Party app: Shrimp & clam dip

Anyone having an Oscars party on Sunday? Or any party soon … or later? I will be posting a handful of party-worthy hors d’oeuvres that are delicious and easy to make in the next few days in anticipation of Hollywood’s biggest night

When I’m putting together a party I want to make sure that I have something for everyone, including something vegetarian and something that is gluten-free. Now that doesn’t mean you have to break your neck coming up with something new because typically anything you are serving will probably have some kind of vegetable with it and something may already be gluten-free and you didn’t even know it!

Up first, this delicious pantry-concoction straight out of the orange plaid kitchen of my early youth, a throw-it-together appetizer I have tried to ‘improve’ with some fresh ingredients, but it just never worked. In fact, it wasn’t until even very recently that I learned that one of the ingredients (lemon juice) wasn’t even meant to come from fresh lemons (!) The one thing I DID improve was the texture by leaving the cut of the clams and the shrimp just as they are when they come out of the can instead of chopping them any further (stirring will break down the shrimp a bit, but that is part of the signature texture of the dish). I think it is nice to get different size pieces of both when enjoying this

The one thing I will say about the plastic lemon with the reconstituted lemon juice is that it does work in certain applications, like this one. I am not suggesting that you use it everywhere that you need lemon juice

This appetizer does improve with age but it can be thrown together just before service and it will be just as welcome

Ingredients
2 6.5 ounce cans chopped clams (not minced), chilled, drained
2 4 ounce cans medium shrimp, chilled, drained
6 ounces best-quality bottled cocktail sauce, chilled, then to taste
1 4.5 fluid ounce plastic lemon with reconstituted lemon juice, chilled
Nabisco brand Sociables crackers, for serving

Method
Add the clams, with their juices and the drained shrimp to a medium bowl. Add the cocktail sauce and stir gently to combine. Add half of the contents of the lemon and then taste to see if more is needed (the reconstituted juice is the ‘secret ingredient’ to this dish; do not try to substitute freshly squeezed, it just is not strong enough to match the canned fish) Do not be surprised if you use most of it, it is almost impossible to add ‘too much’

Scrape the dip into a pretty bowl and surround on a platter with Sociables (poppy seed crackers)

Serve Shrimp & clamp dip cold with pâté knives for schmearing onto the crackers