Delia (a.k.a "Nonna" to my boys) is our Guest Home Chef this month. June, the month when summer begins, roses blossom and cocktails are chilling because CHEERS, ITS NONNA'S BIRTHDAY!!
I have been friends with Delia for nearly 20 years. We've been through it all; the great and the terrible. I have been so lucky to have her my by side, always supporting me on my worst days and the most wonderful days. She was in the audience at my law school graduation, cheering me on. She stood by me when I married my husband, holding my bouquet. She was there when we celebrated my baby's first birthday, congratulating me for making it through my first year as a mom! - always supporting me and loving me. When she met Pam for the first time, they hit it off splendidly. Of course they did. I am girl-friend rich. I am lucky. I dont know why, but I am lucky.
This is a giant statement, but every word of it is true: Delia has taught me more than anyone else in my entire life.
Fashion, love, trust, food, friendship, honesty, raising babies-to-teenagers-to-adults, Brooklyn- then & now, aging gracefully and beautifully (she attributes it all to olive oil!) but the best, most useful advice is her "take a breath".... Her words breeze through my busy, worried brain most days. "Just take a breath." When life feels crazy, I think of her, take the breath, straighten my back, chin up and move on. Those words just work for me. I dont know why, but I am lucky. I swear, God touched my little head when Delia decided to be my friend.
Now, about the food...
Delia is from Salerno, Italy but has lived in Brooklyn her entire adult life. To her, cooking is a natural talent, perhaps the result of life-long lessons from her mother, Asunta (who deserves her own blog post, website, cookbook, etc.- for another time). I think Delia's talent comes from her heritage, but also from her impeccable taste. She loves things simple, fresh and clean. She loves beautiful, fresh food in its natural form.
There are so many dishes that we could show you here, but her linguine alle vongole is just so perfect. Its so Delia! It took us forever to get this "recipe" from her. Whenever we would ask her, she'd say "just rinse the clams over and over" and "only parsley". She is without question, a "pinch."
A few notes before you start:
- Wash, wash, wash the clams as many times as you can, and then do it five times more.
- The key to perfectly cooked claims is using a shallow pan with a glass top (so that you can see them open).
- Don't be shy with the olive oil in the beginning and the parsley at the end.
1. Do a "heavy pour" of olive oil in the pan. (about 5 tbsp) over medium high heat.
2. Add 6 large garlic cloves, chopped to the oil and let cook 2-3 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup dry white wine.
3. Add about 1 lb of vongole clams. Add about a dozen little neck clams. Add 1/2 cup of roughly chopped parsley. Cover and cook about 8-10 minutes or until they open. Keep an eye on them, through the glass lid. (while sipping your wine)
4. Remove from the heat and pour over cooked linguine. Top with chopped fresh parsley.
Ahhh, take a breath.
We interview our Guest Home Chefs using a modified version of James Lipton's questions from The Actor's Studio because after all, you are a Star in your own kitchen!
M&P: What is your favorite food?
M&P: What is your least favorite food?
M&P: What turns you on?
Delia: Good wine. A great dinner.
M&P: What turns you off?
Delia: Rude people
M&P: What or who inspires you to cook?
Delia: My mother. My children. Family.
M&P: What is your favorite drink?
M&P: What profession would you like to attempt?
Delia: Restaurant owner.
M&P: What profession would you wish not to attempt?
Delia: Traffic cop.
M&P: If Heaven exists, what do you wish to hear God say to you when you arrive to the pearly gates:
Delia: "So happy to have you here"
Thank you Del, for being an important and beautiful part of our family!
We love you! Happy Birthday!
Measure & Pinch