In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Dinner this week, in 15 minutes flat

Picture Lifted from The Food Network
Linguini with clams sauce is a family favorite and comes together in absolutely no time if you don't bother with fresh clams. You can, you probably should, but when your boyfriend is hungry and cranky, you can whip this up in about 15 minutes -- which includes pasta cooking time.

Gather your ingredients:
Linguini -- up to a pound if you and the bfriend are famished, but I usually do 1/2 a package. (that's half a pound).
A garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced.
One anchovy fillet : THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL! DO IT!
1 or 2 pieces of bacon, sliced crosswise into lardons, or some diced pancetta, which you'll find at Trader Joes. very convenient little package
Olive Oil
One or two jars or cans clams. TJs has nice big Maine clams, with ruffly edges. But Chicken of the Sea works just as well.
A splash of whatever white wine you're drinking.
A bit of chopped, fresh flat leaf parsely, which hopefully you are growing in the garden. Mine has been green throughout the winter in DC!
Dried red chili flakes: ALSO NOT OPTIONAL!
It's anathema to Italians but I love freshly grated Parmesan cheese on this. 

-- Set your water to boil. Salt it well.
Meanwhile: fry up your bacon. I like a cast iron pan for this and just about everything else. When it's rendered and beginning to get crisp, add the anchovy and mash it into the pan so it melts into the sauce, add the sliced garlic, and a shake of chili flakes. Stir the garlic so it gets golden brown but not burned.

Add the pasta to the water when it's ready.

When the bacon is cooked and the garlic is golden, open up the can or cans of clams and dump them in with their juices. Splash in a bit of wine. Simmer that  all together till the sauce thickens a bit. Taste it, add salt if necessary.

When the pasta is cooked, dump it into a sieve or pull it out of the water with tongs and add it to the clam sauce. Toss or stir so it is well-covered with sauce.  Sprinkle with parsley and grate cheese over the top (unless you are Italian or a purist, in which case, clutch your pearls and tell me that seafood pastas don't get cheese in Italy. I will grunt back "whatbever" because I will be eating already.)

Seriously: my boyfriend begs for this, and I never have to run to the store at the last minute because the clams live in my pantry, who doesnt have garlic and parmesan?

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