Thursday, October 14, 2010

Linguine With Escaped Clams, A Mario Dish

A few years back, I used to watch Malto Mario, Mario Batali's first cooking show. One time he said he was so nervous (I believe it was the first show in the series), he accidentally cut his finger, almost right off! Poor guy.

He has since come a long way from that fellow who just started a new TV gig to where he is today. If you are not familiar with who Mario Batali is, check his link out - He is one the chefs I follow and highly respect with what he has done and is doing for the food world today.

I watched the series "Spain: On the road again" ( every week when it was on. It was nice to see him do the Spanish thing rather than his usual Italian. I even bought the cookbook which was inspired by the series. Good stories, good recipes. His co-conspirators for the trip were Mark Bittman (, Gwyneth Paltrow ( and some Spanish actress babe named Claudia Bassols. I enjoyed watching this as Mario was learning something new all of the time. It was nice to see the master on a new learning curve. But, Spanish food will be the topic on another day. Today is all about this one pasta recipe of his, which was the first of his dishes I attempted to make. With success.

The dish is called Linguine with Escaped Clams. He said it was named this because of the seafood smell of the dish without the seafood. If done correctly, it actually does smell like there is seafood in the dish. If done incorrectly (which I've done it more than once), it doesn't smell anything remotely close to seafood. I'm giving you this recipe from memory, but you can google it if you like.


- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, cut into 1/2-inch size 
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 oz's (42.5 g) prosciutto or pancetta. I use prosciutto as I like the flavour better and it has less fat.  
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 pound linguine. You can downsize this a bit if you think it's too much. Filling up on tomatoes is probably healthier than filling up on pasta. Any true pasta lover or Italian will disagree and I agree with them, but I'm thinking of being nicely full, not bloated.


1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons sea salt. Never skimp on the water used to boil pasta. It is better to have a little too much than too little.
2. In a large, non-reactive bowl, combine the tomatoes and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, stir gently with a wooden spoon, and set aside.
3. On a clean cutting board, mince the garlic and prosciutto together to make a homogeneous, paste-like mixture.
4. In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, add the garlic and pork mixture. Cook it gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until it is translucent but not browned. Remove from heat, add the chili flakes, stir well to combine and set aside.
5. Cook the linguine in the boiling water according to package instructions, until tender yet al dente. The more you cook pasta, the easier al dente will be to achieve. Don't give up trying if you are having a hard time reaching this. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
6. Toss the drained pasta into the pan with the garlic-prosciutto mixture and the tomatoes. Toss over high heat for 1 minute, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to bring the sauce to desired consistency.
7. Remove from heat and serve in pasta bowls. Serves 4.

Here is a picture of when I went through a period when my brain shut down. I forgot the recipe and screwed it up, but it was still good!

This is an extremely flavourful dish I make for Mrs. Urban Eater all of the time. She requests it at least once every week or two, especially now that our kitchen is overrun with tomatoes. If you want to cut back on the EVOO you can, but only a little bit. You need the oil to cook the prosciutto as it will suck it up and possibly leave the pan dry. You may burn everything in the pan if this happens.

There are a number of chefs I follow for their recipes, Mario being one of them. My criteria for this is:

1) Does the chef cook healthy dishes or can their dishes be altered slightly to make it healthier without compromising the flavour? This is why I don't follow people who are big on "home cooking." No offense to them, but home cookin' is a really good way to bulk up your belly. I like to see my feet when I look down.
2) Can I learn anything from this particular chef or are they just on TV for their looks or have they written a book trying to tell me 1,00 different ways to cook chicken wings? You have to have substance in your repertoire if you want me to follow you. Also, if the book is about what you serve at your restaurant and I have been there to indulge and enjoy, I'll usually buy the book.
3) I only follow TV chefs who are original and can keep their egos in check, meaning the food they cook works well for my standards and doesn't have their own little personal twist on it which makes it so original I can't eat it.
4) Does the TV chef or the author do something in the food industry besides have a show or book? Take Mario or Lidia Bastianich for example. Both have empires to run outside of the kitchen but still have recipes which are easy to follow, mostly. Some not so easy as certain ingredients aren't exactly easy to find. They also make me want to go to New York or wherever to try their places.

I have about 70 cookbooks in my war chest here at the house and use almost all of them regularly. This keeps my mind going and helps my creative side in the kitchen. I also follow 9 or 10 cooking shows on various TV channels. When it comes to cooking, you have to have an open mind to keep broadening your horizons. Always look for new ways to find and create new ideas. Always listen to someone who has established themselves by putting their time in and working hard.

Blogs or email subscriptions I follow for the foodie content:

Whole Foods Market -
Gwyneth Paltrow -
Smitten Kitchen -

There are a couple of others, but I can only read so many.These are the main ones I pay attention to. If there's a good idea or recipe I see, I'll read it. I am always looking out for more good ones to read as well.

Little O's Menu

With the Thanksgiving leftovers still around for another day, she is eating the sweet potato infused mashed potatoes still (which I made more of for her so she wouldn't have to deal with any food borne illness issues) with diced turkey. This time I added some finely grated Parmesan cheese to it. This is still going over well with her, but we don't want to overdo it. Tomorrow will be something new for her. Desserts and breakfasts are more or less still the same, but we are now adding some frozen strawberries from her Grandma's garden to the yogurt mixture.

Today's quote:

"Worthless people love only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live."
Socrates (BC 469-BC 399) Greek philosopher of Athens

Until next time, good eating everyone.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Every time we make turkey, there are leftovers. I'm sure we are not alone with this scenario. It makes things a little easier now that we have an extra mouth to feed with this issue. This means I'm not stuck eating turkey sandwiches for 2 weeks afterwards. I know turkey is good for a person and I love the things I can make with it, but the overload can get to a guy. My step-father used to give us the ol' stink eye if we didn't eat about a pound each as he had to everyday after if we didn't help him out.

We usually end up freezing some of the turkey to eat later on, but you can't leave it too long. You should eat cooked turkey within the month, as this particular website says ( Everyone should look at this site if you like to freeze turkey meat for use at a later date.

Turkey is a pretty versatile ingredient when it comes to cooking. It can soak up flavours from around it as the dish is cooked. Don't get me wrong, it's not a sponge like tofu, but whatever you cook it with will be a nice addition to the turkey flavour. For example, one dish I like to use the leftover turkey in is kind of a cross between a stir fry and a succotash. If I throw Lima beans in and maybe a squash, then it's close to a succotash. If I don't, it's a semi-stir fry. This is a nice way to eat  the turkey and it puts a big dent in the leftovers. Sorry but no photos this time around.


- 2 Cups turkey chopped into bite-sized chunks, This doesn't have to be perfect, just make sure none of the pieces are bigger than 1/2 the size of the palm of your hand.
- 1 Red pepper
- 1 Onion
- 2 Large carrots
- 2 Cups corn, preferably fresh cut from the cob. If not, frozen is the best substitute.
- 2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Handful chopped cilantro
- 1 Sprig thyme
- 1 Small Sprig rosemary
- 1 Tsp cumin
- 1 Jalapeno or other small hot chili pepper, diced
- 3/4 Cup chicken or vegetable stock. I make my own, but if I don't have any on hand, I will be an organic or sodium-reduced stock. This time I used Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base ( which we bought in Montana when we were there visiting friends awhile back. Decent substitute when in a pinch.
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Place a large saute` pan on medium high heat until quite hot, then add the oil. Usually about 2 tbls will do. 
  2. Add the corn, pepper, cumin and the onion. Saute` until the vegetables until brown and caramelize slightly. Stir often as you don't want the veggies to burn. This should only take about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic. I throw the rosemary and thyme in whole, but you can take the leaves off and chop them up if you like. Hit the rosemary sprig slightly on the cutting board with the back of the knife blade to help release some of the flavour before you throw it in.
  4. Cook for another 3 minutes on medium heat. You should see some juices start to come out of the vegetables by now.
  5. Add the broth  and the cilantro then stir. Simmer on low to medium low until all the vegetables are tender. It should take about 15 minutes. I like to cook things a little slower to ensure I don't blast all of the good things out of the food, like the vitamins, minerals and most of the flavour. The stock should reduce nicely to make a sauce. Serves 4.

This dish is a nice, healthy way to help get rid of the extra turkey. There isn't very much fat at all. The chicken stock will only add only a small amount as will the olive oil. There is also a small amount in the turkey, but otherwise that's about it. Beats the crap out of hot turkey sandwiches (which I love but never eat), right?

Little O's Menu
This year the excess turkey and fixin's will help feed Little O. Her menu now will consist of finely chopped turkey, mashed potatoes with a sweet potato added in, with peas, carrots and corn mixed together. We put all these ingredients in a bowl with a little gravy and heat it up. Loves it! Another score, and it helps get rid of the gravy as I don't touch the stuff. Mrs. Urban Eater makes it and it turns out really well, but I shy away. It helps Little O on her quest to gain a few more pounds and adds more flavour. We add the usual touch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper with a little EVOO as normal, and all goes down well.

For her breakfast and desserts, we still have her eating red seedless grapes with homemade apple or pear sauce and a little mild cheddar cheese. We have been bouncing back and forth with this and the yogurt mixture. Both are well liked by our little ravioli and are full of healthy benefits.

This morning I tried an egg yolk on the side with her yogurt. She liked it at first, but then turned her nose up a little as I think the texture didn't go over well. I just hid the rest in her yogurt. No problem now. This is a good thing for her to eat (, so we will continue this a couple of days a week. The reason why it's only the egg yolk as opposed to the whole egg is due to allergy concerns with the white, so I have been told. I'm not taking any chances, for now anyways. When she can talk, then she can try the whole thing.

Everywhere we go, people are amazed with how content she is. I believe this is because of her mothers good genes (tragic brown-nosing, I know) and healthy eating. Once in awhile we let her eat things such as white bread, pancakes or something like this but that is as far off the beaten path as we go. The other 95% of the time, you see it here, nothing but good choices for her to grow up on.

I had a conversation with someone whom I had just met last week. I told them about the blog and they said it was a great idea and how amazing it is how a lot of people don't take the time to do their due diligence when it comes to feeding their families properly. I agreed and just said "This is the reason why I write the blog."

I'm doing my part to help my little girl and I hope I can help other kids out by writing this blog. Actually, not just kids, everybody. I hope everyone who reads this tells their friends. I am not out to get famous nor am I doing this to satisfy my own ego. I write this to bring peoples attention to the fact of cooking and eating healthy isn't hard at all. If I can convince people to start their children's lives out properly by feeding them the proper way and continue this by eating well themselves, then I am a happy guy. I don't want to be a burden as I get older and I'm sure none of you want this either, so eating properly is a good tool to help ensure this.

I had a little snack I forgot to mention here while I was cooking the turkey. I chose to have a deconstructed Caprese salad. I have all of these tomatoes staring at my in the kitchen. I'm going to have to start using them up before they go south on us.


- 3 Tomatoes, 1 large yellow, 1 large Choco (large purple heirloom), 1 small plum (Roma)
- 6 Bocconcini's
- 4 Large basil leaves
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- EVOO, the good stuff
- Course sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


1. Slice the tomatoes about 1/2" thick and arrange on a plate the way you like.
2. Tear the basil up by hand or chiffonade, then spread over tomatoes.
3. Place 3 whole bocconcini's on place, or slice 1 big one in half, depending on what you have.
4. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top of tomatoes.
5. Pour 1 tsp balsamic over top of tomatoes and cheese along with a little oil on each plate. Serves 2.

A nice snack which keeps the fat down a little but lets the flavour loose. This is another example of what you can make with what you see around you. I had all of this in the fridge, except the tomatoes, and we needed a snack. Tra laaa! There you go. Easy, isn't it?
Hockey season has started again and with that comes beer and greasy food for a lot of people. Not me though. If you know me, then beer will almost always be near by. But, this year I will make an extra effort to be good to my belly. I will have a beer or two, maybe a glass or two of red wine at the game and I will have a plate of nachos once in awhile. Come on, go to ANY sports event and not eat at least one hot dog or something like that every now and again?? For the most part, eating at the game will be minimal, I made this promise to myself. We are going to a Calgary Flames game tomorrow night. They are playing the Florida Panthers. Should be a good game and we will be seeing it from a corporate box. Free food, but I will have to be smart and courteous as usual.

Today's quote:

"Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often."

- Johnny Carson

Until next time, good eating everyone.