly grated parmesan cheese and you’re good to go with a super authentic italian soup. we eat it as a meal alongside salad and some very good bread

*should serve 6- 8 as a meal, with a little left over to freeze

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is a staple in my Chinese Restaurant take out , I love it. It’s sort of on the “lighter” side of most Chinese main entrees. It is usually in the appetizer section of the menu. img_2523

 

It’s super easy but contains a lot of ingredients that you may not have in the house so some grocery shopping may be involved.  I highly recommend this recipe for a lovely lunch or delicious dinner!! I didn’t even use salt or pepper because it had so very much flavor it didn’t even need it. I would taste for it though since everyone’s taste is a little different where salt and pepper is concerned.

This recipe literally cooked in less than 1/2 hour and it really was delicious. This is a dish the whole family may enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground chicken or turkey–I prefer dark meat because I think it’s more flavorful use whatever you prefer

2 cloves garlic minced

app. 1 medium onion (yellow), diced

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons soy sauce –I use low sodium

1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 -1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger–you can use a full tablespoon if you really love ginger, it was fine with 1/2

*1 Tablespoon Sriracha, totally optional. This didn’t make it super spicy just gave it a little kick. You can use Sriracha on the table if you like.

1 8 oz. can whole water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped. I had sliced in the house and I just gave them a rough chop

2 green onions ( scallions) green and white, sliced thinly

*Kosher Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 head butter lettuce or large leafs of iceberg lettuce– either one is fine

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ground meat and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Make sure to crumble the meat as it cooks, drain any excess fat.

Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce , rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, a few minutes.

Stir in the chopped water chestnuts and green onions until tender, another few minutes. Now taste for salt and pepper, as I said I didn’t use any salt and pepper at all.

For serving, spoon meat into the center of a lettuce leaf.

If you’d like you can serve with hoisin sauce and sriracha on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

IMG_3355IMG_3349

Time to lighten up the menu just a little after Thanksgiving and before the next round of holidays. This was a very refreshing light salad . This salad had some lettuce and brussels and apples and walnuts and parmigiana cheese!!!! A-mazingly delicious and super fresh tasting.

I found it on a blog site Once Upon a Chef and made a few changes to it but it was absolutely delicious. Easy ingredients and you can prep ahead and stick it in the fridge all dressed and ready to go. My kind of salad and one I will be making all winter long. The original recipe called for all brussels sprouts but I did 1/2 lettuce mix and 1/2 brussels. You can do whatever you’d like .

Dressing was fresh and sweet because of the honey. This would be amazing as a dinner salad with any protein added.

*salad should serve 4-6 as an appetizer size salad.

Enjoy! and follow me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

I used  about 1 12 ounce package of shredded Brussels Sprouts

app. 9 – 12 oz. of any lettuce you’d like I used a combo of different lettuces

1 large apple such as Honey Crisp

3 Tablespoons minced shallots, app. 1 large shallot

4 Tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

6 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped –to toast the walnuts –pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and set an oven rack in the middle position. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. ( no need to spray or oil the pan) Bake, checking frequently until lightly toasted and fragrant (if you smell them you better remove them, they burn rather easily) set the timer for 4 minutes but they will probably take 6 minutes. Allow to cool and chop them up.

3/4 cup thinly sliced  Parmigiano-Reggiano — I use a peeler to slice cheese while it’s cold it’s easier to slice.

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the shredded Brussels Sprouts, lettuce, apple, vegetable oil, olive oil, shallots, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper; toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours to allow the sprouts to soften and the flavors to meld together.

When ready to serve, toss the walnuts and cheese with the salad. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary , then serve.

 

Pumpkin Walnut Bread (no butter)

I just love pumpkin and I can’t stop posting about it. Pumpkin Season is here.  I love baking this bread because the smell in the house is beyond. I usually serve pumpkin bread and a banana bread in my bread basket on Thanksgiving. It’s hard to believe that there is no butter in this moist, delicious bread. I make both of these way ahead of time, because they freeze so well. You can even double the recipe if you have two loaf pans, and eat one now and tuck one away for another day like Thanksgiving. It’s a nice thing to bring to someone’s house as a gift as well if you’re so inspired. Also, this bread is loaded with aromatic spices.   This recipe will make one perfect loaf.

It is also a lovely gift to bring to someone’s house .

*this bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks. Double wrap it in plastic and put in a resealable plastic freezer bag, and put the date on it. Defrost, still wrapped in the plastic to avoid condensation on the bread, at least 2 hours before serving. I take out of freezer the night before I’ll be using it.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I sift)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts (obviously this is optional)

You will need a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, parchment paper, large bowl, medium bowl, whisk, silicone or rubber spatula.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position oven rack in the center of oven.

Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter and dust with flour, or spray with Pam. I line my loaf with a piece of parchment paper that extends one inch beyond the edge of the pan (this makes it easy to life the bread out. It is optional , just make sure you grease pan in one way or another first. If you’re not comfortable working with parchment paper, skip it. I like it but it can be tricky in a loaf pan. Just grease well, or give it a good spray.)

In a large bowl, sift the flour. Then, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well. Add the pumpkin moisture to the dry ingredients and whisk until well blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are well distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 55 – 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean from the center of loaf.  I let it cool for about 10 minutes, then I turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. I don’t freeze it until it is completely cool.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

This cheesecake is a bit of a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. The combination works quite well–the pumpkin adds a velvety smooth texture and delicious flavor even if you’re not a pumpkin pie fan and the caramel topping goes well with the pumpkin cheese filling. It’s a bit of work with a lot of moving parts so if you’re feeling ambitious this could work for you.  The gingersnap crust is also a departure from the traditional graham cracker crust. If you don’t like gingersnaps you can always substitute graham cracker crumbs. You’ll also need a 9-inch springform pan. I love Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma for their pans.

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.

Enjoy and keep on cooking with Candi.

Ingredients: 

Crust:

About 40 gingersnap wafers (about 2 cups cookie crumbs)

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling:

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature — I wrote up a little note on softening cream cheese at the bottom of this recipe

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

9 tablespoons whipping cream

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground all-spice

4 large eggs

caramel sauce (store-bought) or melt caramel candy if you can find those little squares

Directions:

Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the cookies and brown sugar until well combined and crumbs are uniform and ground up. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the cooled, melted butter. Combine thoroughly, first with a spoon and then with your clean fingers, until the mixture is evenly moist, crumbly, and holds together when you squeeze a handful. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom and part way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill for 5 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Filling:

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to a small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use later for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, vanilla,  cinnamon, and allspice to mixture into balance of filling in bowl of mixer and beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (it should almost fill the pan.) Bake until cheesecake puffs up, the top browns and the center is a little loose when pan is shaken (about 1 hour 15 minutes.) Transfer cheesecake to rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Run a small sharp knife around the cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake from the pan. Let it sit till completely cool.  Cover tightly in pan and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, bring the remaining cream cheese mixture (that you set aside for the topping) to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake till even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Now, either use a spoon or pour the caramel sauce over cream cheese mixture and with a knife tip, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Make 1 day ahead , cover and refrigerate. I wouldn’t make too many days ahead, because the crust may get soggy.) I will make the cake on Tuesday and the topping Wednesday to serve Thursday for Thanksgiving.

*Many people bake cheesecake in a water bath. I find this difficult sometimes, because water can seep into the pan (even though it shouldn’t) and you have to cover the whole pan with aluminum foil to avoid it (and it still happens!) I find if I place a long glass Pyrex dish with water on the rack below the cake it helps to prevent a crack in the center. If the cake still cracks, don’t despair. That’s why I like this recipe because you will be covering it with topping!!! Yeah, a cake fixer!!! Gotta love it. Good luck and keep me posted if you’re game for this.

How to soften cream cheese bars:

Place completely unwrapped package of cream cheese in a microwaveable bowl . Microwave on HIGH for 10 seconds, check it to see how soft it is. Add time in small increments if you need to , like 3 seconds at a time, if you’re doing 2 bars start at 15 seconds.