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Linguine with Mussels and Cider, Bacon, and Shallot Cream Sauce

This luscious dish strikes all the right notes for a cool fall evening. Plump mussels, smoky bacon, and spicy apple cider coat pasta for a toothsome dish.

3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup apple cider, or apple juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound mussels, debearded
1 pound linguine
Chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the bacon and shallot until the bacon is crisp and the shallot is soft. Add the apple cider to the pan, and deglaze, scraping up the flavorful brown bits. Lower the heat to low, add the cream, and simmer the sauce until reduced by half.
While the sauce is reducing, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on high heat.
Add the mussels to the simmering cream sauce and cover the skillet, and steam the mussels for about 5 to 10 minutes.
While the mussels are steaming, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Decrease the heat to medium-high, and cook the pasta until just done. Drain the pasta but do not rinse.
After the mussels are cooked and open, discard any that have not opened. Remove the mussels to a separate bowl and keep warm.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix to coat. Place the pasta and sauce in individual bowls, place the steamed mussels on top and garnish with parsley.

Sake Steamed Clams

This preparation takes the usual butter and white wine recipe and turns it on its head. The use of sake, soy sauce, and ginger gives this dish a Pacific Rim flair. Togarashi is a Japanese pepper blend, but you can substitute a pinch of red pepper flakes instead.

1 cup sake
2/3 cup water
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1⁄2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds littleneck clams, cleaned
2 green onions, chopped, for garnish
Togarashi, optional, for garnish

In a large pot, place the sake, water, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Place over medium-high heat and cook for 3 minutes. Add the butter and the clams, and cover the pot. Decrease the heat to medium, and steam the clams for 8 to 10 minutes or until all the clams have opened. Discard any clams that remain closed. Pour the clams and broth into a bowl, and sprinkle with the green onion and the togarashi.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Crab and Cucumber Salad

There is nothing more scrumptious than eating crab fresh from the sea. This recipe highlights the incomparable sweet flavor of the crab, simply dressed and complimented with cucumber and sushi nori, which is dried, roasted seaweed. This refreshing salad is a perfect accompaniment or prelude to any of the Asian-influenced salmon dishes in the book, such as Sake Salmon.

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cucumber, peeled
1 cup Dungeness or king crab meat
2 tablespoons sushi nori, for garnish

In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce together until the sugar is dissolved. Slice the cucumber thinly, add the slices to the dressing, and toss. Allow the flavors to mingle for at least 15 minutes.
Slice the seaweed into very thin strips about 1 inch long.
Drain the cucumber slices and arrange on 4 plates. Top with the crabmeat, and sprinkle with the sushi nori.

Makes 4 serving

recipe errata