Celebrate freedom Gulf style with a backyard crab boil
Fourth of July is a favorite time to gather friends and family for an outdoor feast. This year, declare freedom from the usual hot dogs and hamburgers and add some bang to your bash with a backyard crab boil using fresh Gulf seafood. Coast Monthly food stylist Alicia Cahill shows us the way with recipes and clever coastal ideas.
Backyard Crab Boil
24 live blue crabs
5 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon cayenne
1⁄2 cup table salt
3 lemons, quartered
2 onions, halved
11⁄2 pounds small red potatoes
(about 2 inches in diameter)
2 heads of garlic (not separated into cloves)
6 ears of corn, shucked and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, or to taste, for sprinkling over boiled seafood
2 pounds large shrimp
Bring 5 gallons of water to a boil in an 8 gallon or larger pot with a strainer basket.
Fill a deep sink half full of cool water and place crabs inside to purge. Repeat 2 or 3 times with fresh water. Be careful not to fill sink too full or crabs may escape.
Add 5 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne, salt, lemons and onions to boiling water and boil 5 minutes. Add potatoes and garlic to pot and boil until tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove basket and transfer potatoes and garlic to a large container and cover with foil to keep warm.
Return basket to pot. Add corn to boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer corn with tongs to container and keep warm.
Return water to a boil. Using long tongs, transfer about 6 crabs to basket and carefully pour into pot. Add remaining crabs in same manner. Return water to a boil and cook crabs until just cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Remove basket of crabs and transfer to a large container, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning and cover with foil to keep warm.
Return water to boil and cook shrimp until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp with basket to large platter with crabs and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning.
Serve crabs, shrimp and vegetables on a paper covered table. Serve with slices of ciabatta bread.
Warm German Potato Salad
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes
8 slices of thick cut bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄2 cup cider vinegar
Scrub potatoes and cook in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender. Drain and cut into 1⁄4-inch slices. Set aside.
Place bacon in a large saute pan and fry until almost crisp. Remove bacon from pan and crumble. Add onion and celery and cook until tender and transparent. Remove from pan.
Drain off all but one tablespoon of bacon fat. Add flour, sugar, salt and pepper to pan and stir until golden. Add vinegar and water and cook until mixture has slightly thickened. Transfer the bacon, onion and celery back to the pan.
Transfer sliced potatoes back to the large pot, pour hot dressing over potatoes and gently toss to blend. Sprinkle minced parsley. Serve warm.
Star-Spangled Strawberry Shortcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup old-fashioned oats
1⁄3 cup slivered almonds
1⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) chilled, unsalted
butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
1 cup chilled heavy cream, divided, plus more for brushing
11⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, oats, almonds, 1⁄3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add butter to the canister and pulse until mixture comes together in pea-size pieces. Add 1⁄2 cup chilled cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Continue pulsing until large moist clumps form in the canister.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead until dough comes together. Pat into a 4-by-6-inch rectangle. Halve lengthwise, then crosswise into thirds. Arrange the six pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top of each piece with cream and sprinkle with 1⁄2 tablespoon of sugar.
Bake until golden brown around edges and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set biscuits on a wire rack; let cool.
To make the whipped cream: Whisk together 1⁄2 cup cream, 1⁄2 tablespoon of sugar and 1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla in a small bowl until peaks form.
To serve: Place a biscuit in each serving dish, top with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup sparkling mineral water
Splash of ginger ale
1 cup rum
Mint leaves and lemon slices for garnish
Chill 4 serving glasses in the freezer. Combine lemon juice, sugar and mint in a large glass. Muddle mixture. Pour into pitcher. Add mineral water and ginger ale. Stir to combine. Refrigerate lemonade at least two hours or until ready to serve.
Remove the four glasses from the freezer, fill with ice and pour a jigger (1⁄4 cup) rum into each glass. Top with lemonade.
Add a straw, stir and garnish each glass with a fresh mint leave and a slice of lemon. Makes 4 servings.
DIY Sand Crab Lantern
Red paper lantern
Stiff, white felt and stiff, black felt, poster board and black marker or plastic googly eyes
Stiff, red felt
Red, bumpy pipe cleaners
Hot glue gun and extra glue sticks
Turn your glue gun on the low heat setting.
Cut two circles the size of quarters from the white felt or poster board. Cut two circles the size of dimes from the black felt. Using glue gun, attach each black circle to each of the white “eyes.’’ If using poster board, use the marker to draw a dime-sized circle on each of the white “eyes.” In lieu of felt or poster board, obtain two large plastic googly eyes.
Take one bumpy pipe cleaner and trim two 2-inch pieces from it. Using the glue gun, attach eyes to one end of each piece of pipe cleaner. Glue the end opposite the eye to the top inner rim of the lantern.
Cut two claws from the stiff red felt. Glue each claw to the end of a pipe cleaner. Bend pipe cleaner in half to form an “arm.” Glue each arm to the side of the lantern, near the middle.
Cut one bumpy, red pipe cleaner in half and bend each piece in half forming a “V.’’ Glue each “V’’ to the lantern below the arm.