Squid Ink Tonnarelli with Clams

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Squid ink or cuttlefish ink, is that one special ingredient that gives homemade pasta a mild briny taste of sea without being too “fishy”.  Squid ink tonnarelli paired with fresh clams and the sweetness of the skillet fried shishito  chili peppers dressed in a light cream, makes for a tantalizing dish with a dramatic presentation that will surely impress your dinner guest.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
10 to 15 fresh shishito peppers
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 dozen little neck clams, scrubbed
1 pound squid ink tonnarelli (click here for the recipe)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

For the Peppers:
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet until oil is shimmering. Add the peppers and cook them, tossing and turning them frequently until they blister, 10 to 15 minutes. When done, remove them from the skillet toss them with sea salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Slice and set aside to cool.

For the Sauce:
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic, parsley and crushed red pepper and cook until the garlic is golden, 1 minute. Add the wine, cream, salt, white pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the clams, cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes; as the clams open, transfer them to a covered bowl and set aside. Continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced to a thin consistency, 8 to 10 minutes.

For the Pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the Dutch oven. Stir in the cooking water over low heat, tossing until the pasta is al dente, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the clams and shishito peppers to the pasta, garnish with parsley and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Squid ink can be purchased on-line at various gourmet specialty shops such as La Tienda.

If time is of the essence or it making your own pasta is just too intimidating, you can also use store bought squid ink pasta that can be found in most local grocery stores and supermarkets. Several handmade dried varieties of squid ink pasta can also be purchasedfrom on-line stores to make for a quick and easy meal in no time.

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Pan-Seared Lamb Chops

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Looking for a quick yet elegant entree for a dinner party? Well, these easy lamb chops are just the ticket. Pair them up with a few sides likes mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans to complete the dish. And for the finishing touch, pour a full-bodied Merlot or Pinot Noir.

Enjoy!

Serves 4
Ingredients:
For the Lamb Chops:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minc
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 lamb rib chops

For the Mini Fried Blooming Onions:
20 pearl onions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste
Vegetable oil, enough to fill skillet to 1-inch depth; more for a deep fryer

For the Caramelized  Pearl Onions:
10-12 whole pearl white onions, skins removed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, cumin and herbs. Season the lamb chops lightly with salt and pepper. Add  the chops to the olive oil mixture. Using tongs to  turning  each chop to coat completely.  Cover and  set aside to marinate, for 15-30 minutes.

To make the Blooming onions, preheat the oven to 170°F.

Cut tops of pearl onions, then slice top down (being careful not to cut all the way through) 3 times to form six sections of the onion. Using your fingers, gentley separate onion sections.

Place the onions in cold water to allow the petals to further separate. Soak for about 10 minutes and remove and drain on paper towels.

In a shallow bowl, mix eggs with water. In a separate shallow bowl, mix flour with garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Stir together until combined.

Dredge onions first in egg and then in flour mixture. S

In a large, high-sided skillet or a deep fat fryer, heat oil to about 350°F. Fry onions in batches, until they are golden. Place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.Season with salt and set aside in the oven until ready to serve.

Cook the Pearl onions. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and continue cooking, covered, for another 5-10 minutes until the onions are a deep, rich golden color, but still hold their shapes.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the chops to the skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Serve warm alongside the onions.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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Crab Mac ‘N Cheese

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Wow!

I cannot believe it.  This is my 500th Post on this Blog and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate with my favorite comfort food.

I absolutely love Macaroni and Cheese and this is a very special dish meant for any occasion. The homemade bechamel sauce compliments the sweet jumbo lump crab meat perfectly. Serve it as a side dish or as an entree it’s a fantastic and budget friendly way to serve crab meat to a crowd with style.

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds conchigliette pasta*
1/4 cup butter
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic,finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
Chopped fresh parsley or crushed dried parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and softened,for 3 minutes. Add flour and whisk until combined and golden, for about 1 minute. Add milk and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened and smooth.

Stir in 1/2 white cheddar, the mozzarella and Asiago until slightly melted, then remove from heat.

Add the bechamel sauce and crab meat to pot with cooked pasta and gently stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake until bubbly, for 20 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and serve immediately.

*Cooks Notes:
Conchiglie [koŋˈkiʎʎe], is a type of pasta in which the name is derived from the Italian word “conchiglia” .Commonly known as “shells” or “seashells” , this pasta is usually sold in the plain durum wheat variety, and also in colored varieties which use natural pigments, such as tomato extract, squid ink or spinach extract. The shell shape of the pasta allows the sauce to adhere to it. A miniature variety called conchigliette is also available.

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

 

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