Hopefully, by the time you read this, you’ve had time to adjust to the launch of daylight savings and are enjoying longer days and early evenings outside.
Combining the ambient glow of the setting sun with the best offerings from the briny sea below it, you can enjoy our wonderful evening weather with all things al-fresco.
Choosing seafood together with friends or family is a particularly fun, interactive activity (and a great way to ensure everyone gets what they want). It’s also a great way to serve a large group of guests with minimal preparation! Living by the beach, I host seafood feasts year-round. We have wonderful fresh seafood here and great weather for outdoor social gatherings. We took this party to my back deck but a party like this can transport anywhere from your kitchen to a dining room table, poolside, or even a picnic at a local beach or park!
All the seafood featured in this article came from Clayton’s Crab Company on US1 in Rockledge. They carry a vast selection of seafood and other items you can cook at home, but helped make this feast super easy by seasoning and steaming the crab, shrimp and lobster ahead of time (call ahead to avoid a wait). If you need help choosing or don’t know how much to order, or what you need to do to prepare an item, they are a great resource and happy to share insider tips! For sides, I roasted potatoes and fresh corn on the cob in the oven, then added everything to one large pot and kept it warm until my guests arrived.
Styling up your Feast
For this easy-breezy casual dining style, I covered three folding tables with old newspapers, which helped make cleanup a breeze. Each place setting had its own basket of hush puppies, melted butter, seafood utensils, and cleanup supplies. For the napkins, I used kitchen towels instead of finer linens, anticipating my guests would need the extra absorbency for the hands-on foods. I also added lemons from a friend’s tree to freshen hands and bring a little color to the table. No need for fancy floral arrangements or extra decorations at this party; the seafood takes center stage and becomes an edible tablescape!
For an appetizer, I served a jumbo lump crab dip in an adorable crab dish I found at my local Home Goods store. (Home Goods is a huge source for all my entertaining supplies! I also find a lot of my fun party items at craft stores, discount dollar stores, and shops like Old Time Pottery where I can buy larger quantities for less.)
Pink Apron Confections, an amazing cookie artist located in central Melbourne, made these custom sugar cookies (pictured at left) for dessert. Crabs, lobsters, shrimp, corn with old bay, potatoes, and lemons; the perfect themed treats after such a large feast!
Crab Dip Recipe
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
8 oz jumbo lump crab meat
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese on high until light and fluffy, about one minute.
Add the remaining ingredients except the crabmeat and whip until incorporated.
Gently fold in the crab with a rubber spatula.
Add to a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
Serve hot, with crusty bread, crackers, thick potato chips or tortilla chips.