Who's Cooking: Karen Leibowitz

Karen Leibowitz says that at parties everyone goes

Karen Leibowitz says that at parties everyone goes crazy over her Burgundian Clams dish. (Credit: Steven Sunshine)

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The art director in the Communications Department at Stony Brook University, she lives in Stony Brook with her husband and stepson.

 

Where do you get your love of cooking? I started cooking with my mom as a kid. She is a fabulous cook who used to teach cooking classes to neighborhood women when I was growing up. I got my sense of adventurous eating from my dad. I'll try anything. And I love a good audience. I love to cook for people who love to eat.

Do you entertain a lot in the summer? I do. My husband is the grill master. I love planning the menus. I like to come up with something new and impressive. I'm very inspired by the Food Network. I watch on the weekend, to get ideas.

Have you made anything new and interesting this summer? We were going to a picnic dinner at Westhampton Beach before a show at the Performing Arts Center, and I had to bring a room-temperature dish. I made Spinach and Gruyere Bakes (they're like little mini bread pudding soufflés) from [TV chef] Giada [De Laurentiis]. They were beautiful and delicious, perfect on the beach.

Any tricks for shucking clams? I don't shuck my own clams, I'm embarrassed to say. My dad still does. But the last time I brought unshucked clams to my dad's, we were all so hungry and it was taking him so long that we said, next time let's have the guy from the fish market do it so we don't have to wait so long to eat.


 

Burgundian Clams

½ cup (1 stick) salted butter

½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, chopped

4 dozen littleneck clams

¼ cup Jarlsberg cheese (or more), cut into very small cubes

Ground black pepper

Grated Locatelli Romano cheese for serving

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees or preheat gas grill to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.2. Combine butter, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic and onion in work bowl of a food processor and process into a smooth paste.
3. Open clams, preserving as much clam juice as possible. Cut each clam at the muscle so it’s not attached to the shell (or ask fishmonger to shuck clams for you and save juice and shells). Arrange clams on prepared baking sheet, each on half a shell, and pour some clam juice into each one.
4. Spoon about one teaspoonful (or as much as will fit) of paste onto each clam. Top with Jarlsberg cheese cubes. Sprinkle with black pepper and Locatelli cheese.
5. Turn oven down to 375 and bake until cheese is very bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes. (You can turn the oven to broil for the last minute or two of cooking to get the cheese nice and bubbly.) Alternatively, place the baking sheet on the grill and cook with the lid closed for 15 minutes. Serve immediately as a buffet item.

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