Black Pepper Shrimp and Zucchini “Fettuccine”

Black Pepper Shrimp and Zucchini Fettuccine

This is probably the ugliest photo of a plate I’ve ever put on this site.

But this zucchini “fettuccine” is one of the most popular vegetables I ever made as a private chef, and one that family members have loved and recreated after I’ve made it for them.

It’s ridiculously simple. With a good vegetable peeler and a flick of the wrist, zucchini gets shredded in ribbons and tossed quickly in hot olive oil until it softens to an al dente-like texture. My former boss didn’t know it wasn’t pasta the first time I served it to him. My father downed his plate in minutes. A client’s guest asked me for details at a repeat dinner visit when he couldn’t quite replicate it after his first go.

So simple, so yummy. Continue reading

Rhode Island Clam Chowder – Dairy Free

Clam Chowder2

There’s a clam chowder made at a restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, that I start to think about a tad too much this time of year.

It’s cold and rainy in New York City but lacking the joy of fluffy snow that makes all the mushy street corners and sopping subway cars worth the mess. I’m dreaming of soup.

This time of year, along with the slush, I get Robert Frost poems stuck in my head (often sung by a madrigal choir) and daydream about the cookies I don’t have enough time to make (I think my neighbors are getting “Happy New Year” cookies this time around). I drag my computer to the living room so I can look at this while I work:

My roommate's cat under our tree.

My roommate’s cat under our tree.

Snow and cookies and Robert Frost and wrapping presents may have to wait, but this soup I just couldn’t shake.

I’ve always been a fan of the lesser known Rhode Island version of clam chowder. The Manhattan version is too tomato-y and rather flat-tasting for my likes. And the New England take is obviously loaded in dairy, which I can’t eat. So when I stumbled into that restaurant in CT one day with a friend and found a variation that not only was allergy-friendly but that tasted just what I want a seafood soup to be, I was hooked. Now I make excuses to stop in there when I go see my family this time of year, and I often buy it by the 2-lb jug. Which is quite silly because, as you can see here, it’s incredibly easy to make myself.

Yesterday was a quiet private chef-fing day, and I wanted to provide something nourishing for my lady-boss, who’s a bit under the weather. There were already a few pureed soups in the fridge, but she needed something with a bit more sustenance. She loves veggies and corn and seafood, so it was the perfect combo to hit the spot.

This is an incredibly easy, quick, flavorful soup to make. In the minimal growing season you can completely get by with high-quality canned clams and corn. You don’t have to peel the potatoes. It only takes a few sprigs of thyme to get some amazing flavors outta it. You don’t even need butter! There are measurements here, of course, but you can eyeball things and taste as you go. Easy peasy.

Soon I’ll get to slow down, wrap those presents, make those cookies, and spend a day watching the Christmas movies I just bought to round out my collection. Until then, I’ll relish in the quiet moments at work where I get to make someone feel just a tiny bit better with a big mug of soup.

It’s the week before Christmas. I hope you’re not sweating the small stuff, that you’re relishing in the happy things you get to do, and that with the coming holidays you get to rest and recharge.

Happy Monday,

– Jacqueline

Clam Chowder1

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Serves 4


3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
4 small red potatoes, diced small
1 15-oz can corn, with juice
3 6.5-oz cans clams, with juice
1 cup clam juice or fish broth
2 Tbsp chopped thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until almost brown, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion, celery and remaining olive oil and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5-6 minutes.

Add the potatoes, corn, clams, clam juice/broth and thyme. Fill with enough water to cover, and bring to a low boil. Turn heat to a simmer, and simmer about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Scallops with Bacon, Grapefruit and Pomegranate over Fancy-Pants Pasta and On Quiet in the Kitchen

Yesterday I got into the kitchen at work and didn’t put WNYC in my earbuds. I didn’t polish silver while watching Downtown Abbey on my iPad (yes, I sometimes do this at work). I didn’t let my phone shuffle my music.

I just cooked, and listened.

After a frantic summer of cooking in the Hamptons, where my days stretched for 14 hours and I had very little – if any – privacy, coming home to cook in New York City has been a gift. Waking up in my bed, doing yoga on my floor, taking Mitra for a long walk, and jumping on the subway to go to work has taken completely new significance.

The transitions are not going unnoticed.

On September 11th, part of my job was taking my boss’ cat across town to the dentist. Yes. The animal hospital was a block from where I lived my first year in NYC, straight out of college, back in 2003. Walking by it again I found my breath catch. On this beautiful, solemn day in the city I love so much, I was given the chance to reflect on my 9 years in NYC, who I am now versus then. Back then I was an actor hungry for the stage. I lived in that 10×30 apartment with three guy-friends from college. We loved it. We worked (sorta) hard and partied (maybe too much). We had fun. We’re still all good friends. How rich and full of love and hardship my time has been since then, now a calm and seasoned 31 New Yorker.

The transitions are not going unnoticed.

On Wednesday I got a heart-wrenching phone call from a favorite friend – the kind women want to push off as long as we can. The kind where you’re immediate reaction is, “we’re too young to be having this conversation!!!”. The kind where you cry, and pray, and carry about your day with a rock in your stomach and a flutter in your heart. We talked through it, we continue to talk through it, and we’ll deal with whatever comes of it. But we’re now at that age where these conversations happen.

The transitions are not going unnoticed.

I made a lot of food in the kitchen yesterday for the family I work for, and as all this reflection was bubbling away I really let myself listen to my movements and what they created: the sound of my knife slicing through parsnips; the sizzle of slab bacon; the rush of water going into the pasta pot; the click of the dishwasher; the clang of a plate on the marble counter.

I thought of my city, my dearest friend, the person I was almost ten years ago, the cook I am after a long summer in the Hamptons.

And I made this. It’s based on a recipe in the current issue of Food and Wine. It’s sweet and salty. It’s colorful. It pops in the pan. It brings a little fun into the kitchen as you teach the 13-yr old in the house the joy of opening a fresh pomegranate and finding the seeds hidden in the pockets of the coral-like fruit. It encourages several moments of praise from your boss. It’s comforting to make in a quiet kitchen when there’s a lot on your mind.

Scallops with Bacon, Grapefruit and Pomegranate over Squid Ink Spaghetti

Serves 2

Notes: I realize squid ink spaghetti is not easily found on a grocery store shelf. I was lucky to stumble upon it and snatched it up, as I love the deep color. When I recreated this dish for myself I used a gluten-free pasta from DeBoles I had around, and it was tasty. I would suggest, however, using as fresh a pasta as you can (find dried ones in specialty markets that take 3-4 minutes to cook) as they retain a bit of texture while weighted foods are placed upon them.


8-10 large sea scallops
1-2 strips of slab bacon (depending on how salty / meaty you want the dish
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 large grapefruit, peel and all white pith removed and split into segments
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup light and fruity white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc or light Reisling
2 Tbsp caper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
Your choice of cooked pasta for two, al dente


Note: the scallops take about 15-20 minutes to cook, so prepare pasta accordingly.

In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium/high until crispy. Remove to a plate.

Season scallops with salt and pepper and sear on one side for 3 minutes. Flip and sear another minute. Add shallots and toss bacon fat, scallops and shallots together. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until scallops are cooked to your preference.

Remove scallops with slotted spoon to a plate or bowl.

Add grapefruit juice and wine and cook, scraping up browned bits, for about 2 minutes. Strain grit and onions, and return to pan. Add butter and capers and cook, shaking the pan to thicken the juices. Toss scallops back in with bacon and pomegranates, and shake the pan to coat completely.

Remove from heat. Add grapefruit segments.

Serve over pasta.


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