Having to beach it in landlocked Dallas, Texas took a little imagination (and several trips to places like Ross, Tuesday Morning, Pier One, etc...) So, I layered the table with a beach blanket first to get me in a beach frame of mind. A few little shells, some pretty little flip-flops, a sand bucket & pail, and a few other things really got my juices going!
On to the food!
The main course was Chilled Lobster and Asparagus with a Shallot-Tarragon Vinaigrette. Evidently there was a run on fresh tarragon in the Dallas area this week as there was none to be found ANYWHERE. So, I substituted minced, fresh chives and a pinch of dried tarragon. To add to the summer-at-the-beach feeling, Sparkling Lemonade with Fresh Raspberries was the beverage of choice. Ahhh...
For dessert, I tried a new recipe for Ricotta Pots with Raspberries. Very light, very souffle-like, the perfect ending for the meal.
Thanks to the Darling Bakers for coming up with such a fun idea. It was a great way to spend a chilly weekend!
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
salt & pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 egg, beaten
2 cans minced clams, drained
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, divided
Saute the onion, pepper, celery, and mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of the butter until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the beaten egg, the minced clams, and 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
Separately, mix together 1/2 cup of bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon melted butter.
Spoon clam mixture into shells. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixtgure over the top. Bake at 350 F. for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are dark golden brown.
Sparkling Lemonade with Fresh Raspberries
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar syrup (recipe below)
6 splashes of club soda or seltzer
1 cup fresh raspberries
6 lemon slices for garnish
In a pitcher, combine the juice, sugar syrup, and 1 quart of cold water. Mix well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Pour the lemonade over ice-filled glasses, adding a splash of club soda or seltzer to each glass and stir. Garnish with raspberries and lemon slice.
Makes about 2-1/2 cups
In a heavy saucepan, bring 4 cups sugar and 2 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar completely. Remove from heat, cool, and refrigerate in a covered container. Will keep for up to 3 weeks.
Source: The Beach House Cookbook, copyright 2005
Chilled Lobster & Asparagus with Shallot-Tarragon Vinaigrette
4 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
2 (1- to 1-1/4 pound) live lobsters
1/2 pound fresh asparagus
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 small head Bibb lettuce
Garnishes: fresh tarragon sprigs, lemon wedges
Bring 4 quarts water and salt to a boil in a large stockpot. Plunge lobsters, head first, into boiling water; return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes; drain and cool.
Remove meat from claws and tails. Chill lobster meat.
Cook asparagus in boiling water to cover 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain and pat dry. Set aside.
Combine olive oil and next 7 ingredients in a jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously.
Arrange lettuce leaves, lobster, and asparagus on plates; drizzle with dressing. Garnish, if desired.
Source: The Coastal Living Cookbook, copyright 2004
Ricotta Pots with Raspberries
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1-1/3 cups fresh ricotta
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (see note below)
7 ounces (about 1-2/3 cups) fresh or frozen raspberries
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 4 1-cup capacity ramekins or souffle dishes.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla sugar.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and superfine sugar until thick and pale. Add the ricotta, pistachio nuts, lemon rind, and juice and mix together well. Fold the ricotta mixture into the beaten egg whites, stirring gently until just combined.
Divide the raspberries among the ramekins and spoon the ricotta filling over top. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Dust with confectioners sugar to serve.
Note: To make vanilla sugar, split a whole vanilla bean in half lengthwise and place in a jar of superfine sugar (about 2 pounds). Leave for at least 4 days before using.
Source: The Quick Recipe Cookbook, copyright 2000