July 26, 2011
The ‘Best of Summer’ seafood dinner to enjoy with friends
As many of
I am a dedicated advocate of seasonal food and this is prime time!
Summer suppers are meant to be easy and it is not hard to achieve when
there is such a variety of fresh seafood and produce around.
For a dinner with some good friends, I decided to use as many fresh
food items as I could reasonably fit into one meal without spending all
day over the hot stove or even turning on the oven. This was
easy as it was meant to be and, if I may say so myself, the meal was
filled with freshness and complementary flavors.
We began with a gift from another friend, a surprisingly delicate dip
she made with eggplants from her garden in the woods up in
Buxton. I served it chilled but not cold, and the warm
of eggplant shone through.
1/4 cup lemon
1/4 cup tahini
pepper to taste
tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
eggplant on baking sheet and poke holes into the skin with a fork.
Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally until soft.
from oven and place in a large bowl of cold water. When cool
enough to handle, pour out the water and peel the eggplant.
Place eggplant flesh, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds and garlic in a
blender and puree. Season with salt and pepper to
Transfer to medium-sized bowl and stir in the olive oil.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.
Our salad was abundant with the flavors of summer -- watermelon,
tomatoes and mint from my porch garden, sliced green onions, and
ricotta salata cheese. This cheese has the same mild flavor
the ricotta we use in baked pasta dishes but is harder and crumbles
The salad is a refreshing counterpart to the rich chowder.
BEST OF SUMMER CHOWDER
There are no precise amounts you need to concern yourself with but I
suggest you use slightly more watermelon than tomatoes so you don’t
lose their touch of sweetness. This is one dish where you can
the ingredients tell you how much of each you want.
I have both red and yellow little tomatoes growing, and it is lovely to
add the extra color if you can. Slice a few thin green onions and slice
or chop fresh mint.
Gently stir all together and crumble the cheese over it, just enough to
get a taste of cheese in every bite but not so much that it overpowers
The main course was Best of Summer Chowder, an extravagance of summer’s
abundance -- sweet onions, sweet corn, sweet shrimp, sweet crab
tempered with salty bacon, and celery and potatoes to absorb the
creamy, flavorful broth.
thick cut bacon, snipped with kitchen shears into small strips
needed for frying
1 1/2 sweet
(Mattamuskeet if you have it or Vidalia), diced
3/4 of a
bunch of celery,
About 2 or 3
About 1 pound
of small new
potatoes, cut in half (I used white-skinned because of the color.)
6 ears of
corn on the cob
1 pound jumbo
peeled and halved
1 cup white
1 1/2 boxes
1 1/2 pints
half and half
Sea salt and
ground black pepper
In a large heavy bottomed pan, fry the bacon until it is nearly crispy
and has released its grease. You can remove the bacon and
it for garnish or leave it in the soup. If there is not a lot
bacon grease, add butter.
Add onions and celery and fry slowly until they are soft but not
browned. Add the garlic clove and thyme and continue cooking
another minute or two.
Turn off the heat or remove the pan from the heat and add the
wine. Return to heat and turn it up to reduce the wine and to
scrape up any bits of bacon that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan.
When the pan has been deglazed, remove the garlic. Add
stock and bring it up to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until
begin to soften, but don’t let them get mushy. There is more
cooking to be done.
Season with salt and chipotle powder and then add the corn that you
have scraped off their cobs. It will cook quickly so have
Next the shrimp goes into the pot and as soon as it starts to turn pink
add the crabmeat as it is already cooked and only needs to be heated.
seasonings to suit your taste.
The dessert course was also a bit rich but we had small
Chocolate mousse was topped with fresh sliced peaches that had been
macerated in sugar to release their juice.
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE TOPPED WITH
chocolate (or 12 ounces if that is the size available)
1 1/2 cups
the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler or a heatproof glass
bowl (like Pyrex) that will sit over a sauce pan without fitting into
it too far.
Bring water to a simmer in the bottom pan and place the top pan or bowl
over it but do not let the top pan or bowl touch the water.
stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the chocolate
isn’t a lengthy process so don’t leave the stove. Scrape the
melted chocolate into a large bowl.
In another large bowl beat together the cream, confectioners’ sugar,
espresso powder and vanilla at medium speed until firm peaks form.
Whisk about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate until
smooth. Fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate
mixture with a rubber spatula.
You can now spoon the mousse into individual bowls. Cover and
refrigerate for at least two hours but it is better to leave it
as is or
top with fresh fruit -- in our case, peaches.
Slice 6 peaches into a bowl and add about 1/2 cup sugar. I
added 1/2 teaspoonful of orange flower water but you could also use
pure almond extract or vanilla extract. Allow them to sit for
few hours until the juices have emerged and the peach slices are still
Let’s just review the fresh ingredients I was able to get here for one
dinner - and there were more that I didn’t include (like beans since
one of my friends had already had her fill of pole beans or zucchini
and summer squash since it seemed like overkill!).
Take advantage of the harvest, from the sea and from the land and
support local harvesters as you enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Foster lives in Hatteras village with her husband, Ernie. Together they
operate The Albatross Fleet of charter boats. They actively support the
sustainable practices of the island’s commercial fishermen and the
preservation of Hatteras Island’s working waterfront. Both
to cook seafood and entertain friends, and Lynne loves to experiment
with recipes for locally caught seafood.)