The Comforts of Home

OK, I have sent Ms. Iz back to school already, and am now posting my summer vacation musings. So very sorry for the long absence, but I am back, so please enjoy!! "It's Summer Vacation!!!!"

You get to say this just after the last bell of the last day of school rings. And, I prefer to scream if at the top of my lungs, in public, to the dismay of my daughter, Iz. But, it starts off the summer with a bang.

Just after school ends, it is likely you will find me and Iz on an early morning flight to NY for an extended stay. This year, it has been two weeks long. With the number of cousins, aunts, uncles and the famous Gran Fran and Joe to visit, we can use as much time as possible here.

Oh, and let's not forget about the meals. I believe I ate enough over the last two weeks to comfortably miss a month's worth of food. Not only did Gran Fran and Joe outdo themselves with copious amounts of food and drink on offer at any time of the day or night, but my siblings did as well.

Each house offered up it's own special dish, each excellent in it's own way. So, my friends, here is an ode to my many family members and friends who made with the love and the food while we were in NYC and gave us a trip to remember.

The highlight at Gran Fran's house was the Linguini with Clam Sauce. I have made this countless times, but it never, ever, turns out like Gran Fran's. She manages to get the sweetness of the clams tBoldo come through alongside a little bit of spice and tangy flavor of the Anise flavored liquor. I recall this being a favorite birthday meal while growing up, and such a comfort food to me. Delicious!!

That's not to say that Joe didn't also deliver the goods. Take, for exmple, his Tuna or Egg Salad, and you will never need to buy pre-made again. I recall eating either of these after school on Peperidge Farms White Sandwich Bread. There is a kick from the cayenne that is offset by the mellowness of the celery. I have yet to find a better or equal salad of this nature. But, these days I tend to eat it over salad greens (I have already discussed the carb intake, in direct relation to keeping my girlish figure at my age...need I say more?).

Bacon, which always factors heavily into my vacation breakfast rotation was another standout on this trip home. Iz, who should just be rena,ed "Little Miss. Bacon", was in Pig Heaven (yes, pun intended, thank you very much). Gran Fran offered up bacon everyday, which Miss Iz gladly accepted.

Not only was our bacon always cooked perfectly, but it was also cooked with no mess and no fuss. The secret?? Cook it in the oven at a fairly high heat for a bit longer than it would take on the stovetop. I have tried his new-fangeled idea, and oh the joys of bacon -tastic flavor without the slippery floor/stovetop/walls to deal with.

It's a dawning of a new bacon era around my house!

Last, but most certainly not least, The Roast Beef. Joe mqde this for us one evening, under the tutelage of Gran Fran (via phone from her office), though I believe he can make this one without the phone calls. Talk about juicy, flavorful meat. Oy! It was just divine. I donùt have much more to say on this, except that you must make it, and come to the table with an empty stomach so you can be sure to eat as much as possible. And, I would say some nice horshradish mayo would be the only addition I would make to Joe's recipe.

I could go on and on here, but that might tap me of recipes for posts to come (OK, thqt is highly unlikely), but this is enough to give you the flavor of our summer vacation.

You can never get enough of your old-time childhood favorites, and with Gran Fran and Joe around, I will never have to!

Tuna Salad or Egg Salad a la Joe:

  • Celery, two stalks, cut into small pieces
  • Scallion, two, cut into small pieces
  • 12 oz can of Tuna, washed and drained or 8 boiled Eggs
  • 2 Tbsps Mayonnaise
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper

Combine Tuna with Celery and Scallions, mash it with a fork, add salt, pepper, cayenne. Mix in about two tablespoons of mayo, and then determine how much more you need as you mix.

For Egg Salad Variation:

  1. Put the 8 eggs into cold water, bring to a boil, then set the timer for five minutes.
  2. When that time is up, turn off the heat, leave the pot where it is and set timer for 10 minutes. Then run the eggs under cold water for several minutes.
  3. Slice them (I use an egg slicer), add them to the celery and scallions, mash them with a potato masher, add the seasoning, and slowly mix in mayo until you're satisfied.

Roast Beef a la Joe:

serves 4 to 6 people

  • 3.5 pounds of eye round beef
  • Kosher or Coarse Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  1. Dry the eye-round with paper-towels.
  2. Slather with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook on a rack to allow drippings for gravy.
  4. Although recipes call for 20 minutes a pound, I cook it not for 1:10, but for 1:35.

Amazing Bacon Cooked in the Oven:

serves 4 as a side dish

1 Lb Bacon (best quality that you can find)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spread bacon out on a rack set in a sheet pan with sides.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or so.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

serves 4 people

  • 1 pound thin linguine
  • 2 1/2 pounds baby clams
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons anisette
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or other dry white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic, quartered
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup finely minced parsley

1. Set pasta water up to boil. Sprinkle with not too much salt; clams are salty. 2. Clean clams thoroughly under cold running water; scrub with brush 3. Warm the olive oil gently with the garlic, until garlic turns golden 4. Over medium heat, carefully add liquors 5. When alcohol evaporates, add clams and turn heat high and put a lid on pan. 6.Clams should cook in less than 5 minutes. 7. Add pasta and a dollop of pasta water. Stir over medium heat to combine. Add parsely; serve.