ANN MARIE SPECCHIO
Works in the copy department at Smithtown High School West and lives in Smithtown with her husband and younger daughter.
How would you describe your cooking?
I cook mostly Italian, a lot of seafood. I open the closet, see what I have, and just start going. I've been married 40 years, and that's how long I've been cooking.
Do you have other specialties?
A lot of my favorite recipes I actually learned from my mom. Steak pizzaiola, fresh pasta "hats" that you shape with your thumb, cheesecake. My recipes are in my head, from her. She used to make what she called "handkerchiefs." They're calzones, but not the normal kind. You roll out pizza dough -- I use frozen -- cut it, and fill the pieces either with provolone, salami and ham, or marinara sauce, grating cheese and mozzarella. Then they're deep-fried.
Where does this recipe come from?
This one is mine. I ate something like this at a restaurant, and decided one day I was going to do it at home. I just kept tweaking and tweaking it, until that was it. Now everyone wants it. It's easy to put together. I keep frozen mussels and shrimp in the freezer, canned clams in the pantry. The only thing I have to go out and buy are the fresh clams.
What's in your cooking future?
My son-in-law wants me to open a restaurant, but that's never going to happen. But I really love to cook and learn new things. I tell my family that if I ever win Lotto I'm going to culinary school in Manhattan.
SEAFOOD WITH ANGEL HAIR PASTA
Specchio says that angel hair pasta just seems to grow in the pot, and 1 pound, along with a generous amount of seafood, will serve 10. But if you want to substitute spaghetti, you'll need 2 pounds of pasta.
5 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
½ pound (2 sticks) salted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups seafood stock
¾ cup dry white wine (any kind is fine)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
36 fresh Littleneck clams
2 (2-pound) bags frozen mussels or 4 pounds fresh mussels
2 pounds fresh or frozen peeled and deveined raw shrimp
2 (6.5-ounce) cans chopped clams
2 (10-ounce) cans whole clams
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
1 pound angel hair pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese (a generous handful)
1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. In another large pot, combine the garlic and olive oil and cook over medium heat until garlic is lightly browned.
3. Add butter, salt, red and black pepper, seafood stock, wine, and parsley and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Add Littleneck clams and mussels and cook until shellfish are opened. Add shrimp, chopped clams, whole clams, and clam juice and cook until shrimp are just pink. Do not overcook.
5. While seafood is cooking, cook pasta in boiling water until just tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Pour seafood mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Serve immediately. Makes 10 servings.