Do Not Fear the Garlic

This recipe for clam and bacon pizza calls for an obscene amount of garlic. So obscene, in fact,  I was prepared to incapacitate my fellow gym goers the next morning with my manky garlic sweat. However, after one delicious bite, I knew my morning gym buddies would be spared a noxious 5 a.m. cloud of pungent funk. We are all very relieved.

Creamy Garlic Sauce

Creamy Garlic Sauce

The preparation for this delightfully mellow sauce rendered the garlic perfectly sweet, mild and savory — a glorious foil to the briny clams and rich bacon. This pizza was simply outstanding and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into another slice soon. I used a whole wheat pizza crust from Whole Foods to up the health factor and I wouldn’t change a thing. We paired it with a spicy, zesty red Zinfandel from one of our favorite vineyards in Sonoma County, Chateau Felice. What a lovely Sunday dinner!

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Livornese Sauce

Livornese Sauce: This sauce would be delicious on any delicate, fresh fish. Try it on ahi tuna, swordfish or halibut. Simply grill, pan sear or bake fish and add the sauce at the end.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. (Use your good stuff for this recipe as it shines)
Handful of pitted kalamata olives — feel free to chop them if you wish
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, sliced paper-thin
Handful of drained capers
Several chopped fresh tomatoes or good quality canned tomatoes in the winter months
Several tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley or other herbs
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Quickly saute the garlic, capers, olives and parsley until garlic turns golden brown and crisp. Add tomatoes and a few squeezes of lemon juice and boil until reduced just a bit — 2 to 3 minutes should be plenty. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over fish. Drizzle additional olive oil over fish if needed.

Viola, that is all! Light, healthy and satisfying. All you really need is fresh fish and high quality olive oil to turn this into a fabulous dinner. Enjoy!

Suvir Saran’s Braised Indian Chicken in White Sauce with Garam Masala

I like to serve this with brown rice and any number of Indian pickles or relishes — preferably homemade.

INGREDIENTS

3 medium red onions, quartered

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

1/3 cup canola oil

1 inch piece cinnamon stick

12 green cardamom pods, pounded in a mortar and pestle just to break open the shells

16 whole cloves

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon coriander seeds

5 bay leaves

¼ tsp. white or black peppercorns

3 whole dried red chile peppers

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 cup plain yogurt

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in small pieces

¾ cup hot water

½ teaspoon garam masala

½ cup heavy cream (optional)

PREPARATION

Combine onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and process until finely minced.

Combine the oil, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and dried red peppers  in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon stick unfurls and the spices brown lightly, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add onion mixture and salt.  Cook until onion turns light brown.  Add water, 1 tsp. at a time if onion starts sticking.  Add ground coriander and cook 1 minute.  Add 3 TBSP yogurt and cook until yogurt is entirely blended and the moisture has evaporated.  Continue adding yogurt slowly until incorporated.  Add chicken and cook 5 minutes.  Add hot water and stir.  Boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Stir in garam masala and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in cream, if using, and remove from heat.  If you can, allow the dish to rest for 1 hour so the flavors can marry.  Season with additional salt and a drizzle of cream, if desired.

From Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness.

Caramelized Lemongrass Shrimp

Adapted from “Vietnamese Home Cooking,” by Charles Phan. This recipe will work without shrimp heads, but Phan says the heads add richness to the sauce. The recipe also calls for homemade roasted chile paste (there is a recipe in the book), but you can also purchase jarred roasted chile paste.

  • 2 pounds medium head-on shrimp in their shells, or purchase peeled and deveined shrimp if you wish
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • 2 Thai chiles, stemmed and halved on the diagonal
  • 1/4 cup finely minced lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 2- by 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons roasted chile paste
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce 
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • — Steamed white or brown rice

Instructions: Use scissors to remove the sharp spike at the tail of each shrimp and the spike in the center of the head. Cut off the eyes and discard, then separate the head from the body. Set the heads aside. Peel each shrimp body, removing the tail segments, then devein. Sprinkle bodies with the pepper; set aside.

Pour the oil into a 2-quart clay pot or high-sided skillet, and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots, chiles and reserved shrimp heads and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and chile paste; cook, stirring, about 1 minute more. Add the caramel sauce and stock; stir to combine.

Add the shrimp bodies, and toss to coat with the aromatic ingredients. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes, until the shrimp are bright pink.

Serve directly from the clay pot, accompanied by steamed rice.