DAVID GREENE, HOST:
All right. So when I heard I was going to be cooking a delicious holiday meal with a famous American chef, I got a little nervous. I mean, yes, I wanted to help all of you, our listeners, fill your homes with comforting tastes and smells and also, you know, get some ideas for some delicious meals to make in this strange year. But I also wanted to make a good impression.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHOPPING)
GREENE: OK. I'm in my kitchen. I sliced some squid, chopped some hazelnuts; feel like it's going pretty well. I understand my role here. Like, I do not know how to cook that well. And I am here representing all of us out there who don't really know what we're doing. But, you know, there's a little pressure. So parsley chopping - I can do this. All right. It's time to bring in the chef.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME, "AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN")
GREENE: That chef is Jack Bishop from the PBS television show "America's Test Kitchen." Jack kept a socially distant eye on me from his home in Boston. We were using Zoom. My job was to cook the meal without dropping my phone and Jack into a sauce pan, which was easier said than done.
I've lost my salt. Oh, my iPhone is resting on my salt to talk to you. That is the problem. There we go. Can you see me, Jack?
JACK BISHOP: I can see you, David.
GREENE: All Right. so on the menu today, two dishes that might not seem traditional for the holidays for everyone, but, you know, this is a holiday season that is anything but traditional. So we're going to be making a decadent seafood linguine and then, for dessert, hazelnut browned butter sugar cookies. Both of these dishes actually remind Jack of his childhood.
BISHOP: I have an Italian American heritage. And so these cookies say Christmas to me and Christmas Eve dinners with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I like this recipe that we're going to make because it has them all in one.
GREENE: OK, excellent. I am sorry you're stuck with me.
BISHOP: Likewise. Do you have modest expectations or high expectations?
GREENE: I have low expectations.
BISHOP: Perfect. Then I'm going to be able to deliver, right (laughter)?
GREENE: OK. That's great.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: Because life is short and you should always eat dessert first, we are going to be starting with the hazelnut cookies.
BISHOP: I'm in camp chewy when it comes to cookies. You know, there are crispy cookies and chewy cookies. I'm in camp chewy.
(SOUNDBITE OF SIZZLING)
GREENE: The secret to chewy cookies is browned butter. Who knew? That is butter that has been melted in a skillet.
BISHOP: So we're cooking this butter.
GREENE: We're bubbling. We are bubbling. The butter is bubbling a little bit.
BISHOP: So we want it to foam and bubble. And we're going to cook it to the point where it actually is golden brown. And it should smell like - kind of like hazelnuts.
GREENE: Mmm hmm.
BISHOP: So what's happening is butter is 20% water, 80% fat. And when you are browning the butter, basically you're cooking off some of the water, which allows the butter to mix with the flour later in the recipe and form gluten. You know, gluten is the thing that makes bread chewy, and it's going to make our cookies a little bit chewy.
GREENE: I love that. I feel like I'm getting a chemistry lesson. This is, like, significantly bubbling. And you promise me you're not worried.
BISHOP: Let me take a look at the color again. And do you see any brown bits on the bottom of the pan?
GREENE: Oh, we're getting some brown bits on the very bottom.
BISHOP: Looks great. So pour it into the bowl with the sugar and the cream cheese and the hazelnuts.
GREENE: We want all of that good stuff. Oh, yeah. I like this brown butter situation.
BISHOP: Yeah, it should smell really good.
GREENE: It smells delicious.
So with the brown butter safely added to the other ingredients, I made some little round dough balls, and I popped the cookies into the oven.
Three hundred fifty.
Now it's time to move on to the main course.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: Linguine allo scoglio has this ocean of seafood - clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, anchovies - all swimming in this divine sauce.
BISHOP: For this first stage, we're going to cook basically the clams and the muscles and get them opened up. Their liquid is going to become the beginnings of the sauce. And then we're going to take the seafood out and save it to add back to the sort of finished dish.
GREENE: OK, you said when I smell the garlic, we're adding clams.
BISHOP: Be careful. Don't drop them because you could crack the shells. You don't want that to happen.
GREENE: I am putting clams in the Dutch oven. Just an update, Jack, we are at two, one...
(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)
GREENE: Do you hear that beeping from my oven?
BISHOP: Yeah, I think it's time to look at your cookies. So I want you to get the lid on the clams. The clams have to sit for four minutes. So I timed this perfectly.
GREENE: You really have.
BISHOP: So put the lid on.
BISHOP: I will time this for you. And then let's take a look at those cookies.
GREENE: God, things are smelling delicious. There's, like, garlic and a little seafood now and some cookie smell.
BISHOP: Hey, you're going for it.
GREENE: Next, we cook the linguine starting in a pot of water and then finishing it off in the sauce so it actually picked up the taste of the seafood. Then I grated some lemon zest for a little extra zing.
(SOUNDBITE OF GRATING)
BISHOP: Perfect. That's a perfectly zested lemon.
GREENE: And I just dumped lemons all over my kitchen floor, but we're just going to move on.
BISHOP: Are you ready to eat? Because, you know, you're getting pretty close.
GREENE: I'm so ready to eat. Those cookies are sitting over there, like, calling my name.
BISHOP: You can have a cookie. You're in your own house. You're in your own kitchen. You can do whatever you want. You're the boss.
GREENE: Jack, I'm going to taste a cookie. Oh, my God. That's really good. You're totally right. They - they're chewy. That's a great holiday cookie.
BISHOP: I love this cookie.
GREENE: So when do I get to try this pasta?
BISHOP: We are ready to serve. I want you to go in and just sort of stir everything around gently. You know, you've got a lot of stuff in there. Give it a quick taste and see, hey, does it need any salt and pepper?
GREENE: Oh, God. The pasta is delicious. The pasta's flavorful. It sucked in all that seafood. You're totally right. I guess if I wanted to serve it - like, if I made it in the middle of the day and I want to serve it for dinner, how would you reheat it?
BISHOP: You wouldn't.
GREENE: It has to be now. This has to be a freshly served dish.
BISHOP: I'm going to watch you eat pasta for six people.
GREENE: Jack, this is amazing. Thank you for all your instruction and good cheer. And I hope you have a wonderful holiday. This has just been great.
BISHOP: You were having fun, which I think is probably the most important about being in the kitchen any time of the year but especially during the holidays is figuring out how to enjoy it.
GREENE: That was Jack Bishop from the PBS show "America's Test Kitchen." Season 21 premieres in January. And you can find today's recipes if you go to npr.org. Enjoy making them.
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