If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you may know that we frittered this past Sunday away on the beach. We trucked down to Huntington State Beach early in the morning to claim a fire pit because we had been planning a full-out beach boil for weeks. When a good friend left an entire box of Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil in a Bag upon her return to New Orleans, it went without saying that we needed to do our own boil. Here’s how it works. You set a big pot of water over flames and fill it with a couple of heads of garlic, sliced lemon halves and the boil seasoning of course. Truth be told, we heard a few initial grumbles from our Maryland and D.C. friends who are fans of Old Bay Seasoning. Honestly, use whichever one you like. We had crawfish in our boil, so we knew that Zatarain’s was the way to go!
For a few days, we poked around online for the best place to grab fresh crawfish. We received several recommendations for places between Orange County and Louisiana. In the end, we chose Quality Seafood in Redondo Beach. They supplied the crawfish, crab, shrimp, mussels and clams. We snagged lobster, smoked sausage, sweet corn and white potatoes too. It all went into the pot! When the seafood is cooked up perfectly, you dump everything on top of a table covered with newspaper and everybody digs in. Use your hands, grab a wooden mallet, pick up a hammer or pop shells open with a nutcracker–no matter how you decide to eat, the idea is to enjoy the hands-on meal to the fullest. We spent the entire day around the fire pit noshing on some of the best seafood ever. Maybe we’re biased, but it was a blast. Take a look at all of the pictures here!
We’re never ones to let the fiesta end, so we had an after party with even more food and a few cocktails. Our friends at M80 offered us the chance to host a party with nibbles and several drinks from T.G.I. Friday’s Ready-to-Serve cocktails. We were sent a gift card to pick up bottles of pre-mixed drinks based on the restaurant’s signature cocktails. There are 16 flavors, including Hawaiian Volcano and Peach Tea. Unfortunately, none of the stores near us has those, so we settled on Long Island Iced Tea, Margarita, Orange Dream, Mud Slide and Pina Colada. As the bottles clearly say, the liquor is already inside, so you either blend or serve directly on ice. After a day spent on the beach, we wanted to get the second half of the day started quickly. It’s much simpler to serve libations in mass quantities when all you have to do is pour. And so we poured. It turns out the creamy, blended drinks were the favorites amongst the crowd with Mudslide and Pina Colada taking the lead. T.G.I. Friday’s joined forces with Essence.com to create a website with party planning tips and recipes, along with a rebate coupon for the cocktails. Take a visit for more info! You have until September to return your rebate, so pick up a couple of bottles and enjoy.
Don’t think we forgot the food. Along with the drinks, we topped the tables with a few more snacks–caramelized onion and blue cheese dip with veggies, a selection of cheese and crackers, peach and bacon pasta (recipe coming soon), a revised pineapple haupia pie and key lime pie. The key lime pie is very similar to one we made last summer, but this crust is fully homemade down to the graham crackers. One of our top tricks to entertaining is to prep everything possible in advance. This entire pie, including the graham crackers, was made the night before the party and sat in the fridge until it was time to eat. Take the time to make the graham cracker dough, and you’ll see just how easy it can be to go homemade.
We have to thank M80, T.G.I. Friday’s Ready-to-Serve cocktails and Essence Magazine for their contribution to this event. We are most definitely going to boil again, and hopefully it will be in the very near future.
Key Lime Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust – Serves 6 to 8
1 1/4 cup finely ground graham crackers (See recipe below. For this pie, you can half the recipe or save half of the dough.)
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the pan
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grind the pepitas in a food processor until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients to the processor and mix until well combined.
3. Transfer to a lightly buttered pie pan. Spread the crust around evenly by pressing firmly with your fingers or a rubber spatula. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crust is brown.
4. Once crust has cooled, pour in the filling and bake another 10 minutes, then cool completely. Chill until set and serve with whipped cream.
Graham Crackers – Makes 2 dozen crackers (Adapted from Spoonful)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and chilled
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1. Place flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor, stand mixer, or large mixing bowl. Pulse on low, or whisk together, to combine. Add the butter and mix on low until the dough is crumbly.
2. In a small separate bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough begins to come together into a sticky ball.
3. Place dough onto a lightly floured surface and separate into two balls. Wrap each one in plastic or wax paper and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
4. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. If you are eating these as crackers, roll one piece of dough to about 1/8″, cut into shapes and lay each shape on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper. If your final goal is just to grind them up, roll one piece of dough to about 1/8″ on top of parchment paper to fit a 9″ x 13″ baking sheet. Continue to flour the dough if it is too sticky. For the massive graham cracker, carefully lift the paper and set on top of the baking sheet, trimming any extra dough if necessary. Chill the dough again until firm. Repeat with the second batch of dough (or freeze and save it for another time).
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until browned and slightly firm to the touch. If you’re using them for the graham crust, cool completely, break up into pieces and toss into the food processor.
Click HERE for printable recipes.