Special Events · Uncategorized

Another Year, Another Seafood Boil

The Jolly Oyster - The Duo Dishes

Here it is, folks–another year, another boil! We are ecstatic to celebrate our 4th Annual Seafood Boil this year. On September 22, Chrystal and I gathered near the beach with friends and a hefty spread of food. On this easy Sunday afternoon, the skies were clear, the sun was blazing, and the air was filled with a nice, subtle breeze. Summer is nearly over, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a little fun in the sun.

Oysters Seafood Boil collage

We made the trek up to Ventura and once again hosted the boil at the Jolly Oyster, a food truck that offers a variety of fresh oysters and seafood delights. Plus, they have a large outdoor eating area fitted with grills, picnic tables, and a near-perfect view of the beach. With no formal sponsorships or collaborations this year, we decided to keep things simple. Chrystal and I whipped up a couple easy-to-do plates to share with the group. Those included grilled fish tacos with some original sauces, spiced cornbread muffins, and some sweet endings. The rest of the food would be left for our guests to bring, and per usual they delivered in spades!

Duo Dishes Seafood Boil collage

Each person brought a dish to add to the food spread. Before the afternoon was over, our main table was filled with a huge pot of gumbo, bowls of fresh guacamole, a watermelon salad and a couscous avocado dish, homemade buttermilk biscuits (from Heart & Soul Biscuits), and a loaf of banana bread, just to name a few. Not to mention, the pounds of seafood folks brought along ready to be cooked on the grill on boil in our heaping pot of water seasoned with beer, lemon, corn, potatoes, and crab boil spices.

We feasted on whole shrimp, crab claws, lobster tails, mussels and freshly shucked oysters from the Jolly Oyster. Others enjoyed grilled fish, scallops, and a variety of drinks, including some home brew made by our friends at Bent Elbow Brews.

Seafood Boil Duo Dishes collage 2

I would be remiss not to report a few hiccups, of course. All, though, seemed to happen while at home prepping my respective dishes to bring. For one, as I was making the cornbread muffins, I was a hit with a strong epiphany the moment they went into the oven for baking: “I forgot to add the baking powder to the batter.” Oh well.  What could I do at that point? I called Chrystal right away. We crossed our fingers and toes and hoped the muffins would somehow rise in spite of the missing leavening. And the did! They rose…sorta. The muffins did noticeably rise in size, but they lacked the soft, moist texture I was looking for. Instead, though, they had a denser, almost grittier texture. But, all was not lost.  We both agreed it tasted like a baked hush puppy, so this turned out to be a happy accident.

If that weren’t enough, when making the coconut oatmeal cookies…yeah, I messed those up too. My intention was to use an all-purpose and whole wheat flour mix. When I grabbed the whole wheat flour, though, I was really reaching for the masa, or ground corn, flour. Of course, once again, I didn’t realize this error until the dough was well mixed. (My brain was just in another place that evening, I guess.) The cookies came out tasting just fine, though. No one the wiser could tell the difference. They were somewhat softer and “cakier” than I anticipated, but the flavor was just right! These semi-gluten free cookies ended up turning out to be another happy accident. I was 2 and 0.

Seafood Boil Duo Dishes collage 3
Bangin’ Buttermilk Biscuits from Heart & Soul Biscuits, and a Couscous Avocado Salad. Both were brought to the party by friends.

All in all, we’re proud to say the event was a real success. It was a lovely day with friends, new and old, where we all got to enjoy delicious home-cooked food among awesome company while basking in the beautiful California sun. Big thanks, once again, to the Jolly Oyster for having us up. Here’s to next year’s boil on the beach!  Until, enjoy the last bit of summer.

Fish Tacos Duo Dishes

Tomatillo Cilantro Salsa – Approximately 1 1/2 cups
4 large tomatillos, cleaned and roughly chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeno, roughly chopped, with seeds
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. In a food processor, blend the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeño until smooth. Pour the mixture into a small sauce pan and heat over a medium flame. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat. Cool slightly.

2. Pour the mixture back into the food processor, and add the cilantro, lime zest and juice and salt. Serve immediately.

Tomatillo Jalapeno Cream – Approximately 2 cups
4 large tomatillos
1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeno, roughly chopped, with seeds
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1. In a food processor, blend the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeño until smooth. Pour the mixture into a small sauce pan and heat over a medium flame. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat. Cool slightly.

2. Pour the mixture back into the food processor, and add the cilantro, lime zest and juice, mayonnaise, yogurt and salt. Slowly stream in the two tablespoons of grapeseed oil, and blend until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies The Duo Dishes

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies – Makes about 2 dozen
Adapted from King Arthur
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup masa, or ground corn, flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats, quick cooking or old-fashioned
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chocolate chip morsels

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone pads.

2. Cream together butter, both sugars, vanilla, vinegar, seasonings and salt until just combined and smooth. Mix in the egg until just combined and mixture is once again smooth.

3. Add in the baking soda and both flours until well combined. Next, using a large wooden spoon, stir in oats, coconut flakes, and morsels. Let dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before baking.

4. Drop about 1/8 cup dough balls onto the cookie sheets with 2 inches of space between each one. Bake for about 14 minutes or until golden brown all over. (You can bake for roughly 2 minutes longer for crunchier cookies.) When ready, remove from oven and let sit for 2 minutes before cooling the cookies on a wire rack.

Spicy Cornbread Muffins The Duo Dishes

Spicy Cornbread Muffins – Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from All Recipes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 medium white onion, diced fine
2 cherry peppers, or 1 serrano chili pepper, diced fine with seeds

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place paper cupcake wrappers in a muffin tin, set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, honey for one minute. Mix in all remaining ingredients until well combined.

3. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each one about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Serve with Honey Butter.

Honey Butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoon honey
Dash of sea salt flakes

Whip together all ingredients until well combined. Gently wrap butter mixture in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chocolate Rice Bars - The Duo Dishes

Salted Pretzel, Peanut and Marshmallow Bars – Makes 16 bars
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 packed cups mini marshmallows
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling*
5 cups broken pretzel pieces**
1 cup finely chopped peanuts
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Line a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with two pieces of overlapping wax paper to create handles on all sides of the pan. Lightly spray with cooking spray, if desired.

2. In a large, deep sauce pan, heat the butter and oil over a medium high flame until the mixture begins to turn light brown, approximately 3-5 minutes. Stir to prevent any burning.

3. Pour in the marshmallows and salt, then remove from heat. Stir to melt the marshmallows and create a gooey mixture. Pour in the pretzels, followed by peanuts. Stir well to combine, then pour into the prepared baking pan. Lightly press into the pan with the back of a spoon or spatula.

4. Evenly toss the chocolate chips on top, and carefully press into the mixture. Top with a few sprinkles of salt, if desired. Slide the pan into the fridge for at least an hour to set up. Leave the bars out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before cutting if they are too hard.

*If you are wondering why there is extra salt in the recipe, here is the reason. Once the pretzels are crushed and sifted, you tend to lose a lot of, if not most of, the salt during the sifting process.

**In order to obtain 5 cups of large pretzel pieces, start with a 1 pound bag of mini twists and pulse a few batches at a time in a food processor until they are broken up. Pour the pretzels into a colander or sieve to shake out the dust. Break up any large pieces with your hands. Repeat until you have 5 cups of pretzels.

Click HERE for printable recipes.

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