Monday, January 3, 2011

Liberate the Guilt Creamy Pasta

For years I have avoided cream sauces due to the high cholesterol and fat ladened nutritional pit falls BUT with that avoidance came deprivation and those that know me know that I do not deprive myself.....I am an everything in moderation kinda girl! Cream sauces with their luscious smells and shimmer are something that I have learned are to me what kryptonite is to Superman, as I take each bite I can literally see it going from my mouth to my thighs in a most unsightly way not to mention the number it does to my intestinal tract (I know TMI but sorry I have to be honest!) So after many a tester recipe using milk instead of cream, light sour cream, light cream cheese, creamy tofu I have found the MASTER low fat, high protein, heavenly and liberating creamy ingredient, drum roll please.....and the star is GOAT CHEESE!!! Ok for those of you that have closed your mind already and say I do not like goat cheese, I beg of you to try this recipe, I promise you will not taste the goat cheese with the brilliance in the combination of other flavors in this dish (hey if you can’t say you are brilliant who can right)? My kids LOVE this and my man food, buffalo wing, taco eating husband requests this meal with almost as frequently as chicken parmesan (which is his fav). Here we go with ease and elegance......

Serves 5-6 as a main course

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

1 bunch broccoli rabe (rough ends removed and cut into bite-size pieces)

1 small jar sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped and 1 Tbsp oil reserved

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine (I like to cook with chardonnay)

1 pound rotini pasta, whole wheat or semolina (or your favorite shape**spaghetti does not work well)

1 4 oz log of plain soft goat cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1-2 tsp crushed red pepper (depending if how much spice you like)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

First bring 3 cups of chicken broth and about 2 cups water to boil in a medium sized stock pot. Add chopped broccoli rabe and return to a boil, cook about 4 minutes or until desired tenderness (I like my veggies al dente). Drain broccoli rabe and immediately add to a bowl with ice water (“shocks” the vegetable to stop the cooking process and keep the intense green color) set aside.

Bring another stock pot full of water to boil on the stove (same one as used for broccoli rabe if you want to save your dishwasher a pot to clean!) While this comes to a boil start the sauce. In a saucepan heat the olive oil with 1 Tbsp of sundried tomato oil, add the shallots a cook until softened about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute until fragrant, add chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper cook another minute to blend. Add 1/2 cup white wine and 1 cup chicken broth and cook down until sauce is reduced by about half. Check your pasta water if boiling, add some salt to water and cook pasta per box directions. Break up goat cheese log into small pieces and add to sauce...let it melt into shimmering beauty. Drain broccoli rabe and add into sauce (at this point the sauce may become thick)...once pasta is done cooking, add it to the sauce RESERVING PASTA WATER add some pasta water to sauce a ladle full at a time until the sauce coats the pasta ****I have in many a frazzled mommy moment strained my pasta and forgot to reserve the water NO WORRIES if this happens just use some extra wine of chicken broth****Add the grated Parmesan cheese to this luscious mixture and serve!!

***I sometimes like to jazz this up by adding some grilled shrimp, scallops or chicken on looks very fancy, a great Mother-in-law or the boss over for dinner dish!!

Creamy pasta for all and none for your thighs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fletcher's Rockin Baked Clams

Fletcher’s Rockin’ Baked Clams

This is a little recipe I created while on our summer vacations at the Jersey Shore. There is a fantastic little clam shack called Blackies that is literally just that, you can buy 100 clams (any size) for $29 (your eyes are not failing you, it is a summer culinary miracle)! I LOVE clams especially when they have that freshness of just being raked up that day, they taste like the ocean so fresh and delicious!! I can eat them any which way but especially love them raw on a half-shell with some red wine vinegar (a little something my Uncle Tony taught me). My husband is not a fan of them raw so I had to devise a scrumptious “man” recipe because there is nothing I love more than feeding my man (while listening to Michael Buble of course)! We have a tradition of beaching it all day with my girls and then heading back to our rental apartment to pop on some tunes, mix up a fun summer cocktail (virgin for the kids), hang out together and cook, we love to eat in (but out on the deck of course in that warm summer air), relax and just be together..... one of the top 5 favorite moments in my year!! So here is perfection on a shell.......

Ingredients: (serves a crowd for appetizers, 4 for a meal with salad)

3 dozen top neck clams (scrub and clean shells)

2 Tbsp flour or corn meal

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 red pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

3 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1/4 c white wine (chardonnay preferably but anything you have left over in the fridge works)

3 oz Prosciutto sliced thinly and then chopped

1/4-1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling

1 tsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy!)

salt and pepper to taste

While you chop and prep all the ingredients soak the cleaned clams in cold water with flour or corn meal for 10 minutes (this allows the clams to purge any sand they are holding) Rinse clams and place in large pan so they can almost lay flat on bottom, fill with water about 2 inches up pan but don’t fully submerge clams in water. Cover and bring to a boil, simmer until all the clams open about 8-10 minutes (****if any of the clams do not open toss those, it means they were dead and unsafe to eat). Reserve cooking water and set clams aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat saute pan with the olive oil and add the chopped onion and pepper, cook until onion is translucent and red pepper is soft about 8 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper cook an additional minute but do not brown garlic. Add prosciutto and saute a couple of minutes just to break it up and mix in. Pour in white wine and reduce by half (letting it boil down). Turn off the heat, stir in parsley.

Take the opened clams and break the shells apart to have two equal halves, remove clams and chopped into large chunks. Place clams into onion mixture and mix well, add about 1/4 cup of reserved clam juice water and then slowly add in breadcrumbs and grated cheese until mixture is still moist but starts to come together in a paste. If it gets too dry add more clam juice, if too moist add more breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste (be careful with the salt the clams and cheese are already salty).

Spoon enough mixture into the shells to fill. Place filled shells on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and top each with a little extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

**At this point clams can be made up to 24 hours in advance, then refrigerate or freeze for later use.

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees until tops are golden brown......YUM YUM YUM!

**My husband loves to pour a little of his favorite hot sauce on top so have some on hand for your feistier guests!