Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Clams Casino Bruschetta, or It Pays to Read Directions

So I'm all excited about entering this Chicken of the Sea recipe contest. I rush to the store and load up on canned shellfish to put a new spin on an old classic - clams casino. For some reason I have a dip in mind but after determining it might be too boring, I decide to convert it into a bruschetta topping. (By the way, that's pronounced "broo-sketta" and don't let me catch you saying otherwise.)

The recipe has to be "healthful" because the contest is in conjunction with some crap show on Lifetime, so I buy turkey bacon and light cream cheese. And I make these gorgeous crostini, top them with clam glop, and take photos.

See, gorgeous. (With the help of Photoshop. The wooden dish was too close in color to the crust of the bread, so I darkened it. And you wouldn't have even suspected if I hadn't opened my big mouth and told you.)

Then comes the day when I planned to upload my recipe to the contest site. I *had* read the official rules, I swear I did! Unfortunately, I misinterpreted them to read "upload a photo of yourself and one of your dish" rather than what it actually said, "upload a photo of yourself WITH your dish."

By that time, the dish was long eaten, and I hate do-overs.

But wait, there's more! Not only had I made this delectable bruschetta, I had also made another dish (which will get its own post)! So that's two fuck-ups for me. Go me!

In any case, at least you'll be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. If you make the recipe, that is.

Clams Casino Bruschetta

6 slices turkey bacon
2 cans Chicken of the Sea chopped clams, juice reserved
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper (optional - I didn't use it but some clams casino recipes require it)
1 8oz package low fat ("Neufchatel") cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 baguette, sliced diagonally into 1/2" thick slices
olive oil
1 tablespoon commercial Italian-style bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Fry turkey bacon until crisp. Remove from pan to a paper-towel lined plate and allow to cool.

Add chopped onion to bacon grease (should be a scant teaspoon or so in there; if there's more, remove it) and sautée until slightly brown but still a bit crisp.

Place softened cream cheese into a medium bowl. Add bacon, clams, onion, bell pepper, and oregano and stir to combine. Dribble in enough clam juice to give the mixture a spreadable but not too runny consistency. (If you plan to use it as dip rather than as a bruschetta topping, then add clam juice until it's of a dippable consistency.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare crostini by preheating your oven to 350F. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake until golden, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, about 15 minutes.

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast bread crumbs and oregano in a dribble of olive oil. When crumbs are browned and fragrant, remove to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan.

To serve: Top crostini with a heaping teaspoon or so (depending on the size of your baguette) of clam mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of the crumb mixture. Eat.

As there are usually only two of us at Casa Minx, I made only 6 pieces of bruschetta. That left more than half the clam mixture to become something else. With more onions, more turkey bacon, and a bit of milk to thin it out, it made a fantastic pasta sauce. Actually, the pasta sauce worked out better than the bruschetta because warming it brought out the clam and oregano flavors. So if you make the bruschetta, you might want to pop it under the broiler for 5 minutes or so to heat the clam goo.