I’ve had a good record with clams -- I’ve made a wonderful chowder, fantastic steamed clams (and here), and clam sauce. My family is crazy about clams, so it made sense for me to finally tackle the “Classic Clams Casino,” from the October / November 2011 issue of Fine Cooking. Was it too-precious a recipe? Perhaps…but so delicious, though.

I’ve never shucked a bivalve, and I didn’t need to do so here. These clams are first broiled, where they then open up, ready for the next step. I used 12 Little Necks, and I’m afraid they were too little! I guess Cherry Stones would have been better, here. The cheesy breadcrumb stuffing was right-on, with its inclusion of chopped shallot and white wine (I used a 2009 Argentinian Torrontes). These clams were a tasty treat.

And speaking of wine…then there’s the mushrooms. I made the “Fricassee of Chanterelles,” from the September 2011 issue of Bön Appetit, and used more of this same wine. I was so set on making this dish, that I swapped in maitake mushrooms when I couldn’t get chanterelles. Therefore, my final dish was a gray mushroom mass, thanks to the maitake color. But this was OK. My youngster actually liked this dish, and it was great when I chose to serve it over boiled, smashed Yukon Gold potatoes.

An amount of heavy cream -- and lots of butter -- bring their pleasantness to this dish. Instead of using fresh oregano, I used fresh thyme, which is always lovely. It’s a somewhat decadent recipe, and it benefited from the addition of 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 3 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper, at the end.

And finally, we land at the “Zucchini and Spinach Gratin,” from simplyrecipes.com. Notice this is not a gluttonous gratin: only three eggs and half a cup of cheese. Bacon is here again, as it was in the clam recipe, and it is definitely the excellent champion of flavor.

Grated zucchini is very wet, and needs to be meticulously wrung out -- that and the thawed frozen spinach, as well. I added 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to my gratin. After 45 minutes of baking, it leaves the oven with a nicely browned top and a pleasing texture.

Red Bell Pepper (1) = .32¢
Shallot (1) = .63¢
Lemon (1) = .28¢
Onions (2) = $1.14
Maitake Mushrooms (1 lb.) = $17.75
Yukon Gold Potatoes (1 lb.) = .69¢
Zucchini (2 lbs.) = $4.14
Frozen Spinach (20 oz.) = $4.52

RECIPES: bacon and white wine allow clams, mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach to play together
clams need less than a total hour; mushrooms and boiled potatoes need less than a total hour; gratin needs less than two hours total
shallot, white wine, and grated parmesan cover each clam with a bacon kiss on top; mushrooms sit creamy and lemony atop smashed potatoes; more bacon embellishes a well-textured gratin, green with zucchini and spinach

Ready to use some more of the white wine(!), next time I will cook the “Farfalle with Golden Beets, Beet Greens, and Prosciutto,” from the October / November 2011 issue of Fine Cooking. See my fun when you return to my site soon.