When the days get long and hot, it can be easier to divide dinner chores into twice-a-day activities. Before the heat, and maybe before work or play, bake your dessert blondies and make a simple crab stock from shells you picked the night before. With these steps out of the way, all you need to do for dinner is assemble the quick sauté and make the rice. In the summer, keep the blondies in the refrigerator until ready to eat, then present on a platter and let everyone self-serve.

Jumbo Lump Crab, Summer Tomato and Basil with Jasmine Rice

Serves 4

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 cups chopped tomato

¾ cup basil, julienned

1½ cups crab stock (or water)

1 pound hand-picked, local crabmeat

Sea salt and white pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

6 cups cooked jasmine rice

12 leaves basil for garnish

Heat oil over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. When oil is warm, add tomatoes and basil just to warm. Add crab meat and gently toss. Add a splash of stock and warm, then swirl in a small amount of butter just to thicken.

Add rice to four shallow bowls. Spoon crab over rice, garnish with basil, a good pinch of sea salt and a grind of white pepper and serve.

Crab Stock

When you have a crab boil, use your leftover, steamed and picked crab shells to make sure you get every bit of flavor. This stock recipe includes star anise, which adds an Asian flair that pairs nicely with the fresh basil in the first recipe.

Blue crab shells, about 4 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 bay leaves

¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

8 cups water

Heat oil on high in a large pot. Add crab shells and stir around immediately, crushing the shells as much as possible. Add onion, celery, tomato paste, bay leaves, peppercorns and star anise. Stir and heat for about 5 minutes. Add water to deglaze and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and strain.

Use within a few days of making or freeze in airtight containers in 1 cup or smaller size portions. Ice cube trays work great for freezing smaller portions. When stock is frozen, pop the cubes into a freezer bag and label with type of stock and the date frozen. If you have a crab boil and do not have time to make stock, pop the shells into the freezer for a week or two, until you do have time to make it.

 

Salty Chocolate Caramel Blondies

After a healthy summer meal, a salty caramel treat is a satisfying way to finish. Try making this recipe using local sea salt. Serve a bit more salt, on the side, with the blondies in case anyone has a salt tooth.

 

2 ½ cups unbleached, all purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

2 sticks butter, room temperature

1¼ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 bag semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon local sea salt

¼ cup homemade Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, salt and soda in a bowl and stir to combine ingredients. Cream two sticks of butter in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time until beaten into the butter. Remember to scrape down the bowl. Add sugars and mix to combine and cream the ingredients. Add vanilla and combine. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture and incorporate.

Butter and flour a half sheet pan. You can line the bottom with parchment paper, if you want to make sure nothing sticks. Carefully spread the thick batter across the parchment. Using an offset spatula works great. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool. While still warm, gently sprinkle a bag of your favorite chocolate chips on top. Step away for a few minutes while the chocolate melts. After about 5 minutes, use your offset spatula again and carefully spread the melted chips into a layer of icing. While still a bit warm, sprinkle the chocolate layer generously with your favorite local sea salt. When cool, drizzle and swirl the entire pan of blondies with one quarter of the recipe of Caramel Sauce. Cut into small squares or diamonds. Yields about 2 dozen.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup of sugar

6 tablespoons butter

½ cup heavy whipping cream

Have everything ready before you put the pan on the stove. This recipe progresses quickly.

Using a 3-quart saucepan, heat sugar on moderately high heat. As the sugar begins to melt, stir constantly. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted, immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.

Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Wait a few seconds, then slowly add the cream and continue to whisk to incorporate. When you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you started with a 3-quart pan.

Whisk until the caramel sauce is smooth. Cool, then pour into a glass container and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Recipe courtesy of Outer Banks Epicurean

(We try to use all organic/natural/real ingredients.)

www.outerbanksepicurean.com

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