Ciao'd while sad about the hummingbirds leaving for the winter. Viva Mexico!

I had a revelation this weekend while reading the Eat section of The New York Times Magazine. Usually, revelations propel me forward but, in this case, I was drawn backwards in a way that struck a resonant nostalgic chord and, even more so, enveloped me with a profound sense of relief. 

No one can wield this gustatory wand with the finesse, humanity, and humor better than Gabrielle Hamilton. You may know her as the hyper-talented chef/owner of the highly and deservedly touted Prune restaurant in New York City. Or, you may have acquainted yourself with Gabrielle (may I call you Gabrielle, Ms. Hamilton?) via her appetizing, imperfect and wonderful memoir Blood, Bones and Butter.  Her latest accomplishment (and we are so much the luckier for it) is being crowned the newest contributor for nytmag's Eat column. 

Gabrielle  introduced herself with gusto, honesty and a healthy dose of disdain for pretension (but in a polite way). Duh, it's Gabrielle Hamilton. Her debut column, A Snack Tray to Gather the Family Around, which you can read in its entirety here http://nyti.ms/2e6pWsl is prescient, hilarious, and it just plain makes you want to eat - without a care in the world and with visceral satisfaction - stuff like: Pringles, Lipton Onion Dip, (American) Cheese Toasts with Anchovy Paste, and yep, Baked Stuffed Clams made with canned clams. 

I am not going to ride the high horse that snuffles over beautiful food (and the instas that go with) versus food that simply tastes good. Nor will I wax snide and rant about "raw," "probiotic," "sugar/dairy/gluten-free" (that's another post). I will confess that I have a writer-cook-girl crush on Gabrielle Hamilton. She is as real as they come. She reminds us that good food can be an orchestrated rhapsody of goodness a la Prune and it can be a jazzy, extemporaneous snack tray composed from what's on hand. Even if that's canned clams, prepared breadcrumbs, and lots of butter. Ladies and gents, I give you a Snack Tray star from my past, and a delish dish I enjoy to this day: Baked Stuffed Clams. Make it your 4 PM Fix.  Serve with a salad (with Iceberg lettuce, natch), if you must. 



My mom made us Baked Stuffed Clams on "fish Fridays" (yep, good Catholic girl). Truth be told, there are more breadcrumbs than clams in the stuffing but that is, strangely, the magical alchemy. Bake the clam mixture in clamshells (found in most markets) or small ramekins. Alternately, pile the entire mixture in a casserole dish and serve as a spread - with Ritz crackers. 

Serves 4

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash or two Tabasco (optional)
1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
Dash or two Tabasco (optional)
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 (6.5-ounce) can minced clams; juice reserved
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Clamshells or small ramekins
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the parsley, breadcrumbs, clams, 1 tablespoon of the reserved clam juice, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring, until the stuffing mixture is thoroughly moistened. If the mixture is too dry, add more clam juice.

Spoon the stuffing mixture into the clamshells or ramekins. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the melted butter.  Bake until the stuffing is heated through and the cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes.