Friday, June 26, 2015

Stuffed Clams!!


Everytime you go into a restaurant, you order them when they're on the menu. For some reason, whenever people see it on the menu, their voices raise a notch and they say, "Hey, wanna share an order?" They're one of those yummy little sharable appys that everyone loves to have. I'm talking about:  Stuffed Clams!

My dear Homegaters, you no longer  have to wait until you go out to eat to enjoy these savory little munchies, because I'm unlocking the secret of how to whip up an awesome batch for you and your pals. This dish doesn't take long to prepare. You can even make it ahead of time and fridge them until you're ready to heat them up.

When I buy fresh clams, I ask my fish monger to shuck them for me. I stank at shucking clams in culinary school and haven't gotten any better since then, so I cheat and have the pros do it for me. I also throw in an extra can of chopped clams because I like my filling very clammy. There's nothing worse than eating a stuffed clam and getting more stuffing than clam. You might be surprised at the addition of a little heavy cream, but that adds a little richness to the filling and balances the flavors a bit. With this dish you really need to taste as you go because you want to make sure you have a flavorful balance and not a dry, tasteless mixture. You may find that you need to add a little more clam juice, or even a little more wine. Don't worry, your palate will tell you. And then your guests will tell you how they've been blown away by your culinary prowess.

Stuffed Clams        
(makes 2 dozen)
1 dozen fresh clams, shucked
(you can have your fish monger
do that for you) and roughly chopped
2 dozen clam shells
1 can chopped clams, plus their
1 small onion, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1-2 cups frech bread crumbs
2 tbs grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup white wine (or vermouth)
juice of half a small lemon
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup canola oil


1. Heat the oil in a sautee pan. Sautee the onions and garlic until translucent.

2. Add white wine/vermouth and reduce by half.

3. Add the canned clams with their juice along with the lemon juice. Heat until bubbling.

4. Add the fresh clams and cook through.

5. Mix the bread crumbs and Romano cheese in with the clam mixture.

6. Add the heavy cream and continue heating through.

7. If the crumb mixture looks dry, add more clam juice until the mixture looks moist.

8. Spoon mixture into clam shells until nicely filled.

9. Place clams on a baking sheet and put in 375-degree oven until the mixture is lightly browned (start checking after 15 minutes).

So there you have it! This doesn't take very long to put together and your guests are going to be seriously impressed. This will be another one of those recipes that will become a go-to dish when the gang comes over.

Hope you decide to try this, and if you do, let me know how you liked it.

Until next week, keep on homegating!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cuke Salad!!


So now that the NBA and the NHL have crowned their champions, our attention is now focused on the Women's World Cup. USA! USA! It's been an interesting couple of matches so far. Think we might go all the way? We shall see. All I know is that watching the world's futbol makes for some hungry guests. In keeping with my light theme as of late, I decided to make another tasty side dish: Cuke Salad.

Everybody has a cuke salad recipe. Everybody's grandma has a recipe for cuke salad. The whole world has a recipe for cuke salad - and each one is as individual as the person who makes it. That's why I always enjoy it because each one is a little different. I'm not sure where my recipe comes from, but I've been making it for forever. It's very simple to prepare and makes a really refreshing dish. I've even eaten it as a main dish! I like using English cucumbers because I feel they have a better crunch to them, but you can go with whatever cukes you like. After that, you just have red onions, garlic powder, dill, white pepper, olive oil and white vinegar.

Cuke Salad
(serves 4 as a side dish)

1 1/2 large English cucumbers, sliced
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbs fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
salt & ground white pepper to taste


Toss all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and let sit for 1 hour to let the flavors develop. Serve as a side dish or as a main.

And there you have it! Just another light dish that goes great with either sandwiches or something grilled on the bbq. Either way, you'll enjoy this one!

Let me know how you like it!

Until next week, keep on homegating!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Roasted Pepper Salad!!


I'm going to continue the salad theme now that the warm weather is here. Salads are always quick and easy to prepare - especially at the last-minute. I had a few unexpected guests over last weekend to catch our local baseball team's game on tv and only a short while to prepare, so I came up with a quick: Roasted Pepper Salad. 

The nice thing about this pepper salad is that not only does it take a short while to prepare, but it turns out to be very versatile. This salad can be eaten as is, as a bruschetta topping or on a sandwich, burger or hot dog. All it takes is a jar of roasted peppers, minced onion, chopped basil, minced garlic, oil and balsamic. You can absolutely make your own roasted peppers - which I usually prefer - but as I said, this was a quicky prep. I didn't have the time to roast the peppers from scratch. If you have the time, go for it.  But this literally took minutes to do and the results were a homerun.

Roasted Pepper Salad
(serves 4)

1- 12oz jar of roasted peppers, drained
and chopped
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/4 medium onion, minced
1 1/2 tbs fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil


Mix all ingredients and serve.

Now if you choose to roast your own peppers, you can take 4 bell peppers (any color - or combo thereof) blacken the skins either in a 550-degree oven, on a grill or on top of the stove. Place the blackened peppers in a container with a lid and let sweat and cool down for about an hour. Remove the skins and seeds and then dice. If time doesn't permit, the jarred ones work just as well.

So there you have it, gang. Hope you decide to try this. As I said, it's a versatile dish and easy enough to prepare that it could become one of your go-to recipes. Let me know how you like it.

Until next week, keep on homegating!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Spaghetti Salad!!


Tis the season for lots of salads. With the weather warming up, we prefer to eat cooler and lighter. Salads are always easy to make because you can prepare them ahead and keep in the fridge until it's time to serve. Ingredients for the most part are up to you, depending on what you already have on hand or can easily pick up at the grocery store (or farmers market!). One type of salad that's always popular is the pasta salad. You can use any pasta shape you like, combine it with any veggie combos that you want  and then hit it with whatever type of dressing stikes your fancy. So with the NHL & NBA Finals in full swing and the gang stopping by to check out those matches, I knew I couldn't go wrong by whipping up a bowl of: Spaghetti Salad!

I decided to go with spaghetti because it was a little different from the traditional pasta salads. I broke the strands up into 2-inch pieces. Then I added celery, red onion, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, pine nuts, cheddar cheese and cucumber (that I grated - no particular reason, I just felt like it!). I tossed it with a home-made Italian-style vinaigrette. It makes a nice side salad for grilled meats. Hey, you could even eat this as a main course if you have any leftover!

Spaghetti Salad
(serves 6)

1 lb spaghetti, broken into 2" pieces, cooked, drained and cooled               1/4 medium red onion, minced
1 large red pepper, roasted and minced (or 3/4 cup of jarred roasted pepper, minced)
2 celery stalks, sliced
3/4 cup sauteed mushrooms, cooled
(or 1 small can of mushrooms, drained)
1 small can sliced olives
4 oz cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
2 tbs pine nuts

1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste


1. Cook pasta and cool under cold water. Drain. Add remaining ingredients. Toss with vinaigrette and serve - or fridge until time to serve.

To make the vinaigrette:

In a blender add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Place top on blender and turn on. Remove little cap on top and with the blender running, begin to drizzle in the oil.

And there you have it! It's a really nice dish and something that you can also serve at any bbq's. As I said, you can use any combination of veggies, cheeses, nuts that you like. It's up to you. There are no hard rules. Your company is going to really enjoy it.

I hope you try this and if you do, let me know how it came out!

Until next week gang, keep on homegating!