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Jan’s Seafood Boil

This past weekend we hosted a Seafood Boil in our backyard using my stepmom Maddie’s recipe for the Picnic Series.  A few dozen people stopped by over the course of the day bringing treats and smiles.  We ate, a lot, enjoyed the beautiful day, and discussed the moral dilemmas associated with the boiling of seafood.

Nieces!

This seafood boil, which of course took place in our backyard (an embassy of North Carolina), was North Carolina style.  This means that we boiled corn, potatotes, onion, garlic, mussels, shrimp, and spices.  We did not boil crabs because my Maryland friends would have died. We also grilled two beer butt chickens, corn, and a catfish.  Then there was the frying, which came later.  Fried pickled okra is arguably the most delicious thing ever.

It was a great party.  The Turcottes came up from Virginia, old MICA friends met new Baltimore friends, our backyard was full of excited dogs, and I kept yelling things in an increasingly twangy accent.  Y’all should have heard the way I was pronouncing “boil” by the end of the night.

photo by the lovely Leah

Seafood boils are a tradition we’ve started during our summer visits to Morehead.  They’re a great way to enjoy seafood with a large group and there’s something so fun about pouring all that food into the middle of the table and letting everyone dive in.  I can’t wait to do this again with my family in August.  Thanks to Dad and Maddie for sending the recipe (and check out my Dad’s section on b&s- Captain James Cooks)!

North Carolina Seafood Boil
Source: Captain James

5 lbs. of headed shrimp

2 dozen clams or mussels

2 packs of Kielbasa

3 lbs of small new potatoes

3 large vidalia onions

15 ears of corn (fresh is best)

Small box of Old Bay Crab Boil seasoning

2 lemons cut in half for boil

Bottle of Texas Pete

Butter, salt and pepper for table

In a very large pot or a turkey fryer, fill three thirds full of water. Quarter the onions and drop in the water. Add a half cup of sea salt to the water and put in the Old Bay Seasoning and Texas Pete. Squeeze the two lemons into the water (put the lemon pieces in the water also.) Let water come to a boil and continue to let boil for about 10 mins to get the seasoning going good. Cut the sausage links into fourths. Add the sausage to the water and let cook for about 10 mins.

While the sausage is boiling cut up the potatoes into halves and quarters, depending on how large or small they are. Once the sausage has been boiling for 10 mins, then add the cut up potatoes and let them boil for another 10 mins. Clean the corn and break in half. After the potatoes have cooked for 10 mins then add the corn and let them cook for 15 mins.

Clean the outer shell of the clams really well. Once the corn has cooked for about 10 mins, add the shrimpclams to the pot and 3-5 minutes later add the shrimp. Stir the shrimp around in the pot and let them cook for about two minutes or until they turn pink. Take the pot off the heat and drain the water off the sausage, potatoes, corn, clams and shrimp. Then dump the whole pot of goodies onto your picnic table covered with newspaper. Roll your sleeves up, add your favorite condiments and dig in. Serve with ice cold beer.

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Grilled Asparagus

This time of year is one of my favorites.  It’s finally warm , the markets are bursting with fruits and vegetables after what seems like a hundred years of waiting (and potatoes).  Yes, we make exceptions.  We say goodbye to the un-airconditioned kitchen and hot coffee.  We welcome sorbet, cold showers, and (perhaps most importantly) the grill, back into our lives.

The past month everything we’ve cooked has been on the grill. We’ve rotated through different combinations of grilled vegetables and meats, relishing in the time outdoors, the charred flavors that unique to summertime.  With nothing but a little oil and vinegar the grill brings all manner of things to life.  For now, we’ll savor the season.

Grilled Asparagus

10-12 asparagus stalks

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt & pepper

Toss the asparagus in the oil & vinegar.  Salt and pepper.  Grill for 3-5 minutes.  Turn, grill another 3-5 minutes or until tender.

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Mint Julep Sorbet

The second recipe I’d like to share from Off the Eaten Path is from one of my favorite Chapel Hill restaurants, Crook’s Corner. Crook’s Corner is a hidden treasure, famed for their shrimp and grits and creative approach to Southern cuisine.  Their honeysuckle sorbet has become a favorite in this house, so when I saw this recipe for mint julep sorbet I knew immediately I had to make it.

Not surprisingly, this recipe did not disappoint.  Subtle, sweet, and perfectly well rounded, it was everything you want in a summery sorbet.  In addition it was a breeze to make, which is important these days when my hot kitchen is the last place I want to be.  We will be repeating this sorbet throughout the summer.

Mint Julep Sorbet
Source: Crook’s Corner, recipe from Off the Eaten Path

2 cups sugar

4 cups water

4 cups mint, tightly packed

2 tbsp lemon zest

1 1/2 cups lemon juice

Boil water and sugar to dissolve sugar.  Cut heat and put the mint and zest in the pot.  Cover and steep 15 minutes.

Strain.  Add lemon juice and chill 2 hours.  Freeze in ice cream maker.  Serve immediately or freeze.

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