How To Host An Indoor Clambake

My usual dinner party process goes like this: a day or two before a dinner party, I grab a handful of cookbooks off my towering cookbook shelf and casually thumb through them. The goal is not to frantically search for the perfect recipe, it’s to let the perfect recipe come to me. Usually that happens best when, while flipping, I meditate on who my dinner guests are going to be and, also, what foods I’m most excited to make. Which is why, on Wednesday of last week, a certain recipe from Michael Symon’s Live To Cook positively lifted itself off the page and smacked me in the face. It was a recipe for an indoor clambake and considering that I was going to be cooking for seven hungry guys for my friend John’s birthday on Friday, a more perfect recipe couldn’t have existed at that particular moment. Now all I had to do was ready myself to make it.

Shrimp and Grits

Last week, I shot a little commercial for SAY Media here in my apartment and the food stylist (who ended up being my friend Brett) came with tons of ingredients and left many behind. Most significantly: a bag of shrimp.

On Saturday morning, I decided I wanted to put that shrimp to work along with a bag of very authentic grits that I picked up in Charleston, South Carolina. At first, I thought I might wing it, doing the fast technique that Chef Peter Dale taught me for my cookbook in Athens, GA (it’s a great combination of chorizo, shrimp, and arugula); but then I thought it might be fun to do a more traditional shrimp and grits, and since I was using Charleston grits I turned to the Lee Bros.

Our Louisiana Seafood Adventure

When the BP oil spill happened, newscasters and journalists alike spoke of the devastating effect this would have on the Louisiana seafood industry. For most of us, that industry was just an abstraction. We imagined men and women in boats or on docks, but we didn’t have any specific images in our heads (except the ones that we saw on TV). Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to join a trip arranged by the Louisiana Seafood Board to meet the men and women who were most affected by what happened in the Gulf. This is the story of what I encountered.

Shrimp & Mussels

Protein has been the subject of much debate around our dinner table lately. “You know,” said Craig when I served him pasta for the umpeenth time the other night, “if you’re trying to get in shape” (see newsletter) “you should probably serve more protein and less carbs.”

It’s a fair point, but here’s the deal: unlike most cooks who came of age in a pre-Pollan era, I don’t feel comfortable buying that mass-market plastic-wrapped factory-farmed meat you see in the grocery store. I don’t judge those who do–I’m actually envious of those who do–but, for me, I can’t shake images from Food Inc. out of my head. So it’s easier to cook pasta and rice and vegetables and beans because it doesn’t throw me into an ethical quandary (and it’s way cheaper); only, I eat so many carbs my body is now made up of 70% flour. I think that may be a problem.

Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

Remember that broccoli post I posted a few months ago? The Best Broccoli of Your Life? It kind of took the world–or, rather, the web–by storm. To prove it, do a Google search for “best broccoli recipe” and marvel at the #1 result. If Google says it’s the best broccoli recipe, then it has to be, doesn’t it? Just like if you Google “best food blogger,” my blog… what? WHAT? Get Google on the phone right now!

I think so many people liked that recipe because it resulted in broccoli with a texture and a flavor few of us were familiar with. Crispy, caramelized broccoli? Not that mushy, frozen stuff? Plus all that lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and Parmesan cheese; it was kind of hard not to love that broccoli. It’s the kind of recipe that’d be difficult to improve upon; that is, until you add shrimp.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Let’s talk about shrimp, baby, let’s talk about you and me…

Ok, that was a Salt-N-Pepa joke. If you don’t get that joke, click here (I couldn’t embed it!)

Now then, salt and pepper shrimp. What are they? I’d never had them until I went to Brooklyn Fish Camp last week with Robbie Baitz. They are shrimp, fried with their shells on, and then dusted in salt and pepper. Hot from the fryer, you crunch through that skin and it’s like a perfectly cooked shrimp wrapped in a potato chip. To quote the Barefoot Contessa, “How bad could that be, fool?”

Warm Weather Food (A deeply focused, highly intelligent, penetrating essay and not a review of “Sex & The City: The Movie”)

This is a post about warm weather food only I just got back from “Sex and the City: The Movie” and I’d rather write a post about that. But I will be good and stick to my subject matter, albeit a thin subject. I mean, really what’s there to say about warm weather food when I still can’t believe that movie was almost two and a half hours long? And why was it so shmaltzy and bad when the TV show is so good?

Ok, ok, I’m digressing. Warm weather food. Above you a see the plate I made on Memorial Day for our indoor Memorial Day festivities. I made the Barefoot Contessa’s shrimp salad, which basically amounts to boiling shrimp for three minutes and then tossing them with mayo, mustard, celery, red onion, salt, pepper and dill. I served it on a hot dog bun toasted in butter, the way they toast the bun at Pearl Oyster Bar. And speaking of bars, someone should be BEHIND bars for some of that dialogue. Louise from St. Louis who loves Louis Vuitton? Is this “Sex and The City” or Dr. Seuss?

Also on that plate you see The Barefoot Contessa’s potato salad which didn’t turn out very well because I under-boiled the potatoes. And the salad is another Ina recipe (gotta love that Ina): cherry tomatoes and cubes of feta tossed with olive oil, vinegar and some dill. No “Sex and The City” reference in this paragraph except…the materialism! The crass obsession with money and apartments!

Scroll to Top