Summertime and seafood just seem synonymous, and combining the two makes me appreciate both even more. One of my favorite ways to enjoy local seafood is to have a variety of seafood preparations for one meal. This menu begins with a jumbo lump crab nosh and then moves to the table for a plated salad of grilled calamari and fennel followed by a giant bowl of briny clams and linguini. Dessert can be an easy, make-ahead chilled chocolate mousse.
Chilled Blue Crab Bites
Serves 4 to 6
1 lb. jumbo, lump crabmeat
½ cup homemade or favorite sugar-free, mayonnaise
1 tablespoon celery, minced
Dash of celery seeds
Combine and let mixture chill for at least an hour. Presentation: Dollop on top of pretty vintage or ultra modern teaspoons for service. Garnish with a few celery seeds and place spoons on a platter with a dish of crackers. Serve this in two batches so the crabmeat stays chilled.
Grilled Calamari with Fennel
If you can find a fisherman friend who will keep his catches for you, that is the best way to find them fresh. Most fish mongers sell frozen, cleaned squid. Do not substitute with anything labeled bait.
8 cleaned calamari tubes, scored
Bulb of fresh fennel, sliced ¼ inch thick pieces
¼ cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
2 large cloves minced garlic
Half a lemon, juiced + 1 tablespoon
Mixed salad greens
Marinate fennel and squid in ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, half a lemon, dash of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper for at least an hour or as long as two days. Grill right before service. Make sure grill is hot before cooking squid. Place the fennel on the grill first; it will take a little longer. After seeing marks, move the fennel to a lower-temperature area of grill to finish. Add the squid. On a hot grill you will get nice marks and the calamari will curl just a touch when it is cooked. It doesn’t take long.
Serve calamari and fennel warm on a cold salad of mixed greens tossed with a drizzle of the fruity olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice.
Linguini with White Clam Sauce
All ingredients for this recipe are listed on a per-person basis. Multiply as needed and remember to use a lidded pot large enough to hold all the clams.
12 -18 washed clams, in tightly closed shells
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup white wine
1/2 cup bottled clam juice
¼ pound cooked linguini, fresh is always best
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Make sure you have all of your ingredients assembled; this recipe comes together quickly. Heat your pot (one with a lid) and add your clams. Pour in the wine and clam juice and cover. Steam until clams have opened. Remove clams and shells, too, if they have separated. Keep heat on high and reduce liquid by half. Toss in the garlic, parsley and butter. Reduce heat and swirl butter to make sauce. Add the precooked, hot pasta and toss. Reintroduce the clams and season with sea salt and peppers.
Be sure to serve a bit crusty bread to sop up the juices and have a bowl on the side for the clam shells.
Easy Chocolate Mousse
2 cups chilled, organic heavy cream
4 large pasture-raised egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla
7 oz. high- quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat 3/4 cup cream in a small saucepan until hot; do not boil. Whisk together yolks, sugar and a pinch of sea salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer the mixture to a larger saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until custard reaches 160°F on a food thermometer. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, let cool.
Beat remaining cream until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard first, then fold in remaining cream.
Spoon the mousse into 6 pretty vessels and chill, covered, for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before service.
Recipe courtesy of Outer Banks Epicurean
(We try to use all organic/natural/real ingredients.)