Eating is always better when I don’t have to cook anything for myself. That is why I love having a close friend who is also an incredible chef.
On Friday night, my pal Molly Loveday invited Joe(y) and I over for dinner. A late dinner. Like, come over at 8:30 and we will start to get the ball rolling kind of late dinner. (By “get the ball rolling”, I mean I’ll watch you get all of this edible amazingness ready while I take pictures and drink Lambrusco.)
Molly makes real food, from scratch. She was trained by and has worked for an impressive list of people. She knows exactly how to pair this with that. She understands and utilizes local ingredients at their peak. Everything always tastes flavorful and fresh. Molly even makes her own sparkling water and places it on the table with a glass that has your name on it. Now that’s service… I mean, friendship. That’s friendship!
Molly dressed her table with bunched herbs and fresh scallions, which just happen to be ingredients in the meal we will be feasting on. And the table itself…Well, it’s a black and white enamel topped Hoosier table. The body of which was lovingly and professionally restored (along with the bench) by her father. We are christening it tonight. It was just carried in about an hour or so before we arrived. The paint may or may not still be a little tacky.
On the menu for the evening:
- Mackerel Tartine
- Lentils, cauliflower and herbs topped with pomegranate seeds
- Tagliatelle with littleneck clams in a gin-basil jalapeño sauce
- Brandy Tuile with kumquat marmalade
- Chocolate Caramel Tartlettes
- Molly’s Blonde Fudge
I know, right?
The tagliatelle dish was completely filling and perfectly balanced. The jalapeño peppers added just enough kick to bring the fresh pasta to a higher level of being, especially when joined with the scallion. And I don’t believe you can ever go wrong with adding in littleneck clams. (You can find the recipe for this dish at the bottom.)
I’m excited and privileged to have Molly as one of my closest friends. I’m also elated that she has moved only a few blocks away. In any spare time the two of us may have, I know I’ll be heading over to her home any chance I get (for obvious reasons.)
Molly is currently putting her culinary talents to use right in your own kitchen! If you live in the Boston area and would like to have a private cooking lesson in your own home, or think someone you know would enjoy this as a gift, you can contact Molly for more details at ChefMollyLoveday@gmail.com
Expect more collaborations from Molly, myself and Joe(y) in the near future. Until then, give this main dish a try…
- 1/2 pound fresh-cut tagliatelle
- 2 dozen littleneck clams, rinsed
- 4 cloves roasted garlic
- 1/3 cup quality cooking gin (Bombay, Beefeater, your preference)
- 4 T unsalted butter
- 1 jalapeño, de-stemmed, seeded, and diced small
- 1 cup basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
- 1 chive, sliced on the bias, razor thin
- salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Have ready a large stock pot filled with water, and bring to a boil.
In another large pot, over medium-low heat, add 1-to-2 teaspoons of oil. After about 2-3 minutes, place all of the clams in the pot, uncovered, and allow to steam for a few minutes undisturbed. Add in the gin, the roasted garlic and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid or sheet tray.
After another 2 minutes, check to see if clams have begun to open. As they do, remove them from the post and keep nearby on a plate/bowl. You may separate the meat from the shell and discard the shells at this time, or use them again when you plate the dish.Once all of the clams have opened and have been removed from the pot, add the butter and jalapeno, then reduce broth by about 1/2. Drop the tagliatelle into the boiling pot of water and allow to cook for 3 minutes, until just tender and al-dente.
To finish: Toss the chopped basil into the clam/jalapeño broth with the reserved clams. When the pasta is done, drain directly into the sauce pot, adding about 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water along with the tagliatelle (this helps to thicken the sauce). Stir the pasta gently, check seasoning and plate into 4 bowls.
Top with sliced scallion and serve!
Don’t forget to pair with a glass of either of these great wines: we love Lini 910 Lambrusco (white), or try the 2009 Domaine Alain Normand Macon La Roche Vineuse.