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01/22/2017

~ A Plain, All-Purpose, No-Nonsense Muffin Recipe ~

IMG_5338Who bakes plain muffins and why?  I do and here's why.  I enjoy a lot of treats unembellished  -- doughnuts, cake doughnuts, cream cakes,  crumb cakes and coffeecakes to name a few.  Heck, I even like plain cheesecake.   That said, for those who prefer their muffins chocked-full of goodies (fresh or dried fruits, berries, nuts, chocolate- peanut butter- or cinnamon-chips and/or toffee bits), having a basic muffin batter recipe in your back pocket takes the guess and stress out of making all sorts of muffins exactly the way your family, friends and you like them -- simply by adding a cup or two of this or that and a pinch of spice and other things nice.

Similar to the low-key and friendly "welcome to my kitchen" ambiance of any of the aforementioned unembellished treats, a plain muffin is my own, personal, morning-comfort-food. I can't wait to open one up, use my fingers to pull it apart, eat it slowly, one lip-licking nibble at a time.  Afterward, I can feel good about having eaten this small, sweet indulgence for the entire day.  From start to finish, I can make ten simply-delicious, nothin'-muffins in 30 minutes or less.

From start-to-finish, 30-minutes or less, I promise:

IMG_5299For the wet ingredients:

4  tablespoons salted butter, melted

1/2  cup sugar

1  large egg

1  cup whole milk

1  tablespoon vanilla extract

For the dry ingredients:

2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  tablespoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/4  teaspoon salt

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing muffin cups

IMG_5301~ Step 1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly-spray the cups in standard-sized muffin tins (enough for 12 muffins) with no-stick spray and set aside.  In a small bowl stir together the dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Note:  If you are using unsalted butter, increase the amount of salt to 1/2 teaspoon.  

In a 1-cup measuring container, stir the milk and vanilla together.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool a bit, 1-5 minutes.  Ready, set, go:

IMG_5305 IMG_5307 IMG_5309 IMG_5312 IMG_5314 IMG_5319~Step 2.  Add the sugar and the egg to the bowl of melted butter.  Using an old-fashioned hand-crank mixer, combine until thick and smooth, about 30-45 seconds.  Add the milk and blend again, until milk is thoroughly incorporated. Remove the mixer and add all of the dry ingredients.  Using a large rubber spatula, incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Don't over mix.  Batter will be slightly-lumping looking.

IMG_5320 IMG_5326~ Step 3. Using a 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, distribute the batter amongst each of ten of the prepared muffin cups.

~ Step 4.  Bake muffins, all at once, on center rack of preheated 350° oven, until puffed up, golden, and, a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 14-16 minutes.

IMG_5335 IMG_5346~ Step 5. Remove from oven to cool, in pans, on a wire rack for 2-3 minutes, just long enough for them to shrink from sides of cups.  Use a sharp paring knife to carefully and gently remove muffins from tins to cool on rack completely about 1 hour.

I just adore a simply-splendid nothin'-muffin in the mornin':

IMG_5352A Plain, All-Purpose, No-Nonsense Muffin Recipe:  Recipe yields 10 muffins.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; old-fashioned hand-crank mixer; large rubber spatula; 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop; standard-size muffin tins, enough for 10 muffins; 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop; cake tester or toothpick; wire cooling rack; sharp paring knife

IMG_5228Cook's Note:  When folding add-ins into the muffin mixture, stir them into the dry ingredients first -- this will keep them evenly distributed while they bake.  That said, limit the grand total of all add-ins together to 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups.  The new yield will be 12 muffins.  

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)

01/20/2017

~ The Differences Between: Cupcakes and Muffins ~

IMG_5294Cupcakes and muffins.  Past their shape and portable-foodness, they have less in common than one might think.  The fast, simple generic answer is:  Cupcakes are fancy little cup-sized cakes and muffins are plain little cup-sized quick-breads.  Served with an ice-cold glass of milk or cup of piping hot coffee, rare is the person who would take a pass on either.  That said, I will always choose a muffin over a cupcake.  Sorry cupcake -- this post is going to be a bit biased.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d1667c12970cShape. They're both baked in multiple-cupped pans, to produce individual-sized, portable portions. Prior to the invention of the pans, they were baked in cup-sized pottery ramekins. Sometimes, for ease of serving, paper liners are placed in the cups, except:  paper liners prevent browning on the outside (which I think is fine for cupcakes but not for muffins) so, I only use them for coarse, crumbly, bready corn and/or cheese muffins.

Cupcakes require a cake recipe.  Muffins require a bread recipe -- Never the twain shall meet.

IMG_7934A cupcake is made from a cake recipe, often with cake flour, rendering it light and soft.  Cupcake batter is the same smooth consistency of cake batter: thick enough to mound slightly when dropped from a spoon back into the bowl, and thin enough to pour from the bowl to the pan. Baking cakes and cupcakes is a precise sport:  for best results, all of the dry and wet ingredients should be weighed and measured carefully and at the proper temperature.

IMG_5225A muffin is made from a quick-bread recipe (a quick-to-mix bread leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda rather than yeast) with a dense, crumby texture. Once the dry ingredients are added to the wet ingredients, while it's important to incorporate them, it's important not to over mix them, even if the mixture appears a bit lumpy.  Each mixture looks a bit different and many recipes do not even require an electric mixer -- they just get stirred together.

Cupcakes get frosted &/or decorated.  Muffins do not.

IMG_7999Like cakes, cupcakes are piped or slathered with frosting on their tops -- like cakes, some cupcakes are elaborately decorated.  Muffins get nothing at all, a sprinkling of sparkling, coarse-textured sugar, and/or, a crumbly streusel sprinkled on their tops.  Both sugar and streusel will add a pleasant crunch to a muffin's top.  As a purist, I am here say:  muffins should never be glazed or frosted after-the fact (like cinnamon rolls or coffeecakes, which beg for a sweet, creamy enhancement), although there's always a bakery or coffee shop happy to do it and sell it.

IMG_4983A cupcake is sweeter than a muffin and a muffin is sweeter than a traditional loaf of bread with one caveat: Muffins (like corn or cheese muffins) can be savory too -- a cupcake is sweet 100% of the time. Cupcakes are dessert.  Muffins can surely be served for dessert, but, they are generally considered a breakfast fare. That said, savory muffins (like corn and/or cheese muffins) are great with chili or a stew for lunch, or, a juicy steak or a rack of ribs for dinner.

IMG_2563Savory corn and/or cheese muffins are muffins made from cornmeal and are popular all over the USA. Corn muffins are basicially muffin-shaped cornbread, but, are usually sweeter.  Common add-ins are corn kernels, cheddar cheese, bacon bits and or jalapeño peppers. Because corn muffins are made with a healthy amount of cornmeal, they will not have the signature domed-top that other kinds of muffins and their cupcake cousins, which are made with all-purpose flour or cake flour, do.

Muffins are healthier than cupcakes?  Add-ins = calories.

IMG_5181Cupcakes and muffins were originally baked at home and the home cook knew that muffins were not as sweet as cupcakes, so, in their basic form, muffins are healthier than cupcakes. When coffee shops and cafés became trendy, muffins were marketed as the healthier alternative to donuts and other pastries.  Nowadays, many muffins are so sugar-laden and chocked-full of add-ins, the calorie count is higher than the calorie count in the doughnuts and pastries -- it's seriously deceiving to the unsuspecting consumer.  It's lucky for me I like muffins made with bran or oatmeal a lot, so, in the face of danger, that's what I choose when in my local coffee shop.  

For anyone to say that muffins are inherently healthier than cupcakes is a misconception -- the muffins at your local bakery or coffee shop often have as many as 600+ calories.  Wow.

IMG_5228Fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice, fruit purée, nuts, seeds and grains (usually bran or oats) are common additions.  As mentioned above, in the recent history of muffins, chocolate, cinnamon, peanut butter, and/or toffee bits have become popular additions too. The latter list of sweets, while not my favorite, are not going to prompt me to call the food police.  Even I like a chocolate chip or a toffee bit thrown into my homemade mix  occasionally.

That said, when it comes to fruity add-ins to muffin batter, experience has taught me that dried fruits and berries work better than fresh, juicy and/or water-laden ones.  For example: Dried cherries or papaya work better than fresh cherries or fresh papaya, and, mashed fruit or thick fruit purées, like applesauce or mashed bananas, are preferable to all liquid fruit juices.

Given a choice between a cupcake or a muffin?  My winner is: 

IMG_5272"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)
 

01/18/2017

~ Go Bananas: Banana-Nut Chocolate-Chip Muffins ~

IMG_5272Go bananas or gone bananas -- an idiom implying one is or has gone mildly crazy.  When it comes to well-made muffins, I am not mildly crazy about them, I am certifiably crazy about them. I prefer a muffin to a cupcake, and, to be clear, I personally would choose a banana-nut muffin over a banana chocolate-chip muffin.  That said, it's not always about me:  some folks dislike or have a bona fide allergy to nuts, and, unlike me, many others just love and crave chocolate.

IMG_5289"Let's meet for coffee." (Said by me never.)

"Let's meet for coffee."  It's something I rarely agree to, but, when I do, if I can order a muffin too, I do. The golden-domed banana-nut muffin I ordered at a local café yesterday sucked.  When I pushed it to the side after nibbling on two small pieces, my friend Bob offered to try a piece.  He agreed it had about as much taste as tofu, suggested that chocolate chips might taste better (than nuts), then made the questioning statement, "that's if chocolate chips can be substituted for nuts."  Bob's not a cook.  I replied, "One reason the muffin has no flavor is the bananas used were not ripe enough, and yes, chocolate chips can be substituted for nuts, or, you can add 'em both.  It's like making chocolate-chip cookies with or without nuts -- you do what you like best."

IMG_8010"So, what's the difference between a muffin & a cupcake?"  

"So, what's the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?"  One tasteless banana muffin turned into an interesting conversation (and this blog post).  Generally speaking, I like to keep the answer to this question simple.  A cupcake is a cup-sized cake with a light, soft texture, and, a muffin is a cup-sized loaf of "quick-bread" (a quick-to-mix-together bread leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda rather than yeast) with a denser, crumbier texture.  A cupcake is sweeter than a muffin and a muffin is sweeter than a traditional loaf of bread with one caveat:  a muffin can be savory too, a cupcake cannot.  Cupcakes are usually piped or slathered with frosting, while muffins get nothing at all, a sprinkling of sparkling, coarse-textured sugar, and/or, a crumbly streusel sprinkled on their tops -- sometimes they have a thin glaze too, but, that's not my cup-of-tea.  Cupcakes are, in fact: dessert.  Muffins can be dessert, but, they are generally considered a breakfast treat.  To say that muffins are inherently healthier is a misconception -- the muffins at your local bakery or Starbucks often have as many as 600+ calories.

IMG_2068Go bananas, but, PLEASE use over-ripe bananas when baking.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08141119970dI eat a pretty yellow banana almost every day of my life.  Pretty yellow: that is my favorite stage of ripeness for eating and it's one of my favorite snacks on a busy day.  I only buy bananas 2-3 at a time because I won't eat them past pretty yellow.

That said, when I know I'm going to be baking banana muffins or banana bread, I purchase my bananas about week ahead of time. The bananas pictured here took a full 7-8 days to get to the perfect banana-muffin ripeness.  Over-ripe bananas, are incredibly fragrant, sweet and flavorful -- a lot more than the pretty yellow ones.

Time to bake banana-nut chocolate-chip muffins.

IMG_5191For the bananas:

2 - 2 1/4  cups mashed bananas, from 5-6 large, over-ripe bananas (pictured above)

For the wet ingredients:

1  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)

1 1/2  cups sugar

2  large eggs, at room temperature

2  teaspoons each:  banana and vanilla extract

1/2  cup + 2 tablespoons milk

For the dry ingredients:

4  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  tablespoon baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

For the add-ins:

2  cups chopped walnuts or pecans

1 1/2  cups chocolate chips

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing muffin cups 

IMG_5194 IMG_5204 IMG_5195 IMG_5198 IMG_5202~Step 1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly-spray the cups in standard-sized muffin tins (enough for 24 muffins) with no-stick cooking spray and set aside.  Chop and place the nuts in a small baking pan and lightly-toast them for about 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.  In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Note:  If you are using unsalted butter, increase the amount of salt to 3/4 teaspoon.  

In a second medium bowl, on medium speed of hand-held electric mixer and working your way up to high speed, process the bananas until "mashed".  Measure and set aside 2-2 1/4 cups.

IMG_5207 IMG_5209 IMG_5211 IMG_5213 IMG_5215 IMG_5217 IMG_5218 IMG_5222 IMG_5224 IMG_5225 IMG_5228 IMG_5233~Step 2.  Place butter, sugar, eggs and extracts in a large  bowl.  Starting on medium mixer speed and working up to high, cream these ingredients together, about 30-45 seconds, scraping down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula the entire time.  Lower  mixer speed and blend in the milk, followed by the mashed bananas.  In 2-3 increments,  thoroughly incorporate the dry ingredients.  Remove mixer and use the spatula to fold in the nuts and chocolate chips by hand.

IMG_5236 IMG_5239~ Step 3. Using a 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, distribute batter into each of 24 muffin cups whose tins have been sprayed lightly with no-stick cooking spray.  If there is any batter left in the bowl, use a teaspoon to distribute and dollop a bit of additional batter into the center of each muffin cup.

IMG_5246~ Step 4.  Bake muffins, all at once, on center rack of preheated 350° oven, until puffed up, golden, and, a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.  Remove from oven to cool, in pans, on a wire rack for 5-6 minutes.  Use a sharp paring knife to carefully and gently loosen and remove muffins from tins to cool on rack completely, about 1 hour.

Muffin(s) going into oven to bake in 350° oven, 20-22 minutes:

IMG_5244Muffin(s) out of oven, cooling in pans, 5-6 minutes:

IMG_5254All muffins out of pans & on a rack to cool completely: 

IMG_5257Go Bananas:  Banana-Nut Chocolate-Chip Muffins:  Recipe yields 2 dozen muffins.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; small baking pan; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; standard-size muffin tins, enough for 2 dozen muffins; 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop; cake tester or toothpick; wire cooling rack; sharp paring knife

IMG_2563Cook's Note:  Corn muffins are an example of savory muffins that get served as a side-dish.  They taste spectacular with a bowl of chile, a rack of barbecued spareribs and Tex-Mex breakfast casseroles.  I take my recipe for ~ It's a Triple-Corn Jalapeno Corn-Muffin Kinda Day ~ very seriously.  You can find it in Categories 5, 9, 13 or 20. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)

01/15/2017

~ Butter Me Up: Mel's Capellini a la Clams Casino ~

IMG_5180Classic and fantastic, I made clams casino over the weekend -- a retro Italian-American favorite appetizer that pleases everyone who loves clams.  Steamed clams, on the halfshell, slathered with an herby bacon-and-garlic compound butter, topped with a mound of crunchy bacon-and-breadcrumb mixture, baked until golden brown.  What's not to love.  There were just three of us, two guys and moi -- we ate two dozen and would have eaten more (and I stopped at four).  

IMG_5162Earlier in the afternoon, as I was preparing the compound butter and breadcrumb topping, it occurred to me how yummy the butter would be if tossed into a bowl of steaming hot pasta and topped with a sprinkling of crunchy breadcrumbs -- to serve as a side-dish to clams casino.  It was only natural for my foodie mind to take it one step farther:  toss steamed, shucked clams into the pasta too -- to serve as an entrée.  I slept on it, awoke with it, and decided to get on it.

IMG_5110It only took about 30 minutes to whip up another batch of compound butter and make the breadcrumb topping (that's how quick and easy they are to make), adjusting (cutting back) both recipes quantities a bit to accommodate 1 pound of pasta -- a family-friendly amount.  I sent Joe off to get more clams and here I am -- happy as a clam in Happy Valley writing about my latest creation.  It didn't take me long to come up with a name for it either, after Joe opined that I use capellini -- not spaghetti.

Part One:  Burping or Purging the Clams of Sand:

IMG_5086Soaking clams in cold water helps them burp out or purge the sand.   All clams, which live on the ocean floor, contain sand.  It's caused by their constant siphoning the sandy ocean water through their shells. One of the least appetizing foodie experiences is to eat a forkful of perfectly-cooked clams and end up with grit in your teeth -- a clear sign that the cook or chef didn't burp or purge the clams.  Its an easy process but requires a couple of hours, so include that in your game plan (or do it the day before).    

Gently tap each uncooked clam whose shell is open against your countertop. It should close immediately upon tapping. If it does not, it's dead and should be discarded.  Rinse the clams under cold running water and use a stiff brush to scrub the shells of dirt or grit.  Place the clams in a large bowl and cover with a mixture of 1 gallon of water + 1/4 cup sea salt per 2 pounds of clams.  Let for about 30-45 minutes, then remove the clams individually and place in a colander. Discard the water in the bowl, replace with a fresh water and salt mixture, then return the clams to soak for another 30-45 minutes. Repeat the process another two or three times, until the water is clear of sand and grit.  Drain and cook the clams in any manner you like.

Part Two:  Making Breadcrumb Topping & Compound Butter

IMG_50157  ounces finely-diced uncooked bacon or pancetta (total throughout recipe -- 4  ounces for breadcrumbs, 3 ounces for compound butter)

1/2  cup panko breadcrumbs, no substitutions

8  ounces salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)

1/2  cup finely-diced yellow or sweet onion

1/4  cup each:  red and yellow bell pepper

2  tablespoons minced fresh garlic

2  tablespoons dried parsley flakes or tarragon leaves (total throughout recipe -- 1  tablespoon for breadcrumbs, 1  tablespoon for compound butter)

1 1/2  teaspoons fennel powder (total throughout recipe -- 1/2 teaspoon for breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon for compound butter)

3/4  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper (total throughout recipe -- 1/4  teaspoon for breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon for compound butter)

scant 1/2  teaspoon sea salt (total throughout recipe -- 1/8 teaspoon for breadcrumbs, 1/4 teaspoon for compound butter)

lemon wedges, for squirting each finished serving of capellini a la clams casino

IMG_5024IMG_5026IMG_5027IMG_5029IMG_5030IMG_5034IMG_5050~Step 1.  To make the breadcrumb topping, place 4 ounces of the finely-diced bacon or pancetta in a 3-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon fennel powder, 1/4 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt.  Over medium-high, medium-, medium-low heat, stirring frequently, fry the meat until it is golden brown and crispy and has rendered its fat, about 6 minutes, lowering the heat as necessary if the mixture begins to smoke. Add the panko breadcrumbs and parsley or tarragon.  Stirring constantly, cook until breadcrumbs are lightly-toasted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to thoroughly drain and cool.  You will have 3/4 cups of breadcrumb topping.

IMG_5036IMG_5039IMG_5042IMG_5043IMG_5052IMG_5055~Step 2.  To make the compound butter,  place the remaining 3 ounces of the finely-diced bacon or pancetta in the same 3-quart chef's pan.  Over medium-high, medium-, medium-low heat, stirring frequently, fry the meat until it is golden brown and crispy and has rendered its fat, about 6 minutes, lowering the heat as necessary if the mixture begins to smoke.  Stir in the onion, bell peppers, garlic and parsley or tarragon.  Add the 1 teaspoon fennel powder, 1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.  Stirring constantly, cook until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to thoroughly drain and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.  Place butter in a large bowl and add the cooled meat/veggie mixture to the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly combine.  You will have 1 1/2 cups of compound butter.

Part Three:  Perfectly-Steaming the Clams

IMG_5097The shells on clams should be closed when you buy them, or, they should close when tapped (as explained above).  A clam that will not close when prodded is a dead clam.  Throw it away.  Fiction:  A clam that doesn't open during the cooking process is a dead clam. Fact:  A clam that doesn't open during the cooking process is a live clam that needs to be cooked longer.  I've got 48 live topneck clams which have been purged as directed above -- that works out to IMG_5125be a generous 2-cups of shucked clams -- one dozen for each of four servings of pasta.  Feel free to change the amount to suit yourself.  

I am giving them a basic steam in plain water today,  until each one opens up wide.  I like to use my electric skillet for this task because it controls the heat perfectly, and, it has a glass lid which acts as a window -- allowing me to remove each clam the moment it opens up, so it doesn't overcook.  I do this in two batches of 24 clams each so as not to overcrowd the skillet.

IMG_5057 IMG_5058 IMG_5061 IMG_5126~Step 1.  Place 1 quart water in bottom of electric skillet and insert the rack.  Close the lid and adjust the heat to high (400° on this skillet).  In the meantime, drain and discard the water from the bowl of clams.  When the water in the skillet is boiling, open the lid and place 24 clams on the rack.  Close the lid and steam clams until each one pops open. Opening and closing the lid on the skillet as you work, use a pair of tongs to remove the steamed clams as they open, transferring them to a plate or a bowl to cool.  Repeat this process with the second 24 clams, adding 1-2 cups more water to the skillet to make up for what evaporated.  When cool enough to handle, pluck the clams from their shells and place in a bowl.  You will have 2+ cups.

Part Four:  Cooking, Tossing & Serving the Capellini a la Casino

IMG_51301  pound capellini

1  tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning pasta water

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon red pepper flakes

1  teaspoon sea salt, for seasoning pasta 

1  cup compound butter, slightly more or less to your liking (from above recipe)

48  steamed and freshly-shucked clams (from above recipe)

3/4  cup breadcumb topping (from above recipe)

lemon wedges, for garnishing each portion

IMG_5131 IMG_5135 IMG_5141 IMG_5144~Step 1.  In an 8-quart stockpot bring 5 quarts of water to a boil and add the salt.  Add the capellini and cook until al dente, about 4-5 minutes.  Check it every few seconds after 4 minutes. Do not over cook.  Drain into a colander and give it a few quick shakes to remove excess water.

IMG_5146 IMG_5147 IMG_5150 IMG_5189~Step 2.  Place 1 cup of the compound butter in the still hot stockpot and add the garlic powder, red pepper flakes and sea salt.  Return the steaming hot pasta to the pot and place the pot on the still-warm stovetop.  Using two forks or spoons, toss like you would a salad, until butter is melted and pasta is coated in butter "sauce".  Cover the pot and give the pasta a moment or two to absorb all of the butter and it flavors.  Taste and add a bit more butter, to your liking, or, serve the remaining 1/2 cup with a crusty loaf of bread at the table (it's great).  Place one dozen clams in each of four warmed bowls and portion the pasta over the top of each.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs over each portion and serve immediately with lemon wedges for squirting over the top.

Mel's capellini a la clams casino?  I'll be making this again!

IMG_5178Butter Me Up:  Capellini a la Clams Casino:  Recipe yields 3/4 cup breadcrumb topping, 1 1/2 cups compound butter and 4 generous servings.

Special Equipment List:  stiff scrub brush; board; chef's knife; 3-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; spatula; paper towels; large spoon or spatula; large rubber spatula; 16" electric skillet w/wire rack insert; tongs; 8-quart stockpot; colander; two large forks or two large spoons

6a0120a8551282970b01bb096ca115970dCook's Note:  It's funny how a craving for seafood always hits me around this time of year. Luckily, high-quality, flash-frozen, king crab legs are available to me year-round at our Happy Valley Sam's Club.  ~ Mel's Wine & Tarragon-Steamed King Crab Legs w/Creamy Lemon-Tarragon & Shaved-Corn Orzotto ~ is a dish I simply adore.  It's a perfect cold-weather seafood-craving indulgence.  The recipe is in Categories 3, 4, 14 & 21.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)