I once saw a movie with a female lead who loved to make just appetizers for dinner — even when there was no party. (Was it Moonstruck? I’m drawing a blank.)
That appetizer-for-dinner idea struck me as brilliant. What a fun concept! I think I spent the rest of the movie fantasizing about the finger-food I should eat for dinner, just because. (No wonder I can’t recall the film’s title.)
But that whimsical notion has stayed with me. So every once in awhile, I giddily make just hors d’oeuvres for dinner. I used to prepare three different kinds, but here’s what happened: This Clams Casino Dip stole the show.
It’s so good, my husband and kids (OK, me too) decided that a double batch is all that’s necessary for a satisfying meal, along with our dipping accessories. So, on a Friday night, you might see a pan of this cheesy, breadcrumby, buttery, oniony (it’s fun to make up new words) clam deliciousness smack dab in the center of our table, along with carrots, red peppers, and crostini (formerly Melba Toast, before I changed my eating habits).
I’ve tweaked the recipe over the past decade, and it’s only gotten better. (Try it with my Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs.) And although traditional Clams Casino calls for bacon, this dip works better without it. (There’s enough saltiness from the cheese and clam juice. Plus, the bacon overpowered the other flavors when we tried it.)
As for Moonstruck, it’s obvious I don’t have a good recollection of this movie, which I saw as a teenager more than 25 years ago. I think it’s time I rented it again to view it through my middle-aged eyes — while eating appetizers.
(Recipe Source: Adapted from a Hot Clam Dip recipe posted in an online forum years ago. Original source unknown.)