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Video: Try Curtis Stone’s healthy pasta with clams, spinach

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    >>> we're back and cooking with celebrity chef and father of the year, curtis stone who now knows what it's like to be a busy parent with little time to cook and he broughts some clams and i'm starting.

    >> curtis' new book is called "what's for dinner?" delicious recipes for a busy life.

    >> we've already started.

    >> what are we making?

    >> it's from the first chapter of the book, motivating mondays, we ate and drank too much over the weekend. so this is healthy eating. you start off with shallots, garlic, lemon pepper and bay leaves . and you niwant it nice and hot. a little bit of olive oil . you smell it straight away. and you drop in some clams.

    >> those babies cook quickly. you get the intense heat and a little of your favorite, white wine , that goes in.

    >> now thit doesn't help if you put in expensive white wine , it doesn't help it one bit.

    >> no, it doesn't.

    >> speaking of that --

    >> she has been up since 3:00, so this is her happy hour. i don't want you to have to drink alone because it's rude.

    >> now they start to open up. once they do, you remove them and you put them into a bowl, just like this and you're left with the juice. which is a white wine and the natural juices that came out of the clams, turn it right up so you get a nice rapid boil on it. and cook some whole wheat angel hair pasta .

    >> why whole wheat?

    >> it's healthier.

    >> anti-oxidants, minerals. there's a lot of health benefits and we're keeping the portion reasonable.

    >> that's the problem, isn't it?

    >> well, there's eight ounces, for a portion of four and fill it up with veggies, we've got lots of baby spinach. we've got some radishes and you crank the heat right up.

    >> this is really good.

    >> once you sort of pick up the pasta over the spinach it will start to wilt down.

    >> it wouldn't take too much.

    >> and you get the clams back in.

    >> and then literally like a minute, that pasta, which is warm or hot when you put it in, is heated right through and it all comes together.

    >> you never eat a clam or any shellfish that's not opened all the way, right?

    >> that's not true.

    >> tell us why not? i hate wasting them.

    >> you can break them open and eat them raw, all mollusks, you've got to work a little bit harder.

    >> but it didn't pop open for one reason.

    >> i always thought that's nature's way of saying, it's bad.

    >> the little clam is still in there holding on to its shell.

    >> i want to show you the desserts.

    >> there's a chapter in the new book about chocolate chunk pecan cookies and a banana cream parfait with a gingersnap streusel.

    >> i want to make a point about this cookie, it's filled with -- try a bite of it.

    >> it's so, these are the most delicious cookies ever.

    >> curtis, we wish you good luck with the book, what's it called again?

    >> what's for dinner.

TODAY recipes
updated 4/8/2013 11:30:09 AM ET 2013-04-08T15:30:09

Recipe: Angel hair pasta with clams, radishes and spinach

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 pounds Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon, removed in wide strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 fresh or dried bay leaf (see Kitchen Note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 4 cups loosely packed)
  • 4 large radishes, cut into small matchstick-size strips (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal
Preparation

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir the pasta into the boiling water and cook, stirring often to keep the strands separated, for about 2 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite. Scoop out and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then add the clams and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the shallots, garlic, lemon zest, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Add the wine, cover and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the clams open. Using tongs, transfer the clams to a Iarge bowl, then cover to keep warm.

Simmer the clam-wine broth until it is reduced by about one-fourth, about 2 minutes  (the pasta will absorb a lot of liquid, so don't reduce the liquid too much). Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low.

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat with the liquid. Add the clams and any accumulated juices in the bowl to the pasta. Add the spinach and half of the radishes and toss, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to make a light sauce.

Using tongs, divide the pasta and clams among four wide pasta bowls or place them in one large shallow serving bowl. Pour in the broth. Drizzle olive oil over each serving and sprinkle with the scallions and the remaining radishes. Discard the lemon zest and bay leaf and serve immediately.

Tips

Fresh bay leaves are more aromatic and flavorful  than  dried  leaves. Their flavor quickly infuses into  a sauce,  while  dried  bay leaves  need to be in contact with  liquid  for a long time  to coax  out  the flavor. (Both kinds have their uses, so it isn’t a question of one being better than the other.) If you buy fresh bay leaves for this dish, the leftover leaves can be frozen in a Ziploc plastic bag for up to a few months.

Serving Size

Serves 4

Recipe: Chocolate chunk cookies with pecans

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), very coarsely chopped into chunks
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted
Preparation

Position racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two large (18 x 13 x l-inch) heavy rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together.

In a  large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the  butter, granulated  sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, or until  creamy. One at a time, add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the flour mixture just until combined. Add the chocolate chunks and pecans and mix just until the pecans break up a bit.

Using about 1/3 cup dough for each cookie, drop the dough, spacing it evenly and placing only 6 cookies on each sheet, onto the prepared baking sheets. These cookies will spread, so don’t place them  too  close together.  (The shaped cookies can be frozen until firm, then stored in a freezer bag for up to 1 month.  Bake the frozen cookies without thawing, but allow  a few additional  minutes of baking time.)

Bake the cookies, switching the positions of the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, for about 13 minutes, or until the edges and tops are golden brown but the centers are still soft and moist. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Repeat with the remaining dough, being sure that the baking sheets are completely cooled before adding the dough.

Serve the cookies warm.

Serving Size

Serves 4

Recipe: Banana cream parfait with gingersnap streusel

Ingredients
  • For ginger caramel sauce:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • One 1-inch-long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 6 slices
  • For streusel:
  • 22 crisp gingersnap cookies (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For custard:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 large, ripe bananas peeled
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preparation

To make the caramel sauce:

In a small, heavy saucepan, stir the sugar and 1/4 cup water over medium heat for about  2 minutes, or until  the sugar dissolves. Brush down the sides of the pan with a moistened pastry brush to remove any sugar granules. Cook, without stirring, for about 7 minutes, or until the caramel turns amber in color, swirling the pan as needed to ensure the sugar caramelizes evenly. Reduce the heat to low and carefully pour in the cream (the caramel will bubble up and harden). Add the ginger and cook, whisking constantly, until all of the caramel is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to warm or room temperature.

Strain the caramel through a sieve into a bowl. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the streusel:

In a food processor, grind the gingersnap cookies until they form very fine crumbs (you will have about 1 cup crumbs). Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse until combined. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over a large, heavy rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring after 5 minutes, for about 10 minutes, or until the crumbs clump together and become a shade darker. Let cool.

To make the vanilla custard:

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the cream and the milk, followed by the egg yolks. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean. Whisk them into the milk mixture, and drop in the vanilla bean too. Set the pan over medium-high heat and whisk for about 6 minutes, or until the custard thickens and large bubbles just begin to burst through the surface. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Remove and discard the vanilla bean. Transfer the custard to a large bowl and cool completely, whisking occasionally, for about 1 hour.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream until it thickens and forms loose mounds. Stir the custard to loosen it. Fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into the custard.

Spoon 1 cup of the custard over the bottom of a 2 ½ quart glass or other serving bowl. Holding 1 banana over the bowl, cut it into 1/4-inch-thick slices, allowing the slices to fall onto the custard, and cover it sparsely. Sprinkle ½ cup of the streusel over the bananas, then spread 1 1/2 cups of the custard over the bananas. Slice 1 1/2 more bananas, allowing the slices to fall onto the custard and cover it evenly. Sprinkle ¾ cup of the streusel over the bananas. Repeat the layering one more time with the remaining custard, streusel and bananas. Top with the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the parfait into bowls, drizzle with the caramel sauce, and serve.

Serving Size

Serves 8

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