Linguini and Clams, A Family Favorite

Recipe by Alexandra Burke, special to Edible DC

Photo by Adrien Sala, Unsplash

Photo by Adrien Sala, Unsplash

Ingredients:

  • 4 dozen cherrystone clams
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons of minced fresh Italian parsley.
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Linguini or Linguini Fini Pasta
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning to taste (Note: Clam juice is typically salty, so no extra salt is usually necessary.)

Place one to two inches of water at the bottom of a large pot, and heat the water.

Wash the outside of the clams with a brush or new sponge and cold water to remove any sand or sediment on shell, discarding any clams that are cracked open. Place the clams in the large pot. The clams should not go higher than three quarters of the height of the pot otherwise the liquid will steam out of the covered pot. Bring the heated water to boiling, and cover, steaming for about 8-10 minutes, or until the clam shells begin to pop open.

Remove the pot from the heat. Take the meat of the clams out of the shells using cooking tongs and place the clam meat in a separate bowl. Toss the shells and save the clam liquid in the pot.

Take a bowl and place a paper towel in a strainer and hold it over a clean empty bowl. Pour the claim juice through the towel and the strainer to catch any sand or natural debris that has settled into the juice through the steaming process.

After all clam meat has been removed and placed in a bowl, the clams need to be cut up. I prefer to use a food scissor for this step instead of chopping the clams on a cutting board. With this method, the clam pieces remain firm and do not get mushy.  

In a small pot, add one and one half tablespoons of olive oil and heat and add the chopped garlic. Cook the garlic for a few minutes on medium heat so it begins to soften but not brown.

When the garlic is cooked add the clam juice into the pot. Keep the clam juice on medium heat until the broth begins to boil.

Add the chopped parsley and let it cook for a few minutes and then add the chopped clams and remove from the heat.

To a boiling pot of water, add one pound of linguini pasta and cook until the pasta is “al dente.”After the pasta is cooked and drained, put the pasta back in the pot and add some of the clam juice to the pasta to prevent it from sticking.

Take a serving of pasta and add it to bowl. Take a ladle filled with clam juice and clams and pour it over each serving of pasta. Grate some Parmesan cheese over the top of each bowl. All you need is a great loaf of bread, a glass of wine and enjoy!

Photo by Alexandra Burke. She adds the shells back as garnish.

Photo by Alexandra Burke. She adds the shells back as garnish.

Classic Greek Hortopita

Homemade Phyllo
This phyllo dough is inspired by traditional recipes from Crete and Epirus. When we think of phyllo, we think of very thin sheets, as used in baklava. This phyllo is thicker, and though still used in layers, provides a sturdy but delicious crust for pies. It is not difficult to make, but even in Greece is somewhat of a dying art. Only a generation back, women would make phyllo every day to wrap the bounty of Mediterranean gardens, a task they learned as young girls. Nowadays, most phyllo is made in large commercial operations. Zatinya is one of the only Greek restaurants I know of in the U.S. that still makes its own phyllo dough the traditional way.

  • 6–8 sheets (for 1 large, or 2 smaller pies)
  • 4 cups (500 grams) bread flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • About 1 cup water, or more as needed
  • Cornstarch to roll the phyllo

Mix all dry ingredients, then make a well in the center and pour in olive oil, vodka and club soda. Mix and knead well (for about 8 minutes) to make a smooth and elastic dough. Let rest for 20 minutes and up to 2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 3 days, but bring to room temperature before proceeding further.

Divide into 6 parts, shape each piece into a ball, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each piece on a floured surface to make a large, almost transparent thin sheet, and place on a clean cloth as you roll the rest of the sheets.

 

Hortopita (Greens, scallion and herb pie)
Adapted from Aglaia Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts
Serves 8–10

 Simple pies made of vegetables are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, especially on the Greek islands where meat is a luxury because of cost and the lack of grazing land for animals. But sunshine is abundant, and so are vegetable gardens. This is a typical pie made of fresh greens, herbs and cheeses. It is delicious as main course on a summer day.  

  • 2 pounds mixed greens (spinach, arugula, chard, beet greens), washed, drained and finely chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil and more for the phyllo
  • 15 scallions, white and most green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 cleaned leeks, white parts and 3 inches of the green, finely sliced
  • 1 cup dill, finely chopped
  • 2 cups parsley, leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
  • 2–3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chervil, leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
  • 1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup grated aged cheddar
  • ½ cup currants (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Homemade phyllo or thick commercial phyllo, at room temperature
  • Bulgur flour, breadcrumbs or cornmeal as needed

Rinse the greens. Drain briefly and place in a large pot while still wet. Cook over high heat, stirring, until wilted. Let cool. Squeeze the excess liquid from the wilted greens with your hands, then coarsely chop them.

In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup of olive oil and sauté the scallions and leeks over medium heat for 6–8 minutes, or until tender. Add the wilted greens, the parsley and 3 tablespoons of the oil and sauté for 3–4 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and add the eggs, cheeses, dill and other herbs, currants, if using and pepper to taste. Taste and add salt if necessary, feta is usually quite salty. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil it lightly. Lay 2 sheets of phyllo, lightly oil them, then add another 2 sheets, oil them, and do the same with 2 more sheets of phyllo. Sprinkle liberally with bulgur or breadcrumbs, then carefully spread the greens mixture, pressing and spreading evenly. Lay another 6 sheets of phyllo on top, lightly oiling every second sheet. Cut excess phyllo around and fold the phyllo inwards to seal the pie, pressing with a fork so that the borders won’t be higher than the center, because they will burn. Cut a cross on the top layer to let the steam out as the pie bakes. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until well browned on top and bottom. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting to serve.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Serves 4

  •  1 all natural chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons + ¼ cup kosher salt, divided
  • ½  cup coarse ground black pepper, divided
  • ½ cup granulated onion, divided
  • ½ cup dried oregano flakes, divided
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Canola oil

Lay the chicken in a single layer on a platter or sheet pan. Using 3 tablespoons kosher salt, ¼ cup black pepper, ¼ cup granulated onion, ¼ cup dry oregano flakes, season the chicken liberally, coating all sides.

Transfer the seasoned chicken into a large bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken and use your hands to “stir” until all the chicken is nicely coated. Allow the chicken to marinate for 1 hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Next, in a large, heavy flat-bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron), heat canola oil to 350˚.

Place the flour in a large (9x13) baking dish. Add the remaining ¼ c kosher salt, ¼ c black pepper, ¼ c granulated onion, ¼ c dry oregano flakes and the paprika and stir with a whisk to blend thoroughly.

Coat the chicken a few pieces at a time with the flour. Gently shake off the excess flour and carefully place the chicken in the hot canola oil. Take care not to overlap the chicken as it cooks.

Cook each piece to 165 degrees and place on a wire rack to cool.

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