The Martorana siblings were not the only ones who did some cooking up at Cape Cod this summer. After my aunts and uncle left and the house quieted down a little I spent a few more days with my parents doing are usual Cape Cod summer rituals like shopping, going to the beach, biking, waterside dining and of course, eating some clams.
We always get steamers at Cape Cod in the summer and this year I added a special request for my father's stuffed clams.
My father and his family spent their summers in Breezy Point, NY. In the late 1940's, the water in Jamaica Bay had not yet become polluted as it is today. My father and his sisters would walk along the tidal flats at low tide looking for little air holes and then dig up the unsuspecting clams below with their shovels, bringing home a pail full of them for my grandfather to steam.
|Breezy Point, 1940's|
(Mary, Ann Marie, Edward and Margaret Schmitt)
|Cape Cod, 1970's|
(Me and my brother, Ed)
We still eat them the same way they did back in their bungalow, rinsed in clam broth to remove any sand, dipped in butter and then eaten with a bite of buttered toast.
Stuffed clams are made with the larger, hard-shelled cherrystones. Though any hard-shelled clam will work, you probably don't want to try stuffing those little guys on the right.
My dad's family often made the recipe that follows, reminiscent of the baked clams they would get as takeout from Lundy's in Sheepshead Bay. My father enjoyed making the trip with his dad and sitting at the bar waiting for their order to be ready, a beer for grandpa, a ginger ale with a cherry for dad. Likewise, I enjoyed making and eating these with him.
|That's not Opie, it's my Dad! |
(and my grandfather, Henry Schmitt)
24 Cherrystone Clams
1/2 cup onions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup pimentos, chopped
1 stack Ritz crackers
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
bacon, cooked halfway (optional)
Steam clams in a large pot until the shells pop open. Remove from shells and chop. Reserve the shells and some of the residual clam water.
Pulse the Ritz crackers in a food processor to turn them into crumbs.
Mix with the clams and the other remaining ingredients and enough of the clam juice to moisten.
Spoon the mixture into the clam shells and top with a bacon strip.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Enjoy on the back deck with a nice cold beer (or a Ginger Ale and cherry).