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Linguine with Spicy Scallop Marinara

28 Aug
Whew! What a summer! Four weeks in Puerto Rico, another week in Chincoteague, VA, plus wall-to-wall activities, nonstop writing for the Edible publications…it’s been great, but I am afraid I have not posted here as often as I would have liked.
More garlic, cause that's how we roll.

More garlic, cause that’s how we roll.

If you think I have neglected this, you should see the #GardenofNeglect in my raised beds. Once again, the champion of zucchini failure failed to get even one lousy zucchini, bringing my three-year grand total to ONE. Ah well, fall plantings are in and I see a few radish greens popping up, so maybe we’ll get something going there now that we are home.

Sweet, tender Chincoteague scallops are a treat

Sweet, tender Chincoteague scallops are a treat

Anyhoo, this recipe is something my brother and sister-in-law put together while we were in Chincoteague to take advantage of the superb sea scallops available there. Apparently this is a new go-to for them in their home in Canada, warming without being heavy.
Hard at work in the kitchen

Hard at work in the kitchen

They based it on a Food Network recipe that uses spaghetti, parmesan rind and much less garlic than my brother bungs in. Why you would want to use less garlic is beyond my comprehension, but to each his/her own! You can use less than the amount called for in my brother’s version, but for my money, he has the right idea using a lot.

Look at that color...

Look at that color…

It was truly delicious, with bright clear flavors and not difficult at all to put together. I think it will become a go-to here in New York too!

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

Linguine with Spicy Scallop Marinara

(serves four to six)

Kosher/coarse salt
1lb linguine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  6cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 28 -ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, sliced, plus more for topping

grated Parmesan to taste
3/4 pound bay scallops or sea scallops cut into 1″ chunks

Cook pasta according to package direction. Before draining, reserve 1/4 Cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and half of the basil. Bring the sauce to a boil, then stir and reduce the heat to medium low; simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt.

Increase the heat under the sauce to medium high, add the scallops and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining basil, stir in the parmesan and season with salt and more red pepper flakes.

Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce; toss. If you need more liquid, use the reserved cooking liquid. Divide the pasta among bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with more basil.

A view from the kitchen

A view from the kitchen


Sugar Snap Peas: Five Italian and Spanish Style Recipes You’ll Love

30 Jun

It is the season for sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), and we have had a wonderful harvest of sugar snaps in our yard, and we expect more from Restoration Farm, our CSA.

Almost too ready for picking

Almost too ready for picking

So today I made a special sweet pea dish — Pasta with Chorizo and Peas – for my seven-year-old swee’pea who is in charge of peas at home, from planting to watering to harvesting (he gets assistance in stringing the poles as our peas need strings to climb on with their delicate tendrils. We buy sugar snap seeds from Botanical Interests).

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone's mother doesn't mind at all.

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone’s mother doesn’t mind at all.

He collected peas between World Cup matches today and then we spent a companionable half hour shelling the peas and eating many of them as we watched Costa Rica play Greece in the World Cup and I put the water to boil. At halftime I made dinner to eat during the second half.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don't use. But we'll use it all before that happens.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don’t use. But we’ll use it all before that happens.

So the following Pasta with Chorizo and Peas  is a new recipe and below that you’ll find links to some of our perennial favorites: Spanish tortillas and Italian pastas. This recipe uses only the peas, but the pods are edible. I sliced the pea pods into my salad, as he doesn’t like those and I find them wonderfully crunchy and sweet.

Rich flavor that doesn't overwhelm the peas.

Rich flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the peas.

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Peas (Fast, Easy, Delicious)

3 May

Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of those generous, forgiving dishes that doesn’t require too many ingredients, too much thought, or too much accuracy to be perfect and feel like a treat. In honor of Spring (and some very good Niman Ranch bacon I happened to have that happened to need finishing up), I banged some together with peas.

I love the smell of bacon in the morning

I love the smell of bacon in the morning

Although the flavor is completely different, anyone who is fond of split pea soup with ham or tortilla torcal or pasta with ham and peas (pasta e piselli) will appreciate the affinity that peas and pork have for each other and that’s why I like this combination. (Click here for another version of carbonara with butter and no peas). I played around with a Tyler Florence recipe for this.

Look at the amazing color on the Restoration Farm eggs...use fresh for this recipe

Look at the amazing color on the Restoration Farm eggs…use fresh for this recipe

It also reheats pretty well in the office microwave, which is part of my cooking criteria these days!

I use my cast iron skillet for this dish

I use my cast iron skillet for this dish

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Peas (serves four)

1 Lb. dry spaghetti

½-1 Cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced into chunks (a nice smoky bacon adds a lot of personality)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs (as fresh as possible)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano or other grating cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Handful chopped parsley (optional)

Prepare the pasta according to package directions, while you get the other ingredients ready.

About four minutes before the pasta is done, drop the peas in and stir.

Reserve ½ Cup pasta water before draining. You want to time it so that the eggs are ready to pour when the pasta is still really hot because the heat of the pasta is what is going to cook them.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet at medium heat until Add the bacon saute for about crisp, stirring frequently. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute to soften. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and cheese together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss quickly to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta and take it off the heat to avoid scrambled eggs. Stir quickly with a big fork until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble. Thin out the sauce with a little at a time of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency.

Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and extra cheese.


Easy Steamed Clams for Me – Easy Linguine with Clam Sauce for the Kid

13 Apr

The problem:  I want steamed clams. My dad wants steamed clams. My son won’t eat them. Nor will my mom. I don’t want to cook two meals, because as much as I like to cook, this is not a bloody restaurant.



The solution: Both my son and my mom will eat pasta with seafood flavor. So I steam the clams in a nice cooking liquid, remove the offending shells and shellfish for me and my dad, then plump up the liquid into a delicious pasta sauce for the other two.

yum, clams

yum, clams

And so, we had a lovely casual dinner on the deck, with the remainder of the bottle of white wine, everyone enjoying the arrival of spring (and celebrating the absence of the mosquitoes that have been effing up our summer nights for the last few years).

linguine and clams

linguine and clams (these clams were removed immediately after the picture and eaten by me. The pasta went to the kid.

The whole operation takes only as long as it takes to cook up the pasta. So go for it! Click on for recipe


cheese for the kid

cheese for the kid

Steamed clams and BONUS linguine with white wine, butter and clam sauce

½ lb linguine (this sauce will stretch for a pound of pasta – 4 servings – if you are extra generous with all ingredients)

1 Tbs unsalted butter

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tsp garlic, chopped fine

½ Cup dry white wine

A dozen cherrystone clams in their shells, scrubbed

1 tsp or so lemon juice

6.5 oz can chopped clams

Parmigiano Reggiano for grating

Boil pasta according to package directions. Reserve ¼ Cup of pasta water before draining.

Melt butter in a large saucepan at medium high. When foaming subsides, add olive oil and garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add wine and lemon and bring to a boil.

Add clams in their shells and cover. Cook at medium high until the clams open and remove each one with tongs as it opens. I advise checking after about three minutes, and then uncovering every minute or so after that, to move cooked clams out of the pot as quickly as possible, because they get chewy if overcooked. Set clams aside/start eating them with a glass of that nice dry white wine you opened to cook them.

To the remaining clam cooking liquid, add the can of clams, with juices. Cook at medium high for 1-2 minutes, then add drained pasta, and, if necessary, some of the reserved pasta water. Taste for salt, add pepper if desired and serve with grated cheese.

Cheese: Fail. Pasta: Fail. Dishes: Broken. Thank goodness for Adriana’s Pesto

18 Feb

Adriana and I love cooking together. Our kids are very close in age and have known each other since the very beginning, so we get together for sleepovers that involve kid activities by day and then massive food in the evening. Then the kids go to bed and we stay up talking all night.

Usually I walk away with excellent bloggable dishes that I can post for days. So I went into this one thinking I had it made.



Then, whether it was the wobbliness of an afternoon spent trudging the Arctic tundra for a sledding excursion, or the fact that the moon was 98.4 percent full (we checked), or that we should have waited until after we’d gotten a lot more things out of the way before having that first glass of wine, or just over-the-top plans that were far too ambitious…everything seemed to go wrong.



We tried to make cheese from a cool kids’ kit that Adriana got (the kids were not at  all interested, funnily enough). I ate the 1/4 tablet of rennet thinking it was crumbs from my crackers, but even with a new 1/4 tablet, the milk just wouldn’t curdle. We dumped it.



We followed the instructions to make home-made pasta (another fun-for-the-kids activity that they completely ignored) — we really did — but ended up with a solid hard ball of dough that resisted all attacks with the rolling pin. And I had forgotten to bring my pasta cutting machine anyhow (which annoys the bejeezus out of me because it was a wedding gift for a marriage so disastrous that we were divorced before it ever got used and it still hasn’t been used because well, shit happens and pasta, apparently, doesn’t).

Continue reading

Summer Tomato Recipe (or just chop fresh tomatoes over warm pasta and you’re done!)

16 Oct

We won’t be eating this light and fresh summer way much longer.

The little man and I pulled out the tomato plants today. They could have stayed in a bit longer and we might have had a few more vine-ripened tomatoes, but he took off all the little greenies (“39, Mom! I picked 39 tomatoes!”), holding up his shirt hem to make an impromptu bag for them, while I folded the netting (okay, attempted to fold the netting and then just balled it all up because it was making me crazy) and then he pulled out all the plants (about ten) I threw them in the leaf compost and we called it an afternoon. After a summer of garden disasters, the pounds and pounds of tomatoes we got from our ten plants was a true joy. And I have several quarts of sauce and puree in the freezer for later!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

My dad (he of the crazy-ass mostly vegan diet) just had surgery for bladder cancer last week, so we’ve been very, very busy with other things, not least of which is preparing food for everyone so that we all continue to eat well and keep up our strength while we work on his recuperation and everything else (like work — fullltime and freelance — and school and soccer and violin — and on and on). So yes, the healing and kitchen are going great guns, but the writing is not.

So this is not even a recipe, but a solution. Boil pasta in generously salted water and drain, reserving 1/4 Cup of pasta water.. Chop up fresh tomatoes and toss them into the pasta with a splash of olive oil, a splash of pasta water, a couple of basil leaves if you’ve got and maybe some finely minced garlic. Serve with grated cheese/a sprinkle of salt, Or not. Eat. Move on to the next thing and try not to mourn the end of the summer tomatoes. Save your seeds and plant more next year!

From my garden. I love this moment of the harvest season, when you realize it's almost over and therefore appreciate these flavors that much more.

From my garden. I love this moment of the harvest season, when you realize it’s almost over and therefore appreciate these flavors that much more.

Pasta Frittata: A delicious solution for leftovers!

13 Aug

I recently had a delicious veggie-filled frittata during a boat trip with my friend, Chef Deborah Pittorino of The Greenporter Hotel in Long Island’s wine country. We ended up fishing for baby bluefish off the dock

Baby bluefish

Baby bluefish

and having some luck there (and enjoying an incredibly show of juvenile ospreys…I will include Leandro’s amazing picture here!)

Osprey, by Leandro

Osprey, by Leandro

The frittata was a wonderful pick-me-up after a morning of unsuccessful fishing. It fueled us just enough to keep trying. I have yet to get the recipe for Deborah’s version but it reminded me that I have been sitting on my own frittata recipe for a couple of weeks and it is high time to share it with you, especially during summer high season for eggs!

A frittata is a wonderful way to take tiny bits of this and that and bind them in egg to make a hearty yet light picnic-worthy meal that is totally fun. You can slice them into wedges and make them into finger food, or serve them on a proper plate with salad greens and crusty bread, sliced thin.

Light but filling, rustic but delicate...these are a perfect light meal

Light but filling, rustic but delicate…these are a perfect light meal

I learned to make them in Italy, where folks take leftover pasta and cook it up with eggs so it is similar to a Spanish tortilla or an omelette with the ingredients blended into the egg as opposed to being wrapped in egg. You will want a skillet that can go from stove top to broiler to finish the top. The following recipe is designed to use up leftovers, but you may also want to try my Duck Egg and Asparagus Frittata or a classic Spanish Tortilla.

This is really easy to do and the results are so satisfying so read on for the recipe!! Continue reading

Cilantro & Parsley Pesto Variations With Queso Fresco and Without Nuts

26 Jun

We’re moving on up! I was invited to do a cooking demonstration recently at The Old Country Road School, a K-5 school in the Hicksville Union Free Public School District. The school was celebrating its successful garden project, now in its third year! It being a school, I figured it would be a hoot to let my then-five-, now-six-year-old show everyone to make one of his favorite sauces – hand-ground basil pesto! I mean, if a five-year-old can do it, why can’t everyone?

Proud, Proud Mama!

Proud, Proud Mama! Photo: Kara Gallagher

He was a star, waving the garlic around, handing out basil for the kids and their parents to feel and smell, and smashing the pesto into a paste with great gusto. He wasn’t a bit nervous, but I think there are a few Food Network stars who should be…Come to think of it, maybe I should be nervous too?

This pesto holds its bright green-ness much better than basil pesto!

This pesto holds its bright green-ness much better than basil pesto!

Continue reading

Hearty Vegan Veggie Soup in Three Stunningly Simple Steps (plus non-vegan tortellini option)

27 Apr

Is everyone’s family as kooky as mine? Wait, don’t answer that.

But truly, when I look at how many different dishes we sometimes have at the same table, I do feel like we are more diner than family-style when it comes to meals. There’s  my dad with the tattered but still crazy vegan diet that says you shouldn’t combine vegetables that grow above ground and below ground in the same meal (wtf?), my child who eats well, but rejects most soups and has a limited vegetable acceptability quotient; my mom who likes what she likes when she likes it and is not always easy to predict, and me, who eats mostly salad and picks at everyone else’s when she doesn’t really mean to and then complains about weight management. Four people, four different meals.


But then, sometimes you hit on something that is one dish that everyone can eat and modify to their liking.

The vegan vegetable soup base

The vegan vegetable soup base

Continue reading

Fish on Friday: Five More Fab Seafood Solutions

28 Mar
Spanish tapas: Mussels vinaigrette (make 'em the night before)

Spanish tapas: Mussels vinaigrette (make ’em the night before)

The last Friday in Lent is coming up. Why just pan-fry filets (again), when you could try some of these much more entertaining and tasty takes on seafood? This is Part Two of my Lenten seafood series. I know you’ll end up making them all year long. I certainly do!

Shrimp and Avocado Salad, Spiked with Chipotle (charming served in an avocado shell)

Shrimp and Avocado Salad, Spiked with Chipotle (charming served in an avocado shell)

Pasta al Tonno: One of the fastest pasta sauces known to man. (switch out the green olives for black) Deeply flavored

Pasta al Tonno: One of the fastest pasta sauces known to man. (Feel free to switch out the green olives for black and skip the capers) Deeply flavored!

Creamy, sweet, tangy, chunky, light Swedish Skagen Salad (the best shrimp salad EVER)

Creamy, sweet, tangy, chunky, light Swedish Skagen Salad (the best shrimp salad EVER)

Cioppino Latino...sí, sí, sí

Cioppino Latino…A San Fran Seafood Stew Classic with a special Latina twist

For more seafood recipes, click here!

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