Winter invites a scenery change. We are seemingly always packing up the car and on our way to some special California place. When we’re not scouting new California vineyards, we tend to land somewhere quiet and restorative–some place with Big Nature and of course, a great kitchen. Here in Sonoma County, we are fortunate to have an abundance of proximate “VRBO getaways” (Pt. Reyes, Inverness, Elk, Orr Hot Springs, etc.). Given my husband’s OBSESSION with surfing, Sea Ranch on northern edge of the Sonoma Coast is often the call. All you need is a deck of cards, a of couple cookbooks, and some walking shoes to be set up for 72 hours of recuperative bliss. Oh, and a box of food staples! Jaunts of this nature require leaning into essential ingredients and a well curated pantry. Some crucial items that come to mind include lemons, fresh herbs, high quality finishing oil, Maldon sea salt, canned Marzanos, good bread, anchovies and a variety of tinned fish. Given our “travel kit” necessitates a limited selection of food stuffs, these trips often inspire creativity in the kitchen. On a recent trip to Sea Ranch with friends, I came up with this Razor Clam Crostini using tinned razor clams, some left over baguette, and creme frâiche. It was so good we ate the whole platter of crostinis standing up in the kitchen!
RAZOR CLAM CROSTINI w/ LEMONY CRÈME FRAICHE
1 fresh baguette
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice from ½ lemon
3 – 4 oz Crème Fraiche
Approx 8 oz Razor Clams (fresh and steamed or tinned)
Micro greens (micro arugula or micro cilantro both work well)
Maldon Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 350.
Make sure your baguette is fresh and still soft in the middle. Cut the baguette on the bias in ½ inch pieces and place on baking sheet. Liberally brush the top-facing side of each piece with oil. Place in oven and toast for 8 – 10 minutes.
While the baguette is toasting, make the lemony crème fraiche. Place the crème fraiche in a bowl. Zest the lemon into the bowl first (you might not need the zest of the entire lemon, depending on how lemony you want it. I recommend doing it to taste). Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl. Add a healthy pinch of salt and then whisk all the ingredients until smooth.
If using fresh clams, cover the clams in cold, salty water for 30 minutes and then rinse several times to remove grit. Pour a few glugs of EVOO into a wide frying pan and turn heat to medium high. Place clams in pan in a single layer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam until clams open—approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
If using tinned clams (in which there is absolutely no shame!), open and strain off the tins (you’ll probably need 2 tins). The brand I like and use is La Brujula. These clams are hand harvested by local women in Galicia, Spain.
Now you’re ready to assemble. Using a spoon or small rubber spatula, layer a healthy amount of lemony crème fraiche on each piece of toast. Place 1 – 2 razor clams on each piece of toast atop the crème fraiche. Next sprinkle each toast with Aleppo pepper and then top with micro greens. Finish each piece with a pinch of Maldon Sea Salt. Arrange on your favorite platter and serve.
Perfect appetizer for 4 people.