Happy birthday, Grandma-ma!

The highlight of my mother’s birthday celebration this year was the presence of her granddaughter Janea and her gift, a photo book of Janea we made at MyPublisher.com which came out surprisingly beautiful (O, me of little faith—I was worried about the resolution and quality of the printing) and of course the food!!! My aim was to make her favorite things, but it could have been a testimony to her Russian-Italian-Jewish heritage.

Grandma-ma’s birthday menu

  • Basil-pesto–stuffed baked clams
  • Jax Classic crab cakes with two-minute cocktail sauce
  • Baked chicken with wild-mushroom ragout
  • Kasha varniskes
  • Salad of roasted veggies
  • Goat cheese, shaved fennel & beet salad with sweet-potato honey vinaigrette
  • Lime tart

RECIPE: Basil-pesto–stuffed clams

Get two dozen cherry-stone clams, shucked at the fish store. (Pay the extra cash for them to do it. Seriously, don’t try doing this yourself unless you want mauled palms, beat-up clams and chipped shells, or you actually know how to do it properly.) Make sure they save the clam juice with the clams and give you the shells. Back home, mix 1.5 cups of bread crumbs, with 2 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of basil pesto (I had some homemade in the freezer that didn’t have nuts in it, but nutty pesto will do, too), 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, a good grind of freshly ground black pepper and salt in a bowl. Choose two dozen clamshell halves and place them on a baking tray. Place a whole clam in each shell (I removed the black stomach contents from the clams because it grossed me out, but apparently you don’t have to) and pack the bread crumb mixture on top of each one. Drizzle with more olive oil and broil for ten minutes until golden brown. I got two dozen clams for six people and thought, “Jackie you got too much!” since they each had a crab cake, too, but it turned out that was too few! Mo’ clams next time!!!

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