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Labor Day Recipes with a Bit o’ Sass

Each year, I wait for the first morning I have a sense that Fall is right around the corner, teasing me.  The humidity is gone, skies are clear and blue, and there’s a gentle breeze. One cruel morning this week hinted of just that, but it was gone before I knew it.  A long Labor Day weekend lies ahead, and hot sunny days perfect for a day at the beach or barbeque are what most long for.  But this last gasp of summer brings memories of school for me.  A rest from all the shopping for clothes and supplies, from setting up yet another classroom, attending meetings to prepare for the new year, and seemingly endless lesson plans that waited to be written.  I always looked forward to Labor Day weekend because I could leave all the business of the weeks preceding for a day or two to think about food, family, and relaxation.

Labor Day weekend also represents something else, though.  It often coincides with my birthday, and this year  the holiday falls on the same day of the week I was born — Monday.  Pretty appropriate, don’t you think?  I’m sure my mother did because I was her first born.  I’m thinking about making myself a cheesecake like my mother always did, but in the meantime, thinking about great food to share for the holiday weekend in general is more in order.  So I’ve decided to organize the recipes I’d love to sample here instead of tagging cookbooks and magazines, or making a list in my notebook like I normally do.  It’s a list of Labor Day Recipes with a Bit o’ Sass — because that’s what I’m usually in the mood for.

Enjoy and by all means, share what you think would be a great addition to this list by adding a link in the comments.  Party on!

Oh, and you might think the recipes I’ve included from my own archives in this list are a bit on the shi-shi side of things, but they really aren’t all that.

Okay, so I’m from California.

Does it count that I’m a transplanted “Zonie” and childhood Navy Brat?

Read on, dear friend.  Read on, because I’ve included other great recipes from foodies whom I greatly admire — and I do think they’re all that.

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Hot Wings with Gorgonzola Sauce

Hot Wings with Gorgonzola Sauce

I’ve often accused my husband of being a fair weather fan of our local sports teams, yet it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  No, I’d qualify for the position far more than he ever could given the amount of time he spends cheering and, yes, jeering about their wins and far too frequent losses.  As much as I’ve been right there in the excitement of recent years of Super Bowl possibilities, watching the resident menfolk high-five one another after a good play, and engage in exuberant chest bumping when the Chargers squeaked out a win, this year, I just don’t have it.  Sure, the game is on each Sunday and I usually can be found in the kitchen about that time, but I’m sadly just not interested.  I’m whispering, mind you, because you just can’t say that very loudly around here.

The best I can do is think about what to cook for the “occasion” knowing that I’ll have a small group of men interested in food when the action on the field isn’t going our way — and it often seems not to.  Although they’re often subjected to my routine experimentation, I do occasionally treat them to food that is more in line with what one may want on game day.

Like Buffalo Wings — or more accurately — Hot Wings.

My husband loves Gorgonzola, so guess what’s in the sauce?  And then there’s the crazy Asian hot sauce.  Mmmm….

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Spicy Duo: Breaded Calamari and Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon

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I’ve been so jittery the last couple of days.  I know it’s the election — waiting, and waiting to find out.  The feeling is strangely like I felt waiting for Christmas morning to arrive when I was a kid, the anticipation just about doing me in.

But it’s not just the election.  Having to pack four rooms in our house to prepare for a big remodel isn’t helping.  It’s great to be busy, though,  since the time is flying by.  Each book or knick knack I take from the shelf to pack is accompanied by my nagging alter ego which is reminding me I should have gotten rid of this crap a very long time ago.

And then there’s the little matter of a trip I’m taking in a couple of days, leaving the hunkster to finish what I’ve not managed to do to prepare the house.  Maybe that’s why I’m giddy with excitement as well.  I’m headed to the Midwest to meet with several food bloggers.  In fact, it’s for a wedding:  Lis’ wedding.  You know Lis, right?  Co-founder of The Daring Bakers? La Mia Cucina Lis.   And guess who’s making the wedding cake?  Helen.  Helen, Tartelette Helen.  Now how exciting is that?

Seriously exciting if you ask me.  So I’m pretty much a basket case right now, stomach in nervous knots and finishing almost nothing that I start.

Wait.  That sounds somewhat like a normal day now that I think of it.  The not finishing anything I start part.  Whatever…

So food is definitely in the low maintenance zone at our house right now and since the hunkster wanted to know what was on the Election Day menu, I figured Batter Fried Calamari & Jalapeno Poppers would work just fine.  And I have the perfect accompaniment for both — a sauce made with a bit o’ spicy love.

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Spicy Tuna and Avocado Dip

 

Try not to shovel it into your mouth...

Halloween officially launches the party season as far as I’m concerned.  It’s not like we have a calendar full of swanky events scheduled…I’m counting zero right now…, but having any excuse to get together constitutes a party.  Why not?  Football, the holidays, and…..Election Night!  Whether it’s a raucous group of good friends, or a more tame cocktail get together, the occasion is always better if the food is excellent.

And speaking of excellent, what could be better than a dish that can be a dip or a salad?  It’s elegant, it’s healthy, and oh my goodness, it’s delicious.

The first time I made this, my brother dug in with a tortilla chip and popped it in his mouth, asking between chews and mmmming, “What is this?”

“Raw fish,” I responded.  “Good, huh?”

And he thought he didn’t like avocados or fish — let alone raw fish.

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Clams with Linguica and Beer

 

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It’s Friday, and for us that means that dinner is never a serious issue. Good thing, too, since no one has any energy, right?  It means no fuss or muss, but flavor isn’t something to sacrifice.  Take out doesn’t count on that front, ever, since the whole point of take out for us is flavor with zero fuss or muss.

But clams and take out don’t exactly mix– at least not around here.  And ironically, even though we have the Chesapeake Fish Co. harvesting and processing excellent sea food here in San Diego, the retail clams I purchase most often are shipped from the East Coast.  So much for being a locovore.  The tag on the bag I brought home stated that the clams were harvested one day, shipped the next, and they ended up in my kitchen a day and a half later.

Our passion for clams started with this recipe which I saw in the May 2002 issue of Bon Appetit.  It was featured in an article on Capri and the lemons that grow in that region of Italy, and I had to try it.  Since then, not only have I altered that recipe again and again, but I’ve tried a number of others like this Spanish version which may be our favorite.

Recently, I decided to experiment with a different recipe — one that included linguica —  a type of Portuguese sausage which is firm, and more similar to Spanish chorizo than regular sausage.  In the case of this latest recipe, the liguica came first, and not the recipe.  That’s how it usually works.  I see an ingredient while I’m shopping and put it in my basket knowing I’ll come up with something, so it’s been sitting patiently in my fridge, waiting for me to figure it out — tempting me each time I open the cheese drawer and making me think, “Jeez! I forgot I had that!  What’s the expiration date????”

My latest clam “something” began with an Italian idea influenced by a Spanish recipe, and was supposed to have a New England spin, but the English beer and Portuguese sausage sort of changed everything.

I’ll leave it as “Clams with Linguica and Beer.”  There’s nothing fancy about this one, but it’s perfect for a Friday night at home.  Don’t forget the crusty bread.  You’ll need it to soak up the broth.  Mmmm…

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