Monday, March 19, 2012

Lazy Sunday With Friends {Shrimp & Clam Fest Menu}

I love a great Sunday and yesterday was definitely a GREAT Sunday.
Had an awesome morning at the beach with my little ones {I guess 10 and almost 14 isn't so little anymore} and as I relaxed I was mulling what to serve for dinner, some of my oldest friends coming so definitely no pressure to be overly fancy but there still needed to be plenty of good food to eat.... inspired by the ocean I decided I would stop at Hull's seafood and pick up some local seafood and that I would try my hand at one of David's favorites.... the Hush Puppy.  

The Menu
Steamed Clams
Peel & Eat Shrimp
Caesar Salad {my way}
Hush Puppies 
Melted Butter & Cocktail Sauce
Strawberry Shortcake

The most time consuming thing I made were the Hush Puppies and truth be told, they only took 30 minutes from start to finish including clean up....thank you Epicurious for coming through with a great recipe.  I made these shortly before company arrived so I was done with my oven, everything else was easily made with everyone hanging out in the kitchen talking and drinking beers.

About 6 cups peanut oil
2 cups Martha White cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup minced onion
1 large egg

Heat 1 1/2 inches oil in a 4-quart wide heavy pot over medium heat until it registers 375°F on insta-read thermometer {do not be tempted to get it hot faster by turning your burner up or your puppies will be far too brown upon impact}.

Meanwhile, mix together all other ingredients {cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, onion, and egg} in a large bowl stirring until just incorporated.

Fry rounded tablespoons of batter (about 10 per batch), turning occasionally, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 375°F between batches. 

Keep hush puppies warm in oven at 200F until you are ready to eat.

And that was the most complicated thing I made but NOT necessarily the yummiest.... these recipes are ALL keepers!
Now, since timing is everything I would suggest you do a few things to get set up before you cook the clams.... 
  • open your beer and make sure your guests have one
  • set up your individual butter dishes and have them in the microwave ready to hit GO! 
  • set up your shrimp but not turn it on
  • have your salad materials ready to toss while the seafood steams.... and if you are NOT taking the lazy man route and using bagged ready to go lettuce then break up your Romaine at this time.

I totally went old school here and used Old Bay, you really cannot go wrong.  It's just that good.
1/2 lb. medium count unpeeled shrimp {heads removed} PER PERSON
I used 3 lbs for 5 adults and an extra bit in case kids ate them too.
A lidded steamer pot with colander is ideal {your spaghetti pot}
2 cups of water 
2 Tsp. Old Bay

No big ceremony, put water in bottom, add Old Bay.  Put in colander insert and add shrimp.  Put lid on but don't turn on.  They will only take about 5-8 minutes including reaching initial boil.
I turned them on high as I added the clams to their pot and because I had a lot I "stirred" a couple times once the water was boiling.... when they are pink they are done, turn off the burner and put them in their bowl, they'll cool a little but that's good so people can grab without injury them to peel.
I bought a bag of 100 live Cedar Key Littlenecks, which are small hard-shelled clams.... this recipe would work with any hard-shell clam you wanted to steam and in hind sight I would serve with crusty french bread to sop up the juice and REALLY enjoy it.

BIG Steamer Pot {a lobster pot is ideal}
1 stick butter
1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
6 parsley stems
3 cloves garlic, lightly chopped
1 bottle dry white wine


Scrub clams with vegetable brush in cold water; rinse with water until free of sand.  If the shells of the live clams are open, tap on shell. If it does not close, throw away the clam; I also throw away badly cracked shells.  *NOTE:  if you are unfamiliar with shellfish cooking and/or handling you should read the FDA warnings and suggestions to make sure you accommodate your comfort level for safety. CLICK HERE for a good article summarizing concerns and precautions.
O.K. You've read the FDA novel on shellfish, the clams are clean....  in a steamer pot or a large kettle, melt butter; sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add white wine and bring to a slow boil. Add clams and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam over low heat just until clams open, about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not over cook, as clams will become tough and rubbery (discard any clams that do not open).

Czar Heidi Salad
This is a complete departure from the traditional Caesar salad and the lack of precision would've killed Ruthie BUT it is definitely a recipe derived from her Caesar Salad, but done slacker style.  I'm giving measurements but it's a real "to taste" experience once you make it a few times.

Please Feed The Animals
WHAT YOU NEED {for 4, double it as needed, I doubled last night because everyone loves this including my kids}:
1 bag Romaine blend lettuce
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 tsp regular salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmigiana-Romano blend "fancy style"

Put the lettuce in the bowl, sprinkle the garlic and salt then the oil, toss well, then add cheese and toss again.... VOILA.  That easy, that good.
Every book needs a good ending, we had the end of my Plant City strawberries.... I sliced the berries the night before and totally cheated and bought the cheesy shortbread dessert cups that my kids love.... my preference would be homemade biscuits but I will admit those things work really well and after all that seafood and beer.... who wants to go bake biscuits?

2 dessert cups per person {I bought a dozen}
2 pints of strawberries hulled & sliced
1/4 cup of sugar
a can of spray whipped cream LOL

I know, this isn't really a recipe.... but there's a  a point.  A "tip" if you will.... and I learned this from a 21 year old pedicurist a couple years ago {her Mom owned a restaurant}.  So, I prepared my strawberries the night before and tossed them in the sugar.  Sealed them tight in the fridge overnight but they just didn't produce any real "syrup" to speak of.... you NEED that syrup to pour over your cake.  So, here's the TIP:  Take a half cup of berries, add an 1/8 cup of water in your MAGIC BULLET {just go get one!} and puree.  Yup, it's a beautiful thing.  Then you spoon a little puree over each cake, top with berries and then whipped cream.  YOU ROCK.  

Everyone applauds.... and even the old guy can't think of a criticism for this meal.

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  1. It looks like you had such a great time! I am envious of all the fresh shellfish, and am going to try making hush puppies soon.

    1. it was a FAB afternoon! let me know how your pups turn out :)

  2. When are WE doing this? I'll attempt the hush puppies and straberry shortcake!

    1. my reply must not have appeared! Glad we are calendared :)