Thursday, July 10

Under The Pergola III: feeding a hungry group of teens with an easy linguini with clam sauce

Under The Pergola with Nest by Tamara.
With a house filled with hungry teens, and a busy day potting our plants on the patio garden, we needed an easy dinner on this sunny July evening.  We picked up a few pounds of local clams and sweet Long Island corn then planned to make a linguini with clam sauce.
Sometimes potted plants and bowls of fruit are all the decorations needed for a pretty table, especially when it's a casual get-together like this one.

Tabletop Decorating Tips:
Even when it's casual, keep it interesting by mixing and matching different patterns.  We used vintage napkins from the 1970s, a shell napkin ring holder on top of two blue and white flea market find plates, rattan chargers.  When out of fresh flowers, I set up bowls of fresh citrus on the table - one bowl of limes, another oranges or lemons - it adds color and a festive tone. 
Set up your bar cart (or any table) in the center of the room so everyone can help themselves to a drink at their leisure.  Stock it with ice, a pitcher of something delicious to drink, water and garnish.
 I pick up a variety of blue and white plates any chance I can get, either at a flea market or specialty shop.  I combine all the old and new patterns together for a layered look.
We started with this cranberry/citrus cocktail I whipped up (for the grown ups only), a cranberry, gin and tonic with lemon and lime and orange slices.  I call this 
Summer Gin Fizz.
The bar was stocked with plenty of citrus, and I added a bit of cranberry juice to pull together a sort-of sweet gin and tonic. We made homemade Iced Black Tea and orange slices for the kids.  The meal is complete and simple!
Cooking Tips:
A great motto to follow when cooking is when something is in season, buy it and hopefully locally.  That way, not too many hands have touched it our trucked it or sent it and it comes to you fresh. Long Island corn in perfect in the end of June and July, therefore all it needs is a 10 minute boil a touch of butter with Salt & pepper and it is divine. When making Linguini With Clam Sauce, the most important point to note is please under cook your pasta just before it is al dente and to the "tooth" so when you add it to the sauce it continues to cook for a minute and you serve pasta with just the right amount of firmness.

Tamara's Linguini with Clam Sauce
The juice of 1 whole lemon
1 cup of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups of white wine
4-5 pats of butter
1 handful of freshly cut parsley
2 lbs. small clams
1 lb. linguini
salt & pepper to taste
couple of pinches of red pepper flakes
1 ladle of pasta water

Start with a deep pan/pot big enough to fit the entire meal in it.  
Don't forget to thoroughly clean the clams so all the sand is removed. 
I start with making the sauce and while I'm boiling the pasta water, which is a combination of the white wine, chicken stock, garlic cloves (saute the garlic cloves in olive oil first), butter.  I cook the sauce down a bit then add my very washed clams (no sand) cover the deep pan and put it on high simmer until the clams open.  Add your salt, pepper and red pepper flakes now.  Simultaneously cook your pasta and when it is not quite finished cooking and a tad too hard, add it to your pan with the clams and sauce.  Add one ladle of water from your pasta pot to the sauce and cook on med/high for one minute stirring constantly until the pasta is perfectly al dente and coated with the sauce and clams.  Turn off the flame and add the chopped fresh parsley and squeeze a whole lemon (through your fingers to catch any seeds) and bring to the table in a large shallow bowl immediately.
Happy Nesting 
XO Tamara