Friday Night Favourites

For many of us Friday night signals the end of the weekly routine and a chance to do things differently than you’ve been doing all week. Maybe you’re going out for dinner, getting takeout and meeting friends for drinks, or ordering pizza for the family and watching movies. It’s all good, as you lessen the work responsibilities and focus a little on time for being with family and friends more intensely for a few days.

My husband and I both had very busy jobs and often worked long hours, so we looked forward to ordering pizza Friday nights and having a glass of wine as we tried to let go of the busy week and think about what we might do on the weekend. This routine worked really well for us for many years. A couple of years ago my work location changed and I was only 10 minutes from home. This shortened my commute considerably, so I was home earlier in the evening and found myself with more energy on Friday nights. This enabled me to return to thinking about planning favourite Friday night meals that my Mom used to make that were simple, delicious, quick, and different from what we were eating during the week. In a future blog post, I’ll feature a bunch of my Mom’s kid friendly Friday night favourites.

One of the things my Mom and Dad loved to eat on Friday nights was Vermicelli all ’aglio e olio often with anchovies. I would never eat it as a kid, but as an adult I have come to enjoy a similar dish – Linguine Vongole (Pasta with Clam sauce).  It’s a quick and easy recipe and tastes and looks fancy, so you can serve it for company too.  This is a great example of what I mean when I say simple at-home dishes can have a gourmet taste and feel.  You can use fresh clams for this too, but the canned baby clams are very good and easy to keep on hand to satisfy your craving for this classic Italian dish.

linguine with clams
Linguine con Vongole in Bianco

The recipe I use is from my favourite cookbook –  Recipes from Pasquale’s Kitchen, published in 1984 by Doubleday Canada.  I have a number of cookbooks that I enjoy very much, but this one got me into cooking in my early 20’s. Pasquale Carpino was a chef we used to watch on Tele Domenica on CFCF-TV in Montreal in the 80’s and 90’s. He was entertaining and seemed to really enjoy cooking, and was one of Canada’s first celebrity chefs.  He sang Italian Opera songs while he cooked, and his food looked delicious! I’m a big believer in the idea that when you cook with love and happiness the meal will always turn out well (or you’ll think of a way to recover it!). Here’s a picture of the book…

You’ll see that it’s “old school” in its look, but the thing I really loved about this book are the sidebars that give you information and tips on ingredients, cooking methods and history of the dish.

Through reading this cookbook, I learned a lot about the dishes my Mom always made and also about dishes from different parts of Italy. Sadly, Pasquale passed away in 2005.  You can still see him in action on You Tube, so check him out! He’s lots of fun to watch.

Writing about my favourite cookbook prompted me to ask my close family and friends if they had a favourite cookbook and why they liked it. My niece, A, who is 21 years old is already a wonderful cook. When she was little, we always tried to involve her in food prep.  She used to watch Emeril on the Food Network with me when she was about 4 or 5 years old! Once while watching the show at that young age she said, “Auntie, wouldn’t that be a dream vacation for you and me to go to New York and see Emeril’s show?”

A was always a very creative and independent thinker and she’d follow our direction for a little while, but then would want to create her own dish.  Sometimes the combinations were pretty strange, but we always made sure her dishes made it to the table with the other food and that someone tried them! (Usually, that was her Dad!).  I like to think those early experiences sparked some of her present interest in creating healthy, delicious meals.  As well as re-creating some of the traditional Italian and Portuguese dishes of her family, A has ventured into middle eastern cooking and our family has enjoyed sampling these dishes that may be new to us. She also does a lot of gluten-free cooking and posts her creations on Instagram.  Check out her work @_healthandlove

When I asked A to tell me about her favourite cookbook for this blog, she came up with three.  Here’s what she had to say about the books:

Oh She Glows Everyday (Angela Liddon, published by Penguin Random House Canada)

“This was purchased for me by a person that is incredibly important to me, as well as a great aunt and role model. The recipes are easy to follow, ingredients fairly accessible (and easy to make modifications), and great insight for people with dietary restrictions.”

Palestine on a Plate  (Joudie Kalla, published by Jacqui Small LLP)

unnamed“This cookbook is colourful, and the recipes are easy to follow, and really allows the average home cook to step out of their comfort zone whilst still making recipes that are hearty, healthy, and that taste great. Palestinian food might not be something in everyone’s repertoire or even something anyone has ever tried before, but diving into Joudie’s revamped family recipes will surely be something you won’t regret.”



Jerusalem  (Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, published by Penguin Random House)

“Jerusalem is a book co-authored by London based chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, one with Sephardi and Ashkenazic roots, and one with Palestinian roots who both spent a large part of their childhoods in Jerusalem. Not only are the recipes excellent, and but Ottolenghi and Tamimi manage to truly use food as a means of solving cultural differences and understanding the complex landscape that is the namesake city of this book.”

Look for more favourite cookbooks from my friends and family in up-coming posts. Feel free to leave a comment to let me know what your favourite cookbook is and why you like it!  Together we can create a resource page of great cookbooks!

Happy cooking!

Pasquale’s Linguine con Vongole in Bianco

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

linguine with clams

 This linguine with white clam sauce is an Italian classic that’s quick enough to make for a weeknight supper and fancy and romantic enough to serve for company.  This is a perfect example of what I mean when I say that simple meals can have a gourmet feel and taste! Buon Appetito!


  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Half of medium onion, chopped
  • 1 – 10 oz. can of baby clams
  • 2 oz. white wine
  • 2 oz. clam juice from can
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 lb. linguine, cooked and drained
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (buy the best quality you can afford)


  1. Melt butter in a large frying pan and cook the garlic and onion for 5 minutes.
  2. Add clams, wine and clam juice and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the parsley and cooked pasta.  Toss well.
  4. Place on heated plates and top with grated cheese before serving.

Original recipe by Pasquale Carpino (“The Singing Chef”)

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