08.19.10: birthday dinner (clams, bacon and mustard greens from Tom Colicchio’s Think Like a Chef).

Clams with Pancetta, Mustard Greens, and Roasted Tomatoes over Linguini

The story of this meal is one of displaced holidays. As a mother’s day gift (May 9th), I promised my mother tickets and a date to see Wicked once the summer came along. She’s a school teacher and supposedly available for ventures into the big city in the summertime. So I asked her for the earliest available midweek summer date to take in the show–with plans to see it one night and make dinner for Elizabeth the other. Somehow things got difficult, but after a lot of unproductive scheduling sessions and indecision, we settled on the day before my birthday for the show.

So that’s the story of how I ended up cooking dinner for someone else on my own birthday. Far from seeking sympathy, it was a lot of fun. The only problem was that we spent the entire day walking around in the sun so it took a lot of lolly-gagging before I rallied for the dinner. I don’t like eating at 8:30 during the week, but it was a special occasion.

Elizabeth did her job well, selecting a delicious meal. She’s a big fan of Tom Colicchio and shellfish and hot dang, this recipe has both! Another page from Think Like a Chef, this dish was a born-winner. In the text, good old Tom talks about the happy marriage between bacon (pancetta) and seafood and adds two amazing vegetables. First, mustard greens which I had fresh for the first time in this dish. They are flavorful and absolutely lovely cooked for just a few minutes. I intend to explore them more soon. The second are oven-roasted tomatoes, and unlike many ‘Easy Italian’ recipes, this one tells you to step up and dry cook these things at 250 F for a hours and hours to get the sweetness so many preparations promise and fail to deliver on. Letting the tomaters get good gave me plenty of time to sit around; you can check out the recipe here.

The Mrs. requested pasta as a base and I was powerless to refuse. The result was a happy birthday meal, and even though I had to make it, I had plenty of help and fun along the way [Ed.–Like your brother, who made a delicious warm mushroom salad that I failed to capture on camera]. Until next time, friends–cook on!

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1 comment
  1. Please cook that dish for me! It looks absolutely divine! Happy Belated Birthday!

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