Grilled Clams with Poblano Pepper and Roasted Corn Relish

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 4-8 MINS

Recipe Image

This dish is as gorgeous to look at as delicious to eat and it makes an impressive and beautiful presentation. Farm raised clams are available year-round and you can find wild clams from October through June.
I have tried a few different versions of this recipe. I removed several steps and simplified the ingredients to make my version super simple.

INGREDIENTS

* 3-4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
* ½ cup onion, any type, chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped, seeds removed

* 2 medium poblano peppers, chopped, seeds removed 

* 1-14 ounce can premium sweet corn, drained
* 1/4 cup cider vinegar or more to taste

* 2 tablespoons honey
* 1-2 Tbsps olive oil
* 1 lime, 1/2 for juice and half cut into wedges for serving
3-4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the grill to high.

1. While the grill heats up, heat the oil in a medium sized pan over medium high.

2. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until translucent about 6–7 minutes.

3. Add in the cider vinegar and mix well.

4. Add in the red and poblano peppers and sauté for another 10 minutes.

5. Add the corn and mix well.

6. Turn the stove off and add the honey. Squirt on the juice from half the lime and mix to incorporate. Set aside

7. The grill should be hot by now. Put the clams directly on the grill grates or a grill pan. Grill undisturbed for 4-8 minutes or until they open. Carefully place them onto a serving platter. Be careful not to spill the clam liquer. Discard any clams that do not open.

8. Spoon the corn and pepper relish all over the clouds. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper to taste and erve with lime wedges.

NOTES

You can use fresh corn but I substitute a 1-14oz can of good quality sweet corn for 2 cups fresh corn when I am running short on time which is almost always.

Chicken Cacciatore

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 60-90 simmer time

Recipe Image

Cacciatore means “hunter style” in Italian, and this savory, slow cooked dish features chicken with loads of peppers, tomatoes, wine, garlic and fresh herbs. The bacon adds a smoky flavor and mixes beautifully with the vegetables to create this simply delicious simmered stew. I serve this over thick spaghetti but any pasta will do.
Double Duty Recipe: make a double batch of the cacciatore and spread on top of toasted Italian bread topped with mozzarella, broil for one minute and cut into bite-size pieces and serve warm as an appetizer with your weekend cocktails.

INGREDIENTS

* ½ pound bacon, chopped
* 1 lb button or cremini mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and sliced
* 6 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
* 1 4 ounce can tomato paste
* ½ cup dry red wine or chicken broth
* ½ large red onion, cut length wise and then thinly sliced
* 1 each small red, yellow and orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
* 1-14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
* 3 tablespoons capers, drained
* 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
* 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
* 2 to 2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* ⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* A few sprigs fresh basil, chiffonnade for garnish
* 1 lb thick spaghetti, cooked for serving
* 1/2-3/4 cups Parmesan, grated, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400.

1. Fry the bacon in a large oven-proof pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and set aside, leaving the fat. Add the onions and stir until slightly browned.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
5. Add the mushrooms to the fat in the Dutch oven and cook over medium-high, stirring a few times, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and lightly brown, about 10-12 minutes.
6. Add the chopped garlic and stir until fragrant.
7. Pour in the wine or broth into the mushroom mixture and let it come to a simmer. Scrape the browned bits up from the bottom of the pot.
9. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, capers, oregano, red-pepper flakes and stir to combine.
11. Add the chicken, season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of fresh pepper and stir.
12. Put the pot in the oven on the middle rack. Cook on low until the chicken is very tender and the flavors are blended, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
13. Remove the chicken from the pot and on a large cutting board, using two forks, break the chicken up into large chunks. Add the chicken back into the pot and stir in the parsley, add more salt and pepper if necessary.
14. Serve over spaghetti and garnish with basil and Parmesan.

NOTES

Spaghetti with Creamy Pecorino Cheese and Black Pepper Sauce

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15 MINS

Recipe Image

This is a take on a popular Italian recipe called Cacio e Pepe, aka, cheese and black pepper. It is made with pasta, its cooking water; Pecorino Romano and loads of freshly ground black pepper. The pleasing piquant flavor from the pepper pairs perfectly with the savory cheese and wraps around each noodle like a warm and cozy blanket. I combined a few recipes to come up with this easier version.
Serve with a simple green salad and good white wine.

Duty Recipe Recipe: consider making a double batch of this creamy pepper sauce to stir into mashed potatoes or add a couple of dollops to warm rice for an easy side dish during the week.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 lb spaghetti or other long pasta
* 8 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated and about 2 cups, plus more for serving
* 1 ¼ teaspoons coarsely grated black pepper, plus more for serving
* 1/2 cup filtered water or more as needed
* 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, optional
* Kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with a generous amount kosher salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions until el dente. Save 2 cups of the pasta water and drain the pasta into a colander. Add the pasta back into the pot and cover to keep warm.

2. While the pasta cooks, add the cheese and pepper to a high speed blender or food processor and half the water and blend until a thick paste forms. Add more water as necessary until the paste becomes smooth and glossy but still thick like the consistency of hummus.

3. Add 3/4 cup of the paste 1/2 cup reserved cooking water, and mix well pulling the pasta up from the pot as you go to incorporate. Add more pasta water and paste as necessary until you achieve the desired consistency.

4. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with toasted walnuts, optional, additional grated cheese and a few cranks of black pepper.

NOTES

German Potato Salad

YIELDS | 12 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 25 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

Recipe Image

The is a savory, tangy and salty German potato salad to eat alongside a good bratwurst and sauerkraut. Bonus it is a Double Duty Recipe because the leftovers make a delicious potato pancakes. Recipe at Verysmartideas.com search “pancakes”.

INGREDIENTS

* 3 cups diced peeled potatoes
* 4 slices bacon
* 
1 small onion, diced
* 
¼ cup white vinegar
* 
2 tablespoons water
* 
3 tablespoons white sugar
* 
1 teaspoon salt
* 
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
* 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.

Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Add onion to the bacon fat and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Stir and bring to a boil, add the potatoes and parsley. Crumble in half of the bacon and stir.
3. Heat through and transfer to a serving dish. Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and serve warm.

NOTES

Beet Burgers

YIELDS | 4 small or 2 larger burgers

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 30 MINS

Recipe Image

I recently dug up two huge beetroots and after making beat slaw, cold beet salad, and borscht, etc, I decided to try something a little bit different. This result was this savory, nutty “burger” recipe. These nutrient rich patties are a great substitute burgers on Meatless Mondays. Consider using slightly warmed portobello mushroom caps in place of buns. The combination is outrageously delish!

INGREDIENTS

* 2 cups grated beets
* 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
* 1 large egg or egg subsitute
* 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs or breadcrumbs of choice
* 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
* 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
* 3 tablespoons flour of choice, gluten free, etc.
* 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°

1. Form the beet mixture into patties and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly crispy on the outside.
2. Served with regular buns, gluten-free buns or portobello mushroom cap buns. These taste great dressed with mayo, mayonnaise lettuce and tomato.

NOTES

Creamy Feta and Tomato Tart

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15-20 MINS

Recipe Image

Seriously gorgeous, easy to make and a perfect way to highlight summer’s luscious tomatoes. The feta, lemon and garlic make a delicious cream to perfectly compliment the ripe, sweet and slightly acidic tomatoes.

Double Duty Recipe: Stir leftover feta cream into mashed potatoes or add a little more olive oil and drizzle on roasted vegetables or chicken and fish.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 1/2 pound tomatoes, sliced pat dry with paper towels.
• 1 sheet puff pastry, store bought or homemade, thawed. See Pate Brisee (tart dough) recipe below.
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• Zest from one lemon, plus the juice
• 1 cup feta, cubed, be sure to use feta that will melt. Crumbles usually do not melt
• 1-2 Tbsp plus more to drizzle
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• Basil, thyme leaves or chopped chives for garnish, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. On a floured surface, roll out one sheet of puff pastry or dough into a 12” square, if making a circular tart, place the tart pan on top of the dough and trace a knife around the pan leaving 1″ around the pan.
3. Place the sheet on a parchment-lined baking sheet or tart pan of choice.
4. Bake the puff pastry, dough or Pate Brisee for five minutes and then remove from oven. It will be slightly puffed.
5. While the pastry bakes, make the feta spread by adding the feta cubes, garlic, lemon zest and juice to a high speed blender of food processor.
6. Turn the machine on low to medium and drizzle in the olive oil until it reaches a creamy consistency. Add a few cranks of freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste.
7. Spread the feta mixture onto the bottom of the tarts and then layer the tomatoes, slightly over lapping them.
8. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Bake 20 minutes and until edges are puffed and golden.
9. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, garnish with basil, thyme leaves or chopped chive and a drizzle of olive oil.

Paste Brisee, makes 2-9″ pies or tarts:
For this recipe, the pastry should be baked blind because we are using using tomatoes which have a high water content. Blind baking will keep the bottom firm and not soggy.

Ingredients

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 10 Tbsp cold butter cubed
* 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 Tbsp white vinegar
* 6 Tbsp ice water

Instructions

1. In a food processor, combine flour, butter, shortening, and salt. Process to a coarse meal.
2. Add in vinegar and water and process again until dough is moistened and pulls together in a mass.
3. Turn dough out and pat into two discs. Wrap and chill dough 15-30 mins (freezer 10 mins)
4. Roll out or pat the pastry evenly in the bottom and up the sides of an 8-9 inch tart pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill 30 mins or freeze 10

Blind Baking
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry crust and press aluminum foil into the crust, fill with pie weights or dry beans
2. Bake for 5 mins then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 10 mins.
3. Remove the foil and weights and bake 10 minutes more or until lightly golden.

NOTES

If using a circular tart pan, start at the edge of the pan and overlap, right to left as you make your way to the middle of the pan.
If crunched for time consider using a store bought off pastry or pie dough. They work just fine.