Razor Clams Sauteed with Garlic, Parsley and White Wine

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I’ve been intrigued by razor clams ever since I saw Andrew Zimmern slurp them down on an episode of Bizarre Foods in Spain. I had never seen them at any market before, and for months I looked, until last spring, I found some at my local 99 Ranch Market. I bought a couple of pounds of the cigar-shaped mollusks and took them home with me, not having a clue what to do with them.

I remember seeing Andrew Zimmern eat them prepared very simply with some garlic and parsely and grilled for just a few moments. I improvised and used my stove instead. The results were deliciously tender.

I’ve only been able to find razor clams at the market for a few fleeting weeks in the spring, but they’re well worth seeking out if you can find them. Prepare them as you would standard clams, but expect juicier meat (and more of it).

Razor clams sauteed with garlic, parsley and white wine

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs razor clams, rinsed and cleaned
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 handful parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add garlic and saute for a minute, until fragrant.

2. Add razor clams and shake pan to distribute juices as the clams begin to open, about one minute. Add white wine, season with salt and pepper to taste and cover skillet with a lid. Cook over medium-high heat until clams are open, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and discard any clams that did not open. Arrange clams on a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley. Pour pan juices over clams and serve.

Pappardelle with Mascarpone-Porcini Sauce

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I’ve been cooking with dried porcini mushrooms a lot lately. I used them liberally in two Thanksgiving dishes: baked pasta shells with cheese, porcini, pancetta and radicchio; and porcini-potato gratin.

But we’ll get to those later. One of my favorite uses of this super-flavorful mushroom is in a pasta sauce, made even richer with the addition of creamy mascarpone cheese. Stirring in a classic tomato sauce at the end helps balance things out with a bit of acidity, making for a wholly satsifying dish.

Pappardelle with mascarpone-porcini sauce

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cans whole plum tomoates (preferably San Marzano)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 handful basil, coarsely chopped
3 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 package pappardelle pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In medium pot, gently saute the garlic with one tablespoon olive oil, and then add the chilli, oregano and tomatoes. Mix gently, taking care to not break up the tomatoes (this makes the sauce slightly bitter).

2. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for an hour. Add the vinegar, then stir and break up the tomatoes in the sauce with the back of a stirring spoon. Add basil, season well to taste, and add one tablespoon olive oil. Cover and set aside.

3. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and add 1 cup boiling water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil and garlic in a medium pan and saute over low heat for 5 minutes. 

4. Pick out the soaked porcini, reserving the porcini broth, and add porcini to the pan. Saute for 5 minutes. Pour in half a cup of the reserved porcini broth and discard the remainder. Simmer the mushroom mixture until the liquid is absorbed and then add the tomato sauce. Add the mascarpone and season to taste.

5. Meanwhile, cook the papardelle in salted wated until al dente and drain. Add pasta to sauce and toss. Serve warm.

Endive Salad with Anchovy and Caper Dressing

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It can be hard to get enough greens in my diet during the winter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stop craving them. Endives are in season at this time of year though, and this anchovy and caper dressing stand up perfectly to offset the endives’ mild bitterness.

This easy recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef, which I adore, even though I feel like I shouldn’t, because Anthony Bourdain doesn’t. But hey, the man can cook!

Endive salad with anchovy and caper dressing

Ingredients:

4 endives, cut into eighths
8 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, drained and minced
1 tablespoon capers, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Black pepper

1. In a bowl, whisk minced anchovies, capers, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper to taste.

2. Add endives to bowl and toss with dressing.

Lentil Salad with Browned Sausages

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Lentils have always been a comfort food for me. Adas polo, an Iranian lentil and rice pilaf topped with fried onions, was a dish frequently requested by my sister and I when we were kids. Adasi, or soupy lentils served with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with golpar, is one of my favorite meals when I’m feeling under the weather.

A dish of lentil salad with browned sausages that I made recently is French-inspired rather than Iranian, but the comfort factor is still there. With the days getting shorter, darker and rainier, a bowl of well-seasoned lentils couldn’t be a better antidote to the autumn blues.

Lentil salad with browned sausages

Ingredients:

2-3 cups cooked brown lentils
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 lb smoked sausage, sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and saute, turning ocassionally until browned, about 10 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and remove from heat.

3. While the sausages cook, make the vinaigrette: In a bowl, whisk one tablespoon vinegar with the mustard and a pinch of salt. Whisk in two tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt.

4. If lentils are not warm, reheat them. In a large bowl, toss the lentils with a little salt and remaining vinegar and olive oil. Drain the sausages and add sausages and vinaigrette to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley, onions and carrots and add salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Spiced Muffins

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Winter is the season for baking, and well, I’m not the best baker out there. Half the time when I make bread, it’s more or less a disaster, and my biscuits could use some work too. But when I tried baking these muffins, I couldn’t believe how deliciously moist and fluffy these came out. Plus, they made my apartment smell like the holidays!

Pumpkin spiced muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a muffin tin lightly with vegetable oil.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until combined. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, remaining oil, and eggs, until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

3. Stir together remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar in another bowl and set aside.

4. Divide batter among muffin cups, then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.