[Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico; 25º 49.2'N/111º 18.5' W]
"Chez Penne" is a lovely motor yacht owned by Linda-Kay and Lyle who, along with Cruiser the orange tabby cat, live aboard and cruise in the Sea of Cortez. One evening while Philip was away in La Paz picking up supplies and a repaired alternator, Linda-Kay and Lyle hosted Leslie along with Susie and Jim from the trimaran "Sparta" for dinner. The meal was bountiful and even included homemade bread and pie which in the heat of the summer in Mexico is quite an incredible treat (no one wants to bake!). The highlight of the evening though was this imaginative dish which I have modified only slightly.
1 dozen live clams in shell, approximately 3" in diameter, e.g., "chocolates"
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
2 stalks celery
~ 2 Tb olive oil
~ 1/8 cup celery leaves
1 small ripe roma tomato
3/4 - 1 cup grated sharp cheese (romano or equivalent)
optional - 2 thin slices ham or smoked turkey
Finely chop onion, garlic and celery. Add to saute pan with olive oil and basil. Cook over low heat until cooked translucent but not browned. Take care not to burn. While cooking finely chop celery leaves and tomato (and ham or turkey) and set aside. When onion mixture is translucent, add celery leaves and tomato (and optional ham or smoked turkey) and cook an additional few minutes. Turn off burner and cover. Grate romano; add to pan with onion, garlic, tomato, celery, etc.; stir to mix. Shuck clams and pour off liquid, retaining clam meat and shells with hinge intact. Chop clams very fine, then just before you are going to assemble, add raw chopped clams to onion mixture and cover.
Tear off sheet of aluminum foil approx. six inches wide; tear in half to yield two sheets approx. 6 x 6 inches. Repeat until you have a dozen wrappings (one for each clam) . Fill each retained clam shell with mixture, close halves to retain mixture and wrap tightly in foil. Repeat until all clam shells are filled and wrapped. Place wrapped, filled clam shells onto a BBQ rack and cook on HI for approx. 10 minutes. Serve immediately.