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Food
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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Kitchen Mailbox: Red or white, clam sauce a perfect partner for pasta

Thursday, May 17, 2001

By Arlene Burnette

 

Clams, garlic and onion are ingredients that hold their own in any recipe -- but combining these ingredients produces a dish that shouts flavor.

Linguine With Clam Sauce has three main ingredients, clams, clam juice and garlic. There are two distinguishing sauces, red and white. The red sauce calls for tomato paste (other recipes may call for tomato sauce), which gives the sauce a slight tomato flavor. The white sauce depends on the clams and clam juice for most of its flavor. Today we have a version of each.

When we tested the recipes, we made 1 pound of linguine for each sauce, and that made plenty. One pound of pasta (spaghetti or linguine) should yield about 7 cups -- enough for 4 entrees, more if serving as a side dish.

We served both dishes with a crisp tossed salad with a light dressing of olive oil and basalmic vinegar and an assortment of Italian bread and onion rolls.

June Casey of New Castle requested a recipe for Linguine With Clam Sauce. Dee Ridgley of Baden sent us this tasty recipe.


Linguine With White Clam Sauce

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 10-ounce cans baby clams, juice reserved
8-ounce bottle clam juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
White pepper and salt to taste
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 pound linguine, cooked al dente

Chop onions and garlic; set aside. Drain clams, placing juice from the can in a measuring cup large enough to hold 2 cups liquid. Add bottled clam juice to can liquid; set aside.

In a large frying pan, saute onions and garlic until tender (do not brown). Add 1 cup of the liquid, pepper and parsley. Cover, with lid slightly tilted; simmer slowly about 15 minutes.

Add cornstarch to the remaining 1 cup juice (we whisked these ingredients together to prevent lumps) and gradually add to the onion-garlic mixture. Cook until thickened (about 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally).

Add Parmesan cheese, stir, then add clams and stir until the clams are warm, about 5 minutes.

Note: If the clams are cooked longer than 5 minutes they may become tough.


Shirley Fascetti of Eighty Four sent us her husband's "killer" Red Clam Sauce recipe.

Red Clam Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams, juice reserved
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add garlic and saute about 1 minute, being careful not to burn. Add tomato paste and stir for 1 minute (make sure the paste is incorporated with the garlic and olive oil). Add clam juice plus juice from cans. Add parsley and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Add clams and red pepper flakes -- heat through.

Serve with fresh black pepper and grated cheese.


Letters

Two readers responded to PG Food Editor Suzanne Martinson's column on her trials with peeling hard-cooked eggs. They share two methods that have worked for them.

"I read with great interest your column on hard-cooked eggs. I am considered by most who know me to be a good cook, but success at hard-cooked eggs has always eluded me. I have followed many instructions to the letter, yet have never been sure what they would be like until I peeled the shell, usually with large chunks of egg white along with it.

"I decided to find an egg cooker. I looked in four different stores before finding it, ironically enough, yesterday morning (the day before the column appeared), at the Bed, Bath and Beyond on McKnight Road. It was made by Toastmaster and cost $24.99. I decided to try it out when I got home. (This was all before I read your column.)

"The cooker will do soft, medium and hard-cooked eggs, but as the hard-cooked ones are the only ones that interest me, I can't vouch for the soft and medium cooking.

"It was very simple to use. It included a measuring cup that showed the level of water needed for each (soft, medium or hard) and the number of eggs (1 to 6). Pour the water in, pierce each eggshell with the sharp point on the bottom of the measuring cup and put the cover on. Turn it on and that's it. The cooker will automatically cook the length of time needed (no timer required) and will give a loud and persistent buzz when finished. Turn it off, plunge eggs into cold water bath and you're done.

"They were the most perfect hard-cooked eggs I had ever seen! The shells peeled easily with no chunks of white attached, the yolks were a creamy pale yellow and no green tinge! The yolks were also well centered in the egg and would be perfect for deviled eggs. I ended up cooking 18 eggs. They were so good that only 11 made it to the Easter dye stage.

"I plan to make hard-cooked eggs regularly now that I know the 'secret.' It was $24.99 well spent for me. I will never bother with the pan again.

"I read the Food section faithfully every week. I love to try out recipes. Thanks for the great work!"

Teresa A. Cunningham
Franklin Park

"Here's my method for easy-peeling hard-boiled eggs. Using an icepick or the sharp end of a corn-holder, I poke 3 or 4 holes in the end of the egg with the air bubble. I then drop it in boiling water for 15 minutes. Then I immerse them in ice water until cool. They then peel easily.

"I don't know where I got this idea from, but it works. I think the theory is that when cooking, the egg expands inside the shell, pushing the air out. When dropped in cold water, the egg contracts and sucks water in the shell. There then is a layer of water between the egg and the shell. I usually store my eggs in water prior to shelling so that the water remains between the egg and shell."

Tuck McClintock
Shadyside

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail toaburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.



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