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Cuisine

‘Milk was a bad choice,’ but crustini is not

7/12/12 | By Paul Suplee

They say the heat wave is over, but I have to disagree. I haven’t sweated off of my elbows since my days in the Mojave. In the overdramatic words of Ron Burgundy, “It’s so damn hot! Milk was a bad choice.”

The rain has come and gone and I am still waiting for a reprieve from the muggy environs, but I guess I have to wait. The temperature drop is a wanted gift from the “cold” front that is passing through, but we are looking forward to some more sunny summer days as business is brisker when the sun is shining.

What is the old saying? “Make hay while the sun is out,” I believe it is, and when you are running an operation in Ocean City, you know all too well that the money is really to be made 100 days per year. So the rain hurts, as important as it is at present for our physical and mental well-being.

In the meantime, if you are able to relax and enjoy the sunshine, then this is the time and place to have a party with some freshly made spreads and dips.

Among these treats are two of my favorites — guacamole and ceviche. I believe I have written about the latter before, but that is fine, since this recipe is a touch different from the last. And it is better.

There is nothing like a good deck party, and I can think of no better place to have one than on a deck. That’s why I built one last year for my lovely bride. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much time this summer to utilize aforementioned deck due to the hefty hours at work. But we will make our way out there soon. As the temperatures finally drop in September, we will be outside a great deal, as work will be almost done for the season and it is usually so comfortable to be outside.

Owing a deck party to my friends, I will be sure to include these simple treats, and when you taste them, you will understand why.

Ceviche is one of my all-time favorites. It is traditionally uncooked seafood treated with a citrus dressing that ultimately “cooks’ the seafood by denaturing the proteins. When you make this salad, make sure to eat it the day of or day after. That’s it. It won’t retain its fresh and crisp qualities once it sits around too long.

When you serve your ceviche and guacamole, especially on these hot days, just make sure to set them on an ice plate or somewhere they will stay cold or at least cool.

As your party progresses, revel in knowing that you will probably have a shady spot to which you may retreat. Enjoy the cold food and the refreshing drinks, and for goodness sake, stay away from the milk.

It wouldn’t go with the ceviche anyway.

 

Guacamole

1 avocado pulp

Juice of 3 limes

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

 

• Using a potato masher, combine all of the ingredients

• Spice it up with some diced jalapeno or serrano chilies

• Adjust the flavorings by increasing or decreasing the salt and pepper

 

Crustini

1 baguette, sliced into 1/3-inch slices

Olive oil

Fresh garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

 

• Rub the fresh garlic clove on the bread to infuse that great garlic flavor

• Drizzle olive oil on the bread slices

• Season with the salt and pepper

• Cook in a 400-degree oven until golden brown. These should be crispy on the edges but can still have some chewiness in the middle. Be careful, though, since you don’t want to go too short a time or the crustini will get soggy

 

Ceviche

4 ounces fresh, dry scallops

4 ounces fresh rockfish

4 ounces shrimp

4 ounces fresh salmon

Juice of 3 limes

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. honey or to taste

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1/4 red bell pepper, fine diced

 

• Dice the seafood into small pieces. The citric acid from the limes help to “cook” the ceviche (I am going to give you the cheater recipe for ceviche since many people do not like the thought of a plate of raw seafood. If you want true ceviche, skip the next step)

 

•Very briefly poach the seafood until it is just underdone. The citric acid will finish the job

• Strain the seafood and add the remaining ingredients while the seafood is still warm. It is very important to immediately refrigerate your salad to cool it down after this point

• Adjust the seasoning after the salad has cooled since a cold salad will taste significantly different

• Serve with the tortilla chips and enjoy. This is one of my favorite summer dishes

 

Tortilla Chips

Tortilla chips cut into wedges

Peanut oil for frying

There is only one step — fry at 350 degrees until crispy

Drain on paper towels and serve immediately or set aside until service time

 

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