Bánh Mì, Brothy Clams, Sangria, More Recs

Good morning! I’m going straight old-school today with a few quick, easy, heavenly summer dinners we’ve eaten in the past week: Andrea Nguyen’s tofu bánh mì sandwich (from her gorgeous 2019 book Vietnamese Food Any Day; recipe over on Cup of Jo) and Steamed Clams, which longtime DALS readers might find familiar. Weirdly, neither of which call for grilling, but I promise neither will crank up the temperature in the kitchen either. Here’s today’s PPP….

Project: Steamed Clams in Drinkable Broth

Is there a meal that shouts summer louder than steamed littleneck clams with a green salad? (Our clams come from a vendor who sells them the same day they are harvested from the Long Island Sound.) When done correctly, you will have no choice but to pick up your bowl and slurp up every last delicious drop of broth. Definitely don’t salt as you go here, the clams provide plenty of brininess.

1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
few shakes red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 dozen fresh clams, we love Little Necks (or about 6 per person), washed and scrubbed
1/4 cup white or rosé wine
handful chopped tomatoes (any shape or color)
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

In a Dutch Oven set over medium heat, saute shallot, garlic red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper in olive oil. (Again, the clams provide their own salt, so hold off on adding any until you taste at the end; you most likely won’t need any.) When shallots are soft, add clams and wine. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. When the clams steam open, about five to ten minutes, add tomatoes and basil, and simmer another two or three minutes. Discard any clams that haven’t opened. Divide clams evenly among bowls, ladling the delicious broth on top. Serve with sliced, crusty bread for sopping.

Pantry: Sangria

Last weekend, my friend Tom made a pitcher of sangria for us in his backyard and it was so good, I made him send me his how-to: Add a sliced orange to a pitcher. Squeeze in the juice of one lime and one lemon. Add 4 tablespoons of brown sugar, a handful of pitted cherries, and lightly smash everything together with a wooden spoon. Stir in 1/2 cup brandy, 1/2 cup orange juice (preferably fresh-squeezed), a few splashes of Triple Sec and one bottle of Rioja. Pour over ice with a splash of club soda or ginger ale.

Purpose: Two Reads, Two Listens

1) Another Dull Quarantine Weekend: I can’t tell if this is hilarious in its relatability or ridiculously depressing in its relatability. I’ll let you decide. 2) This week’s issue of The New Yorker is devoted to the theme of Dissent, and they published seminal stories from their archives including “The Lottery,” the famous short story by Shirley Jackson. (It was in fact first published by The New Yorker in 1948, which I didn’t know.) I know we all read it in middle school, but I re-read it last night and HOLY HOLY. It’s masterful. 3) Home Cooking, Samin Nosrat’s podcast, with co-host Hrishikesh Hirway, is back! So many great ideas for cooks of all levels. 4) Jerry Seinfeld on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. I don’t even love Seinfeld’s comedy lately, but there’s just something so comforting about his voice. He also says that his parents’ greatest gift to him was their “benign neglect,” as in “We’ll live our lives, you live yours.” Can’t you just hear the lilting Queens-inflected way he says that? Anyway, made me laugh.

Wear a mask. Stay safe.

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at jenny@dinneralovestory.com.

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Agreed! Your posts have been such a bright spot for me during the past few months. And since I am commenting for the first time, I should tell you that your DALS book was the book that shaped our family’s approach to dinnertime back when my youngest was 4 (she will be 10 soon and we are still going strong on family dinners and cooking!). Thank you!