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Shellfish Recipes


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Please note that this page contains recipes for mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, lobster, crab, squid, and octopus. See also Shrimp Recipes and Fish Recipes.

Index of Recipes

Starters

Artichoke and Crab Dip
Baked Clams
Belgian Mussels Vinaigrette (Mossels met Vinaigrette, Moules Vinaigrette)
Broiled Clams
Clam Canapés
Clams Casino
Classic Clam Dip
Crab and Artichoke Eggs
Crab and Avocado Dip
Crab Cakes
Crab Malabar (Kekada Chat)
Crab Quesadillas
Crab Quiche
Crab Tassies
Cuban Crab Fritters (Frituras de Cangrejo)
Fried Squid
Hot Chopped Clams on Toast
Hot Crab Dip
Italian Oysters with Parmesan (Ostriche alla Parmigiana)
Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare)
Mussels Mariniere
Oyster Fritters
Oysters Broiled in Garlic Butter
Oysters Rockefeller
Scallops with Prosciutto
Scallop Salad
Seafood Craibechan
Seafood Dip
Smoked Oyster Roll
Spanish Cantabrian Mussels (Mejillones Cantabria)
Spanish Octopus in Spicy Sauce (Pulpo en Salsa Picante)
Spanish Pickled Oysters (Ostras en Escabeche)
Spanish Scallop Empanadas (Empanadas de Vieiras)
Swedish Crab Canapes (Krabbsmorgas)
The Chef's Favorite Clam Dip
Tomatoes Stuffed with Corn and Crab Meat
Vietnamese Crab Omelet

Soups

Bajan Crab and Greens Soups (Callaloo)
Chili Crab Soup
Chinese Crab and Egg Soup (Hai Yook Dahn Gung)
Cioppino (Italian-Style Fish Chowder)
Clam Bisque
Corn and Crab Soup
Cream of Clam Soup
Delmarva Clam Chowder
Dublin Clam Soup
Italian Clam Soup (Zuppa di Vongole)
Italian Mussel Soup (Zuppa di Cozze)
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Mussel Brose
Mussel Stew
New England Clam Chowder
Oyster Bisque
Oyster Stew
Rhode Island Clam Chowder
Scallop Soup
Seafood Gumbo
She-Crab Soup
Spicy Oyster Bisque
Watercress Soup with Oysters

Main Dishes

Baked Creamed Oysters
Caribbean Lobster Gundy
Crab and Spinach Casserole
Crab au Gratin
Crab Mornay
Creamed Oysters with Hearts of Palm
Deviled Scallops
Linguini with Squid and Garlic
Lobster Americaine
Lobster Newburg
Lobster Thermidor
Oyster Pie
Oysters in the Pink
Peppers Stuffed with Corn and Crab Meat
Rosemary-Skewered Scallops
Scallop and Mushroom Casserole
Scallop Kebabs
Scallops Basil St. Jacques
Scallops in Champagne Sauce
Scallops Parmesan
Scallops with Cucumber Sauce
Seafood Lasagna
Seafood Pie
Seafood Quiche
Southwestern Seafood Salad
Spanish Shellfish Stew (Zarzuela de Mariscos)
Spicy Scallops and Peppers
Steamed Lobster

 

Starters

The combination of artichokes and crab meat is enough to prompt me to knock over small children and little old ladies in my rush to get to it before it's all gone, so please stay out of my way if I happen to be around when you serve this dish.

Artichoke and Crab Dip

1 can (15 oz, 425 g) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
8 oz (225 g) cream cheese at room temperature
4 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, finely chopped
4 oz (110 g) crab meat, picked over
1/2 cup (125 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
Crackers, thinly sliced bread, melba toast, pita bread, or raw vegetables for dipping

Combine all ingredients except the crackers and place in a lightly greased slow cooker (or baking dish). Cook covered on low for (or in a 200F, 95C oven) 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the cheese is melted. Stir well and serve with crackers or bread. Serves 6 to 8.

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Baked clams have become a standard in the Italian-American restaurant repertoire. So standard, in fact, that they have become something of a cliché and are usually represented by frozen, mass-produced little clods of garlic-flavored bread crumbs and rubber bands. Here is how the dish is properly done:

Baked Clams

2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) bread crumbs (preferably homemade)
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped parsley
3 Tbs (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
36 small clams such as cherrystones, shucked, 36 half shells reserved
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
4-6 Tbs (60-90 ml) butter, melted
Lemon wedges for garnish

Combine the garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Coarsely chop the clams and combine with the lemon juice in a separate bowl. Place the clam shells on a baking sheet, using a thin bed of rock salt to stabilize them if desired, and divide the chopped clams between them. Top with the bread crumb mixture and drizzle with the butter. Cook under a preheated broiler until the topping is golden brown and the clams are bubbling, about 2 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6.

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There must be a law in Belgium requiring that all restaurants feature mussels on their menus, because every restaurant seems to offer them. I prefer to believe that, rather than being mandated, mussels are so popular in Belgium because they are fresh, flavorful, and plentiful. As with all things Belgian, this dish goes by both Flemish and French names in that bilingual country.

Belgian Mussels Vinaigrette (Mossels met Vinaigrette, Moules Vinaigrette)

2 lbs (1 Kg) mussels
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive or vegetable oil
3 Tbs (45 ml) red wine vinegar
2 tsp (10 ml) Dijon-style mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 Tbs (45 ml) finely chopped parsley
2 Tbs (30 ml) capers (optional)
Lettuce leaves for garnish

Clean the mussels under running water, using a brush or the back of a knife to scrape off any sand and seaweed. Remove the beard with a knife. Place the mussels in a large pot with a tightly fitting lid and do not add any liquid or seasoning. Cover the pot and cook over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool enough to handle. Remove the mussels from the shells, and discard the shells as well as any mussels that did not open. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the mussels and the remaining ingredients, stirring gently to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves, or in lettuce leaf cups. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

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You will need fresh, live clams for this recipe, and anyone who has ever cooked with them knows that they're sandy little creatures. Be sure to buy only clams that are tightly shut, or those that snap shut when tapped. Soak them in cold salty water (about 1/3 cup salt per gallon of water) overnight to remove as much of the sand as possible. I haven't given quantities for this recipes because it's so straightforward. Plan on 6 to 12 clams per person, depending on the size of the clams-and the person.

Broiled Clams

Cherrystone or similar small to medium clams, shucked and on the half shell
Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce (optional)
Bacon cut into small pieces

Season the clams with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and optional hot sauce. Top each clam with a piece of bacon and arrange the clams on a baking sheet. A bed of crumpled aluminum foil or rock salt will hell keep them steady. Broil under a preheated broiler until the bacon is cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

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These tasty little bites can be made with crackers or toast points, but for an interesting and upscale variation consider using thin slices of cucumber instead.

Clam Canapés

1 can (7 oz, 200 g) chopped clams, drained
3 oz (85 g) cream cheese at room temperature
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh chives
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
Crackers, toast points, or cucumber slices
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped pimientos

Combine the clams, cream cheese, chives, lemon juice, and seasonings and stir until thoroughly combined. Spread on crackers and garnish with a small piece of pimiento. Serves 6 to 8.

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Clams Casino were developed at the Narragansett Pier Casino restaurant in Rhode Island in 1917, or so the story goes. Since then they have appeared on restaurant menus all over the country.

Clams Casino

2 dozen raw cherrystone clams on the half shell
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped green bell pepper (capsicum)
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped shallots
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped pimientos
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
4 slices bacon, partially cooked and cut into 6 pieces

Arrange the clams on a layer of rock salt (to prevent them from tipping) on a large baking sheet. Mix the butter, bell pepper, shallots, pimientos, and lemon juice until combined and divide among the clams. Top each with a piece of bacon and bake in a preheated 450F (230C) oven until the bacon is crisp, about 6 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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According to Jean Anderson's excellent The American Century Cookbook clam dip has been an American party staple at least since 1915. She even includes a recipe that was a favorite of Woodrow Wilson. I have here the classic clam dip that we Americans all know and love.

Classic Clam Dip

1 small can (7 oz, 200 g) chopped clams, drained, juice reserved
1 8 oz (225 g) package cream cheese (room temperature)
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 tsp (10 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs (15 ml) onion, grated or chopped very fine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients plus 4 Tbs (60 ml) of the reserved clam juice in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Put mixture in a serving bowl and serve with potato chips, crackers, or small pieces of raw vegetables. Serves 8 to 12.

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I was tempted to call this recipe Crab and Artichoke Souffle because it puffs up in the oven, but it doesn't contain a roux base or whipped egg whites like true soufflés. It's also much less work than a true souffle, but it's just as tasty and elegant.

Crab and Artichoke Eggs

5 eggs, beaten
2 cups (500 ml) shredded Monterey Jack, Cheddar,
or Swiss cheese
8 oz (225 g) cottage cheese
8 oz (225 g) artichoke hearts, chopped
4 oz (110 g) crab meat
1/4 cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking powder

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Lightly grease 4 to 6 oven-proof bowls and divide the mixture between them. Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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Use the best and freshest crab meat available to you for this dish.

Crab and Avocado Dip

1 cup (250 ml) cooked crab meat
1 ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup (125 ml) sour cream
1 tsp (5 ml) prepared horseradish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Serve chilled with chips, crackers, pita bread, or raw vegetables for dipping. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml).

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I have had plenty of crab cakes that tasted exactly like big lumps of fried bread crumbs, and I know you have too. The secret to great crab cakes is to use as little bread crumbs as possible, as in this recipe.

Crab Cakes

1 lb (450 g) lump crab meat, picked over
4 scallions (spring onions), green parts only, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) mayonnaise
2-4 Tbs (30-60 ml) dry bread crumbs
1 Tbs (15 ml) chopped fresh parsley, basil, or cilantro (coriander leaves)
2 tsp (10 ml) Old Bay or other seafood seasoning
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
All-purpose flour for dredging
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable or olive oil

Combine the crab meat, scallions, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the bread crumbs, herb, and seasonings in a mixing bowl and toss gently to combine. Carefully fold in the egg with a rubber spatula until the mixture just clings together, adding more bread crumbs if necessary. Form into 4 to 6 patties and refrigerate for 30 minutes to overnight. Dredge lightly in flour. Heat the oil in a large skillet-preferably non-stick-over moderate heat and fry the crab cakes until crisp and browned, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with tartar sauce. Serves 4 to 6.

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This dish hails from the southern Malabar coast, which is renowned throughout India for the abundance of seafood. As with many Indian dishes, this is traditionally quite spicy. Feel free to adjust the spiciness to suit your taste.

Crab Malabar (Kekada Chat)

1 lb (450 g) cooked crab meat, fresh or frozen and thawed (use Alaska King crab meat if available)
3 Tbs (45 ml) vegetable oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) paprika
1/2 tsp (2 ml) thyme
1/2 tsp (2 ml) fennel seeds, crushed
1/4-1/2 tsp (1-2 ml) cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cups (750 ml) coarsely diced fresh tomatoes
Salt to taste
2 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, finely chopped
Lettuce leaves for garnish
Chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) for garnish

Pick over the crab meat and cut into 1-inch (3 cm) pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a lid over moderate heat and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until golden but not brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the paprika, thyme, fennel seeds, and cayenne and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 1 cup (25 ml) of the tomatoes. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the crab meat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Immediately before serving, add salt to taste and fold in the remaining tomatoes and chopped scallions. Serve on a bed of lettuce, garnished with the chopped cilantro. Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer.

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Quesadillas are a Mexican classic that are becoming more widely available in Mexican restaurants in the US. They are traditionally fried or grilled, but my version is easier and less attention-demanding.

Crab Quesadillas

4 flour tortillas
1 Tbs soft butter
1 cup shredded queso fresco, Monterey jack, or mild flavored, semi-soft cheese.
1-6 oz (170 g) can crab meat, drained and picked over
Hot sauce (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Grease a large baking sheet with the butter. Rub the tortillas on the greased surface so as to lightly grease one side of each tortilla. With the tortillas greased-side-down on the baking sheet, place one quarter of the shredded cheese on one half of each tortilla. Top this with the crab, a dash or two of the optional hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Fold each tortilla over and bake in a 350F (180C) oven for about 5 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown. Flip the quesadillas over and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until the other side is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

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The editors of Cook's Illustrated demonstrated their manic obsession with testing recipes on this one. They tried every conceivable combination of milk, half-and-half, and heavy cream until the texture of the custard was just right, and then they began testing again to figure out the perfect number of whole eggs and yolks to include. Here's what they came up with:

Crab Quiche

1 prepared 9-inch pastry shell, or your favorite recipe
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup (180 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
2 Tbs (30 ml) dry sherry (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1 cup (250 ml) canned or cooked fresh crab meat
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh chives

Line the pie shell with aluminum foil and fill it with metallic pie weights or dried beans or rice. Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and foil and bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs, yolks, milk, cream, sherry, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne. Toss the crab meat with the chopped chives and spread evenly over the bottom of the hot pie crust. Add the egg mixture and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the tip of a knife comes out clean when inserted about 1 inch (3 cm) from the edge of the crust. The center should be slightly liquid but will firm up as it cools. Serves 6 to 8 as a first course.

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The crab meat of the Chesapeake Bay area is used to good advantage in these savory, rich tartlets.

Crab Tassies

For the pastry:
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter at room temperature
3 oz (80 g) cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt

For the filling:
1 lb (225 g) crab meat, picked over
1 scallion (spring onion), green and white part, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) mayonnaise
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
1/2 cup (125 ml) grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped celery
1/2 tsp (2 ml) Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt. Roll into 24 balls and chill for 1 hour. Press into small muffin tins, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches (4-5 cm) in diameter. Combine the ingredients for the filling, stirring gently to mix well. Spoon into the unbaked pastry shells and bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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Cubans are likely to have a drink or two before dinner, and little fritters of various kinds are often provided as a cocktail snack. You can substitute any cooked seafood for the crab in this recipe, but keeping a can or two of crab meat handy in your pantry will make these a quick and easy snack on short notice.

Cuban Crab Fritters (Frituras de Cangrejo)

3 Tbs (45 ml) butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6-8 oz (170-225 g) canned crab meat, picked over
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry sherry
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely chopped parsley
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 eggs, beaten
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Lime wedges for garnish

Heat the butter in a skillet over moderate heat and saute the onion and garlic until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the crab meat, sherry, and parsley and cook for 2 minutes. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper and add the eggs, stirring to make a smooth batter. Add the crab meat mixture and stir to combine. Heat about 3 inches (8 cm) of oil in a large deep pot over high heat to 375F (190C), or until a drop of batter begins to bubble immediately when dropped in. Working in small batches, drop the batter by tablespoonfuls into the oil and fry, turning with a slotted spoon, until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain. Serve garnished with lime wedges. Serves 4 to 6.

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Here we go with a name thing again. I just know I'm going to get email saying "why did you have to call it squid?" or "couldn't you have called it something else?" Yes, you can call it calamari if you're in Italy, calamares if your waiter speaks Spanish, or kalamarakia if you're dining on Crete. By any other name, it's still squid, and it's one of my favorites.

Fried Squid

Vegetable oil for deep frying
4 lbs (1800 g) small squid, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick rings
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup (250 ml) flour
3 lemons, cut lengthwise into wedges

In a heavy 10 to 12 inch (25 to 30 cm) skillet, heat 1 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm) of oil until hot but not smoking, or until it reaches a temperature of 375F (190C) on a deep-frying thermometer. Wash the squid under cold running water and pat them completely dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the squid liberally with salt and pepper. Pour the flour into a shallow bowl (a pie plate is perfect) and drop the squid into the flour, a small handful at a time. Toss to coat thoroughly and shake the squid in a small sieve held over the flour to remove the excess. Drop the squid into the hot oil (CAREFULLY) and fry for about 2 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown. As each batch is done, transfer them with a slotted spoon to a baking sheet covered with two or three layers of paper towels, and keep warm in a preheated 200F (90C) oven while you fry the remaining batches. Mound the squid on a heated platter and garnish with the lemon wedges. Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer, 4 to 6 as a main dish.

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This is the antipasto Luisa Leone served opening night at her iconic New York City restaurant, Mama Leone's, to a small crowd including Enrico Caruso.

Hot Chopped Clams on Toast

36 medium-sized cherrystone (or locally available) clams
OR I 6 oz (170 g) can chopped clams
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
14 fresh parsley sprigs, leaves only
4 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp (5 ml) dried sage
2 Tbs (30 ml) olive oil
4 Tbs (60 ml) unsalted butter
1 medium-sized green or red bell pepper, sliced very thin
Pinch of flour
Pinch of crushed hot red pepper
Pinch of black pepper
1 medium-sized ripe tomato, chopped
1 loaf Italian bread

Open the clams and chop the meat coarsely, reserving all the liquid. Chop the garlic and parsley together. Combine the oil and the butter in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the sliced pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the drained chopped clams and cook for 4 more minutes, then stir in the flour. Add the garlic, parsley, red and black pepper, and the sage. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the tomato and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the reserved clam juice. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Serve on toasted slices of Italian bread. Serves 4 to 6.

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This dish may be made in individual crab shells or ramekins and served with toast or crackers at a sit-down dinner, or may be cooked in a casserole dish and served as an appetizer at a cocktail party. However you prepare it, please use only authentic crab meat. The artificial "crab" often found in the market may be acceptable in some dishes, but not this one.

Hot Crab Dip

1 green bell pepper, diced
1 7 oz. (198 g) jar diced pimientos, drained (or one red bell pepper, diced)
1 Tbs dry English mustard
1 Tbs salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise, plus additional for topping
3 lbs. (1350 g) lump crab meat
1 Tbs dry Sherry (optional)
Paprika

Mix all ingredients except crab meat in a large bowl. Add the crab and toss gently, using your fingers so as not to break the crab meat into small pieces. Place in oven-proof casserole dish, or into 8 individual serving dishes. Top with a thin coating of mayonnaise and garnish with a dusting of paprika. Bake at 350F (180C) for 15 minutes, or until warm through. Serve with toast points or crackers. Serves 8 as an appetizer.

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Antipasti are really more the province of restaurants than the home kitchen, and when they are served at home they are usually simple and easily prepared, like this recipe:

Italian Oysters with Parmesan (Ostriche alla Parmigiana)

Rock salt
24-36 oysters, shucked and placed on the half shells
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Dry bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Butter

Spread a thin layer of rock salt on a baking sheet and place the oysters on it. Sprinkle each oyster with about 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) Parmesan, a tiny pinch of bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Place a small dot of butter on each and bake in a preheated 500F (260C) oven for 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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This dish, or ones very similar to it, is found in nearly every eating establishment in Italy. The secret to tender, flavorful seafood is to avoid overcooking it, and this method guarantees excellent results. Fortunately, frozen squid that has already been cleaned is available almost everywhere so you don't have to do this rather unpleasant kitchen chore yourself.

Italian Seafood Salad (Insalata di Mare)

4 cups (1 L) water
1 Tbs (15 ml) salt
3 Tbs (45 ml) red wine vinegar
1/2 lb (225 g) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and halved lengthwise
1/2 lb (225 g) squid, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch (2 cm) pieces
1/2 lb (225 g) sea scallops, halved horizontally
1 tomato, cut into thin wedges
1 15-oz (425 g) can cannellini beans, drained
1 Tbs (15 ml) chopped fresh herb such as parsley, marjoram, or basil
3 Tbs (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Place the water, salt, and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the vinegar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and remove 1 minute after the water has returned to a boil. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Repeat this process using the same water with the squid and scallops. Combine the cooked seafood with the remaining vinegar, tomato, cannellini, fresh herbs, olive oil, and salt to taste in a mixing bowl and toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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Here is another classic dish in which the wine acts as the primary cooking liquid rather than just as a flavoring agent.

Mussels Mariniere

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter or olive oil
6 shallots, chopped
1-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
3-4 quarts (3-4 L) live mussels, scrubbed and bearded
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley

Heat the butter in a large heavy pot over moderate heat and saute the shallots and garlic until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the mussels and cook tightly covered, shaking the pot occasionally, until the mussels' shells open, 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened shells. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and spoon the mussels (shells and all) and liquid into serving bowls. Serves 4 to 6.

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These tasty little morsels go great with cocktails, or can be served as an elegant first course.

Oyster Fritters

1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 ml) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) milk
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter, cut into pieces
4 eggs
12-18 fresh oysters, shucked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley
Oil for deep frying

Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Add the flour mixture and stir until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs one at a time. Stir until a thick batter is formed. Add the chopped oysters and parsley and stir to mix well. Drop into hot oil by teaspoonfuls and fry until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Makes about 4 dozen, to serve 6 to 8.

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As with many of the recipes in The Way to Cook, Julia Child offers a simple yet classic rendition of favorite French dishes with this recipe

Oysters Broiled in Garlic Butter

18 oysters
6 Tbs (90 ml) butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup (160 ml) fresh bread crumbs
3 Tbs (45 ml) chopped fresh parsley

Open the oysters, loosen the meat from the lower (curved) shell, and leave it on the shell. Arrange the shells on a baking sheet, using a thin bed of rock salt to stabilize them if desired. Heat the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and saute the shallot and garlic until translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Combine the bread crumbs and parsley and sprinkle over the oysters. Drizzle the butter mixture over the bread crumbs and place about 3 inches (8 cm) below a preheated broiler (grill) until the bread crumbs begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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This classic American dish was created by Chef Jules Alciatore for Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans in 1899. The recipe is still a secret, and the restaurant insists that the cooked greens it uses do not include spinach. Nonetheless, every recipe I have ever seen for this dish calls for spinach. You can experiment with other greens if you like, and who knows, you may stumble upon the secret formula. Here's my version.

Oysters Rockefeller

12 fresh, raw oysters on the half shell
1 cup (250 ml) cooked, finely chopped spinach
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry bread crumbs
2 Tbs (30 ml) cooked, finely chopped bacon
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce, to taste
3 Tbs (45 ml) melted butter
1 Tbs (15 ml) Pernod or other anise flavored liqueur (optional)

Place the oyster shells on a baking sheet that has a layer of rock salt to stabilize the shells. Place an oyster on each shell. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon the spinach mixture over the oysters. Bake for about 10 minutes in a preheated 450F (225C) oven. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

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This dish is the epitome of simple elegance. You might want to make a double batch of the balsamic glaze because it's wonderful drizzled over fresh strawberries or other fruits, and even over vanilla ice cream.

Scallops with Prosciutto

1 cup (250 ml) balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs (15 ml) brown sugar
6-9 very thin slices prosciutto
12-18 large sea scallops
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the vinegar and brown sugar in a small, non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture has reduced to about 1/4 cup (60 ml)-it should coat the bottom of the pan when you tilt it. Allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, cut each piece of prosciutto in half lengthwise and wrap around the scallops, securing each with a toothpick. Brush or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over hot coals or under a preheated broiler just until the scallops are firm and opaque in the center, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to serving plates and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

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This dish makes an elegant first course or side dish to any meal, and would be an outstanding main dish at a luncheon. I don't need to mention that it would also make a exceptional filling for a sandwich, do I?

Scallop Salad

1 lb (450 g) scallops
1/2 cup (125 ml) mayonnaise
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) pickle relish or finely chopped sweet pickles
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped pimientos
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Lettuce leaves for garnish
Paprika for garnish

Cook the scallops in boiling salted water just until firm and opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, coarsely chop if the scallops are large, and cool to room temperature. Combine with the mayonnaise, celery, pickle relish, pimientos, salt, and pepper, stirring gently. Serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika. Serves 4 to 6.

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This traditional Irish appetizer is often served before a feast. I am told that a craibechan is "any savory mixture of little bits and pieces," and I have to assume that it's a Gaelic word because I can't find it in any English dictionaries. I would appreciate it if one of my readers who is better versed in these matters than I am would email me and let us all know the meaning of the word.

Seafood Craibechan

2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cups (750 ml) cooked seafood (lobster, crab, shrimp,
salmon, cod, or any combination of these)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

For garnish:
Lettuce leaves
Lemon wedges
Radish roses (optional)

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the garlic, leek, and onion. Cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Combine the onion mixture and the cooked seafood and chop finely using a knife or food processor. Do not over process; the mixture should be somewhat coarse. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the optional hot sauce. To serve, place a mound on a lettuce leaf and garnish with lemon wedges, radish roses, or as desired. Serve with crackers, melba toast, or thinly sliced French bread. Serves 4 to 6.

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If you are partial to either shrimp or crab you can double the amount of one used in this recipe and eliminate the other.

Seafood Dip

1 can (4 oz, 110 g) tiny shrimp, drained
1 can (4 oz, 110 g) crab meat, drained
3 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 oz (225 g) cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (60 ml) tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients together in a bowl and transfer to the slow cooker. Cook covered on low heat for 2 to 3 hours. Alternately, place in a covered baking dish and cook in a preheated 325F (165C) oven for 1 hour. Serve with raw vegetables, crackers, or melba toast. Serves 4 to 6.

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Here's a recipe that came from a friend of my mother's over 40 years ago. This tasty appetizer not only pleases the palate, but the eye as well.

Smoked Oyster Roll

8 oz (225 g) cream cheese at room temperature
1 Tbs (15 ml) mayonnaise
1 Tbs (15 ml) grated onion
1 tsp (5 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1 can (3.75 oz, 106 g) smoked oysters, drained and chopped
3-4 Tbs (45-60 ml) chopped fresh chives

Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, grated onion, Worcestershire sauce, and the pressed garlic. Spread this onto a piece of aluminum foil forming a square of about 6 inches (15 cm) and 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Chill until firm, 2 to 3 hours. Spread the chopped oysters over the cheese and roll up jelly roll fashion. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Roll in chopped chives to coat the exterior prior to serving. Cut into slices and serve with crackers or toast points. Serves 4 to 6.

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Cantabria is a province on the northern coast of Spain, near the better-known Basque country. The chervil in the sauce gives the dish a unique flavor and aroma, so please don't substitute it for another herb if you want an authentic taste of Spain.

Spanish Cantabrian Mussels (Mejillones Cantabria)

2 Tbs (30 ml) olive oil
2 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
1 Tbs (15 ml) chopped fresh chervil, or 1 tsp (5 ml) dried
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Lemon wedges for garnish

Heat the oil in a shallow pot over moderate heat and saute the scallions just until they are wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine, mustard, chervil, salt, and pepper and stir until thickened. Add the mussels and cook covered until the mussels have opened, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that didn't open. Spoon the sauce over the mussels and serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6.

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Octopus is far more popular in Spain than in the United States, and that is our loss. Properly cooked it is sweet and tender, and an ideal vehicle for any type of sauce you care to put on it.

Spanish Octopus in Spicy Sauce (Pulpo en Salsa Picante)

2 lbs (900 g) octopus, preferably small

For the cooking liquid:
12 cups (3 L) water
1 bay (laurel) leaf
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
4 whole peppercorns
2 sprigs parsley
3 Tbs (45 ml) salt

For the spicy sauce:
4 Tbs (60 ml) olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) reserved cooking liquid
2 tsp (10 ml) paprika, preferably Spanish "pimenton"
1/4 tsp (1 ml) crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt to taste

Tenderize the octopus by pounding it gently, or by throwing it forcefully into your kitchen sink about 10 times. Combine all the ingredients for the cooking liquid in a pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Dip the octopus in and out of the boiling liquid quickly three times, then place it in the liquid, return to the boil, and simmer covered for 1 hour. Let the octopus cool in the cooking liquid. Drain the octopus, reserving 1 cup (250 ml) of the cooking liquid for the sauce. Remove and discard the skin from the octopus, cut the tentacles into 1-inch (2 cm) pieces with scissors, and discard the head of the octopus.

Heat the oil in a skillet over moderate heat and saute the octopus and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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In times past the Spanish pickled the oysters that are plentiful in their coastal waters, packed them in barrels, and shipped them around the world. This dish requires at least two days advance preparation, but your foresight will be richly rewarded.

Spanish Pickled Oysters (Ostras en Escabeche)

1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
24 large oysters, shucked
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
1/4 cup (60 ml) sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
6 whole black peppercorns
2 bay (laurel) leaves
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet over low heat just until it is warm, not hot. Add the oysters and cook gently for 2 minutes. Transfer the oysters to a small ceramic serving bowl. Add the garlic to the oil, turn up the heat, and saute the garlic until it is lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Cool and pour over the oysters. Refrigerate for 2 days before serving chilled or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

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You'll find these little pies filled with just about everything conceivable throughout Spain, and anything containing scallops immediately falls into my "favorites" category.

Spanish Scallop Empanadas (Empanadas de Vieiras)

4 Tbs (60 ml) olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper (capsicum), cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper (capsicum), cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 lb (450 g) whole bay scallops or coarsely chopped sea scallops
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped cooked ham
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pastry dough for 2 10-inch (25 cm) pies
1 egg beaten with
1 tsp (5 ml) water

Heat the oil in a skillet over moderate heat and saute the onions and bell peppers until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the scallops, ham, parsley, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside. Cut the pastry into rounds of 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) and divide the scallop mixture between them. Fold the dough over the filling to form semi-circles and crimp the edges of the pastry with the tines of a fork. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, brush with the egg mixture, and bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

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These hot little morsels are the perfect start to a holiday party.

Swedish Crab Canapés (Krabbsmorgas)

1 Tbs (15 ml) butter
1 Tbs (15 ml) all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream, half-and-half, or milk
1/2 lb (225 g) fresh, canned, or frozen crab meat, drained and picked over
1 Tbs (15 ml) dry sherry
1 Tbs (15 ml) chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 slices white bread, crust removed

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Whisk together the egg yolk and the cream. Remove the butter mixture from the heat and stir in the cream mixture. Whisk over low heat until thickened-do not boil. Combine the crab meat, sherry, dill, salt, pepper, and the cream sauce in a bowl and stir to combine. Toast the bread on one side under a hot broiler and cut each slice into quarters. Mound the crab mixture on the untoasted side of the pieces of bread. These may be prepared in advance to this point and refrigerated. Immediately before serving, heat under a preheated broiler until hot and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Serves 4 to 6.

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My mother began serving this dip at parties and family gatherings over 30 years ago, and it has become a family favorite to three generations.

The Chef's Favorite Clam Dip

1 large, round loaf of crusty bread, unsliced (about 24 oz, 700 g)
2 packages (8 oz, 225 g each) cream cheese at room temperature
3 small cans (7 oz, 200 g each) clams, drained, juice reserved
2 Tbs (30 ml) onion, grated or finely chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 tsp (10 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

With a sharp knife remove a slice from the top of the loaf of bread and set aside. Hollow out the loaf, leaving a shell 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2 to 3 cm) thick. Cut or tear the removed bread into 1-inch (2 cm) cubes or chunks. In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the clams, 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the reserved liquid, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, onion, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Center the hollowed out loaf on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap it with and pour the clam mixture into the loaf. Cover with the reserved slice of bread and wrap in the aluminum foil. Bake in a 250F (120C) oven for 3 hours. Serve on a large serving platter surrounded by the bread you removed from the inside of the loaf, along with raw vegetables. When empty the bread shell can be cut or torn apart and eaten. Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer.

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Feel free to stuff your garden-ripe tomatoes with any tuna, shrimp, ham, egg, or chicken "salad" mixture that you like. This recipe features crab meat and corn, one of my favorite flavor combinations.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Corn and Crab Meat

4-6 medium tomatoes
1 rib celery, chopped
1 can (6 oz, 170 g) crab meat, drained and picked over
1 cup (250 ml) fresh, frozen, or canned corn kernels
2 Tbs (30 ml) mayonnaise
1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Cut a 1/2-inch (1 cm) slice from the stem ends of the tomatoes, reserving the tops, and scoop out the flesh and pulp. Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes liberally with salt and drain upside down for 15 minutes. Combine the remaining ingredients and spoon into the tomatoes. Top with the reserved tomato tops and chill until ready to serve. Serves 4 to 6.

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This is a Vietnamese variation on the classic omelet. Cooked shrimp may be substituted for the crab, but the crab version is more often found in Vietnamese restaurants.

Vietnamese Crab Omelet

6 to 8 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbs (15 ml) peanut oil
2 scallions (spring onions,) thinly sliced, including the green parts
1 hot chile pepper, finely sliced (optional)
6 oz (170 g) crab meat, picked over to remove bits of cartilage
1 Tbs (15 ml) fish sauce* (nuoc mam)

* Available in finer supermarkets and Asian specialty shops.
Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Saute the scallions and chile pepper, stirring frequently, for a minute or two. Add the crab meat and fish sauce and cook an additional 1 or 3 minutes. Remove this mixture to a small plate. Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Pour the beaten eggs into the same pan and cook, using a fork to draw the cooked eggs away from the edge of the pan and allowing the uncooked eggs to flow back towards the edge. Cook until firmly set on the bottom and creamy on top. Spoon the crab mixture down the center of the omelet and fold it in half. Turn the omelet onto a heated serving platter. Serves 4 to 6.

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Soups


Bajan is the adjective used to describe people and things from Barbados. Hundreds of different versions of callaloo exist around the Caribbean, and here is one of the favorites of the Bajan people.

Bajan Crab and Greens Soups (Callaloo)

2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lb (225 g) callaloo greens (dasheen, taro leaves) or spinach or Swiss chard leaves, washed, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
3 cups (750 ml) chicken stock
1/2 cup (125 ml) canned coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
1/2 lb (225 g) fresh, canned, or frozen crab meat,
picked over

Heat the butter in a large pot over moderate heat and saute the onion and garlic until they are tender but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the greens and stir until they are limp. Add the stock, coconut milk, salt, pepper, and optional hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the crab and simmer for 2 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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Here is an easy seafood soup with a Southwestern accent.

Chili Crab Soup

3 Tbs (45 ml) butter or olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper (capsicum), cored, seeded, and chopped
2 15-oz (425 g) cans diced tomatoes with their liquid
2 cups (500 ml) fish or chicken stock
1 Tbs (15 ml) chili powder, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups (500 ml) cooked crab meat, picked over

Heat the butter in a pot over moderate heat and saute the onion and bell pepper until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except for the crab meat and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes and add the crab immediately before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

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One of the things I like about most Chinese soups is that they take just a few minutes to prepare, and this one is a good example.

Chinese Crab and Egg Soup (Hai Yook Dahn Gung)

6 cup (1.5 L) fish or chicken stock
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs (30 ml) cornstarch (cornflour) mixed with
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
12 oz (340 g) fresh, frozen, or canned crab meat
Thinly sliced scallions (spring onions) for garnish

Bring the stock to a simmer in a pot over moderate heat. Add the eggs slowly in a thin stream while gently stirring the soup and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer until the soup is slightly thickened. Add the crab meat and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve garnished with sliced scallions. Serves 4 to 6.

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Although this dish is considered Italian by we Americans, not one of my Italian cookbooks offers a recipe for it. According to The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst, San Francisco's Italian immigrants are credited with creating this delicious fish stew made with tomatoes and a variety of fish and shellfish*. Whether it's Italian or Italian-American, it's a standard item on San Francisco menus, and this low-fat version is just right for out "Light and Healthy" menu.

Cioppino (Italian-Style Fish Chowder)

3 cups (750 ml) tomato juice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried marjoram
2 to 3 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried oregano
2 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried rosemary
1 lb (500 g) firm, white-fleshed fish, boned and cut into 1 inch (2 cm) pieces
1 cup (250 ml) sliced fresh mushrooms
8 to 12 fresh clams in the shell
8 to 12 large shrimp, unpeeled
1/3 cup (80 ml) dry red wine
Parmesan cheese, parsley sprigs, and lemon wedges for garnish.

In a large pot over moderate heat bring the tomato soup, onion, marjoram, celery, oregano, garlic, rosemary, and half the fish to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour to thicken the broth. Add the remainder of the fish, mushrooms, clams, shrimp, and red wine and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch and the clams have opened. Discard any unopened clams. Serve in heated bowls with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, and a lemon wedge on the side. Serves 6 to 8.

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This is one of the quickest and easiest soups you're likely to run across, and it's mighty good too.

Clam Bisque

2 cans (6.5 oz, 185 g each) chopped clams with their liquid
2 cups (500 ml) bottled clam juice or chicken stock
2 cups (500 ml) half-and-half or milk
1 tsp (5 ml) Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Process the clams and their liquid in an electric blender until smooth. Combine the clams with the remaining ingredients in a pan and bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat. Garnish with chopped herbs. Serves 4 to 6.

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This recipe is testimony to my faith in canned products. It's a quick and easy version of a Chinese classic, and I promise you'll love it.

Corn and Crab Soup

1 14.5-oz (411 g) can creamed corn
1 14.5-oz (411 g) can chicken stock
1 star anise (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) cornstarch mixed in 1/4 (60 ml) cup water
1 6 oz (170 g) can crab meat
4 Tbs (60 ml) dry sherry (optional)

Combine all ingredients except the sherry in a saucepan and heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove and discard the optional star anise before serving. Add a tablespoon (15 ml) sherry to each bowl just before presentation, or serve it in a small cruet or pitcher for the diners to add themselves. Serves 4.

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This recipe is another example of Irma Rombauer's genius for combining a few inexpensive, readily available ingredients into unusual and mouth-watering concoctions. Adapted from The Joy of Cooking facsimile edition by Irma S. Rombauer

Cream of Clam Soup

1 Tbs (15 ml) butter
1 cup (250 ml) bottled clam juice
1 cup (250 ml) canned clams with their liquid
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
2 cups (500 ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Paprika for garnish

Combine the butter, clam juice, clams, cream, and milk in a saucepan and bring almost to a boil over moderate heat. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with a sprinkle of paprika. Serves 4 to 6.

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For those not familiar with the word, "Delmarva" describes the area surrounding the District of Columbia and is a contraction of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Here is how they make clam chowder around here:

Delmarva Clam Chowder

4 thick slices bacon, diced
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste
1 Tbs (15 ml) all-purpose flour
2 cups (500 ml) bottled clam juice
2 cups (500 ml) water
1-2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 oz (110 g) canned clams
2 oz (55 g) chopped pimientos
1 tsp (5 ml) dried thyme
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried rosemary
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream, half-and-half, or milk

Saute the bacon in a large pot over moderate heat until lightly browned. Add the celery, onion, and jalapeno pepper and saute for about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, water, and optional clam base and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, clams, pimientos, and herbs and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Serves 4 to 6.

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This hearty soup would as likely be made with cockles or mussels in Dublin, but clams are easier to get here in the US and in much of the world.

Dublin Clam Soup

36 clams or mussels, scrubbed and rinsed
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bay (laurel) leaf
4 Tbs (60 ml) chopped parsley
3 Tbs (45 ml) butter
3 Tbs (45 ml) flour
2 cups (500 ml) milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish

Discard any clams that are open or damaged. Combine the water, onion, bay leaf, and parsley in a large saucepan. Add the clams and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 5 to 10 minutes, until the shells open. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove the clams from the shells and reserve them, discarding the shells. Strain the broth through a paper towel or clean dish towel and reserve. Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan over moderate heat, add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk and reserved clam broth and stir until thickened. Beat the cream and the egg yolk together, adding a few tablespoons of the hot liquid, and mix well. Add the cream mixture to the sauce pan, stirring constantly over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper, and clams, stirring to mix well. Serve garnished with chopped parsley sprinkled on the surface. Serves 4 to 6.

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The area around Naples in southern Italy is noted for its use of clams, especially as a sauce for spaghetti, which was also a Neapolitan invention. This soup is typical of the many fish soups and stews found along the coast of the Mediterranean.

Italian Clam Soup (Zuppa di Vongole)

4 Tbs (60 ml) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or water
4 cups (1 L) canned Italian tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
24-30 small clams (the smaller the better) in their shells
1 cup (250 ml) water
4 Tbs (60 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine or water and tomatoes and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Scrub the clams thoroughly. Bring the water to a boil in a separate pot over high heat and add the clams. Cover tightly and steam the clams for 5 to 10 minutes, until they open. Discard any unopened clams and transfer the remaining clams to individual serving bowls. Strain the cooking liquid from the clams through a sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth or a paper towel and add to the tomato mixture. Season with salt (carefully, because the clams are salty) and pepper and ladle the broth over the clams. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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Don't worry about the amount of liquid called for in this recipe-it is meant to be more like mussels in a little seasoned broth rather than a typical soup.

Italian Mussel Soup (Zuppa di Cozze)

4-6 dozen fresh mussels in their shells
1/2 cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped onion
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped celery
1 15-oz (420 g) can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, with the liquid
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine, clam juice, or fish stock
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon zest
Italian bread

Scrub the mussels with a stiff brush and remove the "beard" using a sharp knife. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat and saute the garlic, onion, and celery until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the wine, basil, salt, and pepper, and simmer uncovered over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mussels, cover, and cook over high heat until the mussels have opened, about 10 minutes. Divide the mussels between individual serving bowls, discarding any unopened shells. Spoon the soup over them and garnish with lemon zest. Serve with crusty Italian bread for sopping up the broth. Serves 4 to 6.

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No one knows why tomato-based clam chowder is called Manhattan clam chowder, especially since it was first documented in Rhode Island in the 1830s. By coincidence, the readers of the PLUS edition have its more traditional cream-based version as today's Bonus Recipe.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

2 oz (50 g) salt pork, cut into 1/4-inch (5 mm) dice
2 cups (500 ml) chopped clams, fresh or canned
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) clam liquor reserved from the fresh clams, or clam juice
6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) dice
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 green bell pepper (capsicum), chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) tomato paste
1 bay (laurel) leaf
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Brown the salt pork in a skillet over moderate heat until golden. Drain on paper towels and combine with the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, reduce the heat and simmer covered for 2 hours. The taste improves if refrigerated overnight. Serves 4 to 6.

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My Oxford English Dictionary says that "brose" is "a dish made by pouring boiling water (or milk) on oatmeal (or oat-cake) seasoned with salt and butter" which is little help in understanding the name of this recipe since it has no oats in any form. It is traditionally made with hard cider, but that can be difficult to find so feel free to use a good English pale ale instead.

Mussel Brose

3 dozen live mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 large leek, white part and some of the green part, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 sprigs parsley
1 cup (250 ml) dry hard cider or pale ale, preferably English
3 Tbs (45 ml) butter
3 Tbs (45 ml) all-purpose flour
2 cups (500 ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg

Combine the mussels leeks, celery, onion, parsley, and cider in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered until the mussels open, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a separate bowl. Discard any unopened mussels. (The mussels are traditionally served on the half shell, so you may remove and discard the half shell that doesn't contain the mussel, or you may remove the shells entirely.) Strain the stock through a double layer of cheesecloth (muslin) and return it to the pot. In a separate pot, heat the butter over moderate heat and stir in the flour. Cook for 3 minutes and add the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour into the stock, add the mussels, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Serves 4 to 6.

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Mussels are served most often in their shells, usually surrounded by an aromatic broth. Here they are steamed and removed from their shells prior to being incorporated into this old-fashioned soup.

Mussel Stew

1-2 lbs (450-900 g) fresh live mussels, rinsed and de-bearded
1 cup (250 ml) water
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-4 cups (500-1000 ml) milk
1/2-1 cup (125-250 ml) heavy cream
A grating of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Combine the mussels and water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer covered until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Drain the mussels, reserving the liquid. Discard any mussels that didn't open and remove the mussels from their shells, discarding the shells. Heat the butter in a pot over moderate heat and saute the onion until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid, milk, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley. Serves 4 to 6.

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New England clam chowder is a favorite of mine; I even like some of the canned preparations. Nothing beats the homemade version though, even if you can't get fresh clams. New Englanders swear that the soup tastes better if allowed to sit at room temperature for a couple of hours before serving, or overnight in the refrigerator.

New England Clam Chowder

3 dozen hard shell clams, shucked, with their juices reserved (about 3 cups, 750 ml) or 2 cups (500 ml) canned chopped clams
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) dice (about 2 cups, 500 ml)
2 oz (50 g) salt pork or bacon, cut into 1/4-inch (5 mm) dice
1 cup (250 ml) finely chopped onions
2 cups (500 ml) milk
1/2 (125 ml) cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tsp (20 ml) butter (optional)

If using fresh clams separate the soft part of the clams (stomach) from the hard part surrounding it. Finely chop the hard part and set aside, and slice each soft part in two and reserve separately. Strain the clam liquor through two layers of cheesecloth and set aside. If using canned clams, drain the clams in a fine sieve over a bowl and reserve the liquid. In a large soup pot saute the salt pork over low heat until crisp and they have rendered all their fat. Remove and reserve. Add the onions to the fat remaining in the pot and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, until they are translucent but not brown. Stir in the reserved clam liquor, the finely chopped fresh clams (do not add canned clams at this point), the milk, and the potatoes. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the reserved soft parts of the clams (or the canned clams), the reserved salt pork or bacon, and the cream, and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow to rest off heat for one to two hours, then reheat immediately before serving. Ladle into warm bowls, and place a teaspoon (5 ml) of butter on top of each serving (optional, but very traditional). Serves 4.

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I don't believe that any Cajun menu would be complete without oysters in one form or another. I decided to offer them up in the form of a soup, or 'bisque' (here goes the food and language thing again). According to The Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst a bisque is a "thick, rich soup usually consisting of pureed seafood (sometimes fowl or vegetables) and cream." This recipe is not pureed, nor does it contain cream, but it's still called a bisque. Go figure.

Oyster Bisque

2 cups (500 ml) shucked raw oyster with liquor reserved
4 cups (1 L) milk
1 cup (250 ml) coarsely chopped onion
1 cup (250 ml) coarsely chopped celery
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped parsley
1 bay (laurel) leaf
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
4 Tbs (60 ml) flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Chopped fresh chives or parsley for garnish

Chop the oysters into small pieces and combine them with the liquor in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and remove from the flame. Set aside. Combine the milk, onion, celery, parsley, and bay leaf in another sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then strain and reserve the liquid. In a large saucepan melt the butter over moderate heat, then stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne, forming a roux. Add the reserved milk and stir over moderate heat until the mixture boils and thickens slightly. Add the oysters and the liquor and heat, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes, until the oysters are heated through. Pour into serving bowls and garnish with chives or parsley. Serves 4 to 6.

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This is not only one of the world's great soups, it's also one of the easiest to prepare. If you have never had the classic, old-fashioned version of this dish, you are in for a real treat.

Oyster Stew

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped or 1 Tbs (15 ml) finely chopped onion
2 cups half-and-half or 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) milk and 1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
3 cups (750 ml) shucked oysters with their juice
Salt and white pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish

Melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and saute the shallot until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the half-and-half and bring to a light simmer-do not boil. Add the oysters and their liquid and simmer just until the oysters are warm, about 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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Most of my American readers are familiar with New England clam chowder (sometimes called Boston clam chowder) clam chowder with its milk or cream base, and Manhattan clam chowder that is distinguished by the addition of tomatoes. I suspect that not everyone is familiar with the Rhode Island version which eschews both milk and tomatoes in favor of a clear broth. As with other forms of clam chowder, enthusiasts insist it is better if allowed to sit for several hours or overnight before reheating and serving.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

3 dozen hard shell clams, shucked, with their juices reserved (about 3 cups, 750 ml) or 2 cups (500 ml) canned chopped clams
2 oz (50 g) salt pork or bacon, cut into 1/4 inch (5 mm) dice
1 cup (250 ml) finely chopped onions
2-3 cups (500-750 ml) fish stock, bottled clam juice, or chicken stock, or combination of these
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into
1/2-inch (1 cm) dice (about 2 cups, 500 ml)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If using fresh clams separate the soft part of the clams (stomach) from the hard part surrounding it. Finely chop the hard part and set aside, and slice each soft part in two and reserve separately. Strain the clam liquor through two layers of cheesecloth and set aside. If using canned clams, drain the clams in a fine sieve over a bowl and reserve the liquid. In a large soup pot saute the salt pork over low heat until crisp. Remove and reserve. Add the onions to the fat remaining in the pot and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, until they are translucent but not brown. Stir in the reserved clam liquor, the finely chopped fresh clams (do not add canned clams at this point), the fish stock, and the potatoes. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the reserved soft parts of the clams (or the canned clams), the reserved salt pork or bacon, and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow to rest off heat for one to two hours, then reheat immediately before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

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Fans of traditional French cuisine will recognize this as a type of bouillabaisse which usually calls for several varieties of fish and long cooking. I know you'll appreciate this simplified and streamlined version.

Scallop Soup

2 Tbs (30 ml) olive oil
2 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cups (1 L) fish stock or bottled clam juice
2 cups (500 ml) canned tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry vermouth (optional)
2 Tbs (30 ml) grated orange rind
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp (10 ml) dried
A pinch of saffron
1 bay (laurel) leaf
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme
1/2 tsp (2 ml) fennel seeds
1 lb (450 g) scallops
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot over moderate heat and saute the leeks, garlic, and onion until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the fish stock, tomatoes, optional vermouth, orange zest, basil, and saffron. Tie the bay leaf, thyme, and fennel seeds in a small piece of cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni and add it to the pot. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add the scallops and simmer until they turn opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately, garnished with grated Parmesan. Serves 4 to 6.

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Nothing says Cajun like gumbo. This New Orleans staple has as many versions as there are cooks in Louisiana, but all of them start with a dark roux. Feel free to experiment with this recipe by adding or replacing ingredients. This basic recipe can be made with chicken instead of seafood, or you can eliminate the meat entirely and use a variety of fresh vegetables. One version I have seen even has hard-boiled eggs in place of the meat.

Seafood Gumbo

1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 ml) flour
1 cup (250 ml) chopped onions
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped red or green bell peppers
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped celery
1 whole bay (laurel) leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried marjoram
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried oregano
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely minced garlic
4 cups (1 L) chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, fresh or canned
1/2 lb (250 g) andouille sausage, or similar smoked sausage such as Polish kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch (2 cm) pieces
1/2 lb (250 g) peeled shrimp
1/2 lb (250 g) scallops
12 large, raw oysters with their liquor
1 to 2 cups cooked white rice

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Stir in the flour and continue to stir until the roux is a dark reddish brown color. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery, and cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasonings and cook an additional minute, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the roux mixture a little at a time, stirring after each addition to make sure the roux is dissolved before adding more. Add the sausage and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, scallops, and oyster with their liquor, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are firm and pink. Serve immediately by spooning over 1/4 cup of rice in a bowl. Serves 4 to 6.

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The "she" in the title of this classic low-country recipe refers to female crabs, whose eggs add flavor and texture to the soup. Unless you have access to live female crabs, you'll have to make do without the eggs, as I do when preparing one of my favorite soups.

She-Crab Soup

1 Tbs (15 ml) butter
1 Tbs (15 ml) all-purpose flour
4 cups (1 L) milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 cups (500 ml) crab meat (and eggs, if available)
1/2 tsp (2 ml) Worcestershire sauce
A pinch ground mace
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry sherry (optional)
Paprika for garnish

Heat the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and stir in the flour. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and add the milk and cream, stirring to incorporate the flour mixture. Add the crab meat, Worcestershire sauce, mace, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently. Stir in the optional sherry immediately before serving and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika. Serves 4 to 6.

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Many people have speculated about the first person to eat an oyster. The mystery might be solved if the oysters in question had been prepared according to this recipe.

Spicy Oyster Bisque

4 cups (1 L) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) diced onion
2 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch (2 cm) pieces
1 parsley sprig
1 bay (laurel) leaf
4 Tbs (60 ml) melted butter
4 Tbs (60 ml) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper, or to taste
Salt to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg
12 large, raw oysters, shucked and liquor reserved
Chopped chives for garnish

Combine the milk, onion, celery, parsley, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring almost to the boil over moderate heat. Strain and reserve the milk. In another saucepan over moderate heat, blend the butter with the flour, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and salt. Add the reserved milk and stir until thickened and the mixture almost boils. Add the oysters and reserved liquor and heat an additional 2 minutes, just until the oysters are warmed through and their edges begin to curl. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped chives. Serves 4 to 6.

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Watercress soup has always been one of my favorite dishes for special occasions, and the oysters in this version take it to a new level.

Watercress Soup with Oysters

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 lb (335 g) potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bunch watercress, stems removed, chopped
5 cups (1.25 L) chicken, fish, or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pint (500 ml) farmed oysters, shucked, with their liquid

Heat the butter in a large pot over moderate heat and saute the leek and onion until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, watercress, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the soup in batches in an electric blender or food processor and return to the pot. Add the oysters and their liquid and heat-do not boil-for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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Main Dishes

Foods baked in a cream sauce and topped with bread crumbs are usually called "scalloped" after the shellfish that is often cooked in this manner, but I thought "scalloped oysters" as a title for this recipe might be slightly confusing, not to mention downright oxymoronic. Call it whatever you like, this old-fashioned dish is sure to please oyster lovers.

Baked Creamed Oysters

2 cups (500 ml) crushed soda crackers
1 cup (250 ml) bread crumbs
3/4 cup (180 ml) melted butter
1 Tbs (15 ml) chopped fresh chives (optional)
1 quart (1 L) shucked oysters in their liquor
1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
A grating of fresh nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix together the soda crackers, bread, crumbs, butter, and optional chives. Spread about one quarter of the mixture in a greased baking dish and top with half the oysters and liquor. Mix together the cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and pour half the mixture over the oysters. Sprinkle with about half the remaining crumb mixture and top with the remaining oysters and liquor. Add the remaining cream mixture and top with the remaining crumb mixture. Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Broil under a preheated broiler until the top is lightly browned and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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Herring gundy is a dish that dates back to the early days of Danish rule in the Virgin Islands. Salt herring was imported from Europe, and was virtually the only seafood available at the time. This updated version calls for lobster tails. Of course the Caribbean warm water lobster is used locally, but Maine or South African lobster tails can be used with excellent results. It makes a refreshing entree, or can be served as a salad.

Caribbean Lobster Gundy

4 lobster tails, boiled and cooled, meat removed from shells
1 large onion
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded
1/2 cup (125 ml) salad oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Lettuce leaves
1 large carrot, grated
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

The traditional method of preparation uses a meat grinder to grind the lobster meat, onion, and peppers. You may use an electric food processor to process them into a coarsely chopped mixture. Combine this mixture with the salad oil, vinegar, salt, and cayenne pepper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves, and garnish with the grated carrot and chopped egg on top. Serves 4 to 6 as an entree, 8 to 12 as an appetizer or salad.

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The crab meat makes this dish a little pricey, but it's one of the easiest casseroles you'll ever make.

Crab and Spinach Casserole

2 10-ounce (280 g) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
6 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, thinly sliced
1 lb (450 g) crab meat, picked over
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream

Layer a greased 8-inch (20 cm) or 9-inch (23 cm) baking dish with half the spinach, half the scallions, half the crab meat, and half the cheese. Repeat and spread the sour cream over the top. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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This dish, with its cream and sherry, was probably inspired by the wonderful she-crab soup of the low country area of the Carolinas.

Crab au Gratin

2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
2 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, finely chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry sherry
1 lb (450 g) crab meat, picked over to remove shells and cartilage
2 Tbs (30 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup (60 ml) bread crumbs
1/2 cup (125 ml) grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Heat half the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and saute the scallions for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the sherry and remove from the heat. Stir in the crab meat, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased baking dish or 4 to 6 lightly greased ramekins. Heat the remaining butter in a skillet over moderate heat and stir in the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the crab mixture and top with the crumbs. Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven until the cheese has melted and the filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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You can make this recipe in a single baking dish for a homestyle presentation, or in individual ramekins or scallop shells for a more elegant appearance.

Crab Mornay

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
4 Tbs (60 ml) all-purpose flour
2 cups (500 ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1/2 lb (225 g) shredded Gruyere, Swiss, Cheddar, or cheese of your choice
1 lb (450 ml) cooked crab meat

Cook the butter and flour in a saucepan over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add half the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Place the crab in a greased baking dish or divide it between 4 to 6 greased individual oven-proof serving dishes. Top with the sauce and the remaining cheese. Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until the sauce is bubbling and lightly browned on top, 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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This upscale dish is also excellent made with scallops if fresh oysters are hard to come by in your neighborhood. It can be served on its own, or on top of toasted bread, white rice, or egg noodles if desired.

Creamed Oysters with Hearts of Palm

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 15-oz (425 g) can hearts of palm, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 pint (500 ml) shucked oysters (about 1 lb, 450 g)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until crisp in a large skillet over moderate heat. Remove some of the rendered fat if desired before adding the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring frequently, just until the sauce is bubbling and hearts of palm and oysters are heated through, about 3 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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I don't believe I've ever met a scallop I didn't like. You can use the larger, more expensive sea scallops for this dish, but it's also excellent with tiny bay scallops. For an extra measure of elegance, prepare this dish in individual scallop shells or ramekins.

Deviled Scallops

1 1/2-2 lbs (675-900 g) scallops
1/2 cup (125 ml) plus 2 Tbs (30 ml) butter at room temperature
1 Tbs (15 ml) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 ml) Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup (250 ml) half-and-half, heavy cream, or milk
1 cup (250 ml) bread crumbs

Place the scallops in a buttered baking dish. Combine 1/2 cup (125 ml) butter with the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, optional cayenne, salt, and pepper and spread over the scallops. Add the half-and-half. Melt the remaining butter in a small skillet over moderate heat and stir in the bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the scallops and bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until lightly browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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Cleaning fresh squid can be off-putting, but fortunately frozen cleaned squid is readily available and is perfectly acceptable in this recipe.

Linguini with Squid and Garlic

1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
6-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups (500 ml) chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
1 1/2 lbs (675 g) squid (weight after cleaning), cut into
rings and tentacle sections
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
1 lb (450 g) linguini, spaghetti, fettuccine, or other noodle,
cooked according to package directions and drained

Heat the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat and saute the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the pasta and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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I don't believe I need to tell you why this dish was chosen for our "Extravagant Feast" theme, since lobster has been a luxury item for years. Once plentiful and inexpensive, the supply continues to dwindle and the price continues to climb. Here is a simplified version of a classic preparation:

Lobster Americaine

4 live lobsters, 1 to 1 1/2 lbs (500-750 g) each
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups (500 ml) tomato sauce
1 Tbs (15 ml) chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) Cognac
1/4 cup (60 ml) sherry or Madeira wine

Plunge the lobsters into boiling water for 1 minute. Remove from the water and cut in half, reserving as much liquid as possible. Scrape out the liver (tomalley) and any roe (coral) and reserve. Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-proof pan over moderate heat. Saute the onions and garlic for 2 minutes, then add the lobster halves, tomato sauce, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the Cognac and bake uncovered in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 20 minutes. Remove the lobster halves to a warm platter or serving plates, strain the pan liquid through a fine sieve and reheat it. Add the sherry and the reserved liquid, liver, and roe, if any. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes to reduce slightly and pour over the lobster halves. Serves 4.

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This is an American classic, dating back to when lobsters were considerably cheaper than they are now. Feel free to substitute shrimp, crawfish, or any seafood you like; it's really all about the sauce anyway.

Lobster Newburg

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
2 cups diced, boiled lobster meat
1/4 cup dry sherry or Madeira wine
1/2 tsp (2 ml) paprika
1/4 tsp (1 ml) nutmeg
3 egg yolks
1 cup (250 ml) cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot buttered toast (optional)

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the lobster meat and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sherry, paprika, and nutmeg, and cook an additional 2 minutes. Beat the egg yolks and the cream together and add them to the pot. Heat until thickened, stirring constantly, and DO NOT BOIL. This dish is traditionally served over toast. Serves 4 to 6.

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My family never passes up an excuse to eat lobster, and we have even been know to invent holidays just to have an excuse. Mother's Day is an automatic "gotta-have-lobster" day, and this is my mother's favorite recipe. If live lobsters are not available in your area, frozen lobster tails may be used with excellent results.

Lobster Thermidor

6 whole lobsters (or frozen lobster tails)
6 tsp vegetable oil
16 Tbs butter
1/4 cup Dijon style mustard
3 Tbs flour
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Split the lobsters in half lengthwise. Brush with the vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil, split side up, under medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from broiler and dot with 6 tablespoons of butter. Bake in a hot oven (400F, 200C) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then remove the meat from the shells and slice it. Save the coral if using whole lobsters. Brush the inside of each shell lightly with mustard. Meanwhile, simmer the cream over low heat for 30 minutes, until reduced by about half. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt 4 tablespoons of butter and stir in the flour. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Mix in the cream and the lobster coral. Return the lobster meat to the shells and cover with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, dot with remaining butter, and bake in a hot (400F, 200C) for 10 minutes. Serves 6.

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Here is a classic recipe from Acadiana where oysters are fresh and plentiful. Fresh shucked oysters are available in the seafood section of most American supermarkets, and you might be surprised at how reasonably they are priced these days.

Oyster Pie

4 thick slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
4 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 cups (1 L) shucked oysters, drained
Pastry dough for a 2-crust pie
1 Tbs (15 ml) melted butter

Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain and crumble. Add the onion, scallions, parsley, and cayenne to the bacon fat in the skillet and saute over moderate heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a mixing bowl and add the oysters and crumbled bacon, tossing gently to combine. Line an 8- or 9-inch (20-23 cm) pie plate with half the pastry dough and brush with the melted butter. Pour in the oyster mixture and top with the remaining dough. Crimp the edges of the dough and cut a small hole in the top crust. Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until the top crust is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

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If you like oysters, you'll love this dish. Just remember not to over cook them or they will become tough and rubbery.

Oysters in the Pink

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 Tbs (60 ml) all-purpose flour
1 quart (1 L) oysters, drained and liquor reserved
Chicken stock if needed (see procedure)
1 cup (250 ml) half-and-half, heavy cream, or milk
1 Tbs (15 ml) tomato paste
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped parsley
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried thyme
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and saute the onion, celery, and carrot until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) oyster liquor, adding chicken stock if necessary to make 1 1/2 cups, and half-and-half. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, and seasonings. Add the oysters and cook just until the edges curl, about 3 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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Here is an elegant and tasty variation on the stuffed pepper theme.

Peppers Stuffed with Corn and Crab Meat

4-6 green or red bell peppers (capsicums), cored and seeded
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) canned, frozen, or fresh corn kernels
1 6-oz (170 g) can crab meat, drained and picked over
1 4-oz (115 g) jar pimientos, drained and chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup (125 ml) half-and-half or milk
1 Tbs (15 ml) melted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Steam or boil the peppers until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Combine the corn, crab meat, and pimientos in a pot over low heat. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and add to the corn mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Fill the peppers with the corn mixture and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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The rosemary "skewers" in this recipe give a subtle but distinctive flavor and aroma to the scallops in this unusual preparation.

Rosemary-Skewered Scallops

1 1/2-2 lbs (675-900 g) large sea scallops
3 Tbs (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4-6 branches of fresh rosemary, each about
6 inches (15 cm) long

Toss the scallops with the olive oil, season them with salt and pepper, and sprinkle them with the Parmesan cheese. Strip the leaves off the rosemary branches, leaving only about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of leaves at the top. Skewer the scallops onto the branches. It may help to form a sharp point on the tips of the branches by cutting them at an angle. Grill directly over hot coals for a total of 5 to 6 minutes, turning them halfway through the grilling time. Serves 4 to 6.

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I love the combination of scallops and mushrooms-I really should share my recipe for stir-fried scallops and shiitakes some day-and this rich and creamy casserole makes good use of both.

Scallop and Mushroom Casserole

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
1 lb (450 g) large sea scallops
8 oz (225 g) fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or chicken stock
1/2 cup (125 ml) half-and-half or milk
1 Tbs (15 ml) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2-2 cups (375-500 ml) cooked brown or white long-grain rice
Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Heat half the butter in a skillet over high heat and saute the scallops until lightly browned and not cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining butter, and saute the mushrooms, onion, and garlic for 3 minutes. Add the wine and reduce by half, about 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and pour over the scallops. Add the cooked rice and stir to combine. Bake covered in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve garnished with chopped herbs. Serves 4 to 6.

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Always be sure to smell scallops before you buy them-they should have only a faint aroma of the sea. And avoid those that are sitting in a puddle of milky liquid, a sure sign that they have been chemically treated to make them whiter and absorb water. At the price we pay for scallops these days, that's expensive water.

Scallop Kebabs

1-1 1/2 lbs (450-675 g) sea scallops
2-3 slices partially cooked bacon, cut into 1-inch (3 cm) pieces
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges for garnish

Skewer the scallops, alternating with the bacon pieces, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper (remember, the bacon is already salty) and roll in the grated Parmesan. Grill over hot coals or under a preheated broiler until the edges of the bacon are sizzling and the scallops are firm and opaque, about 2 minutes per side. Serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6.

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This dish was created by the renowned international food detective while entertaining guests on Retsina, his private Aegean island.

Scallops Basil St. Jacques

2 lbs (450 g) sea scallops
2 cups (500 ml) dry white wine
3 Tbs (45 ml) butter
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) sliced mushrooms
2 Tbs (30 ml) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup (125 ml) thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Poach the scallops in the wine over moderate heat for 3 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid. Melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and saute the shallots and mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir to blend well. Add the reserved poaching liquid, cream, salt, and white pepper. Heat but do not boil, stirring frequently, until thickened. Add the scallops and stir gently. Heat just until the scallops are heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve garnished with chopped fresh basil. Serves 4 to 6.

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Scallops in Champagne Sauce is as elegant and delicious as it sounds, and not necessarily a budget-buster. I used a bottle of Tott's Brut "American Champagne" (please forgive the oxymoron) which cost $6.99, and I had a couple of glasses left over to enjoy with the meal. You may substitute a dry white wine, but it will tend to be a little sweeter and more acidic than if you use a dry "Champagne."

Scallops in Champagne Sauce

2 lbs (900 g) scallops
2 cups Champagne ("Brut", or "Extra Dry") or dry white wine
2 Tbs (30 ml) shallots, finely chopped
4 Tbs (60 ml) low-fat or non-fat sour cream
2 Tbs (30 ml) flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 Tbs (60 ml) dry bread crumbs.
Combine the Champagne and the shallots in a large saucepan (large enough to hold the scallops) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the amount of liquid is reduced by half. Add the scallops and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the contents of the pan almost reach a boil and the scallops have become firm and white. The scallops should be under-done at this point. Remove the scallops with a slotted spoon and place in an oven proof gratin dish, quiche pan, or other shallow container. Thoroughly mix the flour with the sour cream and add to the liquid remaining in the pan, stirring to combine thoroughly. Bring the liquid to a boil and continue to boil over high heat until it is the consistency of heavy cream. This may take from 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how much liquid the scallops gave up. Spoon the liquid over the scallops, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and place under a pre-heated broiler until the bread crumbs have browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6, or 8 as an appetizer.

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Scallops are one of my favorite foods, and this is probably my favorite way to cook them. The dish comes from Peru where it is called Conchitas al Parmesano. Use the larger sea scallops if you can get them. Purchase these by count rather than weight, choosing the largest and whitest. Four to six per person should be adequate, depending on their size, and remember not to overcook them. The smaller bay scallops will require even less cooking time.

Scallops Parmesan

12-24 large sea scallops, or 1 to 1 1/2 lbs (450-675 g) bay scallops
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated or shaved good quality Parmesan cheese

Allow scallops to drain on paper towel in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Bring the wine to a simmer in a saucepan and add the scallops. Simmer for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on size. Remove from the liquid and drain on paper towels again. Place on a baking sheet (or scallop shells if you have them), sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, and place under a preheated broiler until cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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The truth is, this dish is really all about the sauce, and I'm sure you'll find many other uses for it.

Scallops with Cucumber Sauce

1 lb (450 g) scallops
2 Tbs (30 ml) melted butter or olive oil
1 medium cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) mayonnaise, sour cream, or plain yogurt
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Toss the scallops with the butter or olive oil and cook under a preheated broiler or in a skillet over high heat just until the scallops are firm and opaque, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on size. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Serve the scallops with the sauce on the side. Serves 4 to 6.

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This dish is delicious and a bit on the rich side, and the price of seafood these days relegates it to the "special occasion" category. Try it the next time you want to impress a crowd.

Seafood Lasagna

4 oz (225 g) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup (250 ml) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 scallions (spring onions), green and white parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbs (45 ml) butter
3 Tbs (45 ml) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (450 ml) milk
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
3/4 lb (340 g) small shrimp, peeled
1/2 lb (225 g) crab meat, picked over
9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
1 cup (250 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Blend the cream cheese and ricotta together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the mozzarella, green onions, and parsley, and set aside. Heat the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and cook the flour for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the oregano, salt, pepper, wine, shrimp, and crab meat. Lay 3 noodles side by side in a 9x13-inch (23x33 cm) greased baking dish. Top with one third of the cream cheese mixture and one third of the seafood sauce (it won't cover completely). Repeat twice and top with the parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

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This classic British dish is traditionally topped with mashed potatoes, and you can certainly do that too, but I think my version with its crisp rosti-style grated potatoes makes an interesting alternative. Be sure to use waxy potatoes rather than baking potatoes for this dish because baking potatoes will be too soft and you'll wind up with mashed potatoes anyway.

Seafood Pie

3/4 lb (350 g) firm white fish such as haddock, turbot, or cod, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb (225 g) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb (225 g) scallops
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
1 cup (250 ml) fish or vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the topping:
1 1/2-2 lbs (1.35-1.8 Kg) waxy red or white potatoes
1/4 cup (60 ml) melted butter
1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the fish, shrimp, and scallops in a baking dish. Heat the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and saute the onion until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the white wine, stock, and cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add the herbs, salt, and pepper and pour over the seafood in the baking dish, stirring gently to thoroughly combine. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until barely tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes and allow to cool. Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes and toss with the melted butter. Spread the potatoes over the seafood mixture and top with the Parmesan cheese. Bake in a preheated 425F (220C) oven until the fish is cooked and the topping is crisp and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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The French make everything sound better than it really is. You could call this dish Quiche aux Fruits de Mer (pronounced keesh-o-frweedmare with that funny French 'r' sound that sounds like you're choking on an oyster), which actually mean "Egg Pie with Stuff Found on the Beach." See, doesn't Quiche aux Fruits de Mer sound better? Why don't we just call it...

Seafood Quiche

2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped shallots or onion
3 Tbs (45 ml) butter
1 cup (250 ml) cooked, fresh or canned, shrimp, lobster, or crab, or combination of these
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbs (30 ml) sherry or dry white vermouth (optional)
3 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) cream or milk
1 8 inch (20 cm) pastry shell
1/4 cup (60 ml) grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Cook the shallots in the butter over moderate heat until they are tender but not browned. Add the seafood and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the salt, pepper, and wine, and cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Beat the eggs and the cream together in a bowl and add the seafood mixture, stirring to combine well. Pour this mixture into the pastry shell and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) for 25 to 30 minutes, until the quiche is puffed and brown. Serves 4 to 6.

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This salad is as delightful to the eye as it is to the palate. It can be made the day ahead and served at room temperature, or make it at the last minute and serve warm.

Southwestern Seafood Salad

3 plum tomatoes, cored
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or water
2 bay (laurel) leaves
1/2 lb (225 g) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb (225 g) scallops
2 cups orzo or other small pasta, cooked according
to package directions and drained
1 16-oz (450 g) can black beans, drained
1 cup (250 ml) cooked fresh or drained canned corn
2 Tbs (30 ml) fresh lime or lemon juice
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste (optional)

Cook the whole tomatoes in a dry skillet over high heat until blackened on all sides. Allow to cool, then discard the seeds and chop coarsely. Combine the wine and bay leaves in a skillet with a cover over moderate heat and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and poach covered until they are pink and firm to the touch, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the scallops and poach covered for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, just until the scallops are opaque and firm to the touch. Remove the shrimp and scallops with a slotted spoon. Combine with the chopped tomatoes and the remaining ingredients in a large serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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The zarzuela is a form of Spanish light opera/variety show that originated in the 17th century and is popular still. This classic Catalan dish takes its name from the hodgepodge of ingredients-think of it as a Barcelona bouillabaisse.

Spanish Shellfish Stew (Zarzuela de Mariscos)

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
3-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper (capsicum), cored, seeded, and chopped
1 red bell pepper (capsicum), cored, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped cooked ham
2-4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 bay (laurel) leaf
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried oregano
1 lb (450 g) boneless, skinless firm white fish such as swordfish, cut into chunks
2 cups (500 ml) fish stock, bottled clam juice, or water
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry sherry
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
3-4 saffron threads, crushed (optional but traditional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
12-18 mussels, debearded and thoroughly rinsed
12-18 clams, thoroughly rinsed
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Lime or lemon wedges for garnish

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over moderate heat and saute the garlic, onion, bell pepper, and ham until the onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and oregano and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the fish, stock, sherry, wine, saffron, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil uncovered over high heat. Add the mussels and clams and cook covered for 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any mussels or clams that don't open and serve garnished with chopped parsley and lime wedges. Serves 6 to 8.

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This dish offers up a double dose for pepper lovers, with the sweet bell peppers adding a soft note to the more assertive peppers in the hot sauce. It's also great made with shrimp or cubes of firm white fish instead of or in addition to the scallops.

Spicy Scallops and Peppers

2 Tbs (30 ml) olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 red bell peppers (capsicums), cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips
1-2 green bell peppers (capsicums), cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, halved and cut into thin slices
1/2 tsp (2 ml) hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb (450 g) bay or sea scallops
2 Tbs (30 ml) capers
Cooked white rice (optional)

Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat and saute the garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the peppers, onion, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and saute over very high heat until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the scallops and capers and cook just until the scallops are opaque and firm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes-do not over cook. Serve over cooked white rice if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

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There is nothing better than a steamed lobster if you ask me. I prefer steaming to other methods of cooking because it retains the purest essence of the lobster without filling the shell with water. If you're squeamish about killing your own food, maybe you had better steer clear of this recipe even though I give instructions to minimize the discomfort of the animal. I recommend lobsters of at least 1 1/4 pounds (560 g) because about half the weight is in the shell, and this is one of those cases where bigger truly is better if you're a lobster lover. If you've never eaten a whole lobster before, I recommend the illustrated instructions at this website.

Steamed Lobster

4-6 live lobsters
1/4 lb (110 g) butter, melted
2-3 Tbs (30-45 ml) lemon juice
Lemon wedges for garnish

Place the lobsters in the freezer for about 10 minutes to numb them-some people prefer to kill them by splitting the head between the eyes with a sharp knife before placing them in the pot. Put about 1 inch (3 cm) of salted water in a large pot-use clean seawater if you have access to it. Bring the water to a boil and add the lobsters. Return to the boil and simmer tightly covered until done: 10 minutes for 1 lb lobsters; 13 minutes for 1 1/4 lb lobsters; 15 minutes for 1 1/2 lb lobsters; 18 minutes for 2 lb lobsters. The lobsters are done when they're bright red in color and when the antennae can be removed with a sharp tug. If in doubt, tear one of the tails from the lobster-it is done if the exposed flesh is opaque with no translucency. Meanwhile, combine the melted butter and lemon juice and place into small bowls. Transfer the lobsters to serving plates and serve with lemon butter and lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6.

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About "The Chef"
Joe BarksonJoe Barkson has been writing and publishing under the pen name "The Chef at Worldwide Recipes" since 1998. He came to food writing late in life following checkered careers in computer marketing, graphic design, and teaching high school Spanish. A lifelong interest in food and cooking ("I've been eating since I was a baby," he is fond of saying) was nurtured by extensive international travel during his formative years, and this accounts for the emphasis on world cuisine in his choice of recipes and themes. Twice married and currently happily single, he lives in rural Georgia with a hyperkinetic schipperke that answers to Cooky when the mood strikes him.

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