My friend and I went to a great, new, little Italian place in Reisterstown called Kecco's Woodfire Kitchen. We had sandwiches which were so good we made a mental note that this little piece of heaven is definitely on the "return" list. I started thinking again about homemade pasta. It's this recurring desire to make a pasta so fresh and fluffy like the Italian mammas around the world that haunts and eludes me. I tried again and it was a big fail! Oh my, someday I'll get it right, but for now I had to resort to the tried-and-true pasta from the grocery store.
I wanted to make something special that my husband and I could both enjoy and use fresh ingredients that I could find this time of the year. I ended up at the Cross Street Market in Baltimore and the local fish monger to get my "stonies," which are littleneck clams. A dozen of them, plus 2 pounds of mussels, cost only $12 and would feed four easily. This is really a very simple recipe, but it impresses even the most experienced of diners.
One trick to making clams and mussels is to purge the sand and grit that is sometimes found in the shells. Just fill a bowl of cool water with a tablespoon of cornmeal and place the seafood in there and put in the refrigerator for about an hour. The clams and mussels will eat the cornmeal and purge any grit in their shells. Seriously, it works. Only start with shells that are closed and discard any that don't open during cooking. Mangia!
Make the pasta according to directions on the box. In a large saucepan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, butter, onion and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the butter and wine and heat until bubbling. Add the clams and mussels, cover and cook until all the shells open, approximately 5 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over the dish, add the cooked pasta and stir until well incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.