Doctor in the house

Several weeks ago, I spent a few days with my Aunt Norma who lives in Ocean City, N.J. The salt and sea air, gorgeous blue skies and sunshine made us very hungry for leisurely dinners.

Aunt Norma keeps a well-stocked pantry and fridge. Dinner on the first night was roast chicken with fresh asparagus and homemade coleslaw. I later discovered my aunt had used a one-pound bag of pre-shredded cabbage and carrots.

While rummaging through the fridge, I found a shrimp ring, which is about a pound of the small cooked variety usually enjoyed as an appetizer. Then I found a can of white clam sauce in a cabinet.

"Aha!" I thought, "I’ll just doctor up the canned clam sauce, add a few ingredients and the shrimp and serve it over linguine."

I’ve been doctoring up food for years — it means you can stretch a recipe to serve three to four, instead of two.

The best ingredient to work with is top-quality tomato or jarred spaghetti sauces. If I want it quick, I simply saut� chopped onions with fresh plum tomatoes and some herbs. If I don’t have tomatoes on hand, I add to a 28-ounce can of "Sugo di Pomodoro" — a marvelous tomato gravy produced by Trader Joe’s. The "sugo" has bits of chopped and pureed tomatoes, as well as garlic, basil, olive oil and seasonings. It’s fresh tasting and contains no sugar or corn syrup.

Keep your pantry and fridge well-stocked, so you can doctor up ingredients for a quick meal in no time.

My Version of Aunt Norma’s Quick and Easy Coleslaw


1 one-pound bag of coleslaw
1 small red onion, chopped
Sprinkling of celery seed or celery salt
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Hellmann’s mayonnaise, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Imported sweet Hungarian paprika, to taste


Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to blend. Taste and season appropriately.

Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least six hours. Best prepared the day before and chilled overnight.

Serves four to six.

Shrimp and White Clam Sauce


1 15-ounce can white clam sauce
1 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick unsalted butter
Pure garlic powder, to taste
Sprinkling of parsley flakes
1 pound small, cooked shrimp
1 pound linguine, cooked according to package directions


Pour the clam sauce into a large skillet. Gently heat over medium. Raise heat to medium-high and add the remaining ingredients, except the shrimp. Raise heat to high, add the shrimp and saut� for two to three minutes.

Serve over cooked linguine.

Serves four to six.

Note from Phyllis: You can use any type of pasta in this dish and, for the shrimp, you may substitute about a half-pound of crabmeat or a pound of scallops cut into pieces.

Pasta with Sausage Sauce


Olive oil to coat the bottom of a pot
2 large shallots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound sausage, sliced
1 28-ounce can Trader Joe’s
"Suga di Pomodoro" sauce
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
Sprinkling of dried oregano
Sprinkling of dried basil
4 bay leaves


Heat the oil over medium-high in a four-quart saucepot. Add the shallots, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Saut� for about five to eight minutes or until the shallots and onions are translucent. Lower to medium and add the sausage, saut�ing for about five to eight minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer. Cover the pot and cook for about an hour-and-a-half.

Makes enough sausage sauce for a pound of pasta.

Serves four to six.

Shrimp Stir Fry


1/2 pound frozen small shrimp, defrosted
1 bunch of scallions
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, sliced
Pure garlic powder, to taste
6 tablespoons canola oil
Low-sodium soy sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 ounces of water


Wrap the shrimp in a kitchen towel. Set aside.

Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss well. Sprinkle on the garlic powder and toss again.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high. Add the vegetables and saut� for about five minutes. Add the soy sauce and saut� for a minute. Add the shrimp, lower the heat to medium and saut� for about two to three minutes.

Take the shrimp mixture off the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Blend well. Return the wok or skillet to the heat and, if the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little white wine or water.

Serves four.