I love the beach. I love everything about the beach. And I especially love the food associated with the beach. In honor of a great weekend catching Dungeness crab, I gathered a few friends for a simple and delicious clambake — West Coast style.
Popular on the East Coast, clambakes are a ridiculously simple way to host a party; everything cooks in one pot and there are no plates to clean up because you dump the bounty on the table and everyone eats with their fingers; and at the end, simply roll up the mess and throw it out.
Many people cover a picnic table with old newspapers and dump the food on that. I found freezer paper over a lovely tablecloth works even better. The plastic coating on one side of the paper keeps the juices from penetrating the tablecloth. When we were done, I just discarded the paper! Also, this isn’t the time for precious linens, but do use cloth napkins since there will be lots of sticky fingers to be wiped up — wet wipes are even better.
- 2 cups water
- 1 12-ounce pale ale
- 2 pounds fingerling potatoes
- 1 pound kielbasa, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 lemons, cut into rounds
- 14-ounce bag frozen pearl onions
- 4 ears of corn
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 pounds little neck clams
- 2 pounds Dungeness crab, in shells
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Melted butter and lemon wedges for serving
Fill a large stockpot or Dutch oven with water, beer, potatoes and kielbasa. Bring to a boil and then add lemons, onions, corn and garlic. Cook with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Pour clams and crab over the top and sprinkle liberally with Old Bay Seasoning (about 1 tablespoon). Cover and cook until clam shells open, usually about 8 minutes. Discard any clams that didn’t open. Pour off excess liquid and serve immediately on the table. Serves 4-6.
Strawberry Ice Cream
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 2 cups cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup mashed strawberries
- dash of salt
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and salt. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring milk, cream and sugar to a rolling boil — whisking constantly. Remove from heat.
Carefully ladle 1 ounce of hot mixture to egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid creating scrambled eggs. Continue adding hot mixture one ladle at a time until all of the hot mixture is added. Add fruit and combine well. Pour into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least four hours — or overnight.
Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions — about 25 minutes — or until thick and creamy.
Scoop into an airtight container and freeze at least four hours before serving.
Sweet and Easy
Dessert should be just as simple as the main course. I made strawberry ice cream and served it in individual little jam jars. Tiny jars make it really simple to serve to a crowd since it’s already scooped and ready to devour.
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 quarts water
- 1 cup sugar
In a small saucepan, simmer 1 cup water with sugar until sugar dissolves to make simple syrup. Remove from heat and let cool. Fill a large pitcher with fresh lemon and lime juice, and stir in remaining water and simple syrup. Refrigerate before serving.
Dress up basic skewers with a seashell or starfish hot glued to the end — simple and beautiful.
Toast with This
Don’t forget to serve a cocktail and bring some fresh lemonade. A chilled glass of rosé wine or Lillet is the perfect way to toast to a summer seafood bounty.
Alexandra Hedin shares her love of food, design and good living in every issue of 425 magazine. You can get her book, “Entertaining at Home,” as well as more recipes, crafts and inspiration.