Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
Pasta is my kryptonite.

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
It’s not just devouring it — I also love cooking pasta dishes, too!

My vice is way too accessible.

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
So you can see the predicament I am constantly in.

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
But not all pastas need to be heavy or sauce laden.

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
In fact, one of my favorites is Linguine alle Vongole – long strands of pasta with clams in a white wine sauce.

YES PLEASE!

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
It’s really quite simple with just a handful of ingredients that are probably (besides the clams) are already hanging out in your pantry.

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
As for those clams:

  • Triple check with your fish dude/dudette that they are fresh.
  • Take the time to ensure that you soak and clean them. Biting into sandy clams is NO BUENO!
  • Toss away any clams that do not open after you’ve cooked them because that means they’re D-E-D!  (Nope, not a typo. “DED” is “DEAD”…but wayyyyyy more.)

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
After you’ve done that, just infuse some olive oil with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes…..

throw in some white wine and your cleaned clams….

pop a lid on and wait until those molluscs open up!

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
Then it’s just a matter of tossing in the cooked linguine, butter (for a bit of added lusciousness), lemon and parsley.

Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
And then get ready to do a Happy Dance in your kitchen because your tummy will be so appreciative of you!

Buon Appetito!

________________________________________________
Linguine alle Vongole {Linguine with Clams}
Serves 2

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound clams (Manila clams, cockles, littlenecks), scrubbed and cleaned*
1/3 cup white wine
kosher salt
5 ounces dried linguine, or other long strand pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
½ cup chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes to infuse the oil. Swirl the skillet often to ensure that the garlic does not burn. Add the red pepper flakes and infuse for another minute.

Raise the heat to medium and allow the garlic and pepper flakes to cook for an additional 15-20 seconds. Add the clams to the skillet and pour in the wine. Once the liquids begin to bubble, place a cover over the skillet and allow the clams to steam open – approximately 5-8 minutes depending on their size.

While the clams cook, add salt to a pot of boiling water. Add the dried linguine and cook to just shy of al dente. (Note: If your pasta is not done by the time your clams have cooked through, turn off the heat on the skillet and keep it covered until the pasta is ready. Turn the heat back up to medium once you add the pasta.)

When your pasta is done check your clams and discard any that have not opened yet. Add the pasta directly into the skillet with the clams, tossing to coat. Add the butter and continue stirring/tossing until it has fully incorporated. If the pasta appears slightly dry, add ½ – 1 ladle of the pasta cooking water, continuously stirring to emulsify the sauce. Toss in the lemon juice, zest and chopped parsley. Plate the pasta and serve immediately.

*Rinse and scrub the clam shells with a small brush. Place the scrubbed clams in a dish and submerge with cool water. Place the dish in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Rinse the clams and change out the cool water every 20 minutes for an hour. If you still see sand/grit at the bottom of the dish at the end of an hour, repeat the soaking process for another 20-40 minutes.

 

Sunday Family Dinner

An Endless Fam Din Feast for the Tauruses

IMG_0645
It was one of my favorite times of the year — my BIRTH MONTH!!!

Birth “month” you ask? Oh yes, I celebrate the entire month.

Actually our family is full of May babies….Mom, Dad, SIL and cousie –all Tauruses, which makes a lot of sense. We’re all a tad–how would you put it? Oh right–stubborn.

DSC_0242
But when it came time for L and my Fam Din— I WAS PUMPED!

What to have on the menu?

Lobster? Prime Rib? King Crab? French Fry Fest?

YES PLEASE!

DSC_0252
Sooooo many options. Maybe TOO many good ones to choose from.

In fact, the week before dinner, we still hadn’t had a full menu planned other than knowing who would be in charge of which portions of the meal.

IMG_0569
Then mid-week, it hit me-it was soft shell crab season! And I do love me some soft shell crab sammies! With new found inspiration, I volunteered to take on the main dish and its fixings!

But as for the other dishes–everything was still up in the air.

DSC_0237
We all convened with our mystery ingredients to T and R’s casa and got down to prep.

But first–some cocktails!

I whipped up a few pitchers of Sparkling Rosé Sangria and let me tell ya, it’s like summer in a glass.

Fresh fruit, ginger, mint, cognac, light rosé, bubbly….now that’s a party!

Sparkling Rosé Sangria
Quick pic with the sibbies!!

IMG_1411
And a little photobomber in the shape of Leonidas.

That little rascal….

I love that mischievous face.

IMG_1408 2
And then it was time to get back in the kitchen for some more prep.

May 2017 Fam Din
Thank goodness for R and Nini–our shuckers for the night.

DSC_0200
Because without those two, we’d just be staring at these beauties saying “Alohomora” over and over again.

Why yes–that was a little shot out to my fellow Potterheads.

DSC_0210
Now let the feasting begin!

V and L had been visiting our friends in Ventura that morning and picked up some Fresh Oysters for us to nosh on.

L made a classic mignonette for us to enjoy the oysters with and there was also lots of fresh lemon and tabasco on hand too.

DSC_0276

HELLLOOOOOO Gorgeous!!!!

DSC_0279
As you can tell, Nina didn’t like them at all.

May 2017 Fam Din
They also picked up some fresh uni and L got to work cracking them open.

Seriously, my mouth is watering just looking at the picture of it.

May 2017 Fam Din
And what did we do with them? Nini and L made adorable little bites of Uni Gunkan Maki.

Perfect morsels that just screamed of the sea.

DSC_0246
I could have easily polished off a dozen of them.

ps. Gunkan Maki are “warship sushi” or “battleship sushi” and are named such because of its shape. See? I can drop some random knowledge from time to time.

DSC_0245
N demolishes battleships on the reg.

DSC_0244
Since we were going the distance, V & L also picked up some local Yellowtail while in Ventura and there’s no better way to enjoy it than as straight up Yellowtail Sashimi.

It’s how we roll.

IMG_0595
Now most folks would just make 1 or 2 appetizers for dinner. But with my o’hana, why just have 1 when we could have 5?

Seriously, five. We had FIVE appetizers for Fam Din.

We’re uncontrollable.

To wrap up our apps course, T made clams two ways. (Are you sensing that gluttony theme?)

May 2017 Fam Din

The first version featured clams stuffed with miso butter, cheese, aromatics and panko bread crumbs. Quite addicting and hopefully will be at our football parties this fall.

IMG_0591

The second preparation were roasted clams with miso butter, rice wine, ginger, beech mushrooms, scallions and some other magical goodies.

And OH. MY. GOD.

These were so freaking good!! So savory, so rich in flavor—FULL of umami (I feel like such an idiot every time I use that word)! The clams were wonderful on its own but would also be perfect as a main dish with soba noodles or even with just crusty baguette.

IMG_0590 2

Look at my fam…..they’re cute.

I guess I’ll keep them.

I should probably admit that they look so happy because we had just spent an hour gorging on apps and cocktails (for the 21+ over).

But hey, whatever it takes.

IMG_1380
After polishing off all the apps, we were pretty stuffed. And we still had our main course left, too!

In order to make it to the finish line, we needed a breather.

Maya took a T.O. on Lamby.

DSC_0214
Leonidas got a massage.

Life is rough for the munchkins, isn’t it?

DSC_0227
And we snapped pics.

Because apparently, we don’t take enough pictures.

NOT!

DSC_0266

After a quick pause, I turned my attention to these little guys–the soft shell crabs. Since the crabs have molted their exoskeletons, the entire crustacean can be eaten after a bit of light cleaning.

DSC_0258
Sometimes you jut have to infuse your food with love……you feel me?

It makes everything that much tastier.

DSC_0232
After they were cleaned and drained, we lightly dredged them in a mixture of flour and corn meal.

And not to sound twisted, but doesn’t it look like they’re just chilling in the sand?

No? Too much?

DSC_0311
After they were dredged, Nini helped me pan fry them in butter and olive oil until they were golden brown and crispy.

DSC_0310
Once out of the pan, they all got a sprinkle Old Bay and sea salt.

DSC_0320
The crispy soft shell crabs were destined to rest inside these little Brioche Buns I had baked earlier. Nina lightly buttered and toasted the buns for that extra punch of goodness.

Aren’t they adorable? The girls said they reminded them of Krabby Patties from SpongeBob—which, now that I think of it, is kind of appropriate.

DSC_0314
To serve with sandwiches, I decided to make homemade Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Chips. I know, it seems like a lot of work when you can just go out and buy a bag of chips.

DSC_0186
But honestly, homemade chips are SOOO much better! It does take a bit of time but they’re really easy to make. Just be sure to fry up some extra because if your family is anything like mine, they will be gone before it’s time to eat.

DSC_0315
Assembly time!

A light schmear of Old Bay aioli on the buns, add thin slices of ripe tomato, a leaf of butter lettuce and top it off with a beautiful soft shell crab.

DSC_0332
So nice I had to show it twice!

Seriously–as good as I had hoped for when they came to mind just a few days prior. I love it when that happens.

DSC_0327
And Food Coma starts in 5…4…3…2…..

IMG_1374
But wait! We still have dessert!!

And not just any dessert but B I R T H D A Y  cake!

N was in charge of our birthday dessert and all I said is that I wanted a dense chocolate cake that tasted like a Ferrero Rocher — one of my favorite candies.

DSC_0228

And HOLY CRAP!  SHE DELIVERED!!!

Just like a Ferrero Rocher!!!

DSC_0360

The cake was super dense and rich–like a flourless cake that had ground hazelnuts in the batter. She topped it with a chocolate mousse and a “crunch” made from melted chocolate and rice cereal. It was then finished with more hazelnuts and a generous drizzle of more chocolate.

From taste to texture it totally was a Ferrero Rocher!

I’m not kidding y’all–it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. She’s going to have to make me this cake every year now.

DSC_0352
And as if we didn’t have enough sugar, R broke out the fire so the munchkins could roast some marshmallows.

Why not, right? If not for the added sugar than at least for the experience.

DSC_0340
I can’t help but hope that when they look back 20 years from now, they’ll think fondly of our monthly Fam Dins and the randomness that often occur.

For example, the fireworks that we set off shortly after I took this picture.

And no, I’m not kidding.

DSC_0343
And that’s a wrap on our decadent Fam Din for L and my bday!

Not bad considering we threw the menu together at the last minute. And yes, it was a delicious as it looks.

IMG_1410 2

_______________________________________________

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Sparkling Rosé Sangria, Various Wine
Appetizers: Fresh Oysters with Mignonette, Yellowtail Sashimi, Uni Gunkan Maki, Miso Roasted Clams with Beech Mushrooms, Panko-Miso Butter Clams
Entrees: Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches with Old Bay Aioli, on Brioche Rolls with Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Chips
Dessert: Chocolate-Hazelnut “Ferrero Rocher” Cake

Sunday Family Dinner

The Pacific Northwest and East Asia Blend at Family Dinner

April 2016 Fam Din
We’ve got two birthday boys in April — Lucas and Curtis! And as Family Dinner protocol dictates, when it’s your birthmonth, you call the theme for the menu.

Now with our Lucasaurus, he’s pretty laid back. If there’s something yummy and he gets ice cream at the end, well–he’s all set. So it was up to my BIL, Curtis, to give us some direction.

April 2016 Fam Din
Curtis
is all about seafood and generally loves Japanese cuisine. He mentioned that he wanted crab and the next thing I knew it, we were in crab boil planning mode. We’ve done crab Boils quite often. Remember this time? Or how about this time?

Can you blame us? Seafood boils are freaking D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!

But this time, since we wanted to use dungeness crab (they’re back in season–YAHOO!), we thought we’d take a different spin. We ditched our beloved spicy Cajun seasoning packets and headed for the Pacific Northwest for inspiration.

April 2016 Family Dinner
But first–one small order of business.

A few months ago, we decided that while we were prepping/cooking/enjoying Fam Din, everyone would stay off their cellphones or tablets and spend some QT with each other. Only exception? You could use it briefly to snap pics of food or family.

The girls even made a sign for our “docking” station that would rotate from house to house each month.

April 2016 Fam Din
So what did we do while off our phones?

We play tennis of of course! Well….Wii Sports but that’s nearly as good.

The pics below may not be as clear as I’d like but I love them. Look at their intense facial expressions.

GAME ON!

April 2016 Fam Din
Speaking of GAME ON–check out Lucasaurus. One moment he’s all “sweet face” and the next “100% slugger”.

He’s such a playah’ that he even squeezed in a fast T-Ball game with the homies before dinner was ready.

Stud.

April 2016 Fam Din
And what did my seestrahs and I do in between the cooking?

Drank some draannnnkkks of course!

Our cocktail of choice was a concoction that seester T had with her friends one night – Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew.

What does a “sparkling rice brew” taste like? Think of a less sweet, more carbonated wine cooler but a gazillion times better. The whole thing was floral, fruity, and went down dangerously smooth.

April 2016 Fam Din
At this point, you may be wondering how this cocktail fits the Pacific Northwest theme.

Well…..that’s where the East Asia meets the Pacific Northwest. At least, the first time for the night.

April 2016 Fam Din
Oh–and of course we took a minute or two to snap a few pics.

April 2016 Fam Din

CHEERS!

April 2016 Fam Din
Meanwhile, Lucas had come back from his game, showered and then decided to show his uncle some of his badass roundhouse kicks.

Did I mention our little man just passed his Tae Kwon Do black back examination?

Yeah…I keep him around as my personal security these days.

April 2016 Fam Din
Then at some point throughout the shenanigans, big sis whipped out some appetizers – Shrimp Crostinis!!

April 2016 Fam Din
And then we got down to some serious cooking.

How serious?

So serious we had to break out the step stools.

#ShortPeopleProblems

April 2016 Fam Din
And then the girls started getting all kinds of silly.

Not sure if they were getting hypoglycemic from all the waiting or if it’s just their true nature.

You’re right….. it’s the Aliens.

April 2016 Fam Din

Grab the bibs, refill the drinks, plunk yourselves down in a chair because it was finally DINNER TIME!!!

April 2016 Fam Din
Sweet dungeness crab, prawns, clams, corn, new potatoes and crusty bread. The “boil” was made from crab stock, lemons, garlic and an insane amount of fennel and coriander seeds. Very, very aromatic.

Oh–and tons, and I mean TONS of garlic butter to dip it all in.

LET’S GET SEAFOOD WASTED!!!!

April 2016 Fam Din
And you bet we sure as heck did! Totally natural–birthday celebrations and all.

Though no matter how full we are, there must be dessert! And with two birthday boys, we had to have TWO desserts. One made specifically for each of boys’ favorite flavors.

April 2016 Fam Din
With Curtis, we went for the East Asian flavors because the man loves him some green tea! And after all these years, it’s become quite the challenge to make him a different green tea dessert. We’ve done Matcha Green Tea Icebox Cheesecake, Green Tea Souffles, and Matcha Green Tea Layered Cake filled with Matcha Mousse and the list goes on and on.

Hey–at least he’s consistent.

April 2016 Fam Din
So after squeezing my brain to the core, I decided to make him a Green Tea Tiramisu–also known as a Matchamisu!

I used this recipe to make the fantastically easy and light dessert. I took packaged lady finger cookies and dipped them in a mixture of honey and a strongly brewed green tea. It was then layered with a fluffy filling of whipped mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, sugar, clouds of whipped cream and of course, matcha powder.

Oh! Did I mention that I threw in a few splashes of Grand Marnier? It is a type of tiramisu after all.

April 2016 Fam Din
It was a WINNER!

Not only was it crazy easy to pull together but it was so well flavored and light. Birthday boy gave me the stamp of approval! So much in fact, that I’m making a bunch of individual sized Matchamisus for his big birthday bash this weekend.

PHEW!

Better start thinking about his next year’s green tea dessert!

April 2016 Fam Din
As for Lucas’ dessert – my nephew being MY nephew, LOVES ice cream — mint chocolate chip ice cream. And like me, if it’s isn’t green mint chip then we want nothing to do with it.

So as a nod to the “Pacific Northwest”, I made our little guy a Baked Alaska — something I’ve never attempted before. And guess what? It was really easy too!

First off, I used store bought ice cream (I know, I know–but I was short on time!) and let it set out for about 30-45 minutes to soften. I lined a large metal bowl with plastic wrap (for easy removal) and packed the ice cream in it. Then, I pressed a layer of brownie on top to form the base.

Lukey doesn’t like cake—we’re all a work in progress.

April 2016 Fam Din
I covered the top with more plastic wrap and then let the whole thing freeze for several hours. When it was about time to serve, I took the bowl out of the freezer and set it on the counter while we got to making the meringue.

In a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, I whisked up 2 large egg whites, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-2 pinches cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and until stiff peaks formed.

We then inverted the bowl onto a plate, piped meringue rosettes all over and then brought out the torch.

April 2016 Fam Din
Most Baked Alaskas, well—are baked. But instead of placing the whole thing in a high heat oven, I opted to use a kitchen torch. I felt more comfortable with this method for a more even browning.

I think it all came out beautifully well. Fluffy-marshamllowly meringue, VERY green ice cream and a chocolately brownie base.

April 2016 Fam Din
It got a thumbs up from this adorable birthday boy….

And if you follow me on Instagram, then you would have saw a video of Lucas face planting into his dessert plate–on his own volition!!!

Silly boy.

April 2016 Fam Din
Another delish and FUN Family Dinner in the books!

Happy Birthmonth Curtis and Lucas!

_____________________________________________

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Pacific Northwest – East Asian

Cocktails: Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew
Appetizers: Shrimp Crostini
Entrees: Pacific Northwest Dungeness Crab Boil with Prawns, Clams, Sausage, Potatoes & Corn
Sides: Toasted Ciabatta and French Bread
Dessert: Matcha Tiramisu and Baked Alaska with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and Brownie Base

Seafood

Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass

Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass

Does anyone else pretend like they’re on a cooking show when you’re in the kitchen?

You know, talk out loud as if you’re narrating your own show….

Or try to race against the clock to cook/bake something in 5 minutes….

Just me???

Oh…..ok.

Well, if you did ever time yourself, these Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass would be the perfect dish because they’re done in flash! You can easily be in and out of the kitchen in less than 15 minutes—even faster if you have your fishmonger clean your clams for you.

And for the record, I not only time myself when making this dish but also talk to my puggle as if she was the audience in my live cooking show. She thinks I’m hilarious.

_________________________________________

Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, tender inner white bulbs only, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 Thai Bird chilies, sliced
½ cup dry white wine
½ tablespoon fish sauce
2 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces (more for garnish)
1½ pounds little-neck or Manila clams, scrubbed and cleaned
cilantro

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ginger, and chilies–stir-fry for 30 seconds. Carefully stir in the wine, fish sauce, and scallions.

Add in the clams, stir the contents, and cover with a lid. Allow the clams to cook for 4-5 minutes or until the shells have opened. Plate the clams and garnish with scallions and cilantro. .

 

Pork · Seafood

“Lickety-Split” Clams with Spicy Italian Sausage

Clams with Spicy Italian Sausage

I think that daylight savings actually stole time from me instead of giving a few extra hours of light. Lately, I feel like I’ve been scrambling around trying to get things done and my overwhelming “to-do” pile is now as enormous as Santa’s delivery list.

Oy vey….

Thankfully, I’ve got some clutch recipes like this Clams with Spicy Italian Sausage in my back pocket that I can whip out on days when I’m racing time. Quick and easy recipes that are no fuss, are scrumptious and can be done in no time flat.

This surf and turf little beauty can be pulled together in under 20 minutes. YUP! True Story! That’s less time than it would take for me to go and grab some take out. And let’s face it, so much tastier too.

While the Italian sausage browns, you can chop up the necessary aromatics and give the clams a little scrub down. And while the clams are bubbling away in the glorious broth, throw your baguettes (or bread of your choice) in the toaster oven to brown. No time wasted here!

The briny clams pair so well with the spicy sausage and the fresh herbs and tomatoes add a brightness and subtle acidity to the dish. And the broth–OH the broth! Quite amazing how much flavor you can get in 20 minutes when you pair sausage, wine and seafood stock. Perfect to dunk your crunchy bread into.

Heck–you’ll save so much time on your meal prep that you can take a few moments to sit down and enjoy a glass of vino. After all, you had to open the bottle to deglaze the pot.

Totally reasonable.

And with that, have a great weekend, Friends!

_________________________________

Clams with Spicy Italian Sausage
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ pound hot Italian sausage
½ cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups seafood stock or clam juice
2 pounds fresh clams, scrubbed and debearded
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
3 Roma tomatoes, diced and seeded (about 1 cup)
kosher salt
black pepper

Heat a heavy bottom pot with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage to a plate that has been lined with paper towels to drain.

Lower the heat to medium and cook the onions for 1-2 minutes until tender but not browned. Add in the garlic, chili flakes and cook for an additional minute. Turn the heat back up to high. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and use the wooden spoon to scrape up the brown pits. Reduce the liquids by half.

Add in the clam juice and once the liquids come to a slow boil, carefully add in the clams, and parsley. Stir in the cooked sausage and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the clams have opened.

Once the shells have opened, remove the clams and divide them between two bowls. Stir the diced tomatoes into the broth. Check the for seasonings and adjust as needed with kosher salt and pepper. Ladle the broth over the clams and garnish with additional parsley. Serve immediately with toasted bread (baguettes or ciabatta).

Sunday Family Dinner

New England Inspired Sunday Family Dinner

Lobster-tinis

And it all started with these at our New England inspired Sunday Family Dinner.

Don’t they look ridiculous? RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME!

When we began toying around menu themes for October’s Sunday Family Dinner, my seester T was hell-bent on a New England spread that featured these beauties—

LOBSTER MARTINIS!

October 2013 Family Dinner

Now before you cringe, I recognize that these cocktails aren’t for everyone. But if you, like many of us, enjoy a deliciously dirty–extra dirty martini, then you’ll adore these.

The Lobster Martinis are made with vodka, lemon juice and most importantly— “lobster essence”.  Lobster essence is an incredibly concentrated lobster stock that is slowly reduced down until it creates liquid lobstah goodness!

Throw it all in a shaker over ice and shake-shake-shake before straining into a glass that’s been garnished with a lobstah claw. Divine!

As for the food, we kept things actually quite low key. Nothing crazy elaborate but just darn delicious. And since we were in New England, we had to have Crab Cakes!

Crab Cakes

Instead of larger patties that I usually make, I formed little cakes so we could nibble on while we put out the other dishes. Click here for the recipe

And in case you’re wondering, my family has Minnesota roots and it’s where I was born. So although we’re struggling this season, we HAD to represent our Vikings as they played those dang cheeseheads that day.

October 2013 Family Dinner

Next up– White Clam Pizza!

Now here’s my confession. We kind of had a crazy morning the day of our Fam-Din and I initially forgot to pick up the fresh clams. So I scrambled to the grocery store with my niece Nina and fixed that problem. After all, what’s a Fam-Din without a snafu or two?

Speaking of Nina, she pretty much took charge of this entire dish. I say this all of the time but when most teenagers struggle with making a peanut butter sandwich, our nieces are fixing up dishes like paella and artisan pizzas. We’re so proud!!!

And the pizza was scrumdiddlyumptious!

Clam Pizza

I just adore our munchkins and can’t wait for our other little ones — Luna and Leo–to come back for the holidays.

October 2013 Family Dinner

What’s a New England menu without Lobstah Rolls?!

Lightly dressed and overflowing with lobstah glory–just perfect!

Lobster Rolls

Mo’ lobstah, mo’ betta’!

Huh…maybe that will be the name of my next food blog? 🙂

October 2013 Family Dinner

And finally, dessert.

Boston Cream Pie!

But I hope you’re pronouncing “Boston” like a true New Englander.

Say it with me now! Baaah-stin’

Boston Cream Pie

Seester P worked with Nini and Maya to create this Boston Cream Pie using a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. And if you’ve ever attempted an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, you know how laborious it can be—-delicious, but laborious.

October 2013 Family Dinner

So I was so impressed with how meticulous Nini and Maya took each step as they created it. It resulted in a wonderful sponge cake filled with a beautiful pastry cream and then coated with a thin layer of ganache. YUM!

Wicked awesome, yea?

October 2013 Family Dinner

A close to another delicious and food coma induced Sunday Family Dinner –that’s a wrap!

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Lobster Martinis
Appetizers: Crab Cakes, White Clam Pizza
Entrees: Lobster Rolls
Dessert: Boston Cream Pie

Appetizers/Small Plates · Sunday Family Dinner

N’awlins Seafood Boil for Sunday Family Dinner & Cajun Crab Puffs

Cajun Crab Puffs

In May, we began our new tradition of Sunday Family Dinners. And although each month has been wonderful, September was a milestone as it was the first dinner that all of my siblings and their families were in attendance. My brother and his family were in from NYC and my sister from SF came down….it was a full house!

Sunday Family Dinner

With all the sibs in attendance, we needed to have an epic Sunday Family Dinner. The theme for our dinner was a N’awlins inspired Seafood Boil! Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Crawfish, Calamari, Clams, Oysters— OH MY! We seriously threw down over 50 pounds of seafood!

Sunday Family Dinner

For dessert, my sister P, whipped up fresh beignets showered with powdered sugar and served with homemade Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream. The beignets were so beautifully tender and crispy…. and the ice cream was To Die For.

Sunday Family Dinner

My contribution for the night were these little appetizers that I was initially going to call Baby Po’Boys but have since changed the name to Cajun Crab Puffs. These little buggers were TASTY! The crab was wonderfully sweet and paired well with the spicy aioli. The tomato and scallions gave a bright, fresh note and c’mon…who doesn’t love flaky, butter puff pastry?!

Sunday Family Dinner

But as decadently delicious as everything was, it was just incredible to have everyone under one roof again. The kids were running around and they even made personalized “seafood bibs” for each of us out of trash bags. Adorable and quite useful!

And although it was a bit chaotic (c’mon, what family shinding isn’t?), it was the epitome of why we started Sunday Family Dinners in the first place.

Cajun Crab Puffs

ps. These Cajun Crab Puffs were really yummy and easy to pull together. With the holidays now in full swing, they would be a great appetizer for any party you may be having.

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Endless Prosecco and Vino
Appetizers: Cajun Crab Puffs
Entrees: Cajun Seafood Boil–Lobster, Shrimp, Crawdads, Shrimp, Shellfish
Dessert: Beignets with homemade Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

__________________________________

Cajun Crab Puffs

Ingredients:

½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 large egg yolk
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
6 ounces lump crab
2-3 pinches cayenne powder
1 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped chives (although I used scallions)

Prepare the aioli. Add garlic, egg yolk, and lemon juice into a blender. Pulse several times until the items have blended together. Turn the blender on low and slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to blend until all of the oil has been used and the consistency reaches a thick consistency. Blend in the hot sauce and Old Bay. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the sheet of puff pastry and cut squares about 1½ inch in diameter. Bake the squares for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks. Once cooled, slice each square in half.

Season the lump crab with cayenne powder.

Begin assembling the puffs. Take one half of a puff pastry square and top with a slice of tomato and a spoonful of crab. Drizzle some of the aioli on top of the crab and then garnish with chives. Top with the other half of the puff pastry square. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.