Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Midwestern Surf & Turf

When I saw my hubby scouring through several cooking books last week, I knew he had something brewin' in his head. Come to find out what was brewin' was a traditional New England Clambake and folks, it was one of our best dinner parties yet!

I introduce our first ever Surf & Turf.

We decided to ditch our formal dining room and set up shop at our kitchen table. With a laid-back approach I assembled a plastic picnic style table cloth with coordinating napkins (found at the dollar store!!), butcher-paper place mats with a hand-written title and several small aluminum dump buckets. The casual tone was set when the first course came out, fresh oven roasted peanuts.

We toasted this course to "family" and clinked our Newcastle Pale Ale. Which
btw, drinking beer from shot glasses is SO MUCH FUN, I highly recommend! 

Our second course celebrating land and sea was a delicious bacon wrapped shrimp with a spicy avocado dipping sauce. 

My entire family let out a collective gasp when my husband turned the corner and presented us with the third course--which almost made me renew my vows right then and there. 

Clams, mussels, crab legs, shrimp, lobster, corn, potatoes and lemons oh my!

The history of the clambake goes way back when Native Americans would dig holes in the sand and steam seafood with really, really hot rocks. This tradition has become a staple in the shoreline communities of the New England states and is still celebrated today with summer festivals and sunset dining. While we had neither the sand nor the rocks, we midwesterners steamed ours on the grill. My husband used Martha Stewart's recipe so we knew it could be trusted! She's like the New England clambake queen! 

 The word "delicious" almost seems like an injustice, it was that good! 

But, what I loved even more than the dish itself was its inherent social requirement. Everyone was engaged, picking from the center plate, laughing together as we cracked and peeled and pulled for our meal. It was the perfect family meal. 

I should also note that we paired this seafood course with our resident fave, Mer Soliel Silver an unoaked chardonnay that goes well with seafood.

As if that amazing course wasn't enough, the 4th course was seasoned fillets accompanied with chipotle mashed potatoes and mushrooms in a reduced red wine sauce.


We paired the meat course with 7 Deadly Zins. A perfect pair!

Yeah, at this point we really should have stopped, but now where's the fun in that?

Instead, we poured on.

This time, we indulged in an after-dinner drink and one of my personal favorites, Lindemans Framboise, a mouthwatering raspberry beer. Crisp, tart and fruity it makes for an excellent dessert pairing.

For dessert, I recreated our childhood favorite, lemon squares. And friends, this is HANDS DOWN our favorite summer dessert. It's unbelievable--light and creamy and better than any lemon pie you've had, come to think of it, lemon pies aren't that great--but this? This is GREAT!  And it's a no-bake people, so now you've got to try it!  

As you can imagine, my entire family was pretty loaded after that meal, in more ways than one. Another amazing meal to add to our short-list of favorite family feasts.

Bon Appetit!


1. Chop an entire bag of Lorna Doone shortbread cookies in a food processor until crumb-like. 

2. Add a stick of melted butter to crumbs and mix together.

3. Pat down cookie crumbs in any baking tray (13x9x2 or in my case, individual bowls) to create a crumb crust.

4. Whip together 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 8oz. of cream cheese. Spread on top of crumb crust.

5. Prepare 1 package of instant lemon pudding and add as third layer.

6. Whipped topping consists of  1 part Dream Whip 1 part Cool Whip. Spread on top.

7. Refrigerate until served.

8. Lick your plates clean.

Summer 2012

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