Pasta with Clams & Sausage

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On Instagram a few weeks back, The Kitchn announced that they were creating a virtual cookbook club (ie: a book club, but with cookbooks…). I got really excited! I love cookbooks, trying new recipes, and getting inspired from different sources, but honestly sometimes I’m a little lazy about it. Frankly, a lot of times it’s easier to browse Pinterest or google “what should I make for dinner tonight?” I always am telling myself that I need to use my cookbooks more and trying to reign myself in from buying all the beautiful new ones. So, I joined The Kitchn Cookbook Club and have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the first selection. And finally it arrived!

The first book selected was Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. I was excited, like most of the group – Salt Fat Acid Heat has become a little bit of a cultural phenomenon. Ms. Nosrat now has a Netflix show, a column in the NYT magazine, and obviously a very popular book! This cookbook is less of a cookbook than most. It’s mostly an educational manual of food science with recipes and some general guidelines. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book – I learned a lot about some of the science of cooking! Honestly, I need to reread some of it to get these principles ingrained in my head even better. Now for my unpopular opinion – I found it a little disappointing as a cookbook. And really, she’s not going for traditional cookbook here so maybe that’s the point. But I was hoping for a bit more in terms of recipes. None the less, I really enjoyed the recipe I selected and had fun making it!

{Side note: if you’re interested in participating in the cookbook club, you can either request to join the FB group “Kitchn’s Cookbook Club,” or use/follow the hashtag #kitchncookbookclub on Instagram.}

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I love clams and have always loved traditional spaghetti alle vongole! My favorite part of the recipe section of the book is the fact that she shares variations of many of the recipes – the addition of the sausage was a variation that sounded excellent to me! I made a handful of adjustments, based on our tastes and my laziness (only cooking the clams one way instead of two). Most dramatically, I made homemade pasta, which was delicious in this recipe, but definitely makes it more of a two person endeavor and adds to your cooking time. [If you don’t want to make your own pasta with this recipe – skip all of the pasta-making steps, cook it in boiling water until just less than al dente, and then add it to the sauce as below.] I also added the lemon zest and omitted the lemon juice, added a little Aleppo pepper, and cooked the sausage in a separate pan. I was concerned that the sausage would release too much fat if I kept it in the main pot, but it probably would have been fine in retrospect. I really loved this dish! It has a great briny flavor without being too salty! I think I did a good job with all of the elements and can definitely see why she uses this recipe in the book about salt, fat, acid, and heat! They were all in beautiful harmony here!

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Pasta with Clams & Sausage

(Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat)
Ingredients: 
  • Pasta
    • 2 cups AP flour
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Clams & Sausage
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced & reserving the root ends
    • 1 bunch parsley (3 whole sprigs & 1/4 cup finely chopped)
    • 4 lb littleneck clams
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 lb ground spicy Italian sausage
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
    • 1 lemon, zested
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
    • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the pasta: on a clean, dry counter-top or in a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt and form it into a volcano (a mound with a crater scooped out in the middle). Crack the eggs into that center well/crater.
  2. Using a fork, slowly mix the egg into the flour. Try to keep the eggs within the crater, pulling in more and more flour. (If you fail, don’t worry, life will go on.) Once the egg is mixed into the flour enough that it’s not trying to run away anymore, switch to use your hands. Fold together until well combined. Now add the olive oil.
  3. Continue kneading the dough, stretching and folding, for at least 5 and up to 10 minutes. By this point, the dough should be smoother and elastic, so that you can form into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours.
  4. Once the dough has set, roll out and divide into quarters. Using the pasta roller attachment on the stand mixer, flatten out (to #5 if using KitchenAid’s model). Let the flattened dough rest on a floured surface.
  5. Cut into spaghetti (or linguine or whatever pasta shape you desire). [Follow your particular pasta roller/cutter’s instructions for doing these things.] Tip: keep your hands and the surface of the dough lightly floured during this process.
  6. Now get to work on the clams/sausage/sauce. In one pan, cook the sausage until cooked through. Then remove to the side and drain of excess oil.
  7. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat in another large pan. Add the root ends of the onion, 3 sprigs of parsley, and one layer of clams. Pour in the white wine and cover. Steam for 3-4 minutes, until clams open.
  8. Remove the clams to the side with tongs or a slotted spoon and repeat until all of the clams are cooked. Discard any clams that do not open.
  9. Strain cooking liquid and set aside. Once the clams are cool enough to handle, remove from shells and coarsely chop. Place the chopped clams into the cooking liquid.
  10. Now, generously salt and bring another pot of water to a boil.
  11. Rinse the pan, then heat another 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, a pinch of salt, and several turns of fresh ground black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes. Follow this with the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for just another 2 minutes.
  12. Now return the chopped clams and liquid to the pan, along with the lemon zest and sausage. Allow to cook together for 5 minutes over medium heat and then taste.
  13. Once the pot of water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for only 1-2 minutes. After this time, move the noodles into the pan with the clams, sausage, and liquid. (Reserve the pasta water.) Allow the noodles to continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to coat the noodles with the liquid and spread out the. Add additional pasta water if needed to keep it nice and juicy.
  14. Taste and adjust for salt, acid, and spiciness as desired. Add butter and Parmesan cheese, stir them to melt and coat the pasta.
  15. Serve topped with chopped parsley and more Parmesan if desired.
Serves 4-6

White Wine Poached Shrimp

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Selim has been perfecting this dish for months now. And by perfecting, I mean tweaking it every single time he makes it, with each iteration a smidge more delicious than the last, even though the very first attempt was excellent! It all started one time when we had a left-over half bottle of wine and a ‘Manager’s Special’ of shrimp that needed to be eaten. From there, this has become one of our favorite dishes. He’s definitely figured out how to delicately poach the shrimp, while simultaneously achieving a beautiful flavor! Everyone loves shrimp, but let’s not lie here, the poaching liquid is what you want. There is no shame in drinking it. On that note – you want to use a halfway decent bottle of wine because the wine basically is your dish. I’m not saying spend $40, but take it a notch up from the Two-Buck Chuck.

This dish feels very elegant and complex, but it actually isn’t hard to make at all. As we’ve shared it, it is simply the shrimp and the poaching liquid, but you can take it a few different directions. Frequently, we just eat it in a bowl, allowing us to slurp up all of the delicious poaching liquid unencumbered. You can also serve it on top of pasta (or another starch, like rice), which we also do frequently (and as you see in our pictures from tonight), or with some bread to soak up the liquid.

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White Wine Poached Shrimp

Ingredients: 
  • 3 strips of bacon, sliced into lardons
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (750mL) bottle dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Asiago (or other hard) cheese, thinly grated
  • 1 lb fresh raw shrimp
Instructions: 
  1. Peel and de-vein the shrimp if not already done for you.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large pan over medium heat until the fat is released and bacon is crispy. Then remove the bacon to the side.
  3. Add the onion to the bacon fat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook just another 1-2 minutes. Don’t brown.
  4. Pour the bottle of wine into the pan. Add the red pepper flakes and salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, tasting to see that the alcohol has cooked off.
  5. Slowly sprinkle in the cheese, stirring as you go.
  6. Add the shrimp to the pan. Cover and cook, keeping the liquid at a slight simmer. Watch closely, removing from heat when the shrimp turn pink. This will only take 2-3 minutes!
  7. Serve with the reserved bacon bits on top. You also might want to consider topping with a little more Asiago!
Serves 3-4

Hot Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

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When I think about a dinner that screams SUMMER! – for whatever reason, my go-to is fish with a fruit salsa. I don’t know about y’all, but I always am more interested in fish in the summer – I can mentally transport myself to the ocean and pretend that fish just got hauled in a few minutes beforehand. And as for fruit salsa, that’s kind of a no-brainer. Who doesn’t appreciate the sweet, juicy bounty of summer harvest fruits? As you can see from one of our first recipes from last summer, I have a template when making a dish like this. Salmon (my favorite fish of the easily-accessible-at-the-grocery-store varieties) + spicy flavoring on the salmon + cool, juicy, & sweet contrasting salsa. Hey – if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

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Hot Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

(Salmon inspired by Little Spice Jar blog)
Ingredients: 
  • Salmon
    • 2 salmon portions (~5-6oz each)
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp hot sauce (we used Frank’s)
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 5 turns fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    • Pinch of ancho chili powder
  • Salsa
    • 2 cups diced pineapple
    • 1/2 medium onion, diced
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 3 tbsp lime juice
    • 3 turns fresh ground black pepper
    • Pinch of salt
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate until time to eat.
  2. Whisk together all of the ingredients under the salmon bullet, except the salmon itself.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Place the salmon portions on a piece of foil large enough to fold around the salmon.
  5. Paint the hot sauce mixtures on all sides of the salmon.
  6. Close the foil around the fish, pinching the edges closed.
  7. Bake on a cookie sheet for ~15 minutes. [FDA recommends a safe minimum temperature of 145 degrees F.]
  8. Open the foil and turn oven to broil. Broil, which watching closely, for just a minute or two to crisp up the top.
  9. Serve salmon with salsa on top.
Dinner for two. There is a lot of salsa – we intended it to be a topping/side dish, but it’s plenty to serve with 4 or 6 portions of fish.

Fish Cakes with Feta & Olives

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Not going to lie to y’all. I have no idea what kind of fish I used to make this dish. I was trying to eat through some of our freezer foods and pulled this out. It’s tilapia, maybe? So we’ll just suggest you use any white fish of your choosing. This was another of those recipes that I threw together out of the refrigerator (and freezer) ingredients and ended up pretty happy with. The cakes are just a bit crisp on the outside and nice and moist on the inside. The flavors work well together I think. I ended up topping mine with a little bit of hummus; Selim added a dash of hot sauce. If I’d had some, I would spread some tzatziki on top of mine – that would’ve been perfect!

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Fish Cakes with Feta & Olives

Ingredients:
  • 10oz white fish
  • 4oz feta, crumbled
  • 10 kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6-8 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Slide the fish into the pot, lower heat, and cover. Allow fish to poach for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove fish and pat dry.
  4. Break up the fish in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  7. With your hands, scoop up a full handful of the fish mixture. Form into a ball between your hands. Place on the cookie sheet, and press down lightly with the heel of your hand to create the patty.
  8. Repeat step 7 for each patty.
  9. Bake for a total of 30 minutes. Flip halfway through, so each side cooks for 15 minutes.
Makes 6 patties.

Herbed Shrimp Pasta Salad

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Given that my sister Amy was the center of attention for her own graduation celebration, she got to pick which dishes my mom made for the party. One of her absolute favorites is this pasta salad with shrimp. Pretty much any time Amy gets to pick, this is what she asks for. This family favorite comes from my aunt Townley, although she says she thinks she got it from a neighbor years ago. Isn’t that always how things like this work? We’ve always known it as ‘Townley’s Shrimp Pasta Salad,’ but she got it from the neighbor, who probably got it from someone else, and on and on. Maybe one day, Amy’s friends will know it as ‘Amy’s Shrimp Pasta Salad,’ since she’ll make it so many times. And maybe one of you will like it so much and go on to make it so many times that it because known as YOUR shrimp pasta salad!

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Herbed Shrimp Pasta Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 1 lb baby shrimp
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt & pepper as needed
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the pasta according to instructions or however you normally do it.
  2. Drain the pasta, but while still hot, stir in the mayonnaise, dill, and Old Bay.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil. Once softened, add the garlic and onions into the pasta, along with the shrimp.
  4. Stir everything together and top with a salt and pepper to your liking.
  5. Refrigerate until serving.
Makes ~8-10 servings if using as a main dish for a luncheon or similar. Is plenty for way more guests than that if part of a potluck with other dishes like we did for the party!

Pinch of Crab Egg Dip

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Ok, bear with me now. I know this isn’t the first post where I’ve started with – “this sounds kind of weird, but I promise you it’s really good!” This is another one of those. I don’t know who originally thought, 💭Hmm… let me combine some eggs and crab and make a dip out of it, but I’m glad s/he did. My aunt Ann has made this dip for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always loved it. It’s super easy to throw together for a party and definitely something your guests probably haven’t eaten before. It’s a fairly mild dip, that will please most palates, provided they like crab/seafood. It’s delicious and addicting spread on crackers. I like it with a drop of hot sauce on top! Let us know what you think!

🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀  🦀

Pinch of Crab Egg Dip

Ingredients:
  • 9 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 3 6oz tins of crabmeat (obviously use fresh if you’re so inclined/budgeted)
  • 2 tbsp poppyseeds
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Instructions: 
  1. Chop up the hardboiled eggs.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together.
  3. Chill until serving. Serve with crackers.
I don’t really know how to describe portions of a dip. This makes the amount of dip pictured above, served at a large party.

Slightly Spicy Salmon Cakes

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When Selim asked me to make dinner with some salmon tonight, I wanted to try something a little different than our usual. Our usual involves adding spices to a salmon fillet and broiling it. Selim is the master of this process. I am not.

So I googled “different way to make salmon.” Seriously. This is how sophisticated and worldly I am. After browsing around for a bit, a salmon cake recipe caught my eye. I grew up eating crab cakes like it was my job, but I don’t think I’ve ever had salmon cakes. I wanted to bake them instead of fry them in a nod to being a bit healthier. After Pinterest-ing for awhile, I found a recipe on the Baked by an Introvert blog that approximated what I was envisioning for tonight.

I’m really happy about how my version turned out. The salmon cakes are moist on the inside and just barely crisping up on the outside. Slicing them open with the edge of your fork releases a gratifying poof of steam. I love the flavor. If you’re one of those people who orders their Thai or Indian food at level 10, you probably won’t find this very spicy. But for the rest of us, it’s a nice, slowly-building spiciness.

I also made a cilantro lime aioli to top these guys, but am not super happy with it, so won’t share tonight. I think with just a few tweaks it’ll be perfect. A cool topping like that complements these salmon cakes perfectly though!

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Spicy Salmon Cakes

(Inspired by the Oven Baked Salmon Cakes on Baked by an Introvert blog)
Ingredients: 
  • 1lb or less salmon fillet (ours was 0.85lb)
  • 1/2 of a small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 turns black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (we prefer Frank’s)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, slide the salmon fillet into the water. Decrease heat to low and cover for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine onion, pepper, crumbs, and spices in a large bowl.
  4. Remove salmon from water. Set out and allow to cool.
  5. Pat the salmon dry of any excess moisture. Coarsely break apart and add to the bowl. Stir to combine with other ingredients.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Combine well.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  8. With your hands, scoop up a full handful of the salmon mixture. Form into a ball between your hands. Place on the cookie sheet, and press down lightly with the heel of your hand to create the patty.
  9. Repeat step 8 for each patty.
  10. Bake for a total of 30 minutes. Flip halfway through, so each side cooks for 15 minutes.
Makes 6 medium patties.