Beach Party

It's summertime and the living is ... easy? Okay, maybe that's not really the case, but that doesn't mean that we can't pretend -- for at least a day. That means heading to the beach ... or at least eating like we're on the beach. And that means it's time for a clambake.

The traditional clambake is an all-day affair, although most guests arrive in the evening. They're just in time to enjoy a few drinks before the steaming heap of corn, potatoes and soft-shell, cherrystone or littleneck clams are presented to the crowd. Some clambakes also include lobsters, chickens, sausages and eggs.

While a traditional clambake involves everything from digging a deep pit to steaming the ingredients for about three hours (for a fun story about the Cleaves' family clambakes, visit, there are simpler ways to go about it all. Some folks wrap their meal and a little seaweed (to achieve the sea effect) in foil packets and improvise a clambake over a charcoal grill in their backyard. Others layer seaweed and clambake ingredients in a large steamer pot and cook the meal on the stovetop.

Strawberry Lemonade

  • 1 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (from about 9 lemons)
  • 5-6 c. water
  • 10 oz. fresh strawberries, pureed
  • Sugar to taste

Combine the lemon juice, water, and 3/4 of the strawberry puree. Add the sugar until you have reached the desired tartness/sweetness. Add more strawberry puree until the strawberry/lemon taste balance is about equal. Chill until ready to serve.

  • Yields: about 8 cups
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Sweet Mustard Cole Slaw

  • 1/2 head cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and thinly slivered
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and thinly slivered
  • 2 large carrots, pared and cut into 2" lengths, then into thin strips
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. grainy mustard
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine the cabbage, bell peppers, carrots and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Place all of the remaining ingredients in a second mixing bowl and whisk until completely blended. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour. Taste for seasoning before serving.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Chilled Watermelon with Lime Sauce

  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 3 T. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 watermelon

Place the honey and lime juice in a microwavable dish. Cook it on high for 30 seconds. Carefully remove the dish -- it will be HOT -- and mix it with a teaspoon. Put the dish in the refrigerator and chill it for 10 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, cut the watermelon in half lengthwise and then into slices 1" thick. Arrange them on a platter. Drizzle the lime sauce over the watermelon. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Backyard Clambake

  • 2 lbs. clams, preferably steamers, or 1 lb. clams and 1 lb. mussels, in the shell, scrubbed
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 c. cornmeal
  • 4 large or 8 small ears corn, unhusked
  • 4 medium waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
  • 4 medium onions, skins left on
  • 4 small (1 1/4 lb.) lobsters
  • 4 T. lightly salted butter, melted (optional)

Place the clams in a large bowl or bucket of salted water (about 3 tablespoons sea salt to 1 gallon water) and stir in the cornmeal. The cornmeal will help the clams get rid of the sand in them more quickly. Leave the clams in a cool place for 2 hours. Drain the clams and then rinse them. If you are also using mussels, rinse and scrub the shells, and remove the beards, the tangle of threads hanging from their shells by sharply pulling on them, with either pliers or your fingers. Don't do this more than a couple of hours in advance, or the mussels will die.

Gently pull back the husks on the corn so that they remain attached at the stem end, and remove the corn silk. Bring the husks back up around the corn, so the kernels are completely covered. (If you are using husked corn, wrap it up in parchment paper or aluminum foil.)

Fill a large kettle with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and the onions, and cook until the potatoes are tender but still have some crispness in the center, about 15 minutes. Drain the vegetables. Meanwhile, build a large fire in your grill. Soak 2 cups of wood chips in water to cover.

To parboil the lobsters, fill a large kettle with 3 inches of water, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Remove the rubber bands from the lobster claws, and add as many lobsters to the pot as will easily fit. Cover and cook until the lobsters have turned bright red, about 3 minutes. Remove them from the water and repeat with any remaining lobsters.

When the fire has burned down to red-hot coals, drain the wood chips, squeezing out as much water as possible, and spread them over the coals. Immediately replace the rack on the grill, and arrange the lobsters as close together as you can on the rack. Place the corn on top of the lobsters, and arrange the remaining ingredients around and on top of the corn. Cover, leaving the grill vents open, and cook until everything is cooked through and the clams and mussels are open, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove everything from the grill and serve immediately, with the melted butter alongside if desired.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour, plus clam resting time

Blueberry Coffeecake

  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. skim milk
  • 1 3/4 c. frozen blueberries
  • 6 T. margarine, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly coat a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, shortening and egg until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium speed of an electric mixer. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Beat together using medium speed until well blended. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the blueberries. Pour into the prepared pan.

Combine the remaining ingredients and mix with fork. Crumble the topping over the cake. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Yields: 16 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes