Claire unpacked the grocery bags and the menu began to take shape. She’d whirl the smoked clams and mussels with mascarpone cheese in the food processor to make a dip to eat by the fire. – Chapter 14, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

  • 4 ounces smoked clams
  • 4 ounces smoked mussels (or more smoked clams)
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • A few drops of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Artisanal baguette to grill for serving
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or extra-virgin olive oil

1. Purée clams and mussels in a food processor. Work in the cheese, lemon zest, hot sauce if using, and salt and pepper; the dip should be highly seasoned.

2. Cut baguette sharply on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices. Lightly brush these on both sides with melted butter or olive oil.

3. Set up grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the bread slices on the grate and grill until browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Warning: Grilled bread burns quickly, so don’t leave it unattended.

*Mascarpone is a creamy Italian cow’s milk cheese from Lombardy. It is widely available at supermarkets and cheese counters, but if you cannot find it, you can make a good substitute by blending 8 ounces of full-fat cream cheese with 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sour cream.

This recipe was originally published with the article, Q&A with Food Writer Turned Novelist Steven Raichlen.